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ASIAN (H)

ASIAN (H)

Modi appeals to voters by putting on khaki and saffron

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Authors: Mandar Oak and Peter Mayer, University of Adelaide

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) promised to transform the landscape of democracy under its ‘strong’ candidate for prime minister, Narendra Modi, during the 2014 Indian elections. The main promises included development (vikas) consisting of building infrastructure, encouraging manufacturing and creating smart cities and change (parivartan) of Indian society by eliminating corruption, cleaning up streets and rivers, and ending open defecation. In short, a BJP government would usher in ‘good times’ (achhe din).

Voters, disaffected by the lacklustre performance of the incumbent coalition government led by the Indian National Congress (INC) party, were attracted by those promises. The result was that the BJP secured a huge parliamentary victory swept along on a ‘Modi wave’.

But after unpopular policies such as the demonetisation of high-value banknotes, a shoddy implementation of the GST and failure to generate employment for India’s huge cohort of young people, the Modi wave seemed to be ebbing by the end of 2018 — as demonstrated by a poor showing in state elections.

In the national elections taking place between April and early May, the BJP is not highlighting a strong record of achievements in office — and there have been some significant ones. They have instead decided to run on national security issues, the promise to build a temple on the birthplace of Lord Ram in Ayodhya, and on Modi’s awarding himself the title of ‘watchman’.

The Indian National Congress (INC), which had hit rock bottom in the 2014 polls, staged a comeback by clinching some key victories in several state polls in late 2018. The INC campaigned around issues of farmer distress, a slowing economy and youth unemployment, and rode on a wave of anti-incumbency. A controversy concerning irregularities in a multi-million-dollar defence procurement contract for French-made Rafale fighter aircrafts gave the opposition an opening to get back at Modi’s image as an anti-corruption watchman.

In short, the race to Delhi had opened up.

Then, on 14 February 2019, an attack by a Kashmiri separatist in the town of Pulwama killed 40 Indian paramilitary personnel. Indian jets bombed an alleged terrorist target deep inside Pakistan and Pakistan retaliated with its own air attack on India. The Modi government and campaign machinery went into full swing, claiming credit for India’s surgical strikes and blaming the INC for years of soft-pedalling on the issue of fighting cross-border terrorism.

This event has certainly provided the government with a respite from the opposition questioning the government’s actions on its 2014 promises. But analysts disagree about how long the bump given by Pulwama will last and whether it will have an impact on voting behaviour come election time.

Over the last three decades India’s electoral scene has been dominated by coalition politics. The BJP’s strategists have been busy putting together key coalitions with important and like-minded state parties. The INC’s failure to build a coalition in 2014 allowed the BJP to convert its 31 per cent of the popular vote into a parliamentary majority. In the state of Uttar Pradesh the BJP won only 19 of 80 lower house seats by an absolute majority — it secured victory in 52 other seats because the opposition was divided.

In 2019, the INC can defeat the BJP by either putting forward winnable coalition candidates or rejuvenating its own cadre by giving its own candidates and local power brokers a shot at standing for the election. In states such as Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Bihar there are good potential candidates that the INC has been either unwilling or unable to rope into a large coalition.

In Uttar Pradesh two major opposition parties have come to a pre-election agreement that only one will run directly against the sitting BJP candidate. Similar anti-BJP coalitions are being negotiated in other Indian states.

Recently, the INC also took some bold steps whose strategic worth will become clear only after the elections. For instance, to counter the ‘charisma deficit’ of its President, Rahul Gandhi, vis-a-vis Modi, the INC inducted his sister, Priyanka Gandhi, whose resemblance to their grandmother Indira Gandhi has some nostalgic appeal to rural voters. Also, to create a base in South India, where the BJP is weak, Rahul Gandhi has chosen to contest elections from a second seat (in addition to the traditional Gandhi seat of Amethi in North India) in Kerala’s Wayanad.

These moves, along with its reluctance to enter into pre-electoral coalitions, suggests that the INC is eyeing the second prize — it wants to consolidate its position as the main opposition party and, therefore, be a viable option to the BJP in 2024, if not in 2019.

Most of the parties opposing the BJP have a leader with aspirations to be prime minister if the anti-BJP coalition wins a majority of seats in the coming national elections. With so many potential opponents, the BJP’s public-relations machinery is faced with the prospect of fighting multiple opponents and not being able provide one clear narrative. So far, the best that they have done is call their opponents a band of thieves, united only by their hatred for Modi, who is denying them the corruption they are so used to feeding on.

But the opposition has also been unable to produce a clear account of what they will do if they are able to form a coalition government. At this stage the most likely outcome is that the BJP will be returned to power in May (with sharply reduced numbers) and be dependent on allied parties to form a government.

Mandar Oak is Associate Professor in Economics at the University of Adelaide.

Peter Mayer is Associate Professor and Visiting Research Fellow in Politics and International Studies at the University of Adelaide.



