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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 "Southeast Asia"

Jokowi’s High Road a Mistake

by Joshua Kurlantzick
A vendor sells newspapers to motorists the day after the Indonesian presidential election in Jakarta on July 10, 2014 (Darren Whiteside/Courtesy: Reuters). A vendor sells newspapers to motorists the day after the Indonesian presidential election in Jakarta on July 10, 2014 (Darren Whiteside/Courtesy: Reuters).

In the wake of July 9’s voting in Indonesia’s presidential elections, both candidates, Joko Widodo, or Jokowi, and Prabowo Subianto have declared that, according to quick counts, they have won the presidential election. For those who are not familiar with Indonesian elections, a quick count is not the same thing as an exit poll, common in Western elections; a primer on quick counts is available on New Mandala. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of July 11, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Villagers line up to vote in the country's presidential election at Bojong Koneng polling station in Bogor July 9, 2014. Indonesians began voting on Wednesday in a presidential election that has become a closely fought contest between the old guard who flourished under decades of autocratic rule and a new breed of politician that has emerged in the fledgling democracy. Only the third direct election for president in the world's fourth-most populous nation, the contest pits former special forces general Prabowo Subianto against Jakarta Governor Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, who have been running neck-and-neck in opinion polls. REUTERS/Beawiharta (INDONESIA - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS) Villagers line up to vote in the country's presidential election at Bojong Koneng polling station in Bogor on July 9, 2014. (Beawiharta/Courtesy Reuters)

Ashlyn Anderson, Lauren Dickey, Darcie Draudt, Andrew Hill, Will Piekos, and Sharone Tobias look at the top stories in Asia today.

1. Indonesians await official results of presidential election. Joko Widodo, known popularly as Jokowi, seems to have won Indonesia’s presidential election against Prabowo Subianto, a self-described military strongman. Though unofficial quick count tallies appear split on the winner of the election, the more respected polling firms point to a Jokowi victory; the official results will be released on July 22. Read more »

Disputed Indonesian Election a Possible Disaster

by Joshua Kurlantzick
Supporters of Indonesian presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto cheer after Prabowo declared victory in the country's presidential election in Jakarta on July 9, 2014. Both Prabowo and Joko "Jokowi" Widodo claimed victory in Indonesia's presidential election (Beawiharta/Courtesy: Reuters). Supporters of Indonesian presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto cheer after Prabowo declared victory in the country's presidential election in Jakarta on July 9, 2014. Both Prabowo and Joko "Jokowi" Widodo claimed victory in Indonesia's presidential election (Beawiharta/Courtesy: Reuters).

Although the official results of Indonesia’s presidential election yesterday will not be known until July 20, both candidates, Joko Widodo and Prabowo Subianto, now have claimed victory based on exit polling and quick counts. In the past, such as in previous parliamentary elections, these quick counts have been relatively accurate. But now their accuracy is coming into question. Some of the quick counts appear to show Joko Widodo, or Jokowi, as the winner by around three to six percentage points nationally, while Prabowo claims other counts show him as the winner. Since the race came down to the wire too close to call, it is hard to completely trust any of the quick counts or exit polling. Many election experts have criticized Jokowi for claiming victory too quickly. Read more »

How Jokowi Blew It

by Joshua Kurlantzick
Indonesian presidential candidate Joko "Jokowi" Widodo runs on the stage after delivering a speech in front of his supporters at Gelora Bung Karno stadium in Jakarta on July 5, 2014 (Darren Whiteside/Courtesy: Reuters). Indonesian presidential candidate Joko "Jokowi" Widodo runs on the stage after delivering a speech in front of his supporters at Gelora Bung Karno stadium in Jakarta on July 5, 2014 (Darren Whiteside/Courtesy: Reuters).

As we arrive at the last week of campaigning before Indonesia’s July 9 presidential election, the race continues to narrow, and many liberal Indonesians, activists, diplomats, businesspeople, and academics live in fear of a Prabowo Subianto presidency. As I have discussed in previous posts, they worry that Prabowo, despite his claims to the contrary, is not a committed democrat, and will attempt to return Indonesia to the guided democracy/de facto autocracy of the country’s first five decades. Prabowo also has never effectively addressed the numerous allegations of past involvement in human rights abuses, back when he was head of the army’s strategic reserve command. Read more »

Thai Junta Plans Election for Autumn 2015

by Joshua Kurlantzick
Prayuth Chan-ocha Thai Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha speaks during a meeting with Thai ambassadors at the Royal Thai Army Headquarters in Bangkok on June 11, 2014 (Chanat Katanyu/Courtesy: Reuters).

Over the weekend, Thailand’s junta leader, Prayuth Chan-ocha, announced a firmer roadmap toward civilian rule than the army had previously revealed. Prayuth went on Thai television and announced that a drafting committee will write a new permanent constitution, to replace the 2007 version the army junked in its May coup. The committee will finish drafting by the middle of next year, Prayuth announced, and then by the fall of 2015, Thailand can hold national elections again. In the meantime, Thailand will operate under an interim constitution that the junta draws up. The junta will pick some civilian ministers to help run the country. Read more »

Prabowo, Jokowi, and Foreign Policy

by Joshua Kurlantzick
indonesia-second-presidential-debate Indonesia's presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto (far right) speaks as his opponent Joko Widodo looks on during the second presidential debate in Jakarta on June 15, 2014. Indonesia's two presidential candidates met again at the third debate on June 22, ahead of July's election (Beawiharta/Courtesy: Reuters).

