ISEAS Library Selects

Daily News on the Southeast Asian Region

4 December 2019  (pm) - 5 December 2019  (am)

This issue of Daily News Alert includes the following commentary attributed to a researcher at ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute. You can click on his  name to go to the article 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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Brunei Darussalam

1 .
Mosque Financial Fund to be implemented January 2020: The Mosque Financial Fund will be implemented in January 2020, with continuous guidance, training and supervision from the Mosque Affairs Department. This was said by Acting Director of the Mosque Affairs Department Haji Amir Hisham bin Haji Masri, during the closing ceremony and certificate presentation at the Jame' 'Asr Hassanil Bolkiah yesterday, for the nationwide Mosque Fund Financial Management Workshop organised by the Mosque Affairs Department. The workshop was aimed at enhancing the knowledge of the mosque officers and mosque Takmir committee members on the financial regulations implemented in Brunei Darussalam, particularly regarding the procedures on the implementation of Mosque Financial Regulations and the Management 1408/1988 and the Mosque Financial Management and Administration Rules 2012.


2 .
What I said then, what I think now: The Khmer Rouge Tribunal: Progress has been lamentably slow, but a decade on, benefits can be seen in Cambodians learning this terrible history.


3 .
Indonesia's profuse green energy may reduce current account deficit: Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan is optimistic about Indonesia's copious green energy aiding the country to improve its current account deficit. Indonesia has green energy that can generate 443,208 megawatts of electricity, he stated at the Bloomberg Forum on New Energy Finance held Shanghai, China, on Wednesday (Dec 4, 2019).

4 .
Golkar eyes reforms in election system: Determined to win the next legislative and presidential elections, the Golkar Party, currently the second-largest party at the House of Representatives, aims to revise the 2017 Elections Law in a bid to improve its chances of achieving its target. Incumbent chairman Airlangga Hartarto, who is expected to secure his reelection and lead the party for the next five years, said Golkar must be the biggest political party in the 2024 legislative race so it could have its own presidential candidate.

5 .
Political parties insist on amending Constitution: President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has expressed his disapproval of the People's Consultative Assembly's (MPR) plan to amend the constitution, saying the nation should focus on the challenges that lie ahead and not on making political noise. Despite the President's opposition, several political parties in his coalition are continuing to press the issue.

6 .
Yogyakarta to restore archaic administrative naming practice: The Yogyakarta administration has issued a new regulation that would bring back a centuries-old administrative naming convention once used at the regency, city, district and subdistrict levels in the days of the special region's ancient monarchy.

7 .
Stage set for Indonesia as Hannover Messe 2020's official partner: Indonesia has been featured as the official partner country at Hannover Messe 2020, the world's leading trade fair for industrial technology, scheduled to be held in the German city of Hannover on April 20-24, 2020. Indonesian companies can capitalize on the event that will feature a trade exhibition along with a broad range of forums, conferences, and special events to study the present and future direction of industry 4.0, top official of the Indonesian Ministry of Industry Doddy Rahadi stated.

8 .
What Jokowi's new cabinet means for Indonesian civil society: With the announcement of President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo's latest cabinet on 23 October 2019, prospects for liberal government reforms have all but vanished. Whether or not Jokowi's appointment of former high-profile members of Indonesia's military and police into cabinet posts was a cunning bid to neutralise his rivals or just a lapse in judgement, the President empowered a national security community set on clawing back influence lost since 1998.
Luke Lischin, National War College
East Asia Forum, 4 December 2019

9 .
Indonesia in talks with Japan to create sovereign wealth fund: Should Indonesia's sovereign wealth fund be based on a models such as that of Temasek, investments into new enterprises could become one of its key mandates. The country is already home to five unicorns -- the most in Southeast Asia -- and Widodo has stated he wants to turn Indonesia into a digital archipelago.