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ASIAN (H)

International conference on Academic Science and engineering

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Dates: 
Jun 07, 2019Jun 08, 2019

Opening hours: 
0900 AM to 0500 PM

Venue: 
Hotel The Golden Apple

Location address: 
Near Wireless Chauraha, Mahanagar, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh

Country: 
India

Organizer: 
IFERP

Show URL: 
icasae.in/

Number of exhibitors: 
100

Major exhibits: 

Electrical, Electronics and Computer Engineering
Information Engineering and Technology
Mechanical, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
Automation and Mechatronics Engineering
Material and Chemical Engineering
Civil and Architecture Engineering
Biomedical Engineering / Biotechnology
Environmental Engineering
Petroleum and Mining Engineering
Marine and Agriculture engineering
Aerospace Engineering
Construction engineering / Construction management
Engineering management / Management Science
Nanotechnology
Systems Engineering

Show banner: 

We welcome all scientists, scholars, students, industrialists to attend and explore their knowledge,aims to bring together academia, researchers and scholars to exchange information and share experiences and research results about all aspects of specialized and interdisciplinary fields. This event provides an opportunity for all to network, share ideas and present their research to a worldwide community. Discussion on the latest innovations, trends and practical concerns and challenges faced in these fields are also encouraged.

Show Contact
Title: 

Coordinator

Name: 
MANI GIRIESH

Telephone: 

(+91 ) 7305477495

E-mail: 

info@icasae.in

Country: 
India



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ASIAN (H)

Aluminium China 2019

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Dates: 
Jul 10, 2019Jul 12, 2019

Opening hours: 
July 10-11 2019 – 09:00-17:00 / July 12 2019 – 09:00-15:00

Venue: 
Shanghai New International Expo Centre W1-W3

Location address: 
No. 2345 Longyang Rd., Pudong, Shanghai

Country: 
China

Organizer: 
Reed Exhibition (China)

Show URL: 
http://www.aluminiumchina.com/en/home

Number of exhibitors: 
600+

Major exhibits: 
  • Aluminium Raw Materials;
  • Aluminium Semi-finished and Finished Products;
  • Aluminium Products for Different Applications;
  • Foundry Technology;
  • Plant Machinery, Equipment and Technology for Casting, Extrusion, Rolling, Forging etc.;
  • Cutting, Welding & Joining;
  • Surface Treatment;
  • Furnace & Heat treatment;
  • Measurement & Testing;
  • Industrial Environment Protection;
  • Energy Saving, Recycling Technology;
  • Light Metal Trade;
  • Services & Consultancies
  • And More
  • Show banner: 

    ALUMINIUM CHINA is the leading trading, sourcing, networking and branding platform for the complete aluminum industry chain, bringing together outstanding industry figures, cutting edge technologies and advanced applications. Annually held in Shanghai, the event engages international aluminium community with new customized matchmaking programs linking application buyers with emerging and established demands and buyers of equipment and accessories with leading suppliers.

    Show Contact
    Title: 

    Int’l Sales & Marketing Communications Executive

    Name: 
    Julia Zhu

    Telephone: 

    +86 10 5933 9054

    Fax number: 

    +86 10 5933 9333

    E-mail: 

    julia.zhu@reedexpo.com.cn

    Mailing address: 

    Unit 01-03, 05, 15th Floor, Tower A

    City / State / Province: 
    Ping An International Finance Center No. 1-3, Xinyuan South Road, Chaoyang District Beijing 100027

    Country: 
    China



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    ASIAN (H)

    Lightweight Asia 2019

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    Dates: 
    Jul 10, 2019Jul 12, 2019

    Opening hours: 
    July 10-11 2019 – 09:00-17:00 / July 12 2019 – 09:00-15:00

    Venue: 
    Shanghai New International Expo Centre

    Location address: 
    No. 2345 Longyang Rd., Pudong, Shanghai

    Country: 
    China

    Organizer: 
    Reed Exhibition (China)

    Show URL: 
    http://www.lightweightasia.com/en

    Number of exhibitors: 
    600+

    Major exhibits: 

     Metal Materials, Processes and Related Equipment

  • Semi-finished and finished products of Al, Mg and Ti alloys
  • Semi-finished and finished products of high-strength steel
  • Hot and cold forming processes, related equipment
  • Connection technologies and related equipment
  • Shaping mould and manufacturing technology
  • Stamping, rolling and hydraulic moulding equipment
  • Metal cutting equipment
  • Casting, forging and surface treatment technologies and related equipment

     Non-Metallic Materials, Processes and Related Equipment

  • Raw materials, semi-finished and finished products of engineering plastics
  • Composite raw materials, semi-finished products and finished products
  • Injection moulding
  • Compression moulding
  • Mould
  • RTM
  • Twining
  • Vacuum pouring
  • Injection
  • Autoclave
  • Show banner: 

