ISEAS Library Selects

Daily News on the Southeast Asian Region

3 December 2019  (pm) - 4 December 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. 
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1 .
Monas blast raises questions over national security: Jakarta Police chief Insp. Gen. Gatot Eddy Pramono has asked the public not to exaggerate the incident as it was just a smoke grenade. [...] However, [security analyst Stanislaus Riyanta] said that even though it was a low-explosive grenade and "not dangerous" police needed to investigate who took it there.

2 .
President Jokowi Ratifies Electronic Systems Trade Law: President Jokowi has officially signed the Government's Decree (PP) No. 80/2019 overseeing trade activities via electronic system on November 20. This follows the requirement mentioned in Article 66 of Law No.7/2014 regarding trade.

3 .
BKPM offers Chinese investors US$91.1 billion infrastructure projects: Indonesia's Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) offered 28 infrastructure projects worth US$91.1 billion to investors under China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in Chongqing port city, Sichuan Province, an official noted in a statement issued here,Tuesday.

4 .
Indonesian fires burned 1.6 million hectares of land this year: Jakarta-based Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) said its analysis of satellite imagery from the first 10 months of the year showed much of the fires was in lands cleared years ago. "We found that 76 percent of burning occurred on idle lands. Those lands were forests a few years ago, but cycles of repeated burns have converted them to unproductive degraded scrublands," CIFOR scientists led by David Gaveau said in a statement.

Asahi Shimbun (AJW), 3 December 2019

5 .
Defiant Islamists Rally in Jakarta: Show of force in center of Capital

6 .
Anies Baswedan: Jakarta Budget Plan Rises by 1.22 Percent: Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan has submitted the city budget plan worth Rp87.95 trillion to the City Legislative Council (DPRD) on Tuesday, December 3. According to Anies, the figure is up by 1.22 percent from the 2019 city budget of Rp86.89 trillion and is in accordance with the 2020 General Budget Policies and Provisional Budget Ceiling and Priorities (KUA-PPAS) agreed by the city administration and the DPRD.

7 .
Indonesia charges tourists $1,000 to see Komodo dragons: Indonesia is relying on its Komodo dragons to attract a wealthier class of western visitor by proposing a $1,000 fee for the right to access the fearsome reptiles' island home. President Widodo said yesterday that he was in discussions with the authorities in Labuan Bajo, the gateway to the nearby Komodo, about introducing the annual fee. He said that the country wanted to attract only "super-premium" tourists and urged the island authorities not to "mix with the middle-lower ones". Siwage Dharma Negara, an economist with the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, a Singapore-based think tank, said: "I think the plan might be good depending on how it is implemented." He cautioned that "of course you can't deny non-high-end tourists the opportunity to access the destinations".

8 .
Indonesia politics: Government introduces measures to reduce Islamist extremism: The president, Joko Widodo (known as Jokowi) is strengthening efforts to contain hardline political Islam in the world's largest Muslim-majority country. Around 90% of Indonesia's population of 260m is Muslim, most traditionally identifying with a syncretism of Islamic doctrine and traditional beliefs. However, survey data suggest increasingly hardline attitudes among the country's youth. Keen to preserve the country's moderate traditions, Jokowi has already proscribed one extremist political organisation. The government now plans to vet public servants while increasing supervision of the education system.

9 .
Jokowi Says No to Constitutional Amendment, Even If It Gives Him Another Tilt at Presidency: President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo says Indonesia's lawmakers should stop attempting to amend the 1945 Constitution and focus instead on fighting "external pressures" and improving the economy. Several lawmakers had initially pushed for the reinstatement of the New Order-style state policy guidelines (GBHN) to give political parties the upper hand in the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR), for which an amendment of the 1945 Constitution would be needed.


10 .
What to Make of Malaysia's New Defense White Paper Launch: While questions have lingered about its process and prospects, if properly executed, the undertaking would represent a significant development for Malaysia's defense policy and the new PH government in terms of clearly articulating a longer-term strategic defense vision, educating the public about security issues, and increasing transparency in the defense domain.

11 .
Anwar vs Azmin: Both will lose: Azmin and his backers have been agitating against Anwar, with Azmin directly saying, on a few occasions, that Mahathir should complete a full term, although the Pakatan Harapan leadership had agreed before the May 9, 2018 general election that Mahathir would hand over the reins to Anwar before the term ends.

12 .
Cyberjaya, the home for Malaysia's Apec summit then and now: More than two decades ago in 1998, Cyberjaya which was known then as the country's Multimedia Super Corridor hosted the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) 1998 leaders' meeting. Today, the 22-year-old Cyberjaya was thrust into the limelight again by playing host to the official launch of Apec 2020 Malaysia.

