Syria’s stumbling peace: The seventh round of UN-mandated Syrian “peace talks” wrapped up in Geneva at the weekend after producing only endless bickering and American indifference, writes Sami Moubayed. With Donald Trump’s diplomats now acting as little more than observers, the Geneva talks have effectively morphed into a low-profile Russian-run event that only discusses counter-terrorism and the new Syrian constitution.
Pyongyang’s public executions: A reports says North Korea carries out public executions on river banks and at school grounds and marketplaces for charges such as stealing copper from factory machines, distributing media from South Korea and prostitution, writes Christine Kim. The report, by a Seoul-based non-government group, said the often extra-judicial decisions for public executions are frequently influenced by “bad” family background or a government campaign to discourage certain behaviour.
Malaysian harsh realities: Kuala Lumpur proudly avoided the worst of the 1997 Asian crisis, says conventional wisdom, by pegging its currency, imposing capital controls and propping up state-linked enterprises. The reality, writes William Pesek , is actually the opposite and as many countries in the region march forward, Malaysia — mired in corruption and accountability scandals that date back to the 1990s — remains in slow motion.
Singapore’s accountability question: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s efforts to absolve himself of abuse of power allegations aired by his younger siblings have only deepened the political accountability arguments in Singapore. Kirsten Han reports that the beleaguered Singaporean Prime Minister’s attempted to stop the public criticism by submitting himself and other government ministers to rare questioning by Members of Parliament but this did little to stem the flurry of allegations.
Indonesian corruption scandal: A counter-corruption agency has named Parliament speaker Setya Novanto as the mastermind behind what could be the biggest graft case ever recorded in Indonesia’s democratic era. John McBeth reports that Novanto, who has faced four previous graft cases, now faces a 20-year prison term as the alleged central figure in a conspiracy to embezzle US$173 million from a grossly-inflated electronic identity card project.