    Lightweight Asia 2019 specializes in showcasing the leading automotive light-weight solutions. The show features the leading quality local and international lightweight materials, processing technologies and solutions. Lightweight Asia 2019 is an all-in-one purchasing platform for companies that looking for complete lightweight automotive solutions and lightweight automotive parts. The show is an idea of design, R&D and technology professionals from automobile manufacturers to exchange technological insights and get to know new industrial trends

    Show Contact
    Title: 

    Int’l Sales & Marketing Communications Executive

    Name: 
    Julia Zhu

    Telephone: 

    +86 10 5933 9054

    Fax number: 

    +86 10 5933 9333

    E-mail: 

    julia.zhu@reedexpo.com.cn

    Mailing address: 

    Unit 01-03, 05, 15th Floor, Tower A Ping An International Finance Center No. 1-3, Xinyuan South Road, Chaoyang District Beijing 100027

    City / State / Province: 
    Beijing

    Country: 
    China



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    ASIAN (H)

    The art of compromise: picking up the pieces after Hanoi

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    Author: Alec Forss, ISDP

    The no-deal outcome between US President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Chairman Kim Jong-un at the Hanoi summit in February was regarded by most as a failure.

    This is accurate in the sense that no agreement was reached on advancing the implementation of the vague commitments made at the first summit between the two leaders last June in Singapore. Yet the summit was helpful in that the rhetoric and symbolism of the past year finally got a much needed reality check from the substance. This was bound to happen sooner or later.

    Three things have emerged from the summit that were initially suspected but have now been clarified.

    First, as evidenced by its demands, North Korea appears to attach greater priority to the lifting of sanctions than it does to security guarantees.

    Second, North Korea overestimated both its hand and Trump’s desire to sign a deal.

    Third, the United States understands that sanctions remain its main leverage and that, rightly or wrongly, even modest relief could de-incentivise North Korea to conduct further denuclearisation measures.

    The summit gave space for the real negotiations of give and take. The problem was that each side was attempting to take much more than it was willing to give. The United States wanted substantially more than the Yongbyon nuclear facility — an important plank of North Korea’s nuclear program — for the level of sanctions relief North Korea was requesting. According to North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho, this relief would amount to five UN Security Council resolutions.

    The crystallisation of a mismatch in demands and expectations could now lead to a lengthy impasse. While not closing the door to dialogue, the United States looks likely to maintain pressure centred on the enforcement of sanctions.

    For its part, North Korea is likely recalibrating its strategy. On March 15, the Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui made ominous noises about suspending dialogue with the United States and even about resuming nuclear and missile testing. Whether these are bluffs remains to be seen. Clearer signals of Pyongyang’s next steps may be gleaned when Kim addresses the convening of the Supreme People’s Assembly scheduled for April 11. Question marks also remain over the prospects of South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s engagement policy, with early signals indicating that North Korea might be considering limiting future cooperation.

    These developments could presage the end of diplomacy and a new vicious cycle of tensions if the brinkmanship of 2017 returns. The gulf between the United States and North Korea may prove unbridgeable despite Moon’s best efforts to mediate. Indeed, Moon will travel to Washington this week to meet with Donald Trump. Or, on the other hand, it could constitute a temporary cooling-off period and a reassessing of positions and options.

    While the Hanoi summit revealed an incompatibility of demands, their articulation nonetheless points the way forward if the two main actors are willing to moderate their respective ambitions, at least in the short term.

    As Trump has oversold the achievements so far — namely North Korea’s freeze on nuclear and missile tests — the United States now risks undervaluing what may be achievable by focussing on an all-or-nothing approach, rather than a more creative and calibrated diplomacy.

    A stock-take on the part of North Korea also requires it to fully comprehend (if it has not already done so) Washington’s and others’ resolve on denuclearisation. North Korea cannot expect to keep its nuclear weapons and deliver on economic development.

    The establishment of a robust peace and denuclearisation roadmap with a sequence of steps all parties can buy into would be preferable. But this is thwarted by considerable gaps in perception and definition as well as a severe trust deficit — notwithstanding the seeming bonhomie between Trump and Kim.

    But while a roadmap may be elusive, this should not prevent more incremental progress towards long-term objectives. It requires both the United States and North Korea to scale down their initial demands and focus on more realistic steps.

    While previous agreements such as the Agreed Framework (1994–2002) were flawed and ultimately failed, they nonetheless largely served to monitor and put the brakes on North Korea from significantly bolstering its nuclear program unchecked — a prospect that is now in jeopardy if a lengthy standoff ensues.

    As before, there is a need to find a mutually acceptable entry point into a denuclearisation process. More modestly, this could include a freeze on fissile production at Yongbyon in return for a degree of sanctions relief, perhaps packaged with other concessions such as a symbolic peace declaration. Admittedly, the credibility of the nuclear non-proliferation regime is at stake if North Korea is rewarded for only partial denuclearisation measures. Any way forward would have to carefully consider how to ease sanctions (or offer alternative assistance) and could potentially be conditional based on verifiable progress on denuclearisation.

