In Southeast Asia, a region dominated for decades by “strongman” political leaders and where nostalgia for the Soviet Union persists in some quarters, Russian President Vladimir Putin has a strong following among social media users who are sympathetic to his invasion of Ukraine and find his macho self-image appealing.
While countries in Asia Pacific have made great strides in controlling bribery for public services, an average score of 45 out of 100 on the 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) shows much more needs to be done to solve the region’s corruption problems.
Some higher-scoring countries are even experiencing a decline as governments fail to address grand corruption, uphold rights and consult citizens.
The top performers in Asia Pacific are New Zealand (CPI score: 88), Singapore (85) and Hong Kong (76). However, most countries sit firmly below the global average of 43. This includes three countries with some of the lowest scores in the world: Cambodia (23), Afghanistan (16) and North Korea (16).
Among those with weak scores are some of the world’s most populous countries, such as China (45) and India (40), and other large economies such as Indonesia (38), Pakistan (28) and Bangladesh (26). A concerning trend across some of these nations is a weakening of anti-corruption institutions or, in some cases, absence of an agency to coordinate action against corruption.
In the small, secluded country of Bhutan, happiness is not just a traditional way of life – it is a national statistic.
Bhutan’s government introduced “Gross National Happiness” as a measure of the nation’s progress.
Opening the country up to international tourism has allowed for some development, but the weight of tradition still weighs heavily on the kingdom’s young generation. Not everyone gets to enjoy the perks of a modern lifestyle.
101 East explores the cost of happiness in this hermit kingdom.
Demonstrators carry pictures of former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, during a protest in Karachi on Dec. 24, 2019. RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES
This week brought news that the health of two former South Asian leaders has taken a turn for the worse. Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, who ruled the country as a military dictator for nearly a decade in the 2000s, is hospitalized with a rare and incurable disease that causes organ damage. In Bangladesh, former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, who served two separate terms, had a heart attack.
That many South Asian leaders have reached old age speaks to the relative improvement in the region’s political stability, after decades when executions by coup or assassinations were not uncommon in some countries. Former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif have each recently experienced health issues. India lost one former prime minister in 2018, and Pakistan has lost two formerleaders since 2020.
If there was one common challenge to unite the Asia Pacific region, it would be corruption. From campaign pledges to media coverage to civil society forums, corruption dominates discussion. Yet despite all this talk, there’s little sign of action. Between Australia’s slipping scores and North Korea’s predictably disastrous performance, the 2015 index shows no significant improvement. Has Asia Pacific stalled in its efforts to fight corruption?
This year’s poor results demand that leaders revisit the genuineness of their efforts and propel the region beyond stagnation.
The public desire for change is huge. In India, Sri Lanka and elsewhere, we’ve seen a host of governments coming to power on anti-corruption platforms. As corruption continues to dominate media coverage across and beyond the region, increasing interest in the issue has sparked a raft of new research into both public and private sector corruption.
So why this picture of zero progress? Despite boastful efforts on petty corruption, Malaysia’s 1MBD scandal brought the crux of the challenge into sharp focus: is political leadership genuinely committed to fighting corruption throughout society? The Malaysian prime minister’s inability to answer questions on the US$700 million that made its way into his personal bank account is only the tip of the iceberg.
In India and Sri Lanka leaders are falling short of their bold promises, while governments in Bangladesh and Cambodia are exacerbating corruption by clamping down on civil society. In Afghanistan and Pakistan a failure to tackle corruption is feeding ongoing vicious conflicts, while China’s prosecutorial approach isn’t bringing sustainable remedy to the menace. This inability to tackle root causes holds true across the region – witness, for example, Australia’s dwindling score in recent years.
Malaysia’s 1MBD scandal brought the challenge into sharp focus: is political leadership genuinely committed to fighting corruption throughout society?
Reversing corruption is clearly not solely down to governments, but they’re the ones with the largest role and the power to create enabling environments for others. This year’s poor results demand that leaders revisit the genuineness of their efforts and propel the region beyond stagnation. They must fulfil promises, and ensure efforts aren’t undermined in practice. Anti-corruption commissions are a prime example here: while their creation across the region is commendable, ongoing political interference and inadequate resources has meant many are unable to fulfil their mandate. This has to be addressed.
It looked like the number of people living in New York City was shrinking. The 2020 census data would tell us how much.
Surprise! The city’s population actually grew by almost eight percent. Most of the population increase was Asian people. Today, people who call themselves Asian are sixteen percent of all the residents of New York City.
The second edition of The Asia Foundation’s State of Conflict and Violence in Asia explores recent events and patterns of events through regional assessments and country-specific overviews. In particular, this report addresses contemporary concerns over political polarization and identity-based tensions. Following the overview chapter, three keynote essays featuring regional experts offer closer assessments of recent conflict trends. Ten concise country summaries then present greater detail. The data draws from a range of primary and secondary sources, including country-level and regional datasets on violence and conflict, academic analyses, reporting on contemporary events, and other research conducted by The Asia Foundation.
Hiệp định Đối tác tăng cường an ninh ba bên giữa Mỹ, Anh và Australia (AUKUS) có phiên âm khá thú vị (ô kis) – “Hôn nhau cái nào” – đến mức Tổng thống Biden cũng cảm thấy thích thú khi phát âm tên liên minh mới trong bài diễn văn đánh dấu sự ra đời của AUKUS.
Tuy nhiên, việc thành lập AUKUS thì hoàn toàn nghiêm túc, chẳng “lãng mạn” chút nào, và là kết quả của những nỗ lực thương lượng không ngừng nghỉ trong nhiều tháng trước đó của quan chức cấp cao 3 nước, trước khi AUKUS chính thức ra đời ngày 15/9/2021 vừa qua.
Tạm thời có thể rút ra 10 nhận xét nhanh từ sự ra đời của AUKUS như sau:
Chính phủ các nước, đặc biệt tại châu Á, vẫn tiếp tục đổ tiền vào than đá, tác nhân lớn nhất gây biến đổi khí hậu.
Trước hệ lụy khó lường của biến đổi khí hậu, những thông tin về vị thế ngày càng suy giảm của than đá đã làm dấy lên tia hy vọng về một tương lai bớt u ám hơn của thế giới. Ngày càng nhiều quốc gia muốn giảm dần việc sử dụng than đá và tiến tới xóa bỏ hoàn toàn, một phần nhờ khí đốt giá rẻ và chi phí năng lượng gió và mặt trời giảm mạnh.
Happy New Year, and welcome to the first edition of InAsia for 2019. In our last issue we looked at some of our top stories from the year just ended, stories that chronicled the successes and failures, the triumphs, and the tribulations of 2018 through the eyes of our experts in Asia. This week, we invite you to look ahead with us to a still-young 2019, as The Asia Foundation’s country representatives offer their predictions of the stories that will dominate the news from Asia in the coming year. Here, to kick off 2019, are perspectives from our 18 offices in Asia. —John Rieger, editor, InAsia Tiếp tục đọc “2019: The Year Ahead in Asia”→