Jokowi lacks leadership on corruption

To go with: Indonesia-election-politics,ADVANCER by Sam Reeves
In this photograph taken on July 5, 2014, Joko Widodo, the presidential candidate waves to supporters during the final day of campaigning in Jakarta. Widodo popularly known as Jokowi,  will cap a remarkable rise from an upbringing in a riverside slum when he is sworn in as Indonesia's president on October 20, 2014, taking power as the world's third-biggest democracy faces huge challenges and amid doubts about his ability to enact much-needed reforms. Widodo is Indonesia's first leader with out deep roots in the era of dictator Suharto.  AFP PHOTO / AGUS SUPARTO

Author: Liam Gammon, ANU

The higher they rise, the harder they fall. No politician in post-Suharto Indonesia has risen higher and faster than Joko Widodo (Jokowi), whose win in the 2014 presidential elections was considered a breath of fresh air for a vibrant but corrupt democracy. The reality of his presidency, though, is not what civil society, foreign governments and investors were crossing their fingers for. After eight months in office Jokowi looks surprisingly conservative, out of touch, and out of his depth. Read more…

Cambodia’s unsteady foreign policy balance

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen shake hands with Rosmah Mansor, the wife of Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak, during the East Asian Summit family photo at the Myanmar International Convention Center in Naypyidaw on 12 November 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Leng Thearith, UNSW Canberra

Since the fiasco of the 2012 ASEAN Summit, Cambodia has more or less been viewed as a Chinese client state. But this is not wholly true. In fact, Phnom Penh has attempted to strike a foreign policy balance between China on the one hand and ASEAN, Japan, and the United States on the other. Read more…

Taiwan gears up for all-female presidential race

Taiwan's main opposition Democratic Progressive Party, DPP, Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen speaks in Taipei, Taiwan. (Photo:AAP).

Author: Chen-shen Yen, National Chengchi University

With legislator and Deputy Speaker Hung Hsiu-chu confirmed by the Standing Committee of the Nationalist Party or Kuomintang (KMT), the presidential candidates for the two main parties contending for Taiwan’s 2016 election are both women, leading to the foregone conclusion that there will be a female president in Taiwan next year. Read more…

India reaches out to Bangladesh

Author: Mahendra Ved, New Delhi

For a quarter of a century, India has looked east, and for a year ‘acted east’. The latter policy is proving to be more than just rhetoric. Bangladesh, previously a major gap in India’s ‘look east’ quest, has been substantially bridged to the mutual benefit of not just the two neighbours but, hopefully, the entire region. Read more…

Is Japan really tilting to the right?

Demonstrators shout while holding banners reading 'No War' during a protest against reforms that would allow Japan to dispatch its Self-Defense Forces overseas, on 26 May 2015. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Stephen Robert Nagy, ICU

Japan is coming under increasing scrutiny as the 70th anniversary of World War II approaches and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe moves to reform Japan’s defence policy. Recent concerns over hate speech and the right-wing nationalistic rhetoric of revisionist groups like Nippon Kaigi (Japan Conference), Sakura Channel, and Zaitokukai (The Association of Citizens Against the Special Privileges of the Zainichi — that is, the resident Korean population) have led commentators to conclude that Japanese people are becoming more nationalistic. But is this really the case? Read more…

Jokowi tries a different tack in Papua

Indonesian President Joko Widodo greets freed Papuan political prisoners during a ceremony at a prison located in the restive eastern province of Papua on 9 May 2015. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Emirza Adi Syailendra, RSIS

President Joko Widodo (popularly known as Jokowi) has affirmed that special attention will be given to the Papua region, comprising the two provinces of Papua and West Papua. The region has endured a low-level guerrilla insurgency from a militant Papuan independence movement since 1969. Read more…

The paradox of resurgent absolutism and the abolition of Thailand’s martial law

A Thai policeman stands guard as Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha speaks to members of the media at Government House in Bangkok one year after the 2014 military coup, 22 May 2015. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Peter Drysdale, East Asia Forum

Thailand’s coup after the political stand-off last year is just over a year old. As predicted, the aftermath of the coup saw the growth rate of Southeast Asia’s second largest economy slashed by more than half with growth this year running at around 3 per cent, compared with its past and potential rate of growth around or above 6.5 per cent. Read more…