13 .
Confident Umno roaring back at AGM: Former Umno president and prime minister Najib Razak's alleged corruption involving 1Malaysia Development Bhd proved to be Umno's undoing at GE14 and Pakatan Harapan's weapon to oust the ruling coalition that has led Malaysia for six decades. But [opposition leader and Umno vice-president Ismail Sabri Yaakob] concedes that younger voters, especially, are more concerned about these kinds of issues, rather than personality and the contributions of MPs to constituents, a strategy Umno, with federal resources at its disposal while it was in government, often relied on.

Malaysian Insight, 4 December 2019

14 .
专栏 : 那段历史与陈平归家的夙愿 [That piece of history and Chin Peng's wish to return home] : 慘烈战争及后來紧急状态的苦难记忆,对年轻一代已经相当模煳,更别说冷战意识早已进入历史。如今巫统及伊党领袖再高喊反共,更多的是想挑起恐共情绪。虽然当年一些经历这段历史的军警或平民百姓,可能仍无法释怀紧急状态时的苦难及牺牲。这种心情可以理解,但不意味着政治人物就能操弄这情绪來捞取政治利益。
Malaysian Insight, 4 December 2019

15 .
Had jawatan PM: Semua ahli Parlimen perlu sokong [Limit PM's term: All Members of the Parliament need to support]: Penganalisis politik, Azmi Hassan berkata, menetapkan tempoh masa had jawatan Perdana Menteri selama dua penggal adalah berpatutan kerana jangka masa tempoh 10 tahun adalah satu tempoh yang lama untuk memegang jawatan politik bagi pemimpin negara.

16 .
Mengurus kebangkitan semula [Managing the revival]: Bagaikan dirasuk, UMNO seolah-olah hilang pedoman dan arah tuju buat seketika. Di saat itu juga ramai yang melihat jangka hayat UMNO hampir pasti menemui pengakhirannya.
Sinar Harian, 4 December 2019

17 .
Semangat reformasi atau protes? [Reform or protest spirit?] Menjelang Kongres Nasional PKR 2019 yang bakal diadakan di Pusat Dagangan Antarabangsa Melaka (MITC) hujung minggu ini, kemelut dalaman PKR terus bertiup walaupun pemimpin-pemimpin tertinggi parti cuba menyembunyikannya.

18 .
Dalam bahtera PKR hanya ada seorang nakhoda [There is only one admiral on the PKR ship]: PKR selaku sebuah parti reformasi tidak mengizinkan amalan kultus peribadi atau pemujaan seseorang pemimpin. Tidak ada halangan kepada Azmin sekarang atau sesiapa saja untuk merebut jawatan presiden PKR dari Anwar dalam pemilihan pimpinan akan datang.
Hassan Abdul Karim ialah Ahli Parlimen Pasir Gudang.
Malaysian Insight, 3 December 2019

19 .
Editorial: When a communist ghost still haunts: It is [...] unsurprising that Chin Peng continues to be the favourite punching bag even after death in the current political climate where politics of race and religion is vigorously embraced and practised by certain quarters. Chin Peng fit snugly the bill of being an ethnic Chinese leader of the CPM, and godless communist to boot.
Mustafa K. Anuar
Malaysian Insight, 3 December 2019

20 .
Opinion: PH's precarious position: Pakatan Harapan is not just plagued by endless internal conflicts, there are intrinsic problems with each of the component parties.
MySinchew, 3 December 2019

21 .
数码服务税大势所趋 [Digital tax is irreversible]: 依据今年 4 月通过的《 2019 年服务税(修正)法案》, 6 %的数码服务税,主要针对外国数码服务商,而涵盖的范围包括下载软件、音乐、视频或数码广告等。一些著名网络平台如音乐平台 Spotify 、影视平台 Netflix 和游戏平台 Steam ,已被圈定为征收新税款的公司之一。这是因为现有的税制是依据企业盈利及所在地或登记处来课税,这让许多海外科技公司或数码服务提供商,虽从本地消费中获利,却可不必交税,甚至一些科技巨头公司更被指为了避税,而选择在低税率地区如百慕达注册。因此,世界各国开始拟订条例,以应对此经济模式。
Oriental Daily, 3 December 2019

22 .
Google laksana cukai digital 6 peratus bermula tahun depan [Google is implementing a 6 percent digital tax starting next year]: Memetik laporan The Star, jurucakap syarikat enjin carian itu menjelaskan, keputusan tersebut dibuat bagi mematuhi Cukai Jualan dan Perkhidmatan (SST) yang akan dilaksanakan pada tahun depan.

