“Vietnam Strengthens Ties with China amidst Regional Uncertainty” a Commentary by Le Hong Hiep


2017/4, 19 January 2017

Last week, General Secretary of Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) Nguyen Phu Trong paid an official visit to China, the first since his re-election at the CPV’s 12th Congress in January 2016. President Xi Jinping accorded Mr Trong the highest level of protocol with a 21-gun salute and a special tea party arranged in his honour. In the final leg of the visit, Mr Trong went to Hangzhou, a major city that represents strong historical, political, and economic ties between the two countries.


“What Lies Ahead for Sarawak with Adenan Satem’s passing?” a Commentary by Lee Hock Guan and Lee Poh Onn


2017/3, 12 January 2017

Sarawak’s very popular, his approval rating was 85 percent, Chief Minister Adenan Satem, passed away at 1.24pm on Wednesday just nearly two weeks shy of his 73rd birthday after suffering a cardiac arrest. Adenan was the first Malay politician to hold the Chief Minister post after he replaced long serving Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud, a Melanau, on 1 March 2014; the latter served as Chief Minister for 33 years. In addition, Adenan also replaced Taib Mahmud as the President of Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), the largest Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition partner in Sarawak.


“”Islamization of Politics” in Indonesia and Malaysia?” a Commentary by Leo Suryadinata


2017/2, 12 January 2017

Recent political developments in Indonesia and Malaysia witnessed the force of Islam in influencing, if not determining, the political processes.


“Indonesia Ratifies Maritime Border Treaty with Singapore”, a Commentary by Mustafa Izzuddin


Commentary 2017/1, 5 January 2017 

On 15 December 2016, the Indonesian parliament (DPR) ratified a sea border treaty between Indonesia and Singapore to demarcate the maritime boundary in the eastern section of the Singapore Strait, covering a 9.45 km stretch between Changi and Batam. This ratification, achieved 27 months after this treaty was signed in September 2014, took place during a recently-concluded month-long parliamentary session in which DPR legislators passed only two bills into law, one of them being this bilateral maritime treaty, while delaying forty others. What then were the reasons for prioritising the ratification of this treaty bill?


“Migrant Worker Abuse Remains a Problem in Malaysia”, a Commentary by Lee Hwok-Aun


2016/85 15 December 2016

The Guardian’s exposé of severe worker exploitation in Samsung, Panasonic and McDonald’s shines an accusing spotlight on Malaysia’s labour practices again (please click here and here to read more). This investigative report by the UK newspaper comes two years after the NGO Verité’s extensive survey (please click here to read more) concluded that about one third of workers in electronics factories experience forced labour conditions, and five years after Malaysia pronounced a policy decision to phase out indirect recruitment through labour outsourcing, a systemic factor in violations against decent work and human rights.


“Reviving the Glory Days of Malacca”, a Commentary by Serina Rahman


2016/84 14 December 2016

The recently launched Kuala Linggi International Port (KLIP) will complete the Malacca Port Development Masterplan. Already on the cards are the Melaka Gateway Port (tourism), the Sungai Udang Port (military), the Tangga Batu Port (oil and gas), the Sungai Rambai Port (mining and minerals), the Tangga Batu Port (oil and gas) and the Umbai Port (fishing).  These plans were proposed to “spur the state’s economic activities and relive the glory of Malacca Port of the 15th Century”.


“Singapore and Malaysia aiming for High-Speed Rail by end-2026”, a Commentary by Francis E. Hutchinson


2016/83 14 December 2016

Yesterday, the Prime Ministers of Singapore and Malaysia witnessed the signing of a legally-binding bilateral agreement to build a high-speed rail (HSR) between their two economic capitals. The agreement signed yesterday is thus the latest step towards the construction of the transport link.


“Stumbling Blocks to RCEP”, a Commentary by Sanchita Basu Das


2016/82 13 December 2016

The 16 participating countries of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) concluded the 16th round of negotiations in Indonesia from 2nd to 10th December. In spite of the reports of the snail-paced progress, the chapters on economic and technical cooperation as well as small and medium enterprises were successfully negotiated. However, discussions over trade in goods, services, investment, intellectual property rights (IPR), competition policy and movement of labour remain deadlocked.


“Services to Drive Future Growth: Implications for CLMV Countries”, a Commentary by Tham Siew Yean


2016/81 13 December 2016

The services sector is deemed to drive the future growth of the Asia Pacific region. The importance of services is attributed to its use as inputs in the production of both goods and services. For manufacturing, services are needed to facilitate the shift up global value chains. Efficient services can have a positive impact on the productivity, competitiveness and the growth of an economy. The sector also promotes inclusiveness as it provides opportunities for female workers to be gainfully employed, thereby improving the utilization of a country’s labour force.


“Managing the Rohingya Issue through Quiet Diplomacy”, a commentary by Hoang Thi Ha


2016/80 12 December 2016

The recent flare-up of the Rohingya problem has grave ramifications on ASEAN unity when Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak broke the silence in condemning the Myanmar government on the ground of “genocide” and questioning Aung San Suu Kyi’s leadership credentials. Criticising Najib’s move as interference in Myanmar’s internal affairs to gain support from Malaysia’s Muslim electorate, the Myanmar government stopped issuing new permits for its nationals to work in Malaysia. As tensions between the two countries continue to rise, there is a danger that the discord will spill over to jeopardise the unity of the ten-member regional organization.