10 .
Indonesia makes foreign digital companies pay local taxes: Indonesia's tax-to-gross domestic product ratio remains low compared with its Southeast Asian peers, restricting government spending on things like fiscal boost to the economy and infrastructure. Collecting taxes from the huge domestic digital economy will give Indonesia a much-needed revenue boost to fund various projects, including the building of the new capital.

11 .
A Ministerial Therapy: Despite being just appointed a minister of health, Lieut. Gen. (ret) Dr. dr. Terawan Agus Putranto should not be let off the hook from being sanctioned for violation of ethics, as ordained by the Indonesian Honorary Board for Medical Ethics. The professional opinion of medical experts should not be shunted aside using power tactics. If the sanctions against Dr. Terawan are ignored, the entire structure and mechanism for the regard of ethics in medicine here will go to pot. The rulings were established to protect the interests of the patient from being given treatment which has not undergone appropriate clinical trials. This is a bad precedent and one that is dangerous.

12 .
Change It Up: Latest Electoral System Deemed a Failure: Researchers from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) have pointed out at least six major problems with the current electoral system. One, during and after the last elections in April, more than 300 election officials had died from fatigue since the counting of the votes had to be done manually. Two, the elections were also deemed overwhelming for voters as they had to cast votes on five separate ballot papers. ...


13 .
Ashes, and the Communist Party of Malaya: The return of Chin Peng's ashes has caused widespread dismay and anger, much of it silent, because it rekindles memories of the insurgency's atrocities and horrors. But some, for simple political reasons, do not share these pains. They defend the ashes, saying the communist insurgency is long past and the matter should not be of interest anymore. If so, why not just leave the ashes abroad, thereby avoiding making the subject current again? And why lambast those who oppose the return of the ashes as bigots and racists? Yes, Malay communists also returned without controversy, but Chin Peng was the top man, hence the dismay. Even if the Hatyai peace agreement allowed all communists to return to Malaya, the party should understand the feelings of the people, and they should know what they should not do.

14 .
PKR vs PKR: A trip down memory lane: PKR dominated the headlines recently as a fight between a faction aligned to president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and another faction backing deputy president Datuk Seri Azmin Ali broke out into the open. That was resolved last night when Azmin met Anwar. Despite the high drama of it all, PKR's internal party crisis is not really news. Some may (or may not) know that this is not the first time the party's infighting has become public.

15 .
Amanah membership swells after PAS-Umno pact: This migration from PAS to Amanah occurred even after the former played up fears among its members that Amanah's partner in Pakatan Harapan, DAP, is anti-Islam. Some of the biggest increases in members occurred in Kelantan, a state PAS has governed for almost three decades, Mohamad told The Malaysian Insight.

Malaysian Insight, 5 December 2019

16 .
从马来人困境到马哈迪困境 ── 论历史规律不可逆性 [From Malay Dilemma to Mahathir Dilemma: On the Irreversibility of Rule of History]: 应当指出,马哈迪或许有足够的智慧解决了出现在他名著《马来人的困境》里的所有问题,使马来人 " 解放 " 了。但是,当今已改朝换代,身居 509 后希盟政府的首相,却被自己逆历史规律产生的 " 马哈迪的困境 " 所捆绑住,无以脱身。若持续 " 懵懂不醒水 " ,如他在丹绒比艾结果揭晓后第三天淡淡提出的所谓 " 解决人民的不满 " ,以 " 头痛医头,脚痛医脚 " 方式,给人民以 " 小恩小惠 " ,可以肯定,最后只会落得个袁世凯或锺卓京的下场。

17 .
Abu komunis dan Empayar NATO [Communist ashes and the NATO Empire]: Pentadbiran Tun Mahathir hari ini diuji dengan rakan kongsi yang agak bermasalah. Tidak cukup dengan membawa pulang abu mayat Chin Peng, ada pula sambutan istimewa besar-besaran peringatan para penderhaka komunis.
Dahulu kita boleh dan telahpun mengalahkan komunis dalam hutan kita. Sekarang kita sedang berdepan pula kemaraan komunis di lautan kita dan dalam arena ideologi politik kita.

