ISEAS Library Selects

Daily News on the Southeast Asian Region

28 November 2019  (pm) - 29 November 2019  (am)

This issue of Daily News Alert includes the following commentaries and citations attributed to researchers at ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute. You can click on their names to go to these articles directly.
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.  If you think your friends and colleagues would find this alert useful, please invite them to subscribe.

The Library usually releases the Daily News Alert around 3pm. If you have not been receiving our Daily News Alert in your inbox, your email system could be treating this alert as spam. You may add "" and "" to Safe Senders List (white list) through your email platform. The detailed self-help steps are available on our Library FAQ webpage
As part of the Library's ongoing efforts to make this reading experience more convenient for users, you can click on any of the links below to directly access the subject of your immediate interest.
Country Studies
Southeast Asia Countries
Brunei Darussalam
To view the full articles, please click on the hyperlink.  For those that require passwords (usually assigned to a particular PC in the Library) due to subscription restrictions imposed, please feel free to visit the Library during its  operating hours  
The Library hopes to continue providing timely and relevant information that will meet your research needs. We appreciate and value your feedback on our selection. Simply reply to this email or use our  online feedback form .   If you do not wish to receive our Daily News Alert, please click here   to unsubscribe. 

1 .
Borneo is burning: How the world's demand for palm oil is driving deforestation in Indonesia

2 .
Editorial: Pardoning corruption: One reason why Indonesia's corruption perception index has not changed significantly despite the tough enforcement of the Corruption Law is a lack of deterrence, which is evident in Jokowi's decision to grant clemency to Annas. The ministerial regulation that justifies Annas' request for leniency is another policy that undermines the deterrence value of the law.

3 .
Golkar schism: Three more enter chairmanship race: Indra Bambang Utoyo, Ridwan Hisjam and Agun Gunanjar announced their candidacy after Bambang's supporters recently threatened to hold a separate national congress. A similar rift emerged in 2014 when the nation's second-largest party held two separate congresses -- one in Jakarta and one in Bali -- to elect its chairman following a fierce battle between candidates Aburizal Bakrie and Agung Laksono.

4 .
Indonesia's 2020 climate challenge: The reality is that Indonesia remains dependent on coal for energy security. This high carbon-emitting fossil fuel accounted for 58.3 percent of Indonesia's energy mix in 2017. Its portion would only drop to 54.4 percent in 2025, according to the Electricity Supply Business Plan 2018 to 2027.
Warief Djajanto Basorie, Journalist, staff of Dr Soetomo Press Institute (LPDS)
Jakarta Post, 29 November 2019

5 .
Indonesia's prosperity rising, yet big challenges remain: The challenge and the opportunity for Indonesia is to ensure its economic improvements benefit all of its residents. It is true that more than 35 million Indonesians have been lifted from extreme poverty (defined as living on an income of less than $1.90 a day) since 2007 and, as a result of continued economic growth, the country now has over 70 million people in the "consuming class" (with a daily income above $10 a day), with this number expected to more than double by 2030.
Stephen Brien, Director of Policy, Legatum Institute
Jakarta Post, 29 November 2019

6 .
Indonesia appoints vice-president and Muslim cleric Ma'ruf Amin to tackle radicalisation: The campaign has taken on an added urgency following the discovery that two policewomen and one worker at state-owned PT Krakatau Steel were among dozens of terror suspects arrested in recent months, raising concerns about radicalisation within the civil service... "They [radical groups] entered into all layers [of society] including education. During the entire 10-year administration of the previous government, SBY [former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono] did not take any preventive steps or pressure these groups and so they grew big," said Mamoto [Benny Mamoto, head of research for Police Study and Terrorism at the University of Indonesia].

7 .
Jokowi to Submit Omnibus Law Draft to DPR Next Month: According to him, the government planned to merge dozens of regulations into one policy in a bid to improve the investment climate. He mentioned that investment in Indonesia has grown for the past five years, albeit many obstacles in the regulations. The hindrance, the former Jakarta governor added, was attributable to multiple regulations in the country, both in the central and regional administration. "This issue is not easy to be solved as it involves many policies."

