Sunday, February 19, 2017

Navigating in Fog

Malaysian police have closed their investigation into the Kim Jong Nam assassination,
but not before the NST puts the body on the cover of their Saturday edition. Brunch, anyone?
Also: (Some Say) KJN may have been killed due to reports he entertained offers to defect
Is the Japanese media crapping the bed on DPRK coverage?

Beyond unilateralism in South China Sea FONOPs
Jeffrey Ordaniel in East Asia Forum
While unilateral US Navy freedom of navigation operations (FONOPs) should continue, including in waters surrounding Chinese-built artificial islands, Washington should establish another mechanism that engages its treaty allies and partners in the Pacific on freedom of navigation issues: bilateral and multilateral freedom of navigation patrols. In essence, Washington should institute another instrument that involves allies and regional partners that not only challenges excessive maritime entitlement claims, but also reinforces the rule of law in other areas that could be subject to new and illegal restrictions by any state in the future. 
Australia and the Philippines are ideal partners for bilateral or trilateral FON patrols. Canberra has been conducting overflight exercises in the South China Sea since the 1970s and its involvement should not be too surprising to the Chinese. Manila is a direct claimant and a US treaty ally. In early 2016, a joint patrol was integrated as one manifestation of the long overdue US–Philippines Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement forged in 2014. But the Duterte government decided to end this cooperation. 
A clearer US commitment to defend Philippine vessels in the South China Sea, as per Article 5 of the 1951 US–Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty, could encourage an increasingly unpredictable Manila to begin to trust Washington again. The transition from the Obama to the Trump administration provides an opportunity to reset relations between the two allies.

Realistically assessing Australia's national ambitions
Geoff Miller, Lowy Interpreter
It’s important to note that that is not getting easier. For years after the end of World War II we had a significant technological advantage over our neighbours, but they have caught up and other factors — like their larger populations and the international mobility of capital — have come into play. One obvious example is the auto industry. Very soon we will not have one, while Indonesia and Thailand will. 
For a country with a small population like Australia of course there will always be questions as to what we pay attention to, both economically, politically and in terms of supra-national issues like climate change. For example, for decades Australians with an interest have complained that neither our government nor our business people have paid sufficient attention to Indonesia; large, on the march and full of potential despite the difficulties of doing business there. But in those same decades our economic engagement with China, even larger and more on the march, has increased enormously, absorbing a huge amount of our commercial and governmental energies. (Perhaps the visit to Australia by President Jokowi later this month will focus more attention on Indonesia.) 
The above is just one example. In terms of our situation in the world we should pay sustained attention to many kinds of countries and relationships as well as issues. As an ally of the US and a major trading partner of China, we need to be alert to everything that goes on between them, as well as within them. As a neighbour of the countries of East, Southeast and, to some extent, South Asia we need to pay close attention to countries such as Japan, India, Indonesia and the Republic of Korea and work with them to foster regional stability and resilience. With New Zealand, we have to pay close attention to the small island countries of the South Pacific, where we can make a difference to their struggles for social and economic advancement, and, unfortunately, perhaps later assist with the consequences of climate change.

Sheridan Mahavera, South China Morning Post

The PAS left the Hope Coalition in 2015 and became independent after a fellow coalition member, the secular Democratic Action Party, protested against its campaign to introduce a Muslim penal code called hudud. A senior leader of the Democratic Action Party – which is popular with ethnic Chinese voters – recently signalled a willingness to mend ties with the PAS, while former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, long known for his criticisms of the PAS’ ultra-conservatism, has also appeared to change tack. 
Mahathir’s party, the Malaysian Indigenous People’s Party, or Bersatu, is allied to the Hope Coalition and is now leading negotiations for an electoral pact with PAS in an effort to oust the National Front and its scandal-tainted chairman, Prime Minister Najib Razak. But Najib, too, is thought to be working behind the scenes to influence the PAS, leading to questions over where its loyalties lie. 
Will the PAS side with its estranged former allies in the Hope Coalition? Or will it go it alone in the elections, splitting support for the opposition and thereby helping keep Najib in power?

Long Zhenyang: The resignation that shook Hong Kong media
By Juliana Liu, BBC China Blog

"Given the draconian instructions given by the propaganda department and the increasingly rigid restrictions on what editorial line they can take, I imagine many journalists are not happy with their jobs. But most will simply obey the party line," he said. 
Mr Long has claimed he was anti-Party for many years, even as he rose through the ranks at Shenzhen newspapers from junior reporter to senior editor. 
"Over the past 20 years, I've written a lot of things I don't believe in," he said. 
But he believes it was essays supporting the 2014 pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong that he shared privately, to his Wechat group, that got him into trouble.

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