Saturday 16 Nov 2019 | 02:39 | SYDNEY
What's happening on
  • 15 Nov 2019 12:30

    Ayodhya verdict and unruly consequences

    India’s Supreme Court has delivered a ruling that will embolden the Hindu right and challenge the country’s secularism.

  • 15 Nov 2019 10:00

    Autocrats Anonymous

    A White House confessional reveals Donald Trump incapable of change – a kind of Marvel superhero, but less interesting.

  • 15 Nov 2019 06:00

    Book Review: The original corporate raiders

    Historian William Dalrymple looks at how a small trading company in London became a mighty army and conquered India.

Asia

The K-Pop sex and drugs scandal sweeping South Korea

What started as a police investigation into a South Korean nightclub has since erupted into a national scandal, sweeping aside in the public mind at least all the international talk of North Korean denuclearisation and instead shining a light into the shady private lives of K-pop celebrities. The

Responding to China’s not-so-secret influence campaign

Sam Roggeveen wrote recently on the need for the government to be more forthcoming about its security assessments on China, specifically, allegations of influence and interference activities conducted within Australia. The trigger was Andrew Robb’s interview for the ABC, in which the ex-

India: never quite in focus

Last month, Financial Times columnist Edward Luce asked, what would it take for India to get America’s attention? His question was rather aptly answered a couple of weeks later with a spot of brinkmanship in Kashmir (Pulwama terrorist attack: Modi under pressure), meaning India hit the

Singapore’s careful F-35 fighter aircraft purchase

Singapore has finally decided to acquire four F-35 aircraft with options for eight more, initially for evaluation purposes. The purchase appears cautious, well-timed, and cost-effective. Cautious, in that development remains ongoing with a full rate production decision not likely until late 2019.

Economic diplomacy: trade and traps in ASEAN

Middle aged spread Southeast Asian countries are about to become the primary focus of Australia’s public diplomacy this year as the “Australia now” program stretches its budget from the usual single country approach to all ten countries of the ASEAN group. This stepped-up

What might a US-China trade deal look like?

Perhaps they will, perhaps they won’t, but if China and the US do reach a trade agreement in coming weeks it will likely be very long. Meeting to seal the deal, President Donald Trump and China’s leader Xi Jinping will be able to display to the cameras a document of at least a hundred pages

Sri Lanka: politics overthrows justice

The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) recently released a report on Sri Lanka. The document assesses the island nation’s compliance with previous commitments – pertaining to human rights and transitional justice – that it made at the UN Human Rights Council (HRC). Sri

The death penalty paradox in Buddhist Myanmar

On my recent visit to Myanmar, I attended the commemoration ceremony of U Ko Ni, the former lawyer and legal advisor to the National League for Democracy. He was among the most vocal of advocates for constitutional change in Myanmar. While some aspects of political and social life in Myanmar have

Military on the front line in Thai election

With the 2019 Thai election the first since the 22 May 2014 coup and the recently-retired army general, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, as the candidate most likely to become prime minister, it was virtually inevitable that the role of the military would hover in the background of the campaign.

Book Review: A Partnership Transformed

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Women of influence in South Korea

Today is International Women’s Day. In South Korea, women have owned the past year, regularly uniting in their tens of thousands to rally in the streets against gendered violence and injustice. The numbers were unprecedented, 70,000 attended one rally alone, including women of all ages and from

Kim and Trump, again: North Korea’s drives the wedge

Despite inflated pre-summit expectations that US President Donald Trump and North Korean Chairman Kim Jong-un would sign a deal involving at least some sanctions relief, liaison offices, an end of war declaration, and agreement for North Korea to dismantle its nuclear facilities, the fact that Hanoi

China cabinet: Two Sessions, W-We’ve got Two Sessions

In Beijing, the Two Sessions has begun: a fortnight of meetings involving thousands of delegates of the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. China wants to tell the world about itself, which is this: we’re all-conquering, globe-striding, dark

Political leadership versus diplomacy

Following the Trump-Kim summits and a gush of commentary on “presidential diplomacy”, “face-to-face diplomacy”, “summit diplomacy”, and even “Trumpian diplomacy”, we’ve somehow come to accept politicians as diplomats. It may be time to recall the difference – before it

