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Asean Affairs  13  March 2011


By  David Swartzentruber

AseanAffairs     13 March 2011

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These were the most important stories published ny Asean Affairs during the week of March 5-March 11.

Higher foreign stake in Malaysian banks
A higher foreign equity limit in local banks is a more effective and viable option to improve the competitiveness of the industry compared with issuing new banking licences.

China confronts Philippines in South China Sea
China on Friday brushed aside Philippine complaints that Chinese patrol boats had inappropriately harassed a Filipino oil exploration vessel in disputed waters.

Lakeside eviction looms
Some 10,000 people living at the Boeung Kak lakeside have been given a deadline of next week to leave their homes or be forcibly removed, raising the prospect of what could be the largest single forced eviction in Cambodia’s recent history.

Thai election coming soon
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has indicated an early House dissolution is likely to be called later this month or early in April to clear the way for the general election, sources report.

Loxley invests in solar farms
One of Thailand's largest trading conglomerates, Loxley Plc, has expanded into the renewable energy business by investing in solar farm projects in Thailand and exploring opportunities in neighbouring countries.

Asian rice threatened by pesticides
Unrestrained use of pesticides in Asia is raising the chance of "pest storms" devastating the region's rice farms and threatening food security, scientists have warned.

Japan advises Thailand to boost labor skills
Thailand should produce about 700,000 skilled labourers to serve the investment influx from Japanese small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) after the ongoing revision in the Japan-Thailand Economic Partnership Agreement (Jtepa).

Vietnam sets Mekong Delta priorities
Sustainable development of the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta and achievement of its growth potential depend on more sensible exploitation of its agricultural strengths, experts say. Professor Vo Tong Xuan, a rice scientist, said agriculture and aquaculture were fundamentally important for the delta's development, and any strategy excluding them would result in ruin for the region.

Thai women rise in business world
Thailand is providing women opportunities to climb the corporate ladder, according to the latest survey by consulting firm Grant Thornton.

Vietnam to conclude free trade agreement with EU
Vietnam and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) could be set to sign a free trade agreement (FTA) to boost the bilateral trade, says a report released yesterday.

Thai hybrid rice imports needed
The Thai Seed Trade Association (THASTA) is urging the government to relax its rules and allow the import of hybrid rice seed varieties to further develop commercial sales.

World's largest biodiesel plant is in Singapore
The Finnish operator of the world's largest renewable diesel plant, which opened Tuesday in the western industrial district of Tuas, has started investing heavily in research to find new materials to be turned into biofuels.

Malaysia again tries rare earth refinery
In the Geben Industrial Area on the outskirts of the northern industrial port of Kuantan, Malaysia, an army of workers is completing work on a rare earth refinery undertaken by the Australian mining company, Lynas.

Thai central bank raises interest rates
The Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of Thailand on Wednesday raised the policy interest rate by a quarter percentage point to 2.5 percent. The move was widely anticipated in the financial press. The decision was aimed at boosting confidence among the public that the central bank was controlling inflation.

Wage increase proposed by Thai Democrats
Thailand's Democrat Party's promise to boost the daily minimum wage by 25 percent is drawing scrutiny. Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva promised to lift the daily minimum wage by 25 percent nationwide as part of a four-point policy package for the ruling Democrats' election campaign. The prime minister announced the package on February 27 to a group of 200 young people who wanted to work with the Democrats at the Chatuchak weekend market.

Philippines expects Middle Eastern investments
The Philippine government expects investments from the Middle East to flow into the Philippines this year despite the current hostilities in the region.

Huawei to construct Indo-Malaysia sea cables
Networks will lead the construction of an underwater cable system between Melaka in Malaysia and Dumai and Batam in Indonesia in order to improve the bandwidth in the two countries.

Paul A. Ebeling, Jnr

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This year in Thailand-what next?

04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More

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