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"Vietnam’s Nuclear Power Ambition Faces Headwinds", a Commentary by Le Hong Hiep

2016/71, 16 November 2016 On 14 November 2016, Vietnam’s National Assembly held a closed-door session to discuss the government’s decision to postpone the construction of two nuclear power plants until a later date. The decision highlights significant challenges that the Vietnamese government is facing in realizing its ambition to develop…
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"Dangerous Dichotomy", a Commentary by Malcolm Cook

2016/70, 3 November 2016 The Cold War is revived, in the minds of a growing number of analysts (and political leaders) opining on current events in East Asia. We are told that Malaysia’s decision to buy a small number of vessels from China is a nail in the coffin of…
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"A Political Reading of Najib’s Visit to China", by Tang Siew Mun

Commentary 2016/69, 1 November 2016 Yesterday, Prime Minister Najib Razak kicked off his week-long official visit to China. The visit, which comes hot on the heels of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s “gift” of separation from the US last month,” will be closely scrutinised for signs of a “China turn.” The…
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"Malaysia’s 2017 Budget: A Budget for the 14th General Elections?", a Commentary by Cassey Lee

Commentary 2016/68, 26 October 2016 On the surface, the recently unveiled 2017 Budget is unremarkable. The total allocation has increased by 3.4% - smaller if adjusted for inflation (2.3% in 2016). The deficit as a percentage of GDP is projected to decline by a mere 0.1%. As for economic growth,…
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"The Religiously Halal is not the Officially Halal…", a Commentary by Hew Wai Weng

Commentary 2016/67, 24 October 2016 Recently, ‘hotdog’, together with root beer, bacon and other terms made news headlines in Malaysia. It was reported that the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) has recommended that the pretzel chain Auntie Anne’s rename its ‘pretzel dog’ to ‘pretzel sausage’ if they wished to be…
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"The Death of a King", a Commentary by Terence Chong

Commentary 2016/66, 14 October 2016 It is difficult to understate the momentousness of King Bhumibol’s passing. Although his death had long been anticipated in light of his absence from public life, the finality of the situation will mark a watershed for many Thais. Since his ascent to the throne in…
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"Duterte’s Policy Process", a Commentary by Malcolm Cook

Commentary 2016/65, 30 September 2016 The predominantly profane language President Duterte uses to announce presidential changes to Philippine foreign and security policy continues to capture headlines. The substance of these changes – distancing the Philippines from the United States and adopting approaches to the South China disputes favoured by China…
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"Extreme Partisan Gerrymandering Malaysian Style", a Commentary by Lee Hock Guan

Commentary 2016/64, 26 September 2016The Election Commission of Malaysia (EC) is a constitutional body entrusted with the task of delineating federal and state constituencies, preparing and revising electoral rolls, and overseeing all federal and state elections. Originally, the EC’s role in the institutionalization of democratic norms through creating and conducting…
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"Questions on China’s Friendship Treaty Proposal", a Commentary by Tang Siew Mun

Commentary 2016/63, 16 September 2016 The 19th ASEAN-China Summit held on 7 September 2016 was dedicated to commemorating the 25th anniversary of the ASEAN-China dialogue relations, which culminated in the release of a Joint Statement. The 1,205 word document reaffirmed the basic principles of the bilateral relations and reflected on…
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“From Regent to Royalty: Bupati’s Appointment as King of Gowa Causes Conflict and Debate in South Sulawesi”, a Commentary by Andrew M. Carruthers

Commentary 2016/62, 15 September 2016On 8 September, Adnan Purichta Ichsan — the Bupati or “Regent” of Gowa Regency, South Sulawesi — was conferred the title Sombaya Ri Gowa (“He who is revered in Gowa”), effectively declaring him king of the traditional royal polity. His appointment has been widely criticized throughout…
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