18 .
Umno and PKR chart their future: : The Umno and PKR annual meetings this week will see the two biggest parties in Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Harapan attempting to chart their future amid internal and external challenges that are increasingly public and intense. Political analysts said the leaders of both parties would have a tough time managing issues such as infighting, bad optics and possible legal trouble. The PKR congress will be a test for party president and prime minister-in-waiting Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, said Prof Dr Sivamurugan Pandian, from the school of social sciences at Universiti Sains Malaysia.

In conversation: Malaysia's Foreign Minister on great power rivalry: From the South China Sea to the Rohingya crisis, Saifuddin Abdullah speaks to Lowy's Ben Bland on Asia's big challenges.


20 .
Three areas where Myanmar can democratise security: The government and economic institutions in Myanmar were under the tight grip of the armed forces during nearly 50 years of military rule. Despite ongoing unrest and violence in many parts of the country that have rightly grabbed international attention, as of 2019, limited positive trends towards a more accountable security and justice sector can be seen, and Saferworld's latest report looks at opportunities to broaden democratic and public oversight.


21 .
Water wars: Duterte orders prosecution of utility owners: President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday ordered the filing of criminal charges against the Philippines' two biggest water utilities and demanded new deals to replace contracts "onerous and disadvantageous" for ratepayers, his spokesman said. The firebrand Philippines leader acted after utility firms Manila Water and Maynilad Water Services won arbitration cases in Singapore against the government.

22 .
Will Martial Law Finally End in the Southern Philippines? The Philippines' defense chief has recommended that the president not extend martial law for the fourth time following its expiry at the end of 2019.

23 .
Crony capital: How Duterte embraced the oligarchs: One prominent tycoon who spoke on condition of anonymity described the takedown of Roberto Ongpin as ultimately insignificant -- "a grain of sand." Rather than sending a clear message to the country's business oligarchs, the episode left many believing that Duterte has simply opened the door to a new wave of businesspeople and loyalists, who have been given access to political power and lucrative government contracts. [...] One former high-ranking elected official went a step further. Far from taking down a system of businessmen and politicians working together for personal profit, Duterte is "cultivating his own set of cronies," he said.


24 .
Singapore's Long-Awaited Moment May Have Arrived: If Singapore takes over from Hong Kong as Asia's pre-eminent financial center, it won't be because it's become a better place for global capital to shake hands with China. Instead, it will be because global capital may one day come to regard China the same way it now regards Japan - as a vast but challenging market overshadowed by faster-growing rivals.

25 .
Mega projects to fuel Singapore's long-term tourism: SINGAPORE'S two integrated resorts (IRs) have been a roaring success, but there's been no let-up in efforts to keep the nation's tourism momentum going. Over the next few years, the Mandai eco-tourism hub and Jurong Lake District, and SGD9 billion in further commitments by...

26 .
Suzhou joint industrial park hailed as Singapore steps up China cooperation: Chinese officials in the Lion City eyeing business opportunities heap praise on China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park as it hits 25 years old. Visit comes as Singapore looks to boost ties with China following rocky relations in recent years

27 .
The Odd Couple: Singapore's Relations With China: As to why China and Singapore developed a special relationship can be traced back to the latter's spectacular economic growth after its independence in 1965. With the exception of three years, Singapore's economy would grow at an annual rate of over six percent for three decades (and over ten percent for half that time). As the title of former Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Kwan Yew's memoir recounted, Singapore soared "from third world to first." Throughout that period, Lee's political party remained (and still remains) at the helm. To outside observers, Lee's Singapore became the exemplar of how to create economic prosperity under one-party rule.


Lost S44 bid not the end: After putting up a tough fight, the Prayut Chan-o-cha coalition government has narrowly defeated a motion to set up a panel to study the impact of orders issued under the contentious Section 44 of the coup charter. However, there is very little for it to feel proud about. Their victory came after the opposition bloc staged a walkout in protest at the vote.