8 .
受佐科委任国企高位 钟万学仕途重现曙光? [Appointed by Joko, is Ahok's career being revived?] 接受《联合早报》访问的新加坡尤索夫伊萨东南亚研究院资深访问研究员廖建裕分析指出,佐科是要钟万学去 " 清理国家石油公司 " ,因为钟万学已证明自己是很能干的行政人员,也是清廉官员。自苏哈多时代,北塔米纳石油公司就被视为贪腐温床,部分政治精英通过国企啃食国家资产。尤索夫伊萨东南亚研究院客座研究员马德( Made Supriatma )也认为,钟万学被赋予整顿国企的任务,但他将面对艰巨挑战。马德向本报分析: " 北塔米纳是很难整顿的,政治精英在里面有太多利益,其中有些政治精英还是钟万学的主要政敌。 "

9 .
Widodo eyes replacing some civil service jobs with AI in 2020: Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Thursday ordered government agencies to remove two ranks of public servants in 2020 and replace their roles with artificial intelligence, in a bid to cut red tape hampering investment. Widodo made the remarks in a room full of leaders of big companies as he laid out a second-term agenda aimed at changing the structure of Southeast Asia's largest economy by reducing its reliance on natural resources.

Asahi Shimbun (AJW), 28 November 2019

10 .
NU Shows Support for Indirect Presidential Election: The Nahdlatul Ulama Executive Board, or PBNU, the executive body of Indonesia's largest Muslim organization, has suggested amending the 1945 Constitution to bring back electoral arrangements last seen under Suharto's New Order, including indirect presidential election and unelected minority delegations in the parliament.


11 .
Laos still winks at tiger farms: The kings of the jungle, an endangered species, are still being trafficked for use as food, medicine and decoration


12 .
Malaysia still discriminates against women over citizenship: Malaysia is one of 25 countries that restricts their women from conferring their nationality to their children, and is one of roughly 50 that limit them from passing it to foreign spouses. Still more unusually, Malaysia discriminates against some fathers, too--it is one of three countries that prevent men from passing citizenship on to their children born outside marriage. Between 2012 and 2017 more than 15,000 children born in Malaysia to Malaysian fathers were denied citizenship.

13 .
Philippine migrants stay in Sabah for jobs and safety: Physical safety and the availability of jobs are the main reasons refugees who fled the southern Philippines in the 1970s as well as their descendants have chosen to remain in Sabah. Many of them work in the so-called "dangerous, dirty and difficult" sectors, but according to Universiti Malaysia Sabah lecturer Lee Kuok Tiun, they are safe from harm and they make good money.

14 .
Beli rumah pada usia muda [Buy house at a young age]: Akibat adanya sejumlah hartanah yang tidak dapat dijual, Johor terpaksa menurunkan harga minimum perolehan hartanah buat warga asing daripada RM1 juta kepada RM600,000 sebagai langkah efisien bagi mengurangkan lambakan hartanah di negeri itu.

15 .
Jangan biarkan si biadab berleluasa [Do not let the rude be rampant]: 'Penghinaan' yang dipaparkan secara terbuka menyebabkan ramai tertanya-tanya apakah agenda sebenar penganjur pada temasya sukan berkenaan? Adakah tidak sengaja atau disengajakan?

16 .
Peratus rakyat anti Tun M lebih tinggi pada PRK Tanjung Piai [The percentage of anti-Tun M people is higher in the Tanjung Piai by-election]: Pengerusi Barisan Nasional (BN) Johor, Datuk Ir Hasni Mohammad berkata, gambaran jelas itu dapat dilihat berdasarkan jumlah kehadiran hambar pengunjung pada program ceramah perdana calon Pakatan Harapan (PH) pada PRK Parlimen Tanjung Piai lalu yang dihadiri Dr Mahathir juga Pengerusi PH.