23 .
MoU penulisan ensiklopedia UMNO dimeterai pada PAU 2019 [The MoU of UMNO encyclopedia of writing is signed in 2019]: Tambah Shamsul Anuar, penulisan itu menjadi bukti segala sumbangan UMNO dan Barisan Nasional (BN) untuk rakyat dan pembangunan negara yang dinikmati kini.

24 .
Former Malaysian PM Najib Razak was a 'victim' of 1MDB scandal, lawyer argues: Low "portrayed himself as someone influential in the Middle East countries", Najib told the packed courtroom, speaking calmly during five hours of testimony. "I thought his influence and connections will help 1MDB achieve its goals and attract investments."


25 .
'My dignity is destroyed': the scourge of sexual violence in Cox's Bazar: With rape and domestic abuse endemic in the lawless refugee camp, safe spaces have been set up to help the women affected

26 .
Employment increases for disabled people in Myanmar: Earlier this year, the Myanmar Federation of Persons with Disabilities called on the government to accelerate the implementation of the 2015 law by registering persons with disabilities. U Thein Lwin, acting chair of the federation, said that disabled people need jobs to ensure that they could make use of their hard-won education.
U Win Naing, Myanmar Industries Association deputy chair, also said this year that the UMFCCI was committed to ensuring that the country made the most of the talent and skills of persons with disabilities. Businesses were looking for guidance and support on how to do this, as well as clarity from the government on issues such as registration.
John Liu & Kyaw Soe Htet
Myanmar Times, 3 December 2019

27 .
Myanmar's interventionist trade bill alarms business: Draft legislation revised by Myanmar's Ministry of Commerce would require many companies to submit to another layer of government approval and enable ministries to further regulate broad areas of the economy. The lack of clarity and room for government intervention in the latest draft trade bill has alarmed the Yangon corporate community by introducing more bureaucracy and protectionism in an already difficult business environment. The bill also appears to be at loggerheads with reform measures led by other ministries.

28 .
Bangladesh Bars Rohingya Children from Education, Human Rights Watch Says: Bangladesh has prohibited humanitarian aid groups from teaching Rohingya children a formal curriculum and barred school-age refugees from accessing education outside their camps to block them from integrating with local communities, Human Rights Watch said in a report Tuesday.


29 .
Independent audit needed: There is now independent corroboration of the troubling disclosure made recently to senators about the state of affairs in the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP). In a report, CNN said it was able to obtain an internal report prepared for lawmakers that said the country's power grid, which transports power generated by power plants all over the country to electricity distributors which then bring the power to commercial and industrial establishments as well as households, is under "the full control of the Chinese government and could be shut off in time of conflict."

Philippine Daily Inquirer, 4 December 2019

30 .
What Do the Philippines' New Cobra Helicopters Mean for Its Military? Per the Philippine News Agency, Philippine Department of National Defense (DND) spokesman Arsenio Andolong told reporters in a statement that the two helicopters would be used mainly for close air support in internal security and counterterrorism operations. He added that the helicopters which were a manifestation of the "widening" of the Philippines' "circle of friends" - in line with Duterte's so-called independent foreign policy - and "will immensely help our troops on the ground and enhance the overall capability of the PAF."


31 .
Singapore business sentiment up slightly in Q1 2020; hiring to drop: BUSINESS sentiment among local firms has risen slightly for the first quarter of 2020, according to the latest Business Optimism Index study by the Singapore Commercial Credit Bureau (SCCB). The services sector was the most upbeat, but hiring overall is expected to take a...

32 .
Pisa: It's OK to be No. 2 in academics, Singapore should focus on student well-being: Singapore educators deserve to be congratulated for how well they continue to prepare their young charges for an increasingly complex, ambiguous and volatile world, going by the results of the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) test released on Tuesday (Dec 3).Even though the Republic's 15-year-olds lost their 2015 pole position to their peers from Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang in China, they came in a strong second in the study done every three years by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).


33 .
Defending the indefensible? This week, both the government and the Defence Ministry went on the defensive. They have publicly countered the opposition's quest to scrutinise the military's "off-budget" spending and abolish conscription. Unfortunately, their defence has ended up as almost indefensible -- simply because their arguments lack any real substance.

34 .
US weapons sales to Thailand have a new competitor: Competition between the US and China also has extended to military exercises in recent years. Thailand continues to host the US-backed "Cobra Gold" exercise, the largest military drill in Asia, which this year featured 29 participating countries including 4,500 US personnel and several dozen from China. At the same time, Thailand has participated in more combined military exercises with China than any other South-east Asian country, according to Ian Storey, a senior fellow at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute.


35 .
Diplomatic efforts needed to prevent worst impacts of upstream Mekong dams: Provincial authorities in the Mekong Delta have asked Vietnamese officials to address the inter-Governmental Mekong River Commission and step up diplomatic efforts to deal with countries upstream that are threatening the flow of the giant water resource.

