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"US Navy Conducts First South China Sea FONOP of 2019" by Ian Storey

2019/5, 16 January 2019 On 7 January 2019, the USS McCampbell conducted a freedom of navigation operation (FONOP) in the disputed Paracel Islands, the tenth publicized US Navy mission in the South China Sea since President Trump took office in January 2017, and the first of 2019. The media made…
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“Demands for Justice and Apologies Mar Political Transition in Myanmar” by Nyi Nyi Kyaw

2019/4, 15 January 2019 The ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) party appointed the Yangon Region Chief Minister, Phyo Min Thein, who is also close to State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Photographers captured him paying respect to retired General Khin Nyunt at an event held annually to honour…
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"The Karen National Union’s (KNU) Withdrawal from Official Myanmar Peace Negotiations and the State of the Peace Process" by Su-Ann Oh

2019/3, 11 January 2019 On 3 January, the Karen National Union (KNU) declared that it would be withdrawing from the formal peace process, marking a definitive declaration of its dissatisfaction with the peace negotiations. This comes on the back of the KNU’s hiatus in attending formal meetings at the end…
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ISEAS Commentary: "Joko Widodo and the Issue of Minorities: His Only Blemish?" by Ahmad Najib Burhani

2019/2, 8 January 2019 Joko Widodo (Jokowi)’s administration has been hailed for its success in several aspects, particularly in building infrastructure throughout the country. One salient blemish during his tenure, however, is perhaps related to the issue of minorities. The displaced Ahmadis, often perceived as a heretical group in Islam,…
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"How to Read Hanoi’s Position on the South China Sea COC?" by Le Hong Hiep

2019/1, 3 January 2019 On 31 December 2018, Reuters reported that Vietnam is pushing for certain provisions in the negotiating draft of the ASEAN-China Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea which will likely “prove unpalatable to Beijing”. The report indicates that Hanoi is seeking to outlaw many…
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"Japan’s New Defence Guidelines: Much to Worry About?" by Daljit Singh

2018/109, 21 December 2018 Japan has announced new defence guidelines under which the country’s defence budget over the next five years will be increased, new weapons platforms purchased from the US, and more funds allotted to new domains of warfare. China and the two Koreas have criticised this increase in…
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"Ma’ruf Amin: A Shield from Identity Politics, but not a Vote-getter?" by Ahmad Najib Burhani

2018/108, 21 December 2018 Indonesia will be holding its presidential election on 17 April 2019, less than four months from now. One of the topics widely discussed recently by the public is Ma’ruf Amin’s inability to increase Joko Widodo (Jokowi)’s re-election chances. Recent surveys by Lembaga Survey Indonesia (LSI) show…
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"The Spectre of Mass Party-hopping Mars Malaysia’s Democratic Integrity" by Lee Hwok-Aun

2018/107, 21 December 2018Post-election party hopping and allegiance switching are not new to Malaysia. However, unlike previous episodes, the country now ponders the spectre of mass exodus from UMNO into the Pakatan Harapan coalition already holding a comfortable majority. Beleaguered UMNO President Zahid Hamidi’s decision to step aside and hand…
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“Rakhine State Politics a Major Barrier to Rohingya Return” by Gerard McCarthy

2018/106, 20 December 2018 More than a year after Myanmar military operations forced over 720,000 Rohingya people to Bangladesh, the prospects of the group returning remain dim. Various reports and analyses have unpacked the immense barriers to their repatriation. These include the Myanmar military’s insistence on a rigid ideology of…
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"Nurul Izzah’s Resignation Threads between Idealism and Pragmatic Politics" by Norshahril Saat

2018/105, 19 December 2018 On 17 December, Nurul Izzah Anwar made the surprise announcement that she was stepping down from her position as PKR (People’s Justice Party) Vice President. The daughter of prime minister in-waiting Anwar Ibrahim is the Member of Parliament for Permatang Pauh in Penang. Nurul Izzah was…
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