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Weekly NewsLetter
19  September  2011
    Vol.1 No.32

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The Editor's Corner


Malaysia addresses civil rights
At the end of the last week Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak took a courageous step by calling for an end to the emergency ordinance and Internal Security Act.

The move came on Friday, September 16 on Malaysia Day, which is the national day of the country. The address was telecast live on television and he seems to have struck the right tone for his speech.

The prime minister noted that Malaysia is evolving into a higher level and “the people wanted more freedom.” He stressed that the legal changes were to accommodate a mature, modern and functioning democracy and to preserve public order, enhance civil liberty and maintain racial harmony.

The step by the prime minister came after a harsh crackdown on the Bersih 2.0 rally that was held on 9 July 2011. Najib gained a lot of bad press internationally over the way the rally was handled.

Najib’s Malaysia Day speech may have been in response to that criticism and in anticipation of the next general election in Malaysia, which must come before 2013. Early 2012 is speculated to be when the next election should occur.

The Internal Security Act (ISA) dates back to 1960 and the Emergency Act was adopted in 1966. Another restrictive law and the Banishment Act was put in place in 1959.

The ISA will be replaced by two new laws will be enacted to safeguard peace and order the detention period will be reduced and can only be extended by the courts, except in cases involving terrorism.

A number of Asean countries in all stages of national development attract criticism over their human rights issues. It is refreshing about developments in Malaysia and hopefully, will serve as a role model for others Asean countries to move forward in the human rights sector.


Top News from Southeast Asia

September  18 , 2011


These were the most newsworthy stories published by Asean Affairs during the week of September 10-16.

Cambodian growth projected at 6.8
The Asian Development Bank yesterday countered Prime Minister Hun Sen’s prediction that gross domestic product growth will reach 8.7 percent this year, citing a smaller projection of 6.8 percent in its annual Asian Development Outlook update.

Najib announces major law changes
Malaysians received a significant Malaysia Day present in the form of greater civil liberties and democratic reforms under sweeping changes announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

Top rice exporters to meet
The world's two biggest rice exporters, Thailand and Vietnam, will hold talks today (Sept. 16) on future trade arrangements and the effects from the Thai government's revival of the crop mortgage scheme.

Floods on their way to Bangkok
Water runoff from the north is threatening Bangkok as overflow from the Chao Phraya River has flooded part of Bang Pa-in district in Ayutthaya.

Vietnam: Xayaburi dam may cause earthquakes
The Xayaburi dam project in northern Laos might increase the probability of earthquakes in a region already prone to seismic activity, according to a recently translated report from Vietnam.

100,000 Indonesians face food crisis
Almost 100,000 people in Indonesia’s East Nusa Tenggara province were facing a serious food crisis, an official said on Tuesday.

Goldman, Morgan move on Indonesia
Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are each in talks to buy an Indonesian brokerage firm to expand their reach into the booming capital market of Southeast Asia’s biggest economy, sources said.

Myanmar releases prisoners
Myanmar has released about 20,000 prisoners this year under an amnesty program, the country's foreign minister said on Tuesday.

Central Thai bank OKs debt level
The Thai government's budget deficit of 350 billion baht for fiscal 2012 is suitable for economic needs as it keeps public debt in check, says Prasarn Trairatvorakul, the Bank of Thailand governor.

Razak hopes medical school halts “brain drain”
It is hoped the newly-opened Perdana University, a collaboration with two renowned international medical universities, will prevent a brain drain of top medical graduates from Malaysia.

Philippine FDI increases
Foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows rose by more than a fourth in June on the back of the Philippines’ sound macroeconomic fundamentals and improved investor risk appetite, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said on Monday.

Wage hike debate continues in Thailand
A rapid increase in wages would be economically disruptive and could lead to higher unemployment as companies shed jobs to reduce production costs, economists told a seminar yesterday.

Philippines urged to delay wind, solar projects
The Federation of Philippine Industries is urging the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to defer the issuance of feed-in tariff (FIT) rates for wind and solar power projects as these technologies are still too expensive to use as mainstream power sources.

UN to aid Vietnam in social policy, climate change
The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) will support Vietnam in creating development policies, focusing on social security, law reform and the capacity to cope with climate change.

Extremists killed in the Philippines
Philippine soldiers killed three Al-Qaeda-linked extremists in a gun battle in the southern Philippines on Sunday, a military commander said.

SBY invites criticism of his anti-graft program
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono used the occasion of his 62nd birthday — and his party’s 10th — on Friday to reaffirm his administration’s commitment to tackling corruption.
READ MORE: indonesia_news/politics/sby_invites_criticism_of_his_anti_graft_program

US looks at investment in Laos
U.S. companies, whose investments trail far behind those of China, Vietnam and Thailand in communist Laos, are turning their attention to the poor but fast-growing nation, an official said Thursday.

Malaysia to set minimum wage
Malaysia is currently gearing up for its own version of minimum wage. The National Wages Consultative Council Bill has already been passed since the middle of this year after a four-hour heated debate at parliament to make way for the implementation of minimum wage in the country.

Pheu Thai wants Thaksin back
In case there has ever been a question about it, Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yumbamrung said on Friday that the Pheu Thai party would continue to pursue an amnesty for fugitive former Thai prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra. After all, his youngest sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, is the current prime minister.

Investors buy land around HCM City
The land market in three neighbouring provinces of HCM City, Binh Duong, Long An and Dong Nai, is showing signs of recovery, with 85 lots in the IJC Commercial Town project in Binh Duong Province's My Phuoc District selling out in the morning in their first day on offer late last month.

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