    Important too is that, despite the inevitable ups and downs in negotiations, both the United States and North Korea commit to certain base lines so as not to allow a dangerous escalation of tensions to return. Continuing to honour a moratorium on missile testing and large-scale military exercises would be a prerequisite in this regard.

    If the Hanoi summit established the broad contours of the zone of bargaining, subsequent talks — likely behind closed doors — need to further narrow this down and identify where mutually acceptable trade-offs might lie. The issues at stake are too important to be left to the vicissitudes of US–North Korea relations. To find greater traction, proposals for breaking the deadlock should find some consensus among other parties, namely China, South Korea, Japan, Russia and the European Union, and receive their firm support.

    Finding compromise inevitably entails imperfect solutions and an element of risk. There is of course no guarantee that North Korea will go ahead with complete and irreversible denuclearisation. The only guarantee is that unilateral demands and prolonged stalemates are unlikely to force either Washington’s or Pyongyang’s submission and only further cement an unhappy status quo on the Korean Peninsula.

    Alec Forss is Project Coordinator and Editor of the Korea Center at the Institute for Security and Development Policy (ISDP), Stockholm.



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    ASIAN (H)

    Is Lee Kuan Yew’s strategic vision for Singapore still relevant?

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    Author: Han Fook Kwang, RSIS

    The thinking of Singapore’s late founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew has shaped the country’s foreign policy since its independence in 1965. But the world is changing with the shifting geopolitical balance of power, disruptions caused by digital technology, the rise of populism and the backlash against globalisation. Is Lee’s thinking and strategic vision still applicable in this new world?

    Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong shakes hands with Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad after a joint news conference in Putrajaya, Malaysia, 9 April 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Lai Seng Sin).

    On the fourth anniversary of his passing, the question looms large for Singapore. As a small state dependent on the outside world for economic growth, and on larger powers to keep the regional peace, it is particularly vulnerable to how the international order is changing.

    There are four elements of his approach to foreign policy that continue to be relevant but will also come under great pressure in the years to come.

    First is the idea that a small state like Singapore needs a credible armed forces to deter would-be aggressors. It was a priority when the country suddenly became independent in 1965 and found itself having to build an army from scratch.

    Lee’s firsthand experience of Japanese occupation in 1941 as well as the 1965 forced separation from Malaysia had a profound impact on his thinking about security. Singapore has since been unrelenting in building up its armed forces, allocating 30 per cent of government expenditure this year on defence, security and diplomacy.

    Developing this military capability has also meant closer ties with the United States from which Singapore buys most of its military equipment, including advanced fighter aircraft. Singapore’s close security ties with the United States are a key part of Lee’s strategic vision but will also come under pressure as the balance of power shifts to a rising China.

    Whatever happens, Singapore’s commitment to its own defence that Lee first defined will not change. ‘Without a strong economy, there can be no defence’, Lee asserted, ‘[without] a strong defence, there will be no Singapore. It will become a satellite, cowed and intimidated by its neighbours’.

    The second pillar of Lee’s foreign policy stems from his realist view of how a small state can best survive in a world dominated by more powerful actors. Creating space for Singapore has been an unending effort for Singaporean officials, resulting in the many linkages the country has internationally, and its support of multilateral organisations such as ASEAN, the ASEAN Regional Forum and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement on Trans-Pacific Partnership.

    Lee believed regional peace and stability was best achieved by having the major powers engaged in the region. Not just the United States but also China, Japan, Australia, India and European countries.

    Despite the United States being the pre-eminent power in Asia throughout his years in office, he did not anchor Singapore solely in the US camp. Instead he worked hard to expand Singapore’s international space, for example working closely with Chinese leaders to expand economic and political ties.

    But China’s rise and its growing assertiveness in pursuing territorial claims in the South China Sea will test how ASEAN, including Singapore, manages the new reality. For Lee the answer lies in continued US engagement in the region. ‘If there is no counterbalance from the US, there will be no room to manoeuvre for smaller Asian countries. When you have two trees instead of one, you can choose which shade to be under’. If Lee were alive today, he would continue looking for more shade.

    The third element of Lee’s strategic vision is how to realise Singapore’s strategic goals through developing close relationships with leaders that mattered to Singapore. The best example was Lee’s personal friendship with then Indonesian president Suharto.

    They could not have had a worst start after Singapore executed two Indonesian saboteurs in 1968. But the two leaders worked at it, the friendship blossomed and they met regularly over two decades to resolve issues between the two countries.

    China–Singapore and US–Singapore ties similarly benefitted from Lee’s personal relationship with many of their leaders who respected his deep insights and forthright views. When the world is more uncertain, it is even more important to be able to reach out to reliable friends.

    Finally, Lee’s strategic vision of Singapore’s place in the world cannot be divorced from how he saw the country’s own identity: a vulnerable nation that had to be exceptional in Southeast Asia to survive. ‘I decided we had to differentiate ourselves from [others] or we are finished’, he reflected.