The vicious economic cycle has begun: Do not be surprised to see the government constantly coming out with economic good news such as its claims there are more factories opening than closing and more jobs being created. Or that the government is confident the bottom has been reached and a brighter economic outlook is set for next year. It is their job to create hope, while it is also my job to give readers the real economic picture. These pieces of information are accurate but, unfortunately, their stories do not go along with the real numbers. And remember, numbers never lie.

30 .
Fighting the chill: Thailand's first election since 2011 saw ex-military leader Prayut Chan-ocha elected prime minister in March. But in the face of the government's challenge to upstart opposition politician Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit of the Future Forward Party, as well as dissenters nationwide, Thai civil society activists have vowed to keep fighting.
Southeast Asia Globe, 5 December 2019

31 .
National security and "immunising" Thais to political conflict: The government of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha released Thailand's 2019-22 National Security Policy and Plan on 19 November. Prepared by the country's National Security Council, the document adopts distinctively progressive language in its discussion of the challenges that Thailand faces in the international, regional, and domestic contexts. It thus suggests the current Prayut government's acceptance of a range of liberal norms. This acceptance is, however, deceptive, particularly as regards the country's domestic political order.

32 .
Thais tighten their belts as economy slows: BANGKOK - Sitting down and playing with her smartphone, store owner Thienmanee Ngamsaptawee waited for customers to go to her aroma product shop on a Sunday afternoon at Bangkok's once bustling Chatuchak weekend market. "Five years ago, I hardly had time to sit down. Now, I don't have much to do," Mrs Thienmanee, the owner of two outlets at the market, told The Straits Times.
Hathai Techakitteranun
Straits Times, 4 December 2019


33 .
HCMC is 3rd best city for expats in 2020: survey: Despite making poor impression with environment pollution, Vietnam's economic hub HCMC has climbed to the world's third best city for expats to live and work in next year. Accommodation, finance and low cost of living make the city attractive to expats, a survey by InterNations, the largest global community and information site for people who live and work abroad, found.

34 .
Rising Sea Levels And Disappearing Mangrove Forests Spell Trouble For Vietnam: The Delta still suffers from the impact of an ill-advised attempt by the Communist authorities after they took power in South Vietnam in the spring of 1975 to increase rice production there... Add to this loss of mangrove forests the impacts of climate change and the upstream hydropower dams in China and Laos which have blocked much of the sediment that once reached the Delta and replenished it with nutrients, and you have a disaster in the making.

35 .
What does a $9 billion trade surplus mean for Vietnam? According to GDC, in the first 10 months of 2019, total import and export turnover reached $429 billion, an increase of 8 percent compared with the same period last year. Of this, the export value hit $219 billion, up by 8.3 percent, while the import turnover was $210 billion, up by 7.7 percent.

36 .
New FTAs put pressure on VN to reform business practices: The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the EU-Vietnam FTA (EVFTA) trade deals will have a significant impact on the economy, according to Pham Binh An, director of the HCM City International Integration Support Centre. The CPTPP and EVFTA could help increase Vietnam's GDP by 4.3 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively, by 2030, he said.

ASEANASEAN/Southeast Asia

37 .
ASEAN's response to Industry 4.0: At ASEAN's core is a unique approach to regional governance, called the ASEAN Way - a commitment to the principles of non-interference in domestic affairs of member states, utmost respect for national sovereignty as well as an informal decision-making process between ASEAN leaders. However, the system of "decision by consensus" has increasingly come under scrutiny in the era of Industry 4.0.

Chairman of Presidential Office pays working visit to Laos: Member of the Party Central Committee and Chairman of the Presidential Office Dao Viet Trung met Party General Secretary and President Bounnhang Vorachith in Vientiane on December 4 as part of his working visit to Laos.

SpecialGlobal Economy

Former US envoy says Chinese officials anticipate 'partial decoupling' of the nations' economies: Susan Thornton, former Trump administration expert on Asia, discusses her recent conversations with Chinese


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