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Lee Kuan Yew and Singapore’s Foreign Policy: A Productive Iconoclasm

Lee Kuan Yew and Singapore’s Foreign Policy: A Productive Iconoclasm

By Rajaratnam School of International Studies

25 March 2015

Synopsis

Lee Kuan Yew’s mark on Singapore’s foreign policy is that of applying counter intuitive strategies to improve the island state’s international standing. In retrospect, this has ensured Singapore’s long term viability as a sovereign nation-state.

Commentary

AS SINGAPORE’S first Prime Minister and the point man in negotiating decolonisation from Britain in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Lee Kuan Yew carries an aura of being one of the pioneers of the island state’s foreign policy. His political personality appears to have been directly mapped onto his steer age of foreign policy: cold unflinching appraisal of one’s circumstances, and self-reliance indesigning one’s survival strategies, but only up to the point that external parties can be persuaded that it is in their conjoined interests to partner Singapore in pursuing win-win collaborations.

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Thailand’s Martial Law

Multiple Targets of Thailand’s Martial Law

By Institute of South East Asian Studies

16 March 2015

Despite demands from certain segments of the business sector, Thailand’s militarygovernment refuses to lift the martial law it has placed on the country. This article seeksto explain the significance of the martial law presently in place by examining the types of people who have been charged under it.

Apart from suppressing critics and opponents of the coup d’état, two major targets of martial law are firstly, offenders under lèse majesté law and secondly, the allegedlyarmed groups.

The martial law is an essential mechanism for the junta to build up its authority to anunprecedented level of control.

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rsis

ASEAN Integration Remains an Illusion

By Desker Barry

5 March 2015

As ASEAN enters a critical year in which it has to declare itself as a single ASEAN Community, a fundamental question needs to be asked: Is ASEAN integration a growing reality or an aspiration that remains unfulfilled?


FOR THE ASEAN member states, the benchmark of successful regionalism has been ASEAN’s effectiveness in bringing the region closer. ASEAN has provided a forum for closer consultations while promoting the habit of cooperation. The lack of intra-state conflict in a region derided as a cockpit of war and the Balkans of the East during the 1950s and 1960s has been credited to ASEAN’s success in moulding a greater regional consciousness among policymakers.

Still, in the first 40 years of its existence - from 1967 to 2007 - only 30 per cent of ASEAN agreements were implemented. I was therefore sceptical of the impact of the ASEAN Charter when it was adopted in November 2007

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iseas

The Feasibility of an ASEAN Customs Union Post- 2015

By Institute of South East Asian Studies

4 March 2015

• As ASEAN member economies start their discussion on the ‘deepening’ of economicintegration, an ASEAN Customs Union (CU) may become a possibility.

• Given that Singapore already operates a zero tariff regime on trade in goods there are twooptions for ASEAN in moving towards a CU: either all its members will need to inchcloser to a zero Common External Tariff (CET), or they will have to form a CU with apositive CET minus Singapore. The latter would however mean that the customs unionwould only be a partial one.

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INDIA CN US

India’s Foreign Policy: Big Shift or Pragmatic Makeover?

By Akanksha Sharma and Akanksha Narain

25 February 2015

Synopsis

In light of recent events, especially President Obama’s visit to India and Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj’s visit to China, India’s foreign policy appears to have undergone a transformative shift since the heyday of Non-Alignment. Is this indeed the case?

Commentary

PRESIDENT OBAMA’S visit to New Delhi as guest of honour for the Republic Day celebrations on 26 January 2015 has been notable beyond its significant symbolism. It was marked by the issuing of a joint statement entitled the “India-US Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region”. That document was the focus of the Chinese media’s coverage of the visit. Among other things it spoke about the need to ensure “freedom of navigation and over flight …especially in the South China Sea”. The inclusion of this issue in the document was a bold departure from India’s past reticence to name names and take a stand on critical international issues.

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EAC

What is the EU’s further Role in Asian Security Issues?

By EU-Asia Centre

17 February 2015

The Asian economy continued to grow impressively in 2014. But Asia is still facing a number of security challenges such as territory disputes in East Asia, South Asia, and South East Asia. Regional players such as China, Japan, India and ASEAN play crucial roles in dealing with these challenges as do outside players including the US and EU. However in 2104, the EU was pre-occupied by security issues in its own neighbourhood and it seemed Europe put less focus on Asian security issues. Furthermore, pressing international security challenges such as ISIS needed to be addressed globally as well.

Under the current international security environment, what role can the EU play with regard to challenges to regional security and human security in Asia? Can Asia impact regional security in Europe? What are the main areas of concerns for closer political dialogue between EU and Asia? Does ASEM have enough potential or parties should set up new initiatives?

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bangladesh

Mapping Bangladesh’s Political Crisis

By International Crisis Group

11 February 2015

On 5 January, the first anniversary of the deeply contested 2014 elections, the most violent in Bangladesh’s history, clashes between government and opposition groups led to several deaths and scores injured. The confrontation marks a new phase of the deadlock between the ruling Awami League (AL) and the Bangladesh National Party (BNP) opposition, which have swapped time in government with metronomic consistency since independence. Having boycotted the 2014 poll, the BNP appears bent on ousting the government via street power. With daily violence at the pre-election level, the political crisis is fast approaching the point of no return and could gravely destabilise Bangladesh unless the sides move urgently to reduce tensions. Moreover, tribunals set up to adjudicate crimes perpetrated at the moment of Bangladesh’s bloody birth threaten division more than reconciliation. 

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RULE OF LAW

China and the Rule of Law

By EU-Asia Centre

6 February 2015

President Xi Jinping has placed great emphasis on the rule of law – but what exactly does this mean when the CPC plays the dominant political role in China?

This was the central question at an expert roundtable at the Madariaga Foundation on 4th of February. Gong Pixiang,Deputy Director of the Standing Committee and Member of the Leading Party Group of Jiangsu Provincial People’s Congress, was the main Chinese speaker.  Professor François van der Mensbrugghe (ULB) and Benjamin Hartmann (Member, Legal Service of the European Commission) were the European commentators

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iseas

Jokowi’s First Months: Compromise Cabinet, Subsidy Cuts, and Corrupt Coalition

By Ulla Fionna

5 February 2015

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

• President Jokowi’s first months have been dominated by important policies on liftingfuel subsidies, and choosing his cabinet as well as strategic appointments. Althoughthe cabinet demonstrated a number of ‘compromise and reward’ appointments, itsministers are nevertheless under pressure to perform.

• Jokowi’s weak position in the parliament has been improved by leadership crises inthe opposition. The success in retaining direct local elections (pilkada) should alsobring some confidence to the minority government.

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yingluck

Junta's agenda clearer after Yingluck verdict

By Michael Montesano

29 January 2015

In impeaching a prime minister who left office more than eight months earlier, Thailand's National Legislative Assembly (NLA) may have made legal history.

But this curious exercise was not so much about Ms Yingluck Shinawatra's impeachment for running a botched rice subsidy programme as it was about stripping her of her political rights for five years.

With their verdict, the soldiers and civilians, whom the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) junta appointed to the NLA, have sidelined a woman who emerged during her premiership of almost three years as a popular and rather effective politician in her own right.

Against all expectations, that is, she became more than a mere proxy for her older brother Thaksin. This may explain the NCPO's determination to ban her from politics. It may also explain the further criminal charges, also relating to her government's rice policies, now pending against Ms Yingluck.

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