Malaysia joins the International Criminal Court

On Monday, Malaysia ratified the Rome Statute, making it the 124th State party to the International Criminal Court (ICC). The decision to join the ICC after 20 years of resistance is not only a welcome development but highlights the importance of long-term persistence in the pursuit of human rights

The Huawei indictments: allegations and politics

Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou is reportedly suing the Canadian government, its border agency, and the national police force for false imprisonment in relation to her arrest as she transited through the country in December. Meng, who is also the daughter of Huawei’s founder and

Four reasons why China supports North Korea

Of all the countries on the sidelines of the Hanoi summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un, few were watching more intently than China. Chinese financial and trade support effectively facilitated North Korea’s nuclear program by keeping its economy afloat and thus fractured the chances of a

India’s wobbly quest for fighter aircraft

India’s air strikes this week targeting suspected terrorist hideouts in Pakistan and subsequent air battles comes at a time of growing concerns about sharply declining strength of India’s fighter squadrons. The number of aircraft presently stands at 31, against the authorised level of 42. The

Kim-Trump 2.0: three observations

Assessing the import and impact of the Trump-Kim summits is a challenge. The visual spectacle of the two “colourful” leaders, both of whom prize the optics almost more than the substance of meetings, can prove highly distracting. Viewed from Beijing or Pyongyang’s perspective, the two

Economic diplomacy: Development aid in the Belt & Road era

Mergerplomacy Five years after the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) swallowed AusAID in the first major spending cuts of the new Coalition Government, two contradictory trends seem to be emerging. The reality of the takeover is getting some grudging acceptance in the

The intrusion of domestic politics in Kashmir tensions

On Tuesday, India launched air strikes targeting what it claimed was the biggest training camp of the militant group, Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) near the town of Balakot in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. The strikes were said to be aimed at preventing an imminent attack on India and

India-Pakistan: shadow dancing in the Himalayas

The strike by the Indian Air Force on Tuesday against targets in Pakistan is the latest step in a delicate shadow dance between India and Pakistan. This began after a suicide bombing of an Indian military convoy at Pulwama in Indian Kashmir on 14 February, which killed more than 40 Indian

The gloom about Myanmar’s economy

Talking to business owners across a variety of sectors in Yangon in January this year, the mood was universally glum. Big-spending Western tourists were staying away in droves, concerned over human rights abuses. Bureaucratic red tape was clogging up business and investment, and the country

Pakistan: the wrongheaded crowdfund for mega dams

In June last year, the top judge in Pakistan, Justice Saqib Nisar, was hearing a case about the need to build new dams in Pakistan. During the proceedings, he remarked that building dams is vital for the country’s survival. The passion of the judge for water security was encouraging, but not

Indonesia: policy missing in talk of politics

Indonesia’s second presidential debate might be a source of amusement for many Indonesian voters, thanks to the colourful exchange between the incumbent Joko Widodo (Jokowi) and the contender Prabowo Subianto. Analyses, fact-checks, and memes referring to and criticising the candidates’ debating

Pulwama terrorist attack: Modi under pressure

The Pulwama attack was clearly calibrated to pile pressure on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the run-up to the general election to be held in April and May 2019. The location and the target – paramilitary police deployed in Kashmir as part of an on-going effort to quell unrest that has

Courting change in Malaysia

Malaysia’s political upheaval looks likely to drag on for years. A three judge panel has granted former prime minister Najib Razak a last minute stay in a corruption trial, which had been set to begin in the High Court last week. Rather than the charges and a political changing of the guard

Demystifying Kashmir

A suicide attack on the Indian forces in Pulwama, Kashmir that killed more than 40 security officials has set India and Pakistan – two nuclear powers ­– on a warpath. India has blamed Pakistan for sponsoring the attack, while Pakistan has denied any involvement, blaming India for its human

India: another five years of Modi?

That India’s 14th prime minister is a gifted storyteller is well-known. An author of several children’s storybooks, Narendra Modi has in the past few years not only trumpeted the narrative of a poor tea-seller making his way to the highest office in the land but has also controlled every

Indonesia’s domestically focused foreign policy

Indonesia, for a country of 260 million people covering a vast archipelago, is often remarked to have a small global profile. This wasn’t always the case. In the early years after gaining independence, for example, Indonesia’s Sukarno was a leader of the non-aligned movement during the Cold War

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