    Exceptionalism has profound implications for Singapore’s foreign policy and will invariably create problems with neighbouring countries from time to time. When you are different you have to work harder at your relationships, and Singapore’s leaders will have to manage them deftly.

    But the greatest challenge to Lee’s vision of Singapore’s exceptionalism will come internally. Can its people and government maintain the high standards, even as other countries progress to narrow the gap? If they do not, all the other elements of Singapore’s foreign policy fall apart. That is what it means to say that foreign policy begins at home.

    Han Fook Kwang is Senior Fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore. He was co-author of several books on Lee Kuan Yew including The Man and his Ideas and Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going. As then Managing Editor of Singapore Press Holdings, he led the editorial team for One Man’s View of the World.

    A version of this article originally appeared here on RSIS.



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    ASIAN (H)

    Jokowi bets on an infrastructure boom

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    Author: Peter McCawley, ANU

    Tip O’Neill, speaker of the US House of Representatives in the 1980s, famously declared that ‘all politics is local’. The rule applies in Indonesia too. In the hotly-contested campaign for the 17 April Indonesian presidential election, a focus on roads, electricity and water is a key selling point that President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo is pushing in his bid for re-election.

    Indonesia's President Joko Widodo speaks as he takes part on Jakarta Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) first-phase launching in Jakarta, Indonesia, 24 March 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Willy Kurniawan).

    Jokowi’s main challenger, Prabowo Subianto, has sought to bring up all sorts of other issues during the campaign. He is trying to paint Jokowi as too sympathetic to foreign interests, concentrating rhetoric on the ‘flood’ of imports coming into Indonesia, including through the Indonesia–Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement. He also portrays Jokowi as soft on threats to Indonesia, especially in terms of Chinese-built infrastructure. And he is targeting Jokowi over failing to spend enough on defence, pointing to Singapore’s defence budget being larger than Indonesia’s.

    Jokowi has instead decided to focus his attention on promoting a boom in infrastructure spending. The infrastructure boom is one of Jokowi’s signature answers to Prabowo. When Prabowo talks defence, Jokowi responds, ‘We all agree we need to increase our defence budget. But we must have priorities. For now it is infrastructure’.

    An infrastructure boom sounds good. But is this infrastructure needed? How is the program going? Is Jokowi’s program delivering results?

    It seems clear that the infrastructure boom is badly needed. National investment in infrastructure in Indonesia has lagged badly since at least 2000. China and Vietnam have been investing around 7 per cent or more of GDP in infrastructure per annum for the past two decades. In contrast, infrastructure investment in Indonesia has been stuck at around the 3 per cent level. A rough Asian Development Bank benchmark is that a minimum of 5 per cent of GDP is an appropriate level for developing countries to aim at, if not more. From this point of view it is clear that Jokowi’s focus on infrastructure makes sense.

    It makes sense from another point of view as well. Recent World Bank data suggests that the stock of capital in Indonesia is still very low. The World Bank estimate is that in 2014 both the United States and Australia had a national stock of capital of around US$1 million per person. By comparison Indonesia had around US$50,000 per person.

    Capital accumulation in Indonesia, what investment in infrastructure contributes to, is a vital step towards promoting development. Jokowi’s approach of investing in infrastructure is a key step towards trying to build up the level of capital.

    The infrastructure program in Indonesia has been spread across a range of sectors. In the transport sector there have been investments in roads, ports, rails and airports.

    The total length of toll roads has expanded quickly in recent years. Although the major toll road between Jakarta and Bandung has been in operation for about 15 years, links with other parts of Java have come slower. But for the first time it is now becoming possible to travel quickly by toll roads from Jakarta to other cities in Java such as Semarang, Surabaya and neighbouring regions.

    Jokowi has emphasised investment in ports as well. He began his presidency in late 2014 by talking of the need to develop maritime services across Indonesia, noting that inefficient services in ports and shipping drove up the costs of basic goods for both producers and consumers. One highly publicised project is the US$2.47 billion Kalibaru Terminal at Jakarta’s port of Tanjung Priok, the largest in the country.

    Marked improvements in existing rail services, along with new railway projects, have also been attracting much attention lately. For many decades the state-owned rail company PT Kereta Api provided third-rate services across Java. But in recent years the company has lifted its game and performance has improved markedly.

    New services are being announced quickly as well. Recently an efficient rail link from Jakarta’s international airport to the city centre came into operation. And March 2019 saw the Jakarta Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) metro system open for general use. The successful construction and inauguration of the MRT, with both underground and overhead stations, is a minor infrastructure miracle in Indonesia. Jokowi has announced that several extensions of the system are now underway.

    How successful all these efforts will be — both in the short run and the long run — remains to be seen. Some of the infrastructure projects have run into much-publicised problems. But in the short run, Jokowi is no doubt hoping that voters will be impressed with the results of his infrastructure-led economic program.

    In the long run, all new infrastructure needs good management and maintenance. This is expensive and calls for continuing government subsidies and increases in unpopular tariffs.

