360° Coverage : Asia's Week: Southeast Simmer, Soon to Boil?

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Asia's Week: Southeast Simmer, Soon to Boil?

May 9 2014, 3:59pm CDT | by

Political risk levels are rising in parts of Southeast Asia, which may come to bear on the economies and shake them from the recent general glide-path. Ships from Vietnam and China rubbed against...

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11 weeks ago

Asia's Week: Southeast Simmer, Soon to Boil?

May 9 2014, 3:59pm CDT | by

Political risk levels are rising in parts of Southeast Asia, which may come to bear on the economies and shake them from the recent general glide-path.

Ships from Vietnam and China rubbed against the other this week in the disputed Paracel Islands, where the Chinese want to drill offshore for oil. For now only a water cannon was fired, but let’s remember that the two nominally Communist countries fought a war of sorts in 1979 over less valuable stakes.

Meantime, China was again at naval odds with the Philippines, this time over the alleged poaching of endangered sea turtles. A Chinese boat was seized in the vicinity of other disputed territory.  Release of the crew was demanded by China, and the offense was denied, although the record of habitat protection in the People’s Republic did not inspire faith in this testimony.

These South China Sea areas, along with those in the north separating China and Japan, are some of the world’s most dangerous tripwires. Friends of China such as New York law professor Jerome Cohen have long urged Beijing to seek international legal arbitration of its increasingly insistent claims.  So far, it has instead tried a quasi-military push.

This is thought to be putting the Chinese on the diplomatic back-foot with much of Southeast Asia, where it might otherwise hope to find trade-based allies. A soft ASEAN consensus, along with the implicit or explicit backing of the U.S., could embolden the spirits of Hanoi and Manila. Countervailing Chinese efforts to shore up relations where possible are thus in order, before matters come further to a head. Malaysia is one potential soft spot. Understandable, then, that China appears now to be seeking to repair relations with Kuala Lumpur that suffered from MH370 plane disaster. Malaysian PM Najib Razik is due to visit Beijing later this month.

China might also hope to play a bigger supportive role in two stumbling Southeast Asian economies where, for instance, Japanese business is busy.  Those would be Indonesia, where output growth is slowing thanks in part to resource protectionism, and Thailand, a governmental basket case. Events there spiraled further out of control this week as Yingluck Shinawatra was forced out of office and possibly into the dock by opponents of her family’s rule.  Although commercial forces have mostly shrugged off the power struggle there for the past many months. new concern shaved the past month’s recovery off the Stock Exchange of Thailand index and the baht currency dipped.

If things weren’t troubled enough in the region, the Sultan of Brunei has managed through restrictive new social policies to get his tourist properties abroad boycotted by Western entertainment and arts figures. He is unlikely to need Chinese succor to survive the pinch, although the PRC rulers–embroiled in another crackdown of their own on dissent these days–might feel a certain autocratic kinship.

 
Update
10

7 weeks ago

RM47mil KWSG contributions still unclaimed

Jun 9 2014 7:54am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: About RM47 million of contributions in the Teachers Provident Fund (KWSG) still remain unclaimed, the Dewan Rakyat was told ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
9

7 weeks ago

Gold shop lost almost RM1mil

Jun 9 2014 3:50am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KANGAR: A gold shop owner lost almost RM1 million after after the safe on in his shop was broken into ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
8

7 weeks ago

Motion to debate MAS losses in Dewan Rakyat rejected

Jun 9 2014 3:39am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: AN emergency motion to debate the losses incurred by Malaysia Airlines last year, amounting to RM1.2 billion was rejected by the Dewan Rakyat today. ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
7

7 weeks ago

MH370 Tragedy: Hisham: RM27.6 mil spent on 1st phase of SAR

Jun 9 2014 2:11am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia spent some RM27.6 million in its first phase of the search operations for missing Malaysia Airline flight MH370, said Acting Transport Minister, Da ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
6

7 weeks ago

9.1m litres of diesel seized in a month

Jun 8 2014 1:11am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

PUTRAJAYA: The Domestic Trade, Cooperatives, and Consumerism ministry has seized some 9.1 million litres of diesel and property worth RM58 million since mounting ‘Operasi Diesel Selatan’ in the ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
5

7 weeks ago

Girl, 9, awarded RM2.78m compensation for medical negligence

Jun 6 2014 4:56am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: A nine-year-old girl who suffered brain damage during her birth at a government hospital was awarded over RM2.78 million ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
4

7 weeks ago

Malaysia's total trade in April up 12pc

Jun 5 2014 11:52pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's total trade in April 2014 rose by 12 per cent from a year ago to RM123.86 billion due to growing trading activities, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Must ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
3

8 weeks ago

Works Ministry to spend RM20m for upgrading works at 50 accident black spots

Jun 4 2014 11:35pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

JOHOR BARU: The Works Ministry will implement upgrading works at 50 accident prone locations in the country that have been identified this year involving an allocat ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
2

8 weeks ago

Najib launches loan scheme for Ramadan traders

Jun 4 2014 10:24pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

PUTRAJAYA: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today launches RM45 million Ramadan ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
1

8 weeks ago

Residents bring up objection against Kidex to Suhakam

Jun 4 2014 4:49am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

PETALING JAYA: A group of 20 Petaling Jaya residents held a meeting with the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) over their objection against the proposed RM2.2 billion Kinrara Damansara Skyway (Kidex) today. ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 

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