ASEAN Perspectives

Singapore hopeful for China-backed Asia trade pact this year

  WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — Singapore’s trade minister said Wednesday he was hopeful that an Asia-wide trade pact, which is backed by China and excludes the United States, could be sealed by the end of the year. On a visit to Washington, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said that a clearer picture would emerge on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in May after elections in four countries that are part of […]

President Duterte, Malaysian PM Mahathir back freedom of navigation, overflight in South China Sea

  (Eagle News) — Both Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and President Duterte, the two oldest heads of state in Asia, called for maintaining freedom of navigation in the disputed South China Sea, as well as the peaceful settlement of disputes in the region. During their joint statement Thursday, March 7, after their closed door bilateral meeting, President Duterte said he and Mahathir agreed on the importance of “freedom of navigation and overflight” in the […]

Analyzing the Rice Tariffication Law and its implications: Int’l agri research expert explains the issue

  (Eagle News) — What are the implications of the Rice Tariffication Act which was recently signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte? Will it address the so-called rice crisis in the country? In this epsiode of ASEAN in Focus Weekend Edition, former Director General of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and former agriculture secretary, Dr. William Dar, analyzes the issue. Dar explains how the lifting of the quantitative restrictions […]

Ride-hailing firm Grab secures $1.5 billion in funding

SINGAPORE (AFP) — Southeast Asian ride-hailing firm Grab said on Wednesday it has secured $1.5 billion in fresh financing from a fund run by Japan’s SoftBank and will use a significant portion of it to expand in Indonesia. Grab has seen its business grow rapidly since it bought US-based rival Uber’s regional ride-hailing and food business in March last year. Uber received a 27.5 percent stake in Grab in return. The fresh investment from the […]

Thai princess’ bid for PM scuttled as party obeys royal command

  BANGKOK, Thailand (AFP) — A new Thai political party vowed Saturday to obey a command from the king blocking the candidacy of a princess for prime minister in a dramatic reversal that appeared to boost the junta’s chances ahead of March elections. The announcement effectively blocks Princess Ubolratana’s unprecedented bid for the premiership and comes after an extraordinary rebuke of the candidacy by her younger brother, King Maha Vajiralongkorn. The Thai Raksa Chart party, […]

Thai princess makes unprecedented move into politics with run for Prime Minister

    by Aidan JONES / Sippachai KUNNUWONG Agence France Presse BANGKOK, Thailand (AFP) — A Thai princess will run for prime minister in March elections in an unprecedented entry by a royal into frontline politics, pitting her against the chief of the ruling junta and redrawing the nation’s political landscape. Princess Ubolratana, 67, the older sister of Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn, was announced as a candidate for the Thai Raksa Chart party steered by […]

Malaysia enthrones new king after historic abdication

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AFP) — Malaysia on Thursday installed a new king, Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, after the last monarch abdicated in a historic first following his reported marriage to a Russian ex-beauty queen. In a ceremony steeped in pomp and centuries of tradition, the sports-loving sultan, dressed in aqua blue formal wear, took the oath of office at the national palace in Kuala Lumpur. The ceremony was televised nationally and attended by Prime […]

Malaysian royals prepare to pick king after historic abdication

  KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AFP) — Malaysia’s royals prepared Monday to pick a new king to replace Sultan Muhammad V, who abdicated in a historic first after reportedly marrying a Russian former beauty queen, holding a special gathering at the national palace. The king stepped aside Sunday following intense speculation about his future after reports surfaced in recent weeks that he had taken medical leave, and then wed the former Miss Moscow. As the country […]

Mothers of missing Vietnamese teenage girls fear daughters were sold as “child brides” in China

by Jenny Vaughan and Tran Thi Minh Ha Agence France Presse MEO VAC, Vietnam (AFP) — Vu Thi Dinh spent weeks scouring the rugged Vietnamese borderland near China after her teenage daughter vanished with her best friend, clutching a photo of the round-faced girls now feared sold as child brides. The anguished mother showed everyone she met the snap of the 16-year-old friends Dua and Di in white and red velvet dresses, the words “Falling […]

ASEAN may be forced to choose between US, China, according to Cambodia PM’s son

  BANGKOK, Thailand (AFP) — Southeast Asian nations may soon have to “choose sides” between the US and China in their ongoing trade war, the political heir to Cambodia’s strongman ruler Hun Sen warned Wednesday in rare public comments. Impoverished Cambodia has become an unlikely staging ground for geopolitical influence in Asia. In recent years it has turned into a key China ally, heading off criticism of the superpower over its claims to disputed seas […]

Meth precursors fuelling Myanmar’s unstoppable drug trade

  YANGON, Myanmar (AFP) — A flood of precursor chemicals into Myanmar is fuelling record meth production, officials said Wednesday, as the country’s multi-billion-dollar drug trade spills out across Asia-Pacific. The “Golden Triangle” — a lawless wedge of land intersecting China, Myanmar, Thailand and Laos — has for generations served as a base for opium and heroin production. But it is Myanmar’s meth production and trafficking that has skyrocketed to “alarming levels” in recent years, […]

President Duterte recognizes Filipino artists and institutions preserving cultural heritage

  President Rodrigo Duterte has recognized this year’s awardees for the Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan (GAMABA), Philippine Heritage Award, and the Order of National Artist, noting that cultural heritage is vital to the formation of the Filipino identity. President Duterte honored seven new national artists in their respective fields: Lauro “Larry” Alcala for Visual Arts, Amelia Lapeña-Bonifacio for Theater and Literature, Ryan Cayabyab for Music, Eric de Guia also known as Kidlat Tahimik for […]