ISEAS Library Selects

Daily News on the Southeast Asian Region

9 December 2019  (pm) - 10 December 2019  (am)

This is a daily information alert service containing articles and commentaries selected by six ISEAS Library staff from 95 international and regional news sources every weekday morning. These news sources cover Southeast Asia and special topics relevant to the research interest/ direction/ agenda of ISEAS. 
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1 .
CAMBODIA'S HUMAN RIGHTS LEGACY: This year will be the last in which Human Rights Day will be marked in Cambodia after the government's decision to remove it from its list of public holidays. Chak Sopheap, Executive Director of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, reflects on this symbolic gesture and what it means for rights in the Kingdom
Chak Sopheap
Southeast Asia Globe, 10 December 2019


2 .
Arguments against direct elections spurious: CSIS researcher Arya Fernandes said direct regional elections had been proven to be a great means of recruitment for political parties. They had also resulted in the emergence of prominent regional heads who gained national recognition, such as West Java's Ridwan Kamil, South Sulawesi's Nurdin Abdullah and, of course, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, who began his political career as a mayor in Surakarta before entering national politics.

3 .
ICT sector gains strength as Indonesia prioritizes digital economy: The measures to improve the domestic ecosystem are bearing fruit, as Indonesia is now home to five of Southeast Asia's eight unicorns - start-ups valued at $1 billion or more. Meanwhile, the domestic internet economy is currently valued at $40billion, having quadrupled since 2015, according to the "e-Conomy SEA 2019" report released by Google, Singapore's Temasek and United States consultancy Bain & Company.

4 .
Indonesia cautiously optimistic over China: Study: Analysts have said that Indonesia had been carefully taking steps toward embracing China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) when President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo announced 30 projects worth US$91.1 billion in BRI investments earlier this year. Indonesia seemed to attempt to define clearly what the BRI means in Indonesia, at the same time hoping to avoid certain pitfalls that have become synonymous with Chinese President Xi Jinping's flagship program.

5 .
New colonial code? A lawmaker once involved in the deliberation of the amendment of the Criminal Code proudly called the revision "a decolonization process" as the bill would replace the century-old law inherited from the Dutch colonial masters. But how is it that a bill that was said to dismantle the colonial character sparked student protests nationwide, which left five dead, in September?

6 .
Indonesia's corruption perception index ranking shows positive trend: Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) Chairman Agus Rahardjo pointed to a positive trend in Indonesia's corruption perception index (CPI). While drawing reference to the research released by Transparency International, Indonesia's CPI shows a slight improvement, from 37 in 2017 to 38 in 2018.

7 .
Indonesia's economy still heavy in 2020: Deputy minister: Indonesia's economy will find it hard to grow in 2020 because it cannot remain separate from the effects of the ongoing global turmoil, Deputy Finance Minister Suahasil Nazara projected. Although next year there will be general elections (elections) in the United States (US), it is not expected to reduce tension from global uncertainties that have taken place in recent years, Suahasil said.

8 .
Govt Ensures Free License for Entrepreneurs in E-commerce: Trade Minister Agus Suparmanto ensured there will be no charge for online trade or e-commerce operators registering their businesses. This policy is implemented to facilitate entrepreneurs to obtain the required permit. The policy was also aimed at balancing the level of playing fields between online and offline sellers. E-commerce could apply for a business permit to the ministry through the Online Single Submission (OSS) at the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) without visiting the ministry.


9 .
My Say: Shared prosperity - more important now than ever: Let's assume that Malaysia's economy continues to closely track the global economy's performance in the next 10 to 20 years. Given the strong correlation between global growth and Malaysia's economic performance, this assumption is not unreasonable. In fact, this could also be the case for many other Asian export-dependent economies.

10 .
Malaysia's crisis of credibility, cronyism and the climate: This is the first full year report card on the PH government's human rights record. Unfortunately, like the previous BN government, detention without trial, enforced disappearances, killings and tardy police action remain the top civil and political rights concerns. There is a serious credibility crisis of police efficacy and the home minister's lack of accountability. As for economic, social and cultural rights, the issues related to creeping cronyism in mega contracts and the climate crisis are also our main concerns today.

11 .
Malaysia scores high on human development index: Malaysia's score increased primarily because of improved life expectancy average, at 76.0 versus 75.8 in 2017 and gross national income per capita at purchasing power parity (PPP) of US$27,227 (RM113,250) compared with PPP of US$26,555 in 2017.

