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Asean Today: Yingluck Sues; Haze Grows Hot; Brunei Tackles Corruption; Cambodia Fools Aussies; EU Oversees Burma Poll

Wednesday, September 30, 2015
Today Around Southeast Asia

PHUKETWAN recognises the importance of Asean with the Economic Community approaching and marks what's happening around the region with a new column, Asean Today.

Thailand


AP Thailand's ousted prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who was pushed from office more than a year ago, impeached and faces criminal charges, hit back at her opponents with her own lawsuit. Yingluck filed a case at Bangkok's Criminal Court to counter-sue the attorney-general over the handling of her prosecution in connection with a subsidy scheme for rice farmers, which ran up huge losses.

Indonesia


thejakartapost.com Singapore had to shut its schools last Friday and began distributing free antipollution masks to the elderly and other vulnerable people as a thick smoky haze shrouded the island nation, with pollution levels at their worst this year. The haze has caused tensions between Singapore and Indonesia, particularly after Vice President Jusuf Kalla commented recently that neighboring countries ''already enjoy 11 months of clean fresh air from Indonesia,'' and suggested that it was no big deal if they suffered from the haze for the one month when forests were usually burned.

Malaysia


nst.com.my Singapore has had enough. Should not we be feeling just as weary? Malaysians have had to put up with well over a month of bad air, which has gotten worse despite the promises of solutions afoot. For if it is not possible to bring the haze to a quick end, then it is not unlike accepting it as a fact of life, a seasonal hazard that, despite being man-made, must be perceived as a given. And, the cavalier attitude of Indonesian Vice-President Jusuf Kalla saying Indonesia need not apologise for the fires burning within its borders is an affront to its neighbors and sister Asean nations.

Singapore


straitstimes.com Singapore respects Indonesia's sovereignty with regard to airspace control, training areas over the South China Sea and even the current haze crisis, which Singapore has offered to help resolve. That was the key message Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen has conveyed to his Indonesian counterpart Ryamizard Ryacudu and Indonesia's Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Luhut Panjaitan, at high-level talks in Jakarta.

Cambodia


thediplomat.com David Chandler, an American historian and a fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities, notes [about the $55 million deal to take unwanted refugees] that ''it seems [. . . ] that Cambodia has pulled the wool over the Australians' eyes by letting Australians think that a genuinely beneficial arrangement had been made. The Australians were I suspect hasty, trusting, and naive. [. . . ] I am sure [the text] had escape clauses which the Cambodians have now used.'' Phil Robertson, the deputy director of the Asia division for the US-based NGO Human Rights Watch, added that ''Australia is now getting what it paid for, Cambodia-style - which is to say, not much of anything.''

Brunei


asiaone.com The Attorney General's Chambers (AGC) announced the introduction of new corruption laws to address abuse of power and misconduct in public office. The new laws will allow legal action to be taken against civil servants who fail to carry out their duties to a ''high ethical standard,'' said the AGC in a statement.

Burma


channelnewsasia.com The EU said it will for the first time deploy observers in Myanmar's upcoming elections when the opposition led by Aung San Suu Kyi is expected to make significant gains against the military-dominated government.

Vietnam


wsj.com Vietnam's economic growth accelerated in the third quarter, led by strong manufacturing, especially in the foreign-invested sector.

bloomberg Gross domestic product rose 6.81 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier, according to figures released by the Hanoi-based General Statistics Office Tuesday that complements other signs of an economic pickup. That compares with a revised 6.47 percent pace in the second quarter this year.

Philippines


philstar.com The Philippines continues to claw its way up the world competitiveness rankings as it climbed five notches in the World Economic Forum (WEF)'s Global Competitiveness Index 2015-2016. The country ranked 47th among 140 economies this year, an improvement from its 52nd spot. The ranking last year was seven notches higher than the previous year's spot.

