2011 KICKS OFF IN ASEAN
corruption in indonesia, protests in thailand, Vw in Malaysia, fewer babies in singapore, Bomb blast in the philippines, high-tech firms invest in Vietnam, cambodia progresses, laos opens bourse and bank, Myanmar parliament opens, Brunei invests in Malaysia
Mr. Gayus was just a tax official, who earned a salary of several hundred dollars a week but managed to amass $3.1 million by helping corporations, including some belonging to the family of one of Indonesia’s most powerful politicians, Golkar party president Aburizal Bakrie, evade hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes.
News media showed many pictures of Mr. Gayus out on the town while he was supposedly behind bars. He admitted bribing guards, who let him out for “vacations” and he even produced a fake passport for trips to Singapore, Malaysia and Macau when he was supposed to be imprisoned.
In one highly circulated photo, the chubby taxman was photographed wearing a wig at a tennis tournament in Bali while One of Thailand’s most popular pastimes, political protests, returned to the Bangkok scene in January.
The right-wing People Against Dictatorship (PAD), also popularly referred to as the officials said he was secure in his cell in Jakarta. On January 19, Mr. Gayus was sentenced to a seven-year prison term.
The case invited more scrutiny of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s standing as a corruption fighter. The president was re-elected and won his first term in office on a graft-fighting platform but there is increasing skepticism that he has the ability to take effective steps to fight corruption.
Indonesia is no stranger to graft and corruption. On the yearly Corruption Perception Index (CPI) , Indonesia was placed 88 (out of 178 countries). However, since Yudhoyono assumed office in 2004, Indonesia’s ranking has improved each year.
By comparison, Singapore was ranked #1, Malaysia was 42 and Thailand 61 on the CPI index for 2010.................
one of Thailand’s most popular pastimes, political protests, returned to the Bangkok scene in January. The right-wing People Against Dictatorship (PAD), also popularly referred to as the yellow shirts for their color choice of shirt, assembled to demonstrate at Government House in January.
The reason for the protest came from the arrest of seven Thai men, including a sitting Democrat MP, when they wandered into disputed border territory with Cambodia December 29. The Thais claimed they were in the territory by mistake.
The two Asean countries have long disagreed about their border, which is not fully demarcated, partly because it is littered with land mines left over from decades of war in Cambodia. There was a series of deadly border clashes in 2008.
By January 24, five of those arrested had been released and returned to Bangkok, while two remained in custody in Phnom Penh on additional charges of espionage. They were convicted of the charges on February 1.
The incident was enough to mobilize 5000 nationalistic yellow shirts. They claimed that the government was not doing enough to protect Thai sovereignty in the border area, called for the prime minister’s resignation and refused to meet with the prime minister to negotiate as they blocked the streets around Government House.
The posture of the yellow shirts seems to most Thais to be an overreaction to a small amount of rocky land on the border but it did affect the stock market for at least one day...........
The main news coming out of Malaysia and the biggest single development during the beginning of the year was Volkswagen’s (VW) plan to start production in Malaysia.
On December 21, 2010 VW signed a pact with Malaysia’s DRB-Hicom Bhd. to assemble up to 50,000 vehicles a year in Malaysia, after earlier attempts to enter Southeast Asia’s largest passenger car market had failed.
The one billion ringgit ($318 million) Malaysian assembly venture will be Volkswagen’s second in the Association of South East Asian Nations, or Asean, region. Europe’s largest automaker by sales, which had last year agreed to set up a plant in Indonesia that will produce its Touran multipurpose vehicle, said it is also eyeing other production hubs in the region to further boost sales in Southeast Asia.
Increased affluence has been boosting sales of motor vehicles in Malaysia, Southeast Asia’s largest passenger-car market. According to the Malaysian Automotive Association, vehicle sales for the 11 months ended November 30 had risen 12.5 percent from a year earlier to 550,391 units despite recent economic uncertainties.
Local auto makers Perodua and Proton account for more than 50 percent of the total sales, while Japanese manufacturers like Toyota, Honda and Nissan account for the lion’s share of foreign makes sold in the country. VW expects to sell about 3,000 units in Malaysia this year.......................
The government has for years put on match-making events for university graduates on the assumption that Singapore’s best and brightest could be coaxed into producing a generation of brainy offspring.
While that model of social engineering has failed to bring about a baby boom, bureaucrats across the region have sought to tweak policies and tax codes to get more couples in the mood, but seldom with great success.
At the core of the problem, say analysts, have been gender attitudes steeped in Confucian traditions - with men still expecting their wives to handle the child care and household chores that may not top a modern woman’s wish list.
The lack of more Singaporeans may threaten the island economy that has become a center of Asean commerce and business.
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