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SOP for Schools:
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Weekly NewsLetter
3  October  2011
    Vol.1 No.34

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The Editor's Corner


Alliance over sea dispute forms
When Philippine President Aquino returned from Tokyo on September 28, not only did he bring home Us$1.4 billion in new investment but also Japanese support for a multilateral approach to resolving the dispute with China over territories in the South China Sea or the West Philippines Sea as the Filipinos call it or the East Sea that the Vietnamese use.

At the conclusion of his Tokyo visit, the Philippine leader and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda issued a statement opposing China’s position that calls for a bilateral solution to conflicting claims to the Spratly Islands.

The joint communiqué said, “The two leaders confirmed that the South China Sea is vital, as it connects the world and the Asia Pacific region, and that peace and stability therein is of common interest to the international community.”

It emphasized “the need for a rules-based (approach) for addressing and resolving disputes and promoting cooperation” in the region. The leaders also “expressed their hope of the early formulation of a legally binding code of conduct that is consistent with established international law.”

The two leaders said, “As leaders of countries sharing lines of communication, they also confirmed that freedom of navigation, unimpeded commerce, and compliance with established international law, including the Unclos (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea), and the peaceful settlement of disputes serve the interests of the two and the whole region.”

China claims all of the West Philippine Sea and insists it has sole rights to all of the area, including islands claimed by the Philippines. Japan’s intervention is likely to anger China.

China has called for bilateral negotiations on the disputes, a strategy that would effectively shut out other countries like the United States and Asean members.

The Chinese position goes against history and precedence.

For example, Vietnamese fishermen have been present in the Paracel and Truong Sa archipelagos for a thousand years, while the first visit of China to those islands was recorded in 1996.

Japan aligns itself with the four Asean members that lay claim to territorial rights in the sea-Brunei, Malaysia Philippines and Vietnam.

The Philippines has proposed that Manila and Tokyo set up a “permanent working group” that would regularly tackle other Asian maritime concerns. This proposal has the potential of becoming the working mechanism of a Japan, Philippines and Vietnam axis. The two Asean members have also been vocal about the recent encounters with intrusions of the Chinese in the sea. They have been building their own naval capability to stand up to the Chinese Navy that is now projecting its growing might in a display of gunboat diplomacy.

Japan’s initiative is significant in that it is concerned about its own freedom of navigation in the disputed region.

President Aquino’s classic balance of power move adds another dimension to the sea standoff that will continue to be a contentious issue until a diplomatic effort brings closure.

Given China’s aggressive stance, will this ever happen?


Top News from Southeast Asia

October  2 , 2011


These were the most newsworthy stories published by Asean Affairs during the week of September 24-30.

Philippines may ditch public-private plan
The Aquino administration may ditch its stalled public-private partnership (PPP) scheme and instead go it alone in pursuing key infrastructure projects, according to the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).

Indonesia cancels Thai rice deal
Indonesia will scrap its plan to buy 70,000 tonnes of rice worth 1.37 billion baht from Thai exporters as a protest against the cancellation of a sale by the Thai government, say rice exporters.

First-car program upsets Ford
Ford Motor Co is objecting to the Thai government's first-time car buyer program, which caps engine sizes of 1,500cc for qualifying passenger sedans, could cost it as much as 6.1 billion baht in lost revenue.

Indonesian oil production takes a hit
Following a fire that last week gutted the Lentera Bangsa floating storage and offloading vessel in southeastern Sumatra, Indonesia may not meet its oil production target for this year, a government official said.

Japanese companies expand in Philippines
Phillipine President Benigno Aquino 3rd on Tuesday reported from Tokyo that four big Japanese business firms have committed to expand their presence in the Philippines.

Critical flood situation in Thailand
Thailand’s Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has instructed cabinet ministers and Pheu Thai MPs to visit and stay overnight in flood affected areas because the flooding is now at critical levels, reports said.


US miners blocking renegotiations
Efforts by the Indonesian government to review the so-called contract of work with miners operating in the country have not yielded positive results, as two US companies are impeding the process, a government official said.

Malaysia looks to split up power supplier
The Malaysian government is looking into the proposal to split Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) into the three units of power distribution, generation and transmission.

Singapore developers pursue Chinese
Ever since Jacky Zhang visited a few Singapore booths at an international property fair two weeks ago, his iPhone has been ringing with invitations to join special property-viewing group tours in the city-state.

Foreigners bought Vietnamese bonds
Foreign investors bought Vietnamese Government bonds worth VND20 trillion (US$961.5 million) and unloaded VND14 trillion ($673.1 million) from September 2010 to August 2011, accounting for 17 percent and 24 percent, respectively, of total market transactions.

Church bombing paves way for intelligence bill
Sunday’s suicide bombing at a church in Solo, Indonesia has galvanized lawmakers and the government to set their differences aside and agree on long-disputed clauses in a draft bill on intelligence.

Singapore: “most competitive IT market”
Singapore has risen six places to become the most competitive IT market in Asia Pacific.

Call for Thai economic reset
The government should review its economic policies and reset their priority in order to catch up with the current global economic situation, Paiboon Narintarangkul, chairman of the Federation of Thai Capital Market Organisations, said on Tuesday.

Militant role in Sunday church bombing
Sunday’s suicide bombing at a Protestant church, the first major terror attack in Solo, has exposed the city to scrutiny for its role as a militant stronghold as police sources say they are searching for a man linked to the bombing of a mosque in Cirebon in April.

New Thai rice program causing global instability
A populist policy aimed at boosting the incomes of Thai farmers has raised fears of global rice price turbulence, and experts say Thailand could just be hurting itself.

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