Category Archives: Uncategorized

Catalan independence referendum showdown with Madrid

The overwhelming vote of Catalonia’s referendum in favour of independence yesterday was hardly surprising, nor was the violence that accompanied it as police tried to shut down voting. Not all Catalans want independence from Spain, so avoided the vote, leaving the field clear for independence supporters, while sovereign states are usually loath to see any […]

Boycotting Myanmar

In July 2015, the then still relatively new Australia Myanmar Institute held an international conference at Yangon University. It was the first time that an international conference had been held at that university and the first time that politics had been openly discussed there since 1962. It was a great moment, before the elections which […]

Pakistan’s PM is kicked out but expect little to change

Last week the Supreme Court of Pakistan unanimously declared that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was not “honest” and that therefore he was “disqualified to be a member of Parliament”. Mr Sharif subsequently resigned, promising to use all available legal and constitutional means to challenge the verdict. This long-awaited decision was the culmination of over a […]

North Korea steps up missile testing, President Trump steps up ‘diplomacy’ via 140 characters or less

North Korea’s missile test, yesterday, was perfectly timed to help the United States ‘celebrate’ Independence Day. This deeply provocative act has ramped up global concern over how close that country is to developing a nuclear-capable missile. Consensus is developing around the missile fired into the Sea of Japan being a long-range Hwasong 14, a significant […]

In the Middle East it’s business as bloody usual

It would be easy to believe that the Islamic State is all but vanquished but that rising tensions between Saudi Arabia and Qatar will lead to World War III. There’s always been a temptation to extrapolate the best or, more commonly, the worst scenarios from given international situations. In these uneasy times, that tendency has […]

East Timor, 17 years on: a troubled past, a fragile future

Today [30th Au], 17 years ago, in the small town of Balibo, as elsewhere in East Timor, voters queued from before dawn to vote on whether their country would become independent. Having voted, they fled into the hills to await the coming storm. Pro-Indonesian militia already ruled the town, directed by the Indonesian army. In […]

Autonomy in Hong Kong may mean less in practice than in theory

Hong Kong’s ‘one country, two systems’ is sometimes referred to as constituting Hong Kong’s autonomy from China. This is, in principle, confirmed under Hong Kong’s 1997 Basic Law. However, autonomy arrangements can reflect less, and rarely more, than their legal framework implies. Issues in determining the functional status of autonomy arrangements include the terms of […]

A way forward with North Korea … if the US wants it

The bellicose rhetoric emanating from North Korea recently would have outsiders believe the world is but a step or two away from a military show-down, including the possibility of nuclear war. The threat from North Korea is a serious one if perhaps, for the moment, overstated. North Korea is long on confrontational commentary but, at […]