Opinion

Our experts on Asia guide you through the big issues facing the region
  1. The humble durian has been hitting the headlines ever since China approved the import of flash-frozen whole Malaysian durians back in March. Since then, there has been much speculation over the economic, social and environmental impacts the move will have.There is great demand in China for durian, especially the premium Malaysian variety, Musang King, which fetches high prices abroad: a 300g box of frozen Musang King pulp can be sold for up to 328 yuan (US$48).But so far, Malaysian durians…
  2. There has long been a question mark over the accuracy of Chinese statistics, especially when it comes to the economy. But Beijing’s latest move to revise up its GDP figures at a politically sensitive moment has only poured fuel on the fire.The National Bureau of Statistics’ recent decision to revise up its nominal gross domestic product figure by 2.1 per cent to 91.93 trillion yuan (US$13.08 trillion) following a census has stirred anxieties about the already gloomy outlook for the second…
  3. At a time when China is being systematically portrayed as a bogeyman trying to take over Australia’s political system, the emergence in October of a self-proclaimed Chinese spy claiming to have a trove of insider secrets to spill about China’s intelligence operations should have been a dream come true for Canberra’s top spooks.But instead of putting Wang Liqiang in a secure location for a thorough debriefing which could take months, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation apparently…
  4. While the United States has turned a new page in its relations with former adversary Vietnam, cracks in ties with long-standing allies the Philippines and Thailand present challenges for its foreign policy in Southeast Asia. The bid to strengthen its historical alliances in the region – and win a new partner – will test Washington’s ability to sustain its post-war hub-and-spokes system of influence while trying to enlarge it against the backdrop of China’s growing economic and political clout. …
  5. The recent soft launch of the Shared Prosperity Vision (SPV), Malaysia’s development road map from 2021 to 2030, places a heavy emphasis on Bumiputra development, while setting “decent living for all” as an overarching goal. Understandably, the ruling Pakatan Harapan coalition is under pressure to show the majority Bumiputra population – comprised of Malays and indigenous groups – that their interests and apprehensions are addressed.At the May 2018 general elections, Pakatan Harapan secured…
  6. Gawing – a member of Sarawak’s indigenous Iban race and a Christian – was 19 when he first arrived in the state of Johor back in 1993. He certainly never expected – just over a quarter of a century later – to be living and working in the state capital of Johor Bahru.Growing up in an isolated longhouse community about 250km from Kuching, the capital of East Malaysian state of Sarawak, and the eldest son of struggling black pepper farmers, he received a scholarship to study civil engineering.One…
  7. Myanmar’s Rohingya crisis is sliding dangerously backwards. The denial of civil rights, a massive land grab and an upsurge in armed fighting undermine any real hope for change. Despite reports that some Rohingya refugees have returned to Myanmar, the suggestion that more will follow stands in stark contrast to what I witnessed recently when visiting the areas from which they fled. International solidarity with these stateless people needs a fundamental rethink. If we succeed to only administer…
  8. The association of the five major emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – the BRICS bloc – was originally about recognising economic potential. All five were supposed to be on their way to becoming developed powerhouses of the global economy.Since 2001, when the Goldman Sachs economist Jim O’Neill coined the acronym, the bloc’s combined share of the world economy has jumped from just eight per cent of global GDP to about a quarter.As the bloc accounts for some 40…
  9. As Hong Kong ’s protest violence escalates into a breakdown of law and order, it is inevitable that the city’s legal system and the judicial independence underpinning the “one country, two systems” formula are being put to their biggest test since 1997.On Tuesday, Beijing slammed the city’s judiciary after the Hong Kong High Court ruled a day earlier that a government ban on protesters wearing masks was unconstitutional. The rebuke has raised concerns that the central government may use its…
  10. Shinzo Abe is now the longest-serving prime minister in Japanese history. On November 20, he surpassed the record of General Taro Katsura, who served for 2,886 days over three separate terms more than a century ago. Abe’s time in office has been marked by successes in domestic politics and foreign policy – but his attempts to resuscitate Japan’s economy have had mixed results, and his administration is no stranger to scandal. So what has kept his position secure for so long, and how will his…