Najib’s political headache

Demonstrators marched in major cities around Malaysia on 29 August 2015 calling for Prime Minister Najib Razak to step down. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Arnold Puyok, UNIMAS

These are tiring times for Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. Najib has so far managed to stay in power despite the flurry of attacks on his leadership. Political debacles have almost cost Najib his prime ministership and the popularity of the ruling coalition Barisan Nasional (BN). Read more…

Could Aung San Suu Kyi be above Myanmar’s next president?

Myanmar's parliamentary speaker Shwe Mann (L) and Chairperson of the National League for Democracy (NLD) Aung San Suu Kyi (R) shake hands before their meeting at Parliament in Naypyidaw on November 19, 2015. Suu Kyi is constitutionally barred from leading the country but has vowed to rule from "above" the next president, who she will select following her National League for Democracy's win in the November 8 polls (Photo: AAP).

Author: Myint Zan, Multimedia University

In a press conference on 5 November 2015, Myanmar’s democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi candidly stated that if her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD) won the election on 8 November and was able to form the next government, she would be ‘above the president’. And the NLD has won the election. Read more…

The political economy of land grabs in China and India

A farmer makes his way back home in the village of Wuwei, Anhui Province,  July 2002.  A full 20 years after the late patriarch Deng Xiaoping pushed through the decollectivisation of China's countryside, farmers in the rural reform laboratory of Anhui province say working the land alone is not enough for them to survive.    (Photo: AAP).

Author: Lynette H. Ong, University of Toronto

Behind the impressive growth of the world’s two largest emerging nations, China and India, land has been a key infrastructural resource as well as a major source of social conflicts. Laws in both countries have allowed the governments to take land away from agricultural communities for industrialisation and development, while offering little compensation or no resettlement alternative in return. Read more…

The rocky road to federation in the Philippines

Three observers look for seats as the Philippine Congress convenes in the background in Manila, Philippines (Photo: AAP).

Author: Michael Yusingco, Melbourne

Federalism is a buzzword in the Philippines these days. A former chief justice of the Supreme Court, Reynato Puno, recently launched a highly publicised national renewal movement, Bagong Sistema, Bagong Pag-asa (New System, New Hope), calling for a change in the 1987 Constitution through a constitutional convention. Read more…

Will Vietnam’s communist princelings deliver?

Vietnamese and Chinese communist youths wave flags to welcome Chinese President Xi Jinping and Vietnamese Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong at a meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam, Friday, Nov. 6, 2015. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Hai Hong Nguyen, University of Queensland

The Vietnamese Communist Party (VCP) is preparing a new slate of leaders to replace the old guard who are retiring at the 12th National Congress in 2016. Public attention has been drawn to the rise of young ‘princelings’ — the children of current or former leaders in communist authoritarian regimes like Vietnam and China — to local executive positions and bodies. Read more…

No easy solutions for Malaysia’s mess

Protestors hold placards demanding Prime Minister Najib Razak's resignation during an anti-government rally in Kuala Lumpur on 29 August 2015. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Meredith Weiss, SUNY Albany

Malaysia is currently in crisis; the ringgit seems to be on an inexorable downhill slide, ethnic tensions have deteriorated from an uncomfortable simmer to an open flame, and both the government and opposition coalitions are unravelling. Read more…

Don’t expect too much from growing Sino–Indonesia ties

Representatives of Chinese and Indonesian companies signed a joint-venture agreement to build Indonesia's first high-speed railway line, connecting Jakarta and Bandung on Oct. 16, 2015.  (Photo: AAP).

Author: Gatra Priyandita, Jinan University

Indonesian President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) visited China twice in his first year of presidency alone. In contrast he made his first state visit to the United States only in October 2015. But although Sino–Indonesian relations are currently strengthening, economic and geostrategic obstacles are likely to limit progress. Read more…