Memo # 178 – Portrayals of Indonesian political parties have classified them as either secular or Islamic. This implies that they hold strong core commitments. But Indonesian parties do not espouse a coherent political program during elections. Islamic and secular-nationalist parties alike appeal to the public with populist slogans. Controversial religious issues, such as the role of Sharia law or the status of the Ahmadiyah Islamic sect – which could differentiate parties along clear secular-religious lines – are ignored on the campaign trail. Contrary to mainstream analysis, religion plays a minimal role in Indonesia’s party competition. […]
Memo # 175 – Indonesian students perform consistently poorly in international surveys. In the 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) survey,1 more than half of 15-year-old students were found to be lacking sufficient skills in reading literacy to enable them to participate actively and effectively in society, to be functionally literate. The background to this dire situation is complex. But the examination system may be an important contributing factor. […]
Memo #164 – What would an ideal regulatory system to manage an international river look like? Some have called for an innovatively designed regulatory authority for international rivers, such as the Ganga-Brahmaputra river system in the Himalayan region. Existing models are not compatible with the geopolitical conditions in South Asia. Rather than furthering traditional nationalist approaches, the new design must take into account the people living in the region. […]
Memo #161 – Elections are milestones in democratic development. With the closing of nominations on June 6, 2012, the campaign for the Mongolian parliamentary election officially opens. Observers seem pessimistic about Asia’s only post-socialist democracy. But the upcoming election promises to be more carefully organized and transparent, and public discussions of corruption will strengthen democracy. […]
Memo #139 – By some estimates Nepal has the potential to generate 42,000 megawatts (MW) of hydroelectricity per annum. In an effort to attract capital, Nepal’s Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai proclaimed 2012 as “Nepal Investment Year.” The aim is to attract over $6 billion (USD) for key sectors including hydropower. Bhattarai also signed a Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA) with India. […]
Memo #126 – Private tutoring is perceived as a household necessity in Malaysia. This growing phenomenon is increasingly difficult for policy makers to ignore. The Malaysian government consistently tries to achieve a balance between encouraging and regulating private tutoring. […]
Memo #89 – Two weeks ago three bombs went off at government offices in Jiangxi province. They were set by a farmer angered about his house being demolished. Local disputes remain common, especially over land. Inflation, particularly rising food prices, has raised social tensions and have sparked further protests. The leadership remains nervous.
Memo #84 – A Myanmar court on March 29, 2011 granted bail to Australian businessman Ross Dunkley accused of assaulting and unlawfully confining a sex worker. Dunkley said he would fight the charges. “I just can’t believe there is a case,” Agence France Press quoted him as saying. “There is no witness, there is no evidence. ” […]
Memo #59 (Part 2) – Authoritarian regimes seem to be crumbling almost daily. Will China go the way of Middle Eastern dictatorships?
The similarities are obvious. China relies on harsh measures to put down calls for democratic reform. And it is plagued by a huge gap between rich and poor, rampant corruption, rising prices of basic food stuffs, and high unemployment among recent university graduates. […]
Memo #53 – Two weeks ago, fourteen of the world’s most powerful CEOs converged on Washington for a brief 45 minute opportunity to engage Chinese President Hu Jintao (Google was noticeably absent). Of the many issues raised, one has been China’s renewed commitment to the protection of U.S. corporate interests in the Mainland. President Hu voiced support for reform, opening-up, transparency, as well as a fair and just investment climate. Hu then highlighted intellectual property (IP) and government procurement as areas where foreign firms have equal treatment to their Chinese counterparts. […]