Laos


xinhua In an interview with Xinhua's Vientiane Bureau before a trip for New York, Tammy Medard, who now heads the first foreign-owned commercial bank based in Vientiane, said that they now have a ''gender balance.'' ''At ANZ Laos we have 65 percent female membership of our executive team and we have roughly the same ratio throughout our entire business here,'' Medard said.

Comments

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(moderated)

Posted by Herbert on September 30, 2015 09:54

Editor Comment:

Your hidden ability as an international business commentator and economist is best kept a secret for now, Herbert.

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"The EU said it will for the first time deploy observers in Myanmar's upcoming elections." What on earth has the EU to do with Myanmar? Is there a reciprocal arrangement?

Posted by Sam Wilko on September 30, 2015 10:55

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Vietnamese economy expands, Thai contracts. Thais blame it on global economic slowdown.

Is it not justified to ask how come Vietnam is unaffected by this, or to question the reasons given for Thai contraction ?

Posted by Herbert on September 30, 2015 10:56

Editor Comment:

Has Vietnam become a democracy? Or is it, just like Thailand, ruled by a select few for now?

Hasn't Thailand boomed while Vietnam stagnated?

I wouldn't get too excited, Herbert. If you weren't constantly scouting for ways of putting down Thailand's present rulers, your conclusions might have credibility.

For now, we'll continue to question your ability to correctly interpret the figures. No self-respecting economist would make direct comparisons between two countries.

Many factors are in play. Biased conclusions are too easy.

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I don't like the current leaders one bit and I could list a hundred reasons why not.

However this was not about the leadership either in Thailand or in Vietnam, nor was it about country comparison.

Thailand claims it's exports shrink due to global economic slowdown. By definition global means every country. It's odd that this would not affect Vietnam and raises the question that perhaps there are factors other than those made public that cause the current economic woes in Thailand.

A few years back that time Finance Minister of Thailand admitted to having deliberately told a "white lie" and reporting economic growth figures over 2 times higher than he knew them to be in reality.

With this in mind and other published figures that appear overly optimistic in comparison with street level realities, I think it is both fair and just to at least discuss the issue of credibility.

Posted by Herbert on September 30, 2015 11:25

Editor Comment:

One of your problems is, herbert, that you assume the figures for Vietnam are correct. Most sources we've read say they're inclined to be adjustable. When you start praising some of the good deeds of the military instead of criticising everything, then we'll accept your even-handed commentary.

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@ Sam Wilko

Countries known for electoral fraud or mismanagement are often asked by the UN if they allow independent observers to monitor the election process.

This is to add legitimacy to the election and is on voluntary basis. If a country wishes to appear more credible in the eyes of the international community, this is one avenue available for them. Nobody is forced to allow such monitors in.

It has nothing to do with EU per se.

Fair elections, basic human rights and democracy are prerequisites for many (but not many enough) trade agreements and those countries with a poor record in this regard need to prove they uphold the minimum standards to qualify.

Sadly in the specific case of Myanmar the racial bias against Muslims there is by and large overrun by financial interests.

I see the sending of a monitoring team as a step in the right direction. Military rulers are not know for their accountability.

The EU warning to Thailand about IUU standards and possible ban of Thai fishery products in EU is a good example of how business interests can be used to try to compel countries to comply with international standards.

Posted by Herbert on September 30, 2015 12:55

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@ Ed

I do understand your POV and agree it has merit but from where I stand, the few positives attributable to the NCPO are crushed to oblivion by the numerous other changes they have (unilaterally, mind you) implemented.

I am diabolically opposed to everything that defines a Military dictatorship. We both also know I cannot argue this case further by citing examples because of the consequences that would befall me and even you, should you choose to publish them.

Just another reason why I despise a or any military dictatorship.

Posted by Herbert on September 30, 2015 14:32

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Sam Wilko

wow, you have embraced so fast an upcountry provincialism along with that preventive anti-(neo)colonialism that has been declared or implied basis for Thailand internal policies during last century.

I'm curious about your values shift and philosophical discourse after you'll spend there few more years ))

Posted by Sue on September 30, 2015 19:57


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