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AseanAffairs Magazine September - October 2011





This year has seen increasing climate change disasters throughout the world.

In the cover story of this edition, Asean Affairs takes a look at the issues and possible solutions to reduce the costly

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After two years of delay, Indonesia has moved on its financial safety net legislation.

Legislation that was introduced in early 2009 to protect Indonesia’s financial system is finally moving forward. At a press conference on August 22, Indonesian Finance Minister Agus Martowardojo said the bill would be submitted during the August 16-October 28 session of the House of Representatives.
The two factors that undoubtedly inspired this development are the billions of dollars that foreign investors have pumped into Jakarta financial markets due to the strength of the Indonesian economy as western economies have slowed down.
Secondly, international agencies have warned that a sudden reversal of the short-term funds would provide a shock to Indonesia’s financial system. The bill called “JPSK” is designed to protect individual deposits during crises not only in banks but in pension funds and insurance.
A financial safety net forum (FSSK) comprising the finance minister, the Bank Indonesia governor, Indonesia Deposit Insurance Corporation (LPS) chairman and the yet-to-be-established Financial Services Authority (OJK) chairman is proposed.  .......... 





Yingluck’s winning smile carried the Pheu Thai party to victory on July 3. Now the hard part begins-governing.

The political street demonstrations in Thailand during the last several years have probably given the world outside of Thailand the perception that Thai politics are unruly and bordering on anarchy, however, that is usually not the case.

On August 23 at 9a.m. sharp, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra delivered her government’s policy statement, the first step to signify that administrative power rests with the new Pheu Thai-led government.
The statement was 35 pages in length and has drawn critical reviews from local English-language media.

The Bangkok Post led off its news report this way, “The government has vowed to press ahead with its plan to amend the coup-sponsored Constitution, raising concerns about possible renewed political confrontation.”

Amending the current Thai constitution that was installed by the military coup following the Sept. 19, 2006 coup that brought down the government of Thaksin Shinawatra is seen by many Thais as a way to pave the road for Mr. Thaksin’ s return from exile.

During the campaign that concluded on July 3, the victorious Pheu Thai party also pledged to raise the daily minimum wage in Thailand to 300 baht (US$10) and the starting salary of university graduates to 15,000 baht ($500) per month. The policy statement reiterated the pledge to institute those initiatives within the first year in office.

In its coverage, the Post actually seemed to give more credence to the point by point attack on the government’s agenda by opposition leader and defeated PM candidate, Abhisit Veljjajiva.

The Oxford-educated Mr. Abhisit attacked the government’s proposals characterizing them as economically risky or simply unsound.
The victorious Pheu Thai party pledged to: amend the constitution, protect the monarchy, raise the daily minimum wage in Thailand to 300 baht ($10) and the starting salary of university graduates to 15,000 baht ($500) per month, cut the oil fund tax, supply tablet computers to primary schools, suppress drugs within 1 year, reinstate the 30- baht ($1) health care scheme and provide a rice paddy mortgage........... 




Singapore would like to see fewer of these.

Singapore is attracting an unwelcome flood of US dollars that has caused a key interest rate to turn negative, complicating efforts to dampen inflation and prompting speculation the central bank will tweak its policy to slow the rapid rise in the country’s currency.

While Singapore prides itself on having a highly globalized and open economy, the stream of investors seeking refuge from international market turmoil in recent weeks could fuel price pressures on the tiny island, adding to fears of a potential property bubble even as the economy shows signs of slowing.

That could persuade the city-state’s central bank to reconsider its policy on allowing further appreciation in the local currency.

Authorities have allowed the Singapore dollar to gain 6.5 percent against the US dollar so far this year, the most among Asian currencies, to curb imported inflation and as investors shy away from the United States and Europe where governments are struggling to resolve debt issues.

As global markets plunged in August, the Singapore dollar swap offer rate (SOR) fell below zero for the first time due to inflows into the Singapore dollar. The rate reflects lending costs as well as the expected forward exchange rate between the US dollar and Singapore currency.

Singapore’s current policy stance is to allow a gradual appreciation of the local dollar against a basket of currencies to curb price pressures........... 



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