17 .
Opinion: Addressing the elite gap: The fact is that, then and now, the only ones riding smoothly though the storm have been the political and business elite. This is not unique to Malaysia, of course. Global income inequality is the dominant seed for social and political upheaval across the world, and the loudest rallying cry for nationalists and nationalism everywhere -- from Trump to Modi to Brexit to Italy's Five Star and France's Yellow Vests.
Datuk Wira Dr. Rais Hussin Mohamed Ariff is PPBM Supreme Council Member.
MySinchew, 28 November 2019

18 .
"Universiti untuk Masyarakat" Agenda Penting Institusi Pendidikan Tinggi di Malaysia Demi Kelangsungan Negara ["Universities for the Community", Important Agenda for Higher Education Institutions in Malaysia for National Sustainability]:   Menurut Menteri Pendidikan, untuk membentuk masyarakat yang bersatu padu, pendidikan ialah titik mulanya dan untuk melahirkan masyarakat yang demokratik, bermoral, beretika dan penyayang, pendidikan ialah terasnya.

19 .
AMK tamatkan jawatan Pengerusi, Timbalan Pengerusi Tetap [AMK terminate the Chairman and Permanent Deputy Chairman posts]: Perkara itu didedahkan menerusi surat ditandatangani Setiausaha AMK, Ahmad Syukri Che Ab Razak kelmarin dengan mengemukakan alasan penamatan dibuat kerana umur kedua-dua pemimpin itu telah melebihi 35 tahun seperti ditetapkan parti.

20 .
Muslim preacher Zakir Naik sues Malaysian MP over comments on Tamil Tigers-linked arrests: Hardline televangelist launches legal action against Charles Santiago, saying the politician's remarks have damaged his reputation. Santiago had said the detention of ethnic Indians over alleged links to the militant group was a tool to punish those critical of Zakir


21 .
Electricity rate hike is good for economy: Businesses and the general public in Myanmar are divided on the recent bold policy move to hike electricity tariffs. But the big question is: how can the electricity reform contribute to the country's development? On one hand, the business community seems to be accepting of higher tariff rates as that could lead to a more stable power supply with less power outages.
Jae Young Lee, Paolo Hernando & Nyaung Tai
Myanmar Times, 29 November 2019

22 .
Green light for insurance: Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) Chair U Thaung Tun is seeking to boost local and foreign investment in the agricultural sector in Shan State. To this end, the government is inviting investors to explore opportunities in the state, and the state government will introduce the Shan State Investment Project (2020-2030) and Short Term Agriculture Development Project soon, said Shan State Minister of Planning and Finance U Soe Nyunt Lwin.

23 .
Over 37 m eligible voters recorded for 2020 General Election: UEC: "There are over 17 million male voters and over 19 million female voters. More than three million population are added to the list. Servicemen and their families are not included in the list. The UEC will get the exact figures of servicemen and their families when the election draws near. The number of eligible voters will change after the compilation of voter lists, said Myint Naing, a member of the Union Election Commission, at a ceremony to release the information about the election at the UEC office on November 27.

24 .
SUICJ formed to provide legal opinion on issues related to international criminal law: Myanmar government formed a Special Unit on international criminal justice in order to strengthen internal capacity and expertize and provide legal opinion to relevant ministries on issues related to international criminal law... Union Minister Kyaw Tint Swe presented reports on the application by Gambia at the ICJ.

25 .
ADB approves $195 million financing package for development: The ADB project will identify, develop, and fund at least 15,000 resilient livelihood subprojects, which include new or improved climate-smart agriculture, livestock, fisheries, value addition to farm and nonfarm products, marketing, and the acquisition for new skills and employment. This project also aims to boost female participation, with over 50,000 villagers, 30% of whom are women, expected to become better aware of climate change effects, while learning advanced livelihood management skills.


26 .
Editorial: Tulfo justice: When even high-profile cases like the Maguindanao massacre have taken 10 years (and counting) to be heard in court, who can blame ordinary folk for turning to shortcuts instead of enduring the circuitous path to justice?

