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Hats off to Indonesia


NEXT week, on the 9th, Indonesians go to the polls to elect 560 members of the House of Representatives (as well as 132 to the Regional Representatives Council, which has also to approve matters of regional interest) from among 6,680 candidates.

This is a major event in the world’s third largest democracy, the fourth most populous nation in the world. It is also a precursor to the presidential election in July as only candidates from parties with 20% of the seats and 25% of the popular votes cast for the legislature can then stand.

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China’s self-righteousness not always right


THE description of China as truculent but not imperial Japan in a new book by Robert Kaplan titled Asia’s Cauldron: The South China Sea and the end to a stable Pacific is true only because China has, up to now, exercised greater patience in a global system that is largely inclusive. But because China has benefited from that system should we conclude it will not want to change it?

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Now you see it, now you don't

ALTHOUGH not rip-roaring, the Malaysian economy is on an even keel.

Growth numbers have been consistent over a period of years now. Last year GDP growth was 4.7%. Although less than the 5.6% of the previous year, it was held up in the final two quarters, in line with the uptick in the global economy which has been showing encouraging signs. Even the normally under-stated International Monetary Fund (IMF) suggested: “Is the tide rising?”

Read more: Now you see it, now you don't

Asean: Focus on regional interest

RESEARCH commissioned by CIMB Asean Research Institute on behalf of the Asean Business Club shows gaps in achieving the Asean Economic Community (AEC) regional promise.

These can be filled by a concentration on the regional interest which takes care of the national interest as well.

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Brutal financial markets


Malaysia had better beware...

WHILE markets may be uncertain about the real economy, they can be brutal about destroying value.

A Guardian columnist described a conclusion of cautious optimism at Davos last month this way: Cautiously optimistic and time will tell are just polite ways of saying “I haven’t got a clue.”

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South-East Asia not looking pretty


Denial will not solve anything.

SOUTH-EAST Asia is the region to watch this year for better or for worse.

Of course we would like the world to see the bustling activity towards regional integration by the end of 2015. Although there would previously have been trepidation of Myanmar’s chairmanship of Asean, there is this year no fear it will screw up or cause the region huge embarrassment.

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It's the economy

But the politics will be intertwined inextricably.

ON Dec 20, President Barack Obama called for a press conference at the White House Briefing Room at four hours’ notice. He clearly wanted to end the year and look forward to the next on a high note: Numbers showing US economic growth of 4.1% in the third quarter; two million new jobs created in the past year, bringing the jobless rate down to 7% (a five-year low, the length of time Obama has been president); high level of domestic oil and gas production ending import dependency.

Read more: It's the economy

China’s air defence zone

Asean should not take sides

THE main worries about China’s declaration on Nov 23 of the Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) should not be about Beijing’s “right” to do so, but about the dangers to peace and safety it highlights.

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Asean needs more vim and vigour

Region’s private sector must play its part

IT takes a long time for reform to take place.

In the over 45 years of Asean existence, meaningful reform only took place after 40 when the Asean Charter was adopted in December 2008 which gave the cooperative organisation legal personality. Established in 1967, it was not until 1976 before the secretariat was established. Before that administrative matters had been managed by a standing committee in member state foreign ministries.

Read more: Asean needs more vim and vigour

Decline and fall of the West


It needs to get a grip as it affects the rest of the world

THE decline of the West is not cause for celebration. It is a matter of concern. The diminution of global output, or the slowdown in growth of the global economy, affects every part of the world. How much better everyone would be if the West was not in decline.

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Economic strategy in foreign policies

Wisma Putra should not only be adept at protecting national interest but also be good in projecting it.

How does Malaysia fare?

THE Harold Nicolson school of diplomacy which informed almost all foreign ministries emphasised style and perceptive political narrative rather more than hard graft and economic intelligence.

Read more: Economic strategy in foreign policies