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Enter the Dragon and the Elephant
China is without doubt growing at a speed that is astonishing to many and one of the contributing factors has been its insulation from the recent financial crisis. More

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SOP for Schools:
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By students of Garden International School, Bangkok
Friday, March 18, 2011,
Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok

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Weekly NewsLetter
5  September  2011
    Vol.1 No.30

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The Editor's Corner


Smuggled ivory passes through Asean
          Since 2003 more than 20 tons of ivory has gone through Malaysian ports. During the last two months there have been major seizures.

Hong Kong authorities on Monday seized 794 African tusks shipped from Malaysia, weighing 1.9 tons and estimated to be worth around US$1. 7 million. The ivory was concealed in a consignment declared as non-ferrous products for factory use.

That seizure came after last week's report that more than 1,000 elephant tusks were seized by Tanzanian authorities. The tusks were hidden in a strong-smelling container of anchovies destined for Malaysia. Generally customs officers only conduct an X-ray inspection on containers if they receive a tip-off.

Of course, the ivory that actually gets through cannot be tallied, but the population of elephants has declined from 3 to 5 million in the 1930s and 1940s to 300,000 elephants in southern Africa and considerably fewer in West Africa.

Among the countries that seized ivory shipments after transiting through Malaysian ports were Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. Why Malaysia?

Wildlife experts such as Traffic regional director Dr. William Schaedla say that Malaysia may have become a major trans-shipment point because other Asean countries, notably Thailand, are enforcing contraband laws more effectively.

“Smugglers tend to move to an easier place. If enforcement in other countries heats up, then they will find a soft spot elsewhere,” he said.

It’s estimated that 50,000 to 100,000 containers entered Malaysian ports for transit in a month. The containers can be stored free in a containet yard for uo to 28 days.

The demand for ivory is created by the ivory-carving industry centered in Thailand and China. China once had its own species of elephant but it was probably destroyed by the quest to turn ivory into ornaments.

During the Ming Dynasty (1368 to 1644) ivory began to be used for small statuettes. In the Ching Dynasty more intricate carving developed, and became more prominent. Later Canton developed large models of houses and other large and showy pieces, which remain popular. Enormous examples are still seen as decorative centerpieces at government receptions.

By the 18th century an export trade to Europe had developed and 300 years later it’s still in business.


Top News from Southeast Asia

September  4 , 2011


These were the most newsworthy stories published by Asean Affairs during the week of August 27-September 2.

Malaysian exports led by commodities
Demand for commodities from China and India will remain the main pillar of support for Malaysia's exports in July as in the previous month with the export-reliant manufacturing sector continuing to feel the impact from a drop in sales of consumer electric and electronic (E&E) goods from the United States and Europe.

Philippine hot money flows double
Foreign portfolio investment inflows in the first three weeks of August nearly doubled from a year ago amid investors’ improved risk appetite for emerging assets.

Thai inflation accelerates
Inflation accelerated in August at the fastest pace in 35 months as food and energy prices rose.

New demand pushes rice price
New demand from Nigeria and Indonesia and speculation about aggressive government intervention pushed Thai rice to 1-1/2 year highs this week, while Vietnamese prices began to ease as well-stocked buyers stayed on the sidelines, traders said on Wednesday.

Male bosses dominate Singapore
Men continue to predominantly hold leadership roles in Singapore's private sector, according to the Randstad Workmonitor Report which tracks gender diversity and job trends.

Australian court voids refugee swap
Australia's highest court has ruled that Australia cannot send asylum seekers to Malaysia as part of a new refugee swap deal.

Investment fund likes Philippines
The biggest pension fund in the United States said it hiked by a fourth its investments in the Philippine stock market in the first five months of the year, tracking the global movement of foreign money from developed to emerging markets.

Red shirts receive political appointments
In a move that could be risky, the new Pheu Thai government has appointed a number of persons from the red shirt group to political roles. Following a failure to disperse on May 19 last year, the red shirts staged an arson attack on private and government buildings that cost the Thai economy millions of dollars. More than 90 lives were also lost when the red shirts and Thai soldiers engaged in a cross-fire after the red shirts failed to disperse.

Malaysia FDI surges
Foreign direct investments (FDIs) surged to RM21.3 billion (US$7.2 billion) in the first six months of the year in Malaysia compared with RM12.1bil a year earlier.

Vietnamese banks raise reserves
The State Bank of Viet Nam yesterday raised the foreign currency compulsory reserves ratio for commercial banks by 1 percentage point to 8 percent of total deposits in a move to limit the growing number of new loans being made in US dollars.

KL attracts Singapore investors
Sky-high prices and tighter financing rules are sending increasing numbers of Singaporeans across the Causeway to snap up property.

Philippines to have “single window” customs
The Bureau of Customs said it would complete the interconnection of the National Single Window and electronic to mobile system in two months despite a conflict in warranties.

Tony Tan wins close election
Former deputy prime minister Tony Tan has secured victory after a recount in Singapore's presidential election, with the razor-thin winning margin exposing sharp divisions in the electorate.

Indo central bank holds on rate increase
Indonesia’s central bank prefers not to raise rates, in case it needs to counter a spike in fuel prices or a bubble in auto loans next year, analysts said.

Revised Thai fiscal budget in January
The revised fiscal budget for 2012 is not expected to reach parliament until January, but in the meantime the government has access to 1.035 trillion remaining in the budget for the 2011 fiscal year, which ends September 30.

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