Malaysian Insight, 10 December 2019

12 .
PKR saga a threat to Pakatan's stability: Historian Ariffin Omar regards the PKR crisis as a disaster that could cost PH dearly. "It is supposed to be the bedrock of PH, but it seems to be disintegrating." This could erode the public's confidence in the coalition, which could spell a bleak future for the pact if it can't get its act together, he told The Malaysian Insight.

Malaysian Insight, 10 December 2019

13 .
Dimensi baharu Amanah tanpa budaya bodek, angkat bakul sendiri [Amanah's new dimension without flattery culture and lifting of own baskets]: Tidak keterlaluan, konvensyen Nasional Amanah kali ini diibaratkan seperti pertemuan dan perbincangan adik-beradik dalam menentukan hala tuju rumahtangga parti itu pada masa hadapan.

14 .
Mana bukti sudah laksana 60 peratus manifesto? [Where is the proof that 60 percent of the manifesto has been fulfilled?] "Cukai Barangan dan Perkhidmatan (GST) walaupun janji ditunaikan, namun banyak ketirisan berlaku dalam sistem cukai Jualan dan Perkhidmatan (SST) yang dianggap sebagai langkah ke belakang," kata Shahir kepada Sinar Harian.

15 .
Profesor dilindungi tempurung IPT [The professor is protected by the shell of IPT]: Dr Maszlee pernah menyindir bahawa universiti lokal patut berusaha menjadi seperti Universiti Oxford. Sindiran itu sebenarnya mentazkirahkan pensyarah supaya mereka tidak menjadikan universiti sebagai tempurung melindungi status sosial mereka.

16 .
Malaysia's Year of Dashed Hopes: The unexpected Pakatan Harapan victory in Malaysia's last general election inspired the hope of a new era, with some equating Pakatan's victory as equivalent in significance to Merdeka, the day of independence from colonial rule in 1957. Pakatan campaigned on reform and the eradication of corruption, with former Prime Minister Najib Razak's scandal-ridden Barisan Nasional government a symbol of all that was wrong with the country.

17 .
What human rights are we celebrating this year? After taking over the federal government, PH did well in terms of freedom of expression by dropping politically motivated sedition charges against activists, artists and politicians. But we pledged much more: we wanted to create a human rights record that was "respected by the world", ratify international human rights treaties, abolish oppressive laws, ensure accountability for police actions, ratify the refugee convention and in general implement much-needed reforms and rules on the premise of inclusion. But now, it's almost like we have made a U-turn. The Sedition Act and Sosma are still being used and we have not repealed the Official Secrets Act.

18 .
Young Malaysians experiencing slower income growth, says World Bank: Younger workers in Malaysia experience slower income growth than their older counterparts, and the gap has widened in recent times, the 2019 World Bank report said. It said incomes for all age groups have tended to grow faster than inflation, but the growth in employment earnings for younger workers, especially men, has remained slower than their older counterparts.

19 .
Opinion: Youth suffrage and civic education: Political Studies for Change (KPRU) researcher Xiao Jiaying is of the view that young people between 15 and 19 are generally concerned about opportunities to further their studies while those between 20 and 25 are more concerned about job opportunities, and those between 26 and 30 more inclined towards the health of the national economy. Having said that, things from national politics to government policies in education, economy and culture have a lot to do with our youngsters, and it is therefore unfair to deny the right of young people reaching the age of 18 to vote.
Chang Zi Kang is Executive Member of Keadilan Youth (AMK) Pahang.
MySinchew, 9 December 2019

20 .
70 peratus dibelanjakan untuk keperluan, perumahan, pengangkutan [70 percent is spent on necessities housing, transportation]: "Saya dapat beberapa idea untuk melakukan beberapa anjakan terhadap fokus dan keutamaan bagaimana NACCOL harus bergerak memasuki tahun 2020. Kita tidak boleh puas hati dengan tahap sekarang, kita mesti lakukan lebih pada itu," kata Saifuddin.


21 .
Nobel Prize Winner Suu Kyi to Defend Myanmar on Genocide Charges

22 .
Suu Kyi's Hague Appearance: Minding Myanmar's Domestic Political Dynamics in the ICJ Genocide Case: While much of the focus may be on her international image, it will be important to consider the domestic political dynamics at play in Myanmar as well.

23 .
Can Myanmar's working children be saved? According to a government survey conducted in 2015, there are about 1.12 million child workers in Myanmar between the ages of five and 17. The minimum age range for child workers is 13 to 15 under Convention 138, but undeveloped countries, including Myanmar, are allowed to lower the age limit to 12 to 14.