The third debate between Indonesian presidential candidates Joko Widodo, or Jokowi, and Prabowo Subianto, held over the weekend, was supposed to focus on foreign policy and defense policy. At least that was the idea. It made sense that two men who want to be the president of the biggest power in Southeast Asia, and one that has become increasingly assertive on the world stage, would need to offer their views on Jakarta’s foreign policy. Read more »

A Worrying Future With Prabowo?

by Joshua Kurlantzick
Prabowo Subianto-campaign Indonesia's presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto speaks to supporters during a campaign rally in Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta on June 22, 2014. Indonesia goes to the polls on July 9 to elect a new president (Courtesy: Reuters).

 

As election day in Indonesia’s presidential election nears, the race seems to be getting closer and closer. While only three months ago Jakarta governor Joko Widodo, universally known as Jokowi, had a twenty to thirty point lead in polls, some recent polling suggests that Jokowi’s lead over Prabowo Subianto has narrowed to less than five points. Prabowo also has picked up a huge range of endorsements and has amassed a broad coalition of support among small parties, including several religious parties that are known for turning out their voters. Of course, some of this narrowing is natural; months ago, Indonesian voters were choosing Jokowi in polls before the real presidential campaign had begun. Read more »

Thailand, Other American Partners Downgraded to Worst Ranking in New Trafficking in Persons Report

by Joshua Kurlantzick
cambodian-migrants-from-thailand Cambodian migrant workers carry their belongings as they walk to cross the border at Aranyaprathet in Sa Kaew on June 15, 2014. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates that over the past week 100,000 Cambodians have poured over the border, as the military that seized power in a May 22 coup intensifies lax measures to regulate illegal labour. The military's ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) insists Cambodians are leaving of their own accord and said 60,000 had crossed the border as of Saturday (Athit Perawongmetha/Courtesy: Reuters).

 

In the new State Department 2014 Trafficking in Persons report, officially released this morning by Secretary of State John Kerry, the administration pulls no punches. In previous years, some countries that had deserved being downgraded from a Tier 1 country to a Tier 2 country, signifying deteriorating progress in combating trafficking, or from a Tier 2 to a Tier 3 country, the worst possible rating in the report, had been saved from downgrades. Usually, they were saved due to their close strategic ties with the United States and their effective lobbying of this administration and its predecessors. A ranking in Tier 3, according to the report’s definition, means a country “whose government does not fully comply with the minimum standards [in combating trafficking in persons] and are not making significant efforts to do so.” Countries that fall into Tier 3, the report notes, “may be subject to certain restrictions on bilateral assistance, whereby the U.S. government may withhold or withdraw non-humanitarian, non-trade-related foreign assistance.…Governments subject to restrictions would also face U.S. opposition to assistance from international financial institutions.” Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of June 20, 2014

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
A Chinese Coast Guard vessel (R) passes near the Chinese oil rig, Haiyang Shi You 981 (L), in the South China Sea, about 210 km (130 miles) from the coast of Vietnam on June 13, 2014 (Courtesy: Reuters). A Chinese Coast Guard vessel (R) passes near the Chinese oil rig, Haiyang Shi You 981 (L), in the South China Sea, about 210 km (130 miles) from the coast of Vietnam on June 13, 2014 (Courtesy: Reuters).

Ashlyn Anderson, Lauren Dickey, Darcie Draudt, Charles McClean, Will Piekos, and Sharone Tobias look at the top stories in Asia today.

1. China sends more oil rigs to already-tense South China Sea. Two rigs are now stationed between China and the Taiwan-occupied Pratas Islands, and one has been given coordinates to be towed just outside Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone. Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang asked China to remove the rigs that are in disputed waters. China has been increasingly assertive in its claims to the Paracel and Spratly Islands, all of which are off Vietnam’s coast, and is reportedly moving sand onto reefs and shoals to support buildings and surveillance equipment. Read more »

What Will Thailand’s Post-Coup “Democracy” Look Like?

by Joshua Kurlantzick
prayuth Thai Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha arrives before a meeting to discuss the 2015 national budget at the Army Club in Bangkok on June 13, 2014. Prayuth was the head of the junta that seized power in Thailand last month (Athit Perawongmetha/Courtesy: Reuters).

As an excellent piece in the Associated Press notes this week, Thailand’s junta appears to be entrenching itself for the long haul. Junta leader Prayuth Chan-ocha has named himself to Thailand’s Board of Investment. The junta is putting other cronies at the heads of major state-controlled companies, Prayuth has left the timetable for a total return to civilian rule purposefully vague, and the coup leaders also have refused to say exactly what that civil government will look like, or what Thailand’s next constitution will look like either. (The generals essentially ripped up the previous constitution after launching the coup in May.) Read more »