    Despite these challenges, Jokowi’s infrastructure program has delivered clear results. If Jokowi wins a second term on 17 April as polls suggest, the infrastructure boom will doubtlessly continue over the next five years. If Prabowo comes from behind to become the next president of Indonesia, chances are that he will be more than happy to take over the encouraging list of projects that Jokowi is promoting.

    Peter McCawley is Honorary Associate Professor in the Indonesia Project, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University. He was formerly an Australian Executive Director on the Board of the Asian Development Bank, Manila.



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    ASIAN (H)

    China’s assertive maritime policy is older than Xi

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    Author: Andrew Chubb, Columbia-Harvard China and the World Program

    The toughening of China’s policies in the South and East China Seas is widely regarded as a defining characteristic of Xi Jinping’s foreign policy. But while it is true that the PRC has become more assertive in its maritime disputes under Xi, China had already been on such a trajectory since 2006. Many changes in China’s maritime dispute behaviour under Xi may be better understood as continuities.Navy personnel of Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy take part in a military display in the South China Sea 12 April 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Stringer).

    States’ maritime dispute policies comprise three levels of actions: publicly declared policies (declarative), unilateral administration of the disputed area (demonstrative) and threats or use of force (coercive). On each level, it is unlikely that a different CCP leader would have presided over significantly less assertive maritime policy across the past six years.

    China’s publicly stated maritime policy under Xi has contained three key elements. The first, building China into a ‘maritime great power’, was put forward by former president Jiang Zemin at the ‘Two Meetings’ back in 2000. Since then, the goal has progressively been upgraded in party-state documents, notably in the 2008 State Council planning outline on maritime activities.

    The second element of Xi’s declared maritime policy is managing the dialectical tension between advancing China’s claims and avoiding military escalation. While Xi emphasised this idea at a 31 July 2013 Politburo study session, PRC policy statements have featured this formulation since 2008.

    The third feature has been the indignant response to the 2013–16 South China Sea arbitration case brought on by the Philippines under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Xi probably paid close attention to the case, but it is hard to imagine Beijing’s response being significantly different under another leader.

    The PRC withdrew from the UNCLOS’s compulsory dispute resolution procedures in 2006, showing its intention to avoid international legal processes in regard to its maritime claims. And in 2009 the PRC first attached its infamous nine-dash line map to an official diplomatic document for the first time, suggesting it did not consider its claims to be limited to the maritime zones provided for in the UNCLOS.

    China’s most consequential unilateral administrative move under Xi has been the building of its seven outposts on the Spratly Islands into large artificial islands. Xi implicitly claimed the credit in his report to the 19th Party Congress when he lauded ‘South China Sea island construction’ as among the key achievements since the previous party congress — at which he took power.

    Yet here it is unclear that Xi made the difference, rather than the PRC’s increasing financial and technological means. The island-building campaign was the latest move — on an entirely new scale — in a long line of measures China has taken since the early 1980s to expand its presence in the Spratly Islands. The operation was enabled by the acquisition of dozens of large dredgers, beginning in the early 2000s.

    Another key pattern of unilateral action in Xi’s maritime policy has been regular Coast Guard patrols within 12 nautical metres of the disputed Diaoyu (Senkaku) Islands. The patrols were initiated in the wake of the Japanese government’s nationalisation of three of the islands in September 2012, just before Xi formally took power, and it has been reported that Xi oversaw the response to the crisis.

    China’s policy here had been progressively hardening since 2006, when it launched ‘regular rights defence patrols’ and began unilaterally exploiting disputed gas fields. The trend was most vividly manifested in 2010 when, amidst a major surge in state-sponsored fishing near the disputed islands, a Chinese trawler rammed a Japanese Coast Guard ship and Beijing responded with further escalation. It seems unlikely that a different PRC leader to Xi would have refrained from patrolling the disputed waters.

    Turning to maritime coercion, most of the PRC’s activities involving threat or use of force under Xi have continued Hu-era patterns of behaviour. These include destruction of equipment and confiscation of the catches of Vietnamese fishing boats in the Paracel Islands (continuous since 2007 or before), clashing with Indonesia over Chinese fishing boats detained in their EEZ (first reported in 2010) and physical exclusion of Philippine boats from Scarborough Shoal (since May 2012).

    The most salient example of Xi-era coercion is the Chinese HYSY-981 oil rig that operates in disputed waters. The PRC conducted this type of operation in 2006 and 2007 — leading to intense on-water clashes with Vietnam — and again in 2010. As with Xi’s island-building campaign, the key difference is capacities: the PRC now possesses a gargantuan new drilling rig and dozens more accompanying law enforcement ships.

    One new coercive policy in the Xi era has been the threat to blockade the Philippines’ outpost aboard a rusting navy ship grounded on Second Thomas Shoal. But other Hu-era coercive activities at sea have actually been absent under Xi, notably the numerous cases of interference in Vietnamese and Philippine energy survey projects between 2007 and 2012.

