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Weekly NewsLetter
14 Febuary 2011
    Vol.1 No.4

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The Editor's Corner


Indonesia takes activist role
          When Indonesia assumed the chairmanship role of Asean on January 1 it was widely projected that it would take a more active leadership role than the previous tenant, Vietnam.

That was not much of a contest as Indonesia is a full-fledged democracy and accustomed to democratic processes, while Vietnam operates under a communist one-party system with little democratic expression or democratic activities allowed.

The arrival of Indonesia as chair can be seen as serendipitous given its quick response to the renewed flare-up of border hostilities between Cambodia and Thailand.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa hit the ground running when he visited Phnom Penh on Monday and Bangkok on Tuesday to mediate. The result is that all of the Asean foreign ministers have been invited to attend a meeting in Jakarta on February 22 to resolve the dispute.

As chair of Asean, Indonesia is required under the Asean Charter to offer its good offices to member countries that are in conflict.

Prior to the Asean meeting, the UN Security Council decided to discuss the conflict as an urgent matter and invited both Thai and Cambodian foreign ministers and Mr. Marty to attend a meeting of the council on Monday.

Before becoming Indonesia’s foreign minister, Marty spent two years on the council before taking up the foreign ministry post.

Thailand has maintained a position that bilateral talks were the answer to the conflict, while Cambodian Premier Hun Sen had been pushing for UN intervention. It seems that what is coming out of this diplomatic tangle is that Asean will take a leadership role endorsed by the UN.

The Indonesian diplomatic effort signals that Asean is moving beyond its usual “tea party” model that it has followed for years into a more positive and dynamic role.

One can anticipate more of this in the future as Asean strengthens its identity as a political and economic unit.


Top News from Southeast Asia

February 14, 2011


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

Bank Indonesia raises interest rate
After months of doing little, Bank Indonesia on Friday raised its benchmark interest rate by a quarter percentage point to 6.75 percent, citing growing inflationary pressures.

Indonesia could be left out of regional link  
Stock exchanges in Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand want to set up trading links between their markets and hope to have cross-border dealing in all listed shares by the end of 2011.

Thailand may have April election 
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva began his re-election campaign early on Friday. It has been speculated the premier will dissolve the House in April after parliament passes important legislation.

Free trade challenges Vietnam 
The Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is a double-edged sword as it brings both opportunities and challenges to Vietnamese exports, according to Vietnamese economic experts.

Malaysia remains a top offshoring destination 
Malaysia continues to occupy the third leading position, after India and China, in the list of the world's leading offshoring destinations, according to global management consulting firm A.T. Kearney's latest Global Services Location Index (GSLI).

Indonesian banks climb in global rankings 
A global survey has found five Indonesian lenders among the world's 500 most valuable banking brands, according to consultancy company Brand Finance.

Ringgit Expected To Hit 3.00 Against US Dollar By Q1  
The Malaysian ringgit, which touched a new 13-year high of 3.0345 in intra-day trade Monday, is expected to hit 3.00 against the dollar by the first quarter. There is speculation that Asian central banks may raise interest rates to curb inflationary pressure and the continued commercial demand for the local currency.

Joint expansion discussed  
Two Thai energy firms, PTT Exploration and Production Plc and Petronas Carigali, are discussing increasing gas production from a joint development area.

Wal-Mart may enter Indonesia  
Wal-Mart Stores may become a partner of retailer Matahari Putra Prima in developing its hypermarkets multiple sources said on Tuesday.

More poor Philippine families  
The impact of the global financial crisis and the natural disasters that struck the Philippines have resulted in more poor Filipino families, the government reported Tuesday.

DTAC wants same deal as True Move  
In the stormy field of Thai telecoms, equal opportunity for competing firms is the battleground as foreign firms feel they are not getting a fair deal.

Rushing to rubber  
The upbeat rubber market has encouraged Thailand's CP Group to strengthen its rubber business with an investment infusion from Japan's Marubeni Corporation.

Philippine FDI surges  
Foreign direct investments (FDI) to the country surged in November on the back of improved risk appetite for emerging Asia's assets, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said Thursday.

New Vietnamese exchange rules may boost liquidity  
The Vietnamese government plans to complete the legal framework governing the securities market, says Deputy Minister of Finance Tran Xuan Ha.

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