36 .
Forest management sector to improve forest protection: It is forecast that climate change will increase the risk of forest fires next year, therefore concerned organisations should be vigilant and prepare for fire prevention and control. Deputy director of the Department of Forest Management Do Trọng Kim made the statement at a conference held on Monday in the northern mountainous province of Lai Chau.

37 .
30 commodities see export turnover of over US$1 billion: During the 11-month period, the nation's export turnover reached approximately US$241.42 billion, up 7.8 per cent. In total, 30 export items enjoyed export turnover of over US$1 billion during the reviewed period, making up 91.6 per cent of the country's total export turnover. Among the commodities, phones and components posted the largest export value with US$48.7 billion, accounting for 20.2 per cent of total exports, a rise of 5.4 per cent on-year.

38 .
Jailed Journalist Urges EU Not to Ratify FTA With Vietnam: The video message was played during a conference on "Human Rights and the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement," hosted by MEP Julie Ward and organized by the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights (VCHR) and other civil society organizations... A founding member of the Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam (IJAVN), Pham said he and the organization were "keenly concerned" about the upcoming ratification of both the EVFTA and the accompanying EU - Vietnam Investment Protection Agreement (IPA).

39 .
Experts describe value of palace in Thái Bình: According to researchers, rare materials had been found at Lo Giang Palace that were unlike finds at other Tran palaces including Thien Trưong (Nam Định Province) and VuLam (Ninh Bình Province). Scientists from the Institute of Imperial Citadel Studies conducted excavations in 2014, 2015 and 2017 at Hong Minh Commune in Hưng Hà District and discovered various building materials and daily utensils, and the foundations of stone pillars at Thái Temple.

40 .
Vietnam, Japan strengthen people-to-people diplomacy: Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung gave a reception to Vice President of the Japanese International Friendship Exchange Council (FEC) Onoi Yoshiki in Hanoi on December 3. The Deputy PM highlighted the thriving Vietnam-Japan extensive strategic partnership on the basis of the consolidated political trust, saying the two countries have become leading partners in economics, trade and investment. Japan has been Vietnam's largest official development assistance (ODA) provider with total capital amounting to roughly US$27 billion. The East Asian nation is also the fourth biggest trade partner of Vietnam with two-way trade reaching around US$38 billion last year.

ASEANASEAN/Southeast Asia

41 .
ASEAN fights to stay neutral in the US-China contest: ASEAN should not choose between one or the other but continue to engage both. In the short term, governments swaying between the United States and China should make choices on a case-by-case basis. This means taking a stance on an issue, not a country. Engaging both the United States and China is still the preferred policy for ASEAN. Yet, increasing US-China tensions are putting new pressure on that policy. The emerging reality is that each stance will likely influence the next. In technology, interoperability will have to be a long-term consideration. Parameters such as building up infrastructure, advancing technology networks and protecting citizens seem neutral but may not lead to an effective balancing act.
Simon Tay and Jessica Wau, SIIA
East Asia Forum, 3 December 2019

AsiaAsia Pacific

42 .
Japan and Asia's mutual challenges: As the region's major economic powerhouse, there is vast room for Japan to accept workers from Asia's vibrant young labor force. It is not just Japan, however, that wants young Asian workers. China and South Korea, as well as European countries also want to attract talented workers in massive numbers. If Japan lags behind in developing a system to accept Asian workers, it will lose out to other nations.

SCSEast/South China Sea

43 .
Beijing-Tokyo distrust lingers as record number of Chinese ships seen near Diaoyu Islands: A record 998 Chinese government ships have been identified in waters close to disputed Japanese-held islands in the East China Sea in the first 11 months of the year, underlining the lingering distrust that exists between Tokyo and Beijing despite what appear to be improved bilateral relations.

SpecialClimate Change

44 .
Persistent carbon emissions signal global climate goal is out of reach: While global carbon emissions growth is slowing, the persistent rise is a warning that governments aren't doing enough to stave off the worst consequences of climate change, according to a new report. Carbon-dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels likely increased by 0.6 per cent this year, down from 2.1 per cent in 2018, according to a report from the Australia-based Global Carbon Project.

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

45 .
Insight: RCEP is about ASEAN's initiative, not China's: Apart from increasing its security cooperation and bilateral economic relations, Japan seems to view India's participation in the RCEP as a means to counter China's regional dominance. That India was unable to proceed in the RCEP is regretful for ASEAN. And so is Japan not moving forward with the agreement for it.
Rocky Intan. Researcher for the international relations department, Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)
Jakarta Post, 4 December 2019


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