Invoking memories of Darul Islam

The reports of anxiety and fear as the Taliban marched through to claim rule in Afghanistan and the crescendo of reports of the targeting of women has invoked memories of stories people told me about living under the rule of Kahar Muzakkar’s Darul Islam/Tentara Islam (henceforth DI/TI) in South Sulawesi. This fraction of Indonesia’s post-colonial…

Indonesia’s sugar scandals

As with rice, Indonesia experiences high sugar prices. Domestic sugar prices can be three times the average international price. Near the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak last year, sugar prices rose a further 25 percent in some areas. Consumer sugar prices differ substantially between different regions, but even seemingly low prices are still high compared…

The Rajapaksa regime: navigating the victor’s peace

In Sri Lanka, a new government has acted swiftly to curtail freedom of speech and assembly, militarise governance structures and suppress dissent. The COVID-19 pandemic is providing a convenient justification for these measures, which are having a chilling effect on civil society. This policy brief examines how Sri Lankan civil society human rights activists are…

The pursuit of communitarianism at the expense of true harmony

Since independence, Singapore’s People’s Action Party (PAP) has selectively followed and strayed from the nation’s colonial roots. While Singapore follows the British Westminster model and common law system, it has not adopted the modern liberal views of its former coloniser in recent decades. A survivalist mentality underpins the government’s persistent efforts to enforce communitarianism as…

An absence felt: Thai foreign policy’s decade of retrenchment

Remarks given at “Thai Update 2021: Crisis Management and Long-term Implications” conference, Australian National University, 27 August 2021 In November 1997, amidst a regional financial crisis that had begun in Bangkok, Thailand’s new foreign minister Surin Pitsuwan pledged a “sea-change in diplomacy”. He established a “Team Thailand” approach to foreign affairs, with ambassadors representing not…