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Asia Unbound

CFR experts give their take on the cutting-edge issues emerging in Asia today.

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Showing posts for "Malaysia"

Southeast Asia’s Democratic Regression and the Rise of Islamic State-Linked Militants

by Joshua Kurlantzick
indonesia-islamic state Antiterror police walk as one carries a box with items retrieved from the house of a suspected militant involved in an attack in Jakarta, in Sampit, Indonesia Central Kalimantan province, on January 16, 2016. (Norjani/Antara Foto/Reuters)

Read Part 2 here and Part 3 here Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of January 29, 2016

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Rajib-speech Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak delivers a speech at the opening of the ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur, November 21, 2015. (Olivia Harris/Reuters)

Rachel Brown, Lincoln Davidson, Gabriel Walker, and James West look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. Malaysian prime minister evades corruption charges. Malaysia’s attorney general announced Tuesday that Prime Minister Najib Razak did not commit a crime in accepting a $680 million donation from the Saudi royal family in 2013. Najib has been under investigation for corruption since July, when investigative journalists unearthed documents alleging the prime minister had taken $680 million from a state development fund he had created. Read more »

Is the Islamic State Making Gains in Southeast Asia?

by Joshua Kurlantzick
indonesia-islamic state Indonesian police stand guard at the site of a militant attack in central Jakarta, Indonesia on January 16, 2016. (Darren Whiteside/Reuters)

Over the past three weeks, several events have dramatically highlighted the growing appeal of the Islamic State based in Southeast Asia. First, on January 14, a group of militants reportedly run by an Indonesian man who had traveled to Syria carried out an attack in a busy neighborhood in Jakarta, leading to at least seven deaths. Several weeks before the attack, the Indonesian police had made a string of arrests of other Indonesian cells linked to the Islamic State. Read more »

Eight Predictions for Southeast Asia for 2016: Part 1

by Joshua Kurlantzick
prayuth-predictions-2016 Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha smiles as he reviews the honour guard during a welcoming ceremony for Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen at Government House in Bangkok, Thailand, on December 18, 2015. (Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters)

It’s that time again—time for resolutions that last a couple weeks into the new year and bold predictions that (surely) will turn out right this year. Right?

1. Najib tun Razak will be Malaysia’s Prime Minister at the End of 2016

For most of 2015, many Malaysian politicians, observers, and activists wrote Najib off, sure that the in-fighting within the governing coalition, the scandals around the 1MDB state fund, and the torrent of criticism of Najib by former prime minister Mahathir would ultimately force Najib out of office. They were wrong. Read more »

Najib Stays in Power as UMNO Meets

by Joshua Kurlantzick
najib-razak-unmo meeting Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak arrives at a session of the 27th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Kuala Lumpur, on November 21, 2015. (Olivia Harris/Reuters)

This past summer, as Malaysian Prime Minister Najib tun Razak faced an explosion of news articles about alleged irregularities in the 1MDB state fund and about the appearance of over $600 million in Najib’s personal bank account, many Malaysian politicians believed that Najib would not survive as prime minister through the end of the year. Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, still one of the most influential figures in Malaysia, had unleashed a steady stream of online invective at Najib, repeatedly calling on him to resign. Read more »

Najib Faces Trouble on All Fronts

by Joshua Kurlantzick
najib-razak-parliament Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak arrives at parliament in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on October 19, 2015. Hee Loy Sian, a Malaysian lawmaker in opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim's People's Justice Party, known by its Malay acronym PKR, has submitted notice for a motion of no confidence against embattled Prime Minister Najib Razak. (Olivia Harris/Reuters)

Since July, when the Wall Street Journal and other publications broke stories alleging that hundreds of millions of dollars, possibly from a Malaysian state fund, had been deposited into Prime Minister Najib tun Razak’s personal accounts, the prime minister has been struggling to hold onto his job, and to keep more scandals from erupting. Read more »

China’s Charm Offensive Continues to Sputter in Southeast Asia

by Joshua Kurlantzick
malaysia-protests Riot police protect the entrance to Chinatown from "Red Shirt" demonstrators during a rally to celebrate Malaysia Day and to counter a massive protest held over two days last month that called for Prime Minister Najib Razak's resignation over a graft scandal, in Malaysia's capital city of Kuala Lumpur on September 16, 2015. (Olivia Harris/Reuters)

After a decade, in the 2000s, in which China aggressively pursued warmer relations with many Southeast Asian nations, using a combination of diplomacy, aid, and soft power to woo its neighbors, the past five years have seen a significant chill in China-Southeast Asia relations. First, Beijing’s more aggressive pursuit of its claims in the South China Sea led to heightened tensions between China and other claimants—most notably Vietnam and the Philippines, but also increasingly Indonesia, where the armed forces are trying to rapidly modernize Jakarta’s naval capacity in part out of fear of China’s actions in the South China Sea. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of September 25, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Xi-Jinping-visit-9-25-15 Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks during a meeting with five United States governors to discuss clean technology and economic development in Seattle, Washington, September 22, 2015. (Matt Mills McKnight/Reuters)

Ashlyn Anderson, Rachel Brown, Lincoln Davidson, Sungtae “Jacky” Park, Ariella Rotenberg, and Gabriel Walker look at the top stories in Asia this week.

1. Xi Jinping visits the United States. The Chinese president arrived in Seattle Tuesday, delivering a dinner speech to business leaders, touring a Boeing factory, visiting Microsoft, and stopping for a photo with tech industry executives (cartoonishly rendered as a GIF by the Cyberspace Administration of China). Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of September 4, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Malaysia-protests-9-4-15 Supporters of pro-democracy group "Bersih" (Clean) shout slogans during a rally near Dataran Merdeka in Malaysia's capital city of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, August 30, 2015. Tens of thousands joined a peaceful protest in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Najib Razak, bringing to the streets a political crisis over a multi-million-dollar payment made to an account under his name. (Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters)

Ashlyn Anderson, Rachel Brown, Lincoln Davidson, Lauren Dickey, Ariella Rotenberg, and Ayumi Teraoka look at the top stories in Asia this week.

1. Malaysian protestors call for prime minister to step down. Tens of thousands of protesters demonstrated in Kuala Lumpur last weekend, saying that Prime Minister Najib Razak is unfit to govern following allegations that he took $700 million from a government development fund. Read more »

Malaysia’s Economy Faces Severe Strain

by Joshua Kurlantzick
malaysia-economy A woman walks past a money exchange shop in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on August 25, 2015. The Malaysian ringgit hit a fresh pre-peg 17-year low on Monday as sustained worries about China's economy dented global risk appetite with European and Wall Street stocks suffering their largest one-day drop in nearly four years. (Olivia Harris/Reuters)

Like any Southeast Asian economy whose trade with China is a major foundation of growth, Malaysia was bound to suffer as the Chinese economy staggered and Chinese stock markets plunged. Malaysia is China’s largest trading partner in Southeast Asia, and Malaysia-China two-way trade topped $100 billion in 2014. Read more »