24 .
Myanmar Leader's Genocide Defense at U.N. Court Rallies Supporters at Home: Myanmar's main civilian leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi is preparing to lead her country's defense against genocide allegations this week as her political party rallies support at home, casting her as the protector of the nation's honor in the face of international pressure.


25 .
Coming accountability: The recent announcement by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague that it could wrap up next year its preliminary examination on the case against President Duterte's administration for the rash of extrajudicial killings (EJKs) in the country was welcomed by the human-rights community as providing a "glimmer of hope" to the complainants and victims of the drug war.

Philippine Daily Inquirer, 10 December 2019

26 .
Why poverty has declined: The latest, most positive news on the economic scene has been the dramatic drop in poverty incidence in 2018 by an impressive 6.7 percentage points, from 23.3 to 16.6 percent. If you don't believe it, you're probably not alone, but I'll explain why you should. This is actually the steepest drop I can remember our poverty rate has seen in a 3-year period (the Family Income and Expenditures Survey that tracks it is done only every three years).
Cielito F. Habito
Philippine Daily Inquirer, 10 December 2019


27 .
社论:拓展新加坡国防空间 [Extending Singapore's defense airspace]: 至今,新加坡跟泰国、文莱、印度、法国、澳大利亚、美国等等国家都有相关的军事合作,为各军种提供训练空间。这些安排不但让武装部队有足够的军训场地,也让它能够同其他国家的军队交流切磋,增进互信。这种向海外拓展的做法,在经济领域也一样。因为国内市场规模不足,区域市场的成熟度不一,新加坡于是以国际市场为腹地,终于将自己打造为经贸枢纽,一方面促进发展,另一方面提升了国际地位。

28 .
Singapore gets fighter jet unit on Guam as US, facing China threat, lauds closer ties with allies: Washington has positioned Singapore's access to Guam as a move to reassure allies in the face of growing military competition with China in the Indo-Pacific.

29 .
New book launched to mark 50 years of once-secretive Singapore-Israel ties: There is a little bit of Israel in parts of Singapore. The night vision technology used at the Night Safari, the names of Jewish families found in street names such as Zion Road and Frankel Avenue, as well as the genesis of Singapore's National Service - they all have their connections to the Israelis. Little has been publicly written about the significant links between both nations due to political sensitivities - Singapore's immediate neighbours are predominantly Muslims.


30 .
Don't rush new FFP case: The Election Commission (EC), whose commissioners were appointed by the former junta's lawmakers, seems unable to stop dragging itself into being a subject of yet another controversy by rushing to wrap up another case against the Future Forward Party (FFP). It has been reported by the media that the EC is scheduled to hold a meeting tomorrow to make a decision regarding the case, which involves a 110-million-baht loan that the anti-junta party borrowed from its leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit.

31 .
More efforts needed to tackle Thailand's stark inequality: ...inequality in Thailand, like in many countries, is today exacerbated by climate change, economic downturn, and technological transformation. Increasing incidents of floods and droughts destroy crops and depress the income of farmers who take to the street to seek government assistance. In addition, the lacklustre economic growth together with looming disruptions in various industries have led to factories shutting down and workers losing their jobs. Such a situation results in growing frustration, as more people feel that economic and political structures are rigged against them.

32 .
NCPO reveals names of 10 members of panel that recruited senators: Most members have worked with Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha's cabinet or are members of the NCPO. Wissanu, who is currently deputy prime minister, was the head of the committee. The information has led to the question of nepotism as the prime minister's brother, Preecha Chan-o-cha, Somkid's brother Som Jatusripitak and Wissanu's brother Chalermchai Krea-ngam were previously recruited as senators.


33 .
How long will Vietnam stay in the top 20 in economic growth? Analysts noted that IMF last July assumed that Vietnam would continue pursuing tightening of fiscal and credit policies. However, in fact, the State Bank of Vietnam announced cuts of prime interest rates, a move to loosen monetary policy.

34 .
Vietnam, Russia strengthen comprehensive strategic partnership: National Assembly Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan is on an official visit to Russia to boost the bilateral comprehensive strategic partnership.The visit takes place amidst celebrations of the 70th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic ties and the Russia Year in Vietnam and the Vietnam Year in Russia.