Philippine Daily Inquirer, 29 November 2019

27 .
Incompetence and insensitivity: Should it be Ramon Ang, the principal of the firm constructing the extension of the SLEx Skyway? With an open letter to motorists promising that things will get "back to normal" soon, he seems to be owning up to it--even as he rejects the heavy penalty that government is threatening them with for subjecting the public to this undeserved punishment. But the concerned government authorities must take part of the blame for this whole mess as well, as there's been an obvious failure in proactive planning at the least, and likely, a failure in correct and timely action as well.
Cielito F. Habito
Philippine Daily Inquirer, 29 November 2019

28 .
Making the Case for Increased US Basing in the Pacific: The U.S. should look to establish hub and spoke base networks in the Marianas Islands, Palau, and eventually the Philippines.
Lt Col Matt Tuzel is an active duty Air Force officer and a National Security Affairs Fellow at the Hoover Institution.
Diplomat, 28 November 2019

29 .
Southeast Asian Games woes spoil Duterte's coming-out party: A string of problems, from athletes running short of food options and getting stuck at the airport, to accusations over lavish spending on facilities, is overshadowing the games and thwarting Duterte's effort to show off the country's improvements.


30 .
Singapore resident employment rate up, income growth slows: THE resident employment rate was slightly higher in June this year than in June 2018 - despite economic headwinds, going by an advance labour force report released on Thursday. Additionally, workers' income continued to grow over 2019, but at a slower pace than a year ago...

31 .
Fake News is What the Singapore Government Says it is: Correction ordered by government for assertions that appear to be true

32 .
Budget will be strong, suited to what Singapore economy needs: PM Lee Hsien Loong: The next Singapore Budget will be strong, and suitable to the state of the world and what the Singapore economy needs, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told reporters at the conclusion of his five-day visit to South Korea. He said that with major economies like the United States, China and Japan slowing down, it is not surprising that the Singapore economy has been sluggish too.


33 .
Editorial: Apply law of the land to all: The poor had it before. They were accused of encroaching on protected forests or national parks. Thirteen landless forest dwellers were convicted of forest encroachment by the Appeal Court this year and sentenced to imprisonment. Now, an MP from the ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP), Pareena Kraikupt is facing an accusation of committing a similar offence.

34 .
We will keep eating poison for a while yet: This scandalous decision only goes to show that the panel is shamelessly not committed to its declaration that it will make food in Thailand safer by banning these dangerous substances, which have already been phased out in a large number of countries.
Actually, the committee's strong love for these toxic chemicals comes as no surprise -- the agro giants producing them are very powerful. However, with this decision being made, a new can of worms has been forced open. To begin with, some committee members have bravely taken the stand to dispute the panel chair's claim that the U-turn decision was unanimous.

35 .
Upgrading Thai skills: Thailand's Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan has outlined plans to improve the country's vocational education sector. These plans have come following expressed fears that Thailand's education system is not on par with international standards. This is especially important if Thailand hopes to see its ambitious Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) project become a success. The need for a properly trained and cost-effective workforce is emerging as a key concern for demanding prospective investors.

timTimor-Leste (East Timor)

36 .
Chinese and Australian Interests in Timor-Leste: At Odds or Mutually Beneficial? China's approach to its relationship with Timor-Leste has been underpinned by goodwill gestures. China was the first country to formally establish diplomatic relations soon after independence in 2002... Writing in 2006, Dr Ian Storey, who is now a Senior Fellow at the ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute, described the relationship as one that was good, but not that of best friends, adding that China had three key interests in the new country: "to expand its influence in the South-East Asian region, to restrict Taiwan's international space and to gain access to the country's natural resources'.


37 .
Household business requires a new rule for better management: Hieu supported the idea of releasing an independent law for household business -- a unique business model that exists in a few countries including Viet Nam. But in short term, that model should be managed by the Law on Enterprises, which was discussed at the 14th National Assembly's eighth meeting, he added. Hieu is also a member of the writers group that compiled the draft of amended Law on Enterprises.

