For a country that could once have been said to have the world at its feet, it is hard to believe how far Malaysia has fallen.
If the MH370 debacle wasn’t enough to erase your faith in Malaysian governance standards, the world now confronts official insanity such as that described here. Then again, if attacking gays isn’t sufficiently destructive to the national reputation there is also the awesome lack of cultural awareness on show here.
Characteristic of traditional Malaysian/Indonesian rivally, when it comes to gay rights Indonesia is also doing all it can to beat Malaysia in the race to maximum intolerance.
Both nations are capable of much better than that, or is it an admission that they are not?
The post title is also the headline of the oneindia.com news article here.
That article’s opening paragraph concludes that “…with some careful planning, you can end up celebrating the New Year’s Eve in some of the most exciting places in Southeast Asia”. The planning required will be extraordinary indeed given that the article was published just yesterday, five days after New Year’s Eve.
Nevertheless, the purpose of this post is not to criticise in any way what I am sure are the fine folk at oneindia.com. I highlight this post merely for its curious nomination of Korea as being within Southeast Asia.
I am mindful that the list is perhaps less definitive of “best places to be on New Years Eve” than “best places to be on New Years Eve for the sort of reader who oneindia.com appeals to”. And that is fair enough, you can hardly expect oneindia.com to cater for a different readership, but it does raise the question; is Korea portayed as being part of Southeast Asia because oneindia.com believes it is, or is Korea placed in Southeast Asia because oneindia.com thinks it’s readers consider it to be so?
I cannot of course answer that question without significant research (unless, dear reader, you just happen to have a link to a peer referenced paper on this very question), but I suspect each option is possible.
From an Indian perspective distant east Asia is quite possibly just that, East Asia. The disinction between north-East and south-East is largely a Western cultural creation, and there is no special reason why Indian online newspaper readers must embrace that particular interpretation of the international order. The concept of Korea being part of Southeast Asia may also be an echo of a distant era of state relations and understandings that predate contemporary international boundaries.
Or perhaps it is simply the perception that there are an insufficient number of worthwhile places to be in Southeast Asia on New Years’ Eve for oneindia.com readers, and Seoul is considered to be an equally attractive alternative.
I will leave it to you as to whether that says more about the views of some potential Indian tourists or the possible lack of tourist appeal of most of Southeast Asia.
That’s the title of the recently released Australian Strategic Policy Institute report available in a .pdf here.
In a comprehensive breakdown by a range of metrics and individual country assessments, the report “assesses the national approach of Asia–Pacific countries to the challenges and opportunities of cyberspace, taking a holistic approach that assesses governance and legislation, law enforcement, military capacity and policy involvement, and business and social engagement in cyber policy and security issues”.
The five second summary? Greater national wealth correlates closely with enhanced cyber security. Now you know.
Yes, that time of year again when vast plumes of airborne particulates from forest fires in Sumatra and elsewhere in the region cause choking pollution across much of Southeast Asia.
A very readable background piece offering an understanding of the issue is here.
There was some hope that this year would be different. In 2016 the World Resources Institute wrote here that…
For the last several years, forest fires driven by agricultural expansion have spiked every summer in Indonesia, creating smog and public health crises, including more than 100,000 deaths, throughout Southeast Asia. While fires are once again flaring, they’re not nearly as bad as usual—there are currently about a quarter as many burning across Indonesia this year compared to this time [September 2016] in 2015.
The article goes on to give a comprehensive explanation why.
Sadly however that trend seems not to have lasted a year.
Just a couple of days ago the East Asia Forum here Armida S Alisjahbana, Padjadjaran University and Jonah Busch wrote that “forest fires sweeping across Sumatra and Kalimantan in recent months prompted six Indonesian provinces to declare a state of emergency”.
That may imply the problem suddenly emerged, but as the Jakarta Post report here from January this year indicates, the annual emergency has effectively become chronic and now lasts for much of the year.
The reader can come to their own conclusion on the Indonesian Government’s recent claims to success in fighting fires (reported here), but given a recent Reuters report here that Indonesia lost a million hectares of tree cover in 2016 alone and the disastrous public health impacts from the smog that you can read about here, here and here, I desperately hope the Indonesian Government is right.
An insighful analysis is available from New Mandala here with some disturbing implications for supporters of democracy in the region.
I hadn’t previously encountered the work of Dan Slater, but this is seriously good and I’ll clearly need to read more of his writings.
Pepinsky’s piece in a similar vein here is of also of the high standard you would expect.
Brunei, Buddhism, Cambodia, deep South of Thailand, demographics, environment, geography, history, Indonesia, Indonesian language, Islam, Java, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Sumatra, Thailand, Vietnam
If I had to limit the content of this blog to just one topic, I would be hard pressed to choose between Indonesia’s volcanoes and historical maps of Southeast Asia. I have written previously about Indonesia’s volcanoes here (and elsewhere from memory), so I thought I would take a moment to share my interest in just one set of the fascinating maps that are out there.
I have always believed that when I had made it professionally and was casually wealthy (the day is still quite a way ahead of me!) I would buy the book I have wanted since I first encountered it in my University Library.
Needless to say most Universities have more money than me, and given there are plenty of functioning motor cars available at a cheaper price than I have seen the book quoted online, I will simply continue to dream of buying it.
The book is the Comprehensive Atlas of the Dutch United East India Company. Volume VII: East Asia, Burma to Japan & Supplement. Volume VII is the last of the series, with the others being;
Volume 1 – Atlas Isaak de Graaf (Atlas Amsterdam)
Volume 2 – Java en Madoera (Java and Madura)
Volume 3 – Indische Archipel en Oceanië (Malay Archipelago and Oceania)
Volume 4 – Ceylon
Volume 5 – Afrika (Africa)
Volume 6 – Voor-Indië, Perzië, Arabisch Schiereiland (India, Persia, Arabian Penninsula)
(Volume 7 – Oost-Azië, Birma tot Japan (East Asia, Burma to Japan & supplement))
For reference purposes see the link here.
Of course I would love Volume II & III and ideally the whole set, but the complete set is getting into the price range that would rival the cost of some houses I have lived in. Such is life.
For those interested in the superlative atlas of Indonesian History I point you to the link here, while for those readers simply wanting to browse the maps by appearance there are commercial options such as the one here and free (to view) maps such as the set here.
Some really interesting background reading on the story of these maps is available here.
I hope you find some of the links as compelling as I do.
Disclaimer – I have no connection with or potential benefit from any of the commercial sites to which I link to here, nor do I make any recommendations on purchasing. Links are provided solely for informative reasons.
While by no means the most sophisticated or nuanced summary, it is a good primer for those readers at the very start of their understanding.
For those readers who have moved beyond the basics and seek a deeper understanding I suggest you review and reflect on the Reuters picture of the ASEAN national leaders holding hands in the story header.
A whole universe of understanding opens up when considering the body language, alignment and personal distancing containined in that picture!