A major Police operation in Indonesia…

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…with footage at https://mobile.twitter.com/nickoakbar/status/994046465298186240/video/1

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Trade in Southeast Asia

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What are the leading trade partnerships in Southeast Asia?

I am glad you asked the question, because I spent far longer than I should have (and wanted to!) using extremely primitive Microsoft Office tools seeking to answer the question in two graphs.

In the first image below is each Southeast Asian nation depicted by the largest source of imports. And yes, if it is too small to see clearly, that import source is China in every country except miniscule Brunei and impoverished Laos, the latter being an economic adjunct to Thailand.

As for Southeast Asia’s main export market for each country, the next image below tells that story.

On this export measure Laos is still aligned with Thailand, while Myanmar, Indonesia and Singapore stay with China. In contrast, Malaysia links to Singapore, Cambodia to the EU, Thailand and Vietnam to the United States and both Brunei and the Philippines to Japan.

FYI the sources were some WTO statistics from the last couple of years. Message me if you seek the details.

The real men of power in Cambodia

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There is not much news from Cambodia in the mainstream Western media, which is probably just how those in power there like it.

For those interested the article here lifts the lid a fraction on the sordid operation of power in Cambodia and identifies some of the key figures.

Smart Cities in Southeast Asia

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The post title is shared with the great McKinsey discussion paper here that was prepared for the World Cities Summit 2018 in collaboration with the Centre for Liveable Cities, Singapore.

Reviewing the footnotes there are many related publications. I am open to posting links to these too (where possible), depending on reader feedback.

There is a lot in these 44 pages to absorb. Limiting my thoughts to just one, I am always cautious about expressing certainty over the future. The report wisely (usually) offers statistical ranges, but even these need to be viewed through the lens of merely greater probability.

The report is also silent on the underlying politics, an even greater risk to the assumed certainties.

I will stop there and let you read the paper!

Life in Jakarta

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There are a million ways to describe living in Jakarta, but the one you can read here is among my all time favourites.

The article is short, but by goodness the author’s skills as a professional writer come through as he manages to weave a short history of Indonesia’s recent politics and social drama into a small part of his morning.

A day of tremors in the region

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There were volcanic tremors in Indonesia with Agung volcano in Bali stirring to life as described here, while in Malaysia the political tremors keep coming with the arrest of former Prime Minister Najib Razak as announced here.

And the headline photo above? The best compromise I could find between volcanic impacts and the fading embers of a political dynasty.

Our best friend has gone forever

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While this post is about the alarming resurgence of malaria in Southeast Asia as described here, I want to take you back several years to explain why this story resonates with me.

On my first trip to Indonesia at that time I met two very smart, funny and interesting Indonesian women. Yulee and Julee were very kind to me, and although there were major language problems I liked them immensely.

To my great embarrassment however I mixed up their phone numbers, and with almost identical names and voices I was quickly unsure which of them I was speaking with when I left Indonesia.

I eventually rediscovered who was who and kept in touch, until some months later I got a message from Yulee (which translated as) “Our best friend has gone forever“.

Working out what happened took some time. Yulee didn’t know exactly and the translation confused almost as much as clarified, but it eventually emerged that Julee’s young life was taken quickly by a mix of malaria and Indonesia’s often fatally inadequate public health service.

Thinking of malaria as a critical threat to public health is important, but so too is remembering the impact of the disease on individual lives and families.

Julee was indeed our best friend, and she is gone forever.