ASEANASEAN/Southeast Asia

35 .
Commentary: Megawati can help Aung San Suu Kyi face genocide charges: It is highly regrettable that ASEAN, especially its largest member Indonesia, has been totally mute, at least in public, since Myanmar's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi announced her readiness to face charges of genocide targeting Rohingya Muslims at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague on Tuesday. President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo should not have let her face the serious charges alone, although it is quite clear that Indonesia strongly condemns gross human rights violations.
Kornelius Purba. Senior editor at The Jakarta Post
Jakarta Post, 10 December 2019

36 .
ASEAN's renewable energy challenges: With the rapidly declining cost of renewable energy generation via such methods as wind and solar photovoltaic (PV), the Southeast Asian region has been presented with a golden opportunity to meet its immense electricity demand in a cost-effective and sustainable manner.

37 .
ASEAN anchor to Asian trade policy strategy: As the global trade regime threatens to unravel under the Trump administration's assault on the WTO dispute settlement disciplines and its tearing up the rules in its trade war with China, ASEAN - the motley Southeast Asian grouping that includes Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Brunei and the Philippines - would seem the most unlikely bloc to spring effectively to its defence.

38 .
Humanitarian Action: Southeast Asia's Local Turn: In Southeast-Asia, localisation of humanitarian action is contested; some focused on government capacity while others acknowledge civil society contributions. There is pushback about what localisation means when it includes many local and faith-based organisations that have long provided support in their local communities. For some, the localisation debate is focused too much on the role of international non-governmental organisations (INGOs). These have become embedded within national contexts and accepted as local, rather than engaging the already local organisations However, recent experience in Southeast Asia illustrates that these issues are being answered by national governments in disaster response.
Alistair D. B. Cook and Christopher Chen
Eurasia Review, 9 December 2019

39 .
'Death by plastic' for animals must spur Southeast Asia to tackle waste crisis: Singapore, South Korea and Japan are potential models, where waste is either incinerated in waste-to-energy power plants or recycled. It seems unlikely that we can do away with plastic, as petrochemical firms producing the materials are huge drivers of growth in the region.

40 .
Southeast Asia's GDP growth to remain at 4.5 percent in 2020: Economic growth across the Southeast Asia region will slow down from 5.1 per cent in 2018 to 4.5 per cent in 2019 and remain unchanged in 2020, amidst high risks of a re-escalation in trade tensions, according to the ICAEW's latest Economic Update: Southeast Asia report.
[Link to the "ICAEW Economic Update: South East Asia"]

AsiaAsia Pacific

41 .
Harness APEC's Strength to Overcome Challenges: Dr Mahathir: Malaysia, incoming host of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, will rally the forum to ensure that the '"benefits from trade, investment, and economic cooperation are felt and enjoyed by our people," said Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad as he launched APEC Malaysia 2020... Dr Mahathir, who first hosted APEC in 1998, urges member economies to "be united and harness our collective strength to overcome issues and challenges, realign our faith and charge forward."

42 .
The 2020 Asia-Pacific outlook: Render the strategic outlook for 2020 into a core conundrum: How goes the new era of great-power competition? Is it to be security confrontation and economic decoupling? The crystal ball is clouded by rivalry. China and the US are simultaneously close and apart, enmeshed and divided, locked together in contest while musing about trade and technology cleavage.
Graeme Dobell
Australian Strategic Policy Institute, 9 December 2019

43 .
Where is India's foreign policy headed? The RCEP rejection is symptomatic of bigger failures on the economic and foreign policy fronts. India's economy has been decelerating: most key indicators are headed south and Moody's is just one of several ratings agencies to have revised India's GDP growth forecasts downwards. The new foreign minister's address provided no vision of what sort of a world India is trying to shape. Because of the discrepancy in military might, global financial system dominance and diplomatic heft between the US and all others including China, Jaishankar's depiction of a 'multipolar' world is fundamentally flawed. 'Polycentric' is a more accurate description.
Ramesh Thakur
Australian Strategic Policy Institute, 9 December 2019

44 .
OPINION: APEC shows virtues of multilateralism despite Chile cancellation: APEC and the trade and investment policies it develops have enabled economies to open up, create jobs and grow almost threefold in three decades. Global shifts may take place, but APEC's commitment to the forum is constant. It became apparent after the suspension of APEC Leaders' Week that this can-do attitude remains. For our members, optimism about APEC and multilateral cooperation prevails. Three factors support our positive outlook.
Rebecca Sta Maria is the Executive Director of the APEC secretariat.
Nikkei Asian Review, 9 December 2019

SpecialComprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) / Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)

45 .
Asean must not give up on India ... yet: The last paragraph of the joint statement of the RCEP was added following India's request. It says: "India has significant outstanding issues, which remain unresolved. All RCEP Participating Countries will work together to resolve these outstanding issues in a mutually satisfactory way. India's final decision will depend on satisfactory resolution of these issues."


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