    The argument that — so far — Xi Jinping’s leadership has made relatively little difference to China’s policy in the South and East China Sea disputes is counterintuitive because China has become more assertive in a variety of ways since Xi took power. For non-claimant states with a stake in the stability and security of Asia’s maritime spaces, the most important implication is that the fundamental direction of PRC policy — incremental advancement towards control of China’s maritime periphery — is not easily amenable to change.

    Rather than risky demonstrations of ‘resolve’ aimed at convincing China to cease advancing its position, the basic goal should be to contribute to countering whatever objectionable moves Beijing does make. This may be pursued by coordinating with neighbouring countries to generate regional diplomatic responses to provocations, helping to build capacity among regional maritime law enforcement agencies, and maintaining the South China Sea’s international status through continued patrols.

    Andrew Chubb is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Columbia-Harvard China and the World Program, and a Fellow at the Perth USAsia Centre.



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    ASIAN (H)

    Countering sexual harassment in Indonesian schools

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    Author: Iwu Dwisetyani Utomo, ANU

    A recent Gender and Reproductive Health Study in Indonesia found a surprisingly high degree of comprehension of sexual harassment among Indonesian students and teachers, but there were some worrying differences across various demographics.

    The findings suggest the need for more research, education and awareness-raising on sexual harassment in Indonesia, as well as institution-building for reporting and policing sexual harassment.

    A Muslim student holds a book in a class at a school in Cikawao village of Majalaya, West Java province, Indonesia, 23 September 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Beawiharta).

    School students need to better understand the concept of sexual harassment in order to protect themselves. Sexual harassment can have significant negative effects on children — on their physical and mental health, safety, school enrolment, educational achievement, dignity, self-esteem and social relationships. In severe cases of sexual violence, unwanted pregnancies can be another consequence. Child sexual harassment is also associated with psychiatric disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, substance abuse and suicide.

    Children are especially vulnerable because they cannot defend themselves nor understand what has happened to them, leading to under-reporting of sexual harassment incidents. Without strategic intervention in the form of education, prevention or treatment programs, the problem is able to fester — perpetrators go undetected and victims suffer in silence.

    Given the serious consequences of child sexual harassment, many developed countries have policies and programs to prevent or punish the practice. Establishing child protection commissions with reliable hotlines for emergency cases is a common strategy. Another involves ensuring adequate understanding of sexual harassment through education programs. Some nations have sex-offender registries that allow administrators to track offenders. Many also ask visa applicants whether they have ever been charged with sexual crimes, helping them track foreigners who may be likely to offend.

    Indonesia seems to have little concern for these issues, and little is known about child sexual harassment. Official data records a decline in reported incidents, although there is likely widespread under-reporting of the problem. Aside from establishing a children’s commission, few policies and programs have been implemented to address the issue. The government renewed the Child Protection Regulation in 2014 but the associated law does nothing to improve sexual education for children.

    Indonesian courts tend to hand down heavy sentences for severe misconduct on the part of teachers, such as oral sex, sexual intercourse and anal sex with students. But other forms of sexual harassment by teachers rarely make it to court, such as touching, staring, using inappropriate language, and requesting sexual favours in exchange for a student passing exams. Sexual violence may go unreported unless it is manifests in extreme or serious behaviour because the prevailing culture imbues teachers with authority and encourages students and parents to be deferential.

    The Indonesian Gender and Reproductive Health Study of Year 6 and Year 12 students in Jakarta, West Java, West Nusa Tenggara and South Sulawesi provides insights into how sexual harassment policy could be improved.

    Female teachers appear more likely than their male counterparts to classify behaviour as sexual harassment. There are some provincial differences, with teachers in South Sulawesi the least likely to classify any behaviour as constituting sexual harassment. Those in religious schools were significantly more likely to classify a wider range of behaviours as sexual harassment. If students were harassed, teachers in religious schools would calm students, talk with fellow teachers and report the incident to the parents of the child.

    Among students, girls were more likely than boys to report harassment and act. Year 6 students were more likely to report harassment to parents, police, teachers and school principals, while Year 12 students will handle the matter themselves by resisting the perpetrator or talking with friends. These results show that males, whether teachers or students, are more likely to have problems in understanding or reporting of sexual harassment. This is a major issue because most perpetrators are men.

    Comprehensive gender and reproductive health education is not formally included in the Indonesian school curriculum, but reproductive health education is integrated into school textbooks in certain subjects. Information about sexual harassment has been formally included in the curriculum from Year 5, but the information is limited to descriptions of what sexual harassment is, how to avoid it and whom to report it to. The information also has a gender bias and blames girls for being harassed — it states that girls should not wear tight dresses or heavy make-up and should not walk alone on dark streets at night.

    Government programs should improve the understanding of sexual harassment by including comprehensive gender-neutral sex and reproductive health education in the curricula from primary school onwards, treating it as a subject in itself and not integrating it into other subjects. They should also train both men and women teachers thoroughly on gender and reproductive health. Many do not have the skill to understand and teach this subject, and are not confident in talking about it to their students.

