Greg Torode

Heady times

For anyone with experience of Vietnam's historic opening to the world in 1994, the atmosphere in Yangon now carries a sense of deja vu as Myanmar becomes the region's 'next big thing'.

Tuesday, 24 April, 2012, 12:00am

Nervous hush

If there is an unspeakable c-word at the sharp end of northeast Asian affairs, it is 'contingency'. Delve into security issues bedevilling the Korean Peninsula - the world's last cold war frontier - and it quickly becomes apparent that the issue of how the region's powers would react should North Korea one day implode is exceptionally sensitive.

13 Mar 2012 - 12:00am

Out of fizz

US political operatives have a favourite old saw to describe the challenges of a re-election campaign: You can't catch lightning in a bottle twice. The message seems particularly potent as the campaign machine of US President Barack Obama starts cranking into life once again.

3 Jan 2012 - 12:00am

Eldest son's role remains a mystery

As North Korea-watching reaches new heights in the build-up to Kim Jong-il's funeral next week, many in the region are wondering about the whereabouts of his eldest son, Kim Jong-nam.

Jong-nam, who lives in Macau, has not appeared in public this week and his name is absent from the 232-strong committee organising his father's state funeral in Pyongyang.

22 Dec 2011 - 12:00am

Where to now for the hermit kingdom?

To begin to understand the stakes underpinning North Korea's transition of power in communism's only dynasty, you only need to drive less than an hour from central Seoul. Here, as you drive through plains of mudflats and reeds, you will notice fortifications jutting out of the wilderness, or maybe a column of camouflaged soldiers stalking through the scrub.

20 Dec 2011 - 12:00am

All revved up with nowhere to go

If there is one international news event that has resonated locally this week, it has to be Sunday's 14-car pile-up in southern Japan, which included eight Ferraris and a Lamborghini Diablo. Perhaps only Hong Kong shares with Japan such a concentration of super-fast luxury cars and the boy racers who drive them.

7 Dec 2011 - 12:00am

Political weapon

Keep an eye on the European Union's arms embargo on China. As the region digests the impact of Premier Wen Jiabao's historic speech this month to the World Economic Forum in Dalian, it is the economic impact on China's relations with a troubled Europe that has obviously snared the headlines.

27 Sep 2011 - 12:00am

Coup season

Examining the brittle bones of Thai democracy after an election that has yet again restored the Thaksin political machine to power, the lessons for a region wary of Thai-style instability are not immediately clear.

5 Jul 2011 - 12:00am

Vote fixated on man who isn't there

The political billboards festooning Bangkok show everything from burning shopping malls and enraged former bordello owners to monitor lizards in suits - but there is only one name on everyone's lips as Thailand goes to the polls today: Thaksin Shinawatra.

3 Jul 2011 - 12:00am

'Less' the new byword

Much of the attention from this part of the world on the uprisings in Libya and elsewhere across North Africa and the Middle East has focused on the possible impact on East Asia's own authoritarian regimes. But that attention overlooks another important aspect for the region - what it all says about America's place in the world.

26 Apr 2011 - 12:00am

Curbs on street hawkers divide Hanoi

The Vietnamese capital of Hanoi has reached that most awkward threshold of modernisation - the question of what do about street hawkers.

Most regional cities may have long dealt with the issue, some with blanket bans and others with licensing regulations, but Hanoi's case is particularly vexing.

5 Apr 2008 - 12:00am

Calm or chaos - charter vote will decide

How events unfold in Thailand over the next few months will be determined largely by the outcome of its first national referendum on August 19, analysts believe.

If Thais accept the controversial draft constitution prepared under the watch of the military junta, a relatively smooth run-up to elections is expected, paving the way for a return to democratic and civilian rule.

27 Jul 2007 - 12:00am

Prince of a hermit kingdom

Macau has long been one of the few places where the elusive Kim Jong-nam can relax, say those familiar with his movements. His birthplace Pyongyang, as well as frequent travel destinations such as Beijing and Moscow all carry too much political baggage for the eldest son of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. Geneva, where Kim Jong-nam was educated, is a little straight-laced.

2 Feb 2007 - 12:00am

Young Mr Kim's low-profile high life in Macau

Drinking and dining cronies don't know he's despot's son

1 Feb 2007 - 12:00am

N Korean negotiator provided voice of reason

It cannot be easy being the top diplomat in a most undiplomatic regime. Paek Nam-sun appeared to have personified that dilemma in nine years as foreign minister of North Korea until his death.

4 Jan 2007 - 12:00am

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