38 .
Without protection, workers sacrifice rights to be in bosses' good books: Penalties for employers' violations of labor rights and dismissal of employees are much lower than the cost workers would pay to defend their rights. There's no equality in work negotiations. The employers can make their workers do more without violating the laws outright. Inside factories, rules are not only framed by the Labor Code: many other unspoken constraints exist, like a request from managers or just a long-standing norm.

aseASEAN/Southeast Asia

39 .
Taiwan embraces Southeast Asian migrant workers, one book at a time: Hundreds of thousands of Southeast Asian migrant workers, mainly from Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines, travel to seek out jobs in Taiwan. According to Taiwan's Ministry of Labor statistics, there were more than 700,000 foreign workers in productive industries in October 2019 (274,970 from Indonesia, 224,367 from Vietnam, 157,030 from the Philippines, 59,756 from Thailand).

40 .
S. Korea's engagement in the Mekong river is vital for new growth centre: Knowledge and technology transfer, especially the experiences from managing the Han River, are valuable for the Mekong countries to manage the Mekong river in a transparent, sustainable and inclusive manner. Connecting knowledge, connecting stakeholders and connecting action are critical to better governance of the river. The ROK does not have the ambition to compete with other global or regional powers. Hence, it can play a bridging role via promoting complementarity and increase synergy between and among various multilateral mechanisms in the Mekong region.

41 .
ASEAN Smart City Network: Thinking Beyond Ceremonial Paradiplomacy: However, we should not take the program for granted, especially in relation to its expected sustainability and effectiveness. To date, ASEAN has often been criticized for its elitist and state-centric nature and still can improve itself as a people-oriented organization. Therefore, it is imperative to ensure that ASCN is an initiative that truly advocates the local interest of its member cities.


42 .
Time with Trump: Australia and Southeast Asia compared: This difference in engagement with Trump between Australia and the ten states of Southeast Asia over the last two years is stark, particularly given the shared refrain of Australian and Southeast Asian leaders of "not choosing between the US and China". One explanation for this difference could be that Southeast Asian leaders have not been invited to meet with Trump, a sign of American presidential disinterest in Southeast Asia compared with Australia. Another explanation could be that Southeast Asian states have not sought, or sought hard enough, invitations to the White House, a sign of Southeast Asian disinterest compared with Australia in engaging Trump.

asiAsia Pacific

43 .
The new development banks: Paradigm shift or poor imitation? The AIIB had 57 founding members, which has rapidly expanded to 74, with 26 countries waiting to join. Its membership now exceeds that of the Asian Development Bank (ADB)... The AIIB's strong focus on cross-border infrastructure has raised concerns that it is simply another means of financing China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Jin [bank president Jin Liqun] stresses the bank's multilateral nature, although he concedes that both the AIIB and the BRI promote connectivity, like "two engines on the same aircraft".

easEast/South China Sea

44 .
The South China Sea: More dangerous and unstable: Has China won control of the South China Sea? Senior Fellow Daljit Singh of the ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute opines that with the US' toughening stance towards China and an increased danger of a clash from naval and coast guard vessels that often operate at close quarters, China has not won yet.

speClimate Change

45 .
Editorial: Countries need to take urgent action on climate change: IT should be of little surprise that actions by various nations to rein in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are falling short. What may be startling is how drastically insufficient global efforts have been. The latest Emissions Gap Report 2019 by the United Nations Environment Programme...
The info alert is sent to subscribers in the afternoon of Mondays to Fridays (except public holidays). After preliminary selection and collation cut-off around noon, the Library will proceed with the final selection and formatting, which typically will take about 2 hours, before its release around 3 pm or, in the event of special issues being sent, 4 pm. If you have not been receiving past issues regularly, you may want to check your email configuration that may have blocked the delivery.

You may also like to view the immediate past two weeks' issues via the ISEAS Library webpage:

All Back issues of info alert are available at ISEAS Library.

Best effort has been made to ensure the external links provided are valid as of the collation/published date. However, it is still possible that the host servers to the news/articles may be unavailable due to heavy internet traffic or other administrative and technical reasons.
We welcome your suggestions to help us improve the quality of the service. Please take a moment to give us your feedback via the  online feedback form.