    Parents also need to be educated about sexual harassment and gender and reproductive health so that they can talk about these issues with their children. The government should also enforce strong penalties for sexual perpetrators, especially in schools.

    Campaigns, communication and education about gender and reproductive health issues, especially those relating to sexual harassment, need to be designed for and disseminated to children at the appropriate age and education level.

    Iwu Dwisetyani Utomo is a research fellow at the School of Demography, Australian National University.

    This article is abridged from a version that appears in the latest issue of East Asia Forum Quarterly, ‘Investing in Women‘.



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    A new era is not enough to fix Japan’s ills

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    Author: Brad Glosserman, Tama University

    On 1 May 2019, when Japan’s current emperor abdicates, the country will enter the Reiwa era. Hopes are high in Tokyo (among government officials, at least) that the commencement of a new imperial reign will herald a new era for Japan. As Prime Minister Shinzo Abe explained, it is ‘a truly refreshing name that opens the door to a bright era’.

    People gather around a calligraphic work showing Japan's new Imperial era name "Reiwa" in Tokyo, Japan on 1 April 2019 (Photo: Naoki Nishimura/AFLO).

    While Japan’s potential is bright — that door may indeed open — odds are long that the future will depart from the trends and trajectories of the Heisei era that is ending.

    The Heisei era has been hard on Japan. The extraordinary promise that seemed within reach as the Showa emperor died in 1989 instead dissipated as Japan’s economic bubble burst and politicians proved unable to get the country back on track. The 1990s are widely accepted to have been ‘a lost decade’ and for many that period of aimlessness persisted through the first decade of the new millennium as well.

    Abe’s return to the Prime Minister’s Office was heralded as the end of two decades of drift. Upon taking office, he declared, ‘I am back and so shall Japan be’. He has made admirable progress in that effort.

    Abe implemented an economic program that bears his name — Abenomics — that ended the downward spiral. He also ended the revolving door of prime ministers and is set to become the longest serving prime minister in Japanese history if he is in office (as is expected) on 20 November 2019. He has pushed through a national security agenda that has made significant progress on long-sought policies (although his goal of constitutional revision remains unrealised). He has raised Japan’s international profile with aggressive and successful diplomatic initiatives such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Japan–EU Economic Partnership Agreement.

    But for all those successes, Abe has failed in his core task: the revitalisation of Japan. Japan’s economy is doing better but it continues to struggle. The goal of 2 per cent inflation remains stubbornly out of reach, and as prices remain sluggish so too does business investment. National debt continues to mount, the product of fiscal stimulus programs that have been a staple of Japanese economic policymaking for decades. Finally, structural reform remains more promise than reality.

    Those failures do not mean that Japan is on the brink of collapse. On the contrary, Tokyo is a gleaming, safe and efficient metropolis with more than twice as many Michelin stars as any other city in the world. Its fashion and art continue to set global trends and some of its companies are world-beaters. Writer William Gibson says that, ‘When he wants to see the future, he goes to Tokyo for a week’.

    Unfortunately, Tokyo is not Japan and a combination of structural and attitudinal barriers will limit the country’s future prospects. The most challenging obstacle is demographic: the ‘grayest’ country in the world will find it difficult, if not impossible, to sustain social safety nets as the population pyramid is inverted and shrinks. The government has accepted a 20 per cent drop in population — it will hold the line at 100 million people, down from the current 127 million — but that will not forestall increasingly difficult choices between guns and wheelchairs as government resources are reduced.

    As pernicious as those structural constraints is the Japanese mindset. The country’s successes have created a culture of comfort and complacency that inhibits reform. The Japanese are rightfully proud of their country and its accomplishments. When combined with a ‘small ‘c’ conservativism’ that values the status quo and shies away from radical change — structural reform, by definition — inertia is virtually guaranteed. The Japanese are not prepared to make radical changes when outcomes cannot be guaranteed. To be clear: Japan is not unchanging. Rather, the pace of change is not keeping up with the required speed of transformation.

    The Japanese have surveyed the world and decided that they are more comfortable with ‘the devil they know’. This has also yielded an increasingly inward-looking (uchimuki) mindset that contributes to the reluctance to reform.

    Finally, this inclination is compounded by a nostalgia that infuses the thinking of the left and right. Abe expressed this view when he explained why the name for the new imperial reign was taken from an ancient Japanese text, the Manyoshu, rather than a Chinese classic as in the past. He explained that, ‘Our nation is facing up to a big turning point, but there are lots of Japanese values that shouldn’t fade away’.

    Laudable though it is, this thinking has consequences. The IMF has concluded that Japan’s GDP will fall by over 25 per cent by 2040 in the absence of structural reform. In the absence of change, this is Peak Japan.

    Brad Glosserman is Deputy Director of and Visiting Professor at the Center for Rule-Making Strategies at Tama University. This analysis is drawn from Peak Japan: The End of Great Ambitions (Georgetown University Press, 2019).



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