Regional Outlook, Global Perspective
THAILAND IMMIGRATION EYES ‘DARK-SKINNED PEOPLE’

Allegedly aimed at busting visa abusers and illegal migrants, a Thai police operation called “X-Ray Outlaw Foreigner” has raised questions about racial profiling and fears for asylum-seekers caught in its web, Agence-France Presse reports. Thailand launched a nationwide immigration crackdown in July after the registration of undocumented alien laborers reached deadline. Laborers face a fine of 5,000 to 50,000 baht. They will also be repatriated and banned from working in Thailand for two years, according to The Bangkok Post. Thailand has long been a hub for human trafficking networks transporting Rohingya refugees and Bangladeshi migrants to Malaysia and other destination countries. Thai officials knew of the trafficking operations for years and were complicit in the trafficking operations, writes Audrey Gaughran for The Diplomat.

ANALYST: MAHATIR AND ANWAR BUILDING RIVAL CAMPS

Political analyst Lee Kuok Tiung of Universiti Malaysia Sabah speculates that Mahathir Mohamad and Anwar Ibrahim are building rival political camps and that top opposition personalities in Sabah are aligning themselves with the latter, Free Malaysia Today reports. Speaking at a gathering of Terengganu PKR leaders and members last month, Anwar said he was incapable of refuting all negative assumptions and rumors regarding his relationship with Mahathir, but called for support for the current prime minister, Channel News Asia reports. Anwar made his official return to politics last week when he was sworn-in as law maker. He insisted that for now he did not want a role in cabinet or put a definitive timeline on his elevation as prime minister.

UMNO STRUGGLES TO FIND FOOTING AS ZAHID IS CHARGED

The United Malay National Organization (UMNO) has been struggling to find its footing as an opposition party, analysts say, and the charges against its new president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and former premier Najib Razak have shaken party members alien to an environment of powerlessness, South China Morning Post reports. Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad denied that the arrest of opposition leaders was politically motivated. He added that the country had laws in place to ultimately determine whether those facing charges were guilty or otherwise. The world is under no illusions about the state of politics in Asia and the dirty techniques that have been employed for all time, however, a little sunlight is the best medicine, and more transparency about what is going on in Malaysia would be good for everyone, writes L. Todd Wood for The Washington Times.

CHINA-BACKED DAM THREATENS WORLD’S RAREST ORANGUTAN

A billion-dollar hydroelectric dam development in Indonesia that threatens the habitat of the world’s rarest great ape has sparked fresh concerns about the impact of China’s globe-spanning infrastructure drive, Agence-France Presse reports. The World Wildlife Fund cited over 1,700 critical biodiversity spots in Asia that China’s so-called Belt and Road initiative will directly impact, endangering 265 threatened species such as saiga antelopes, tigers and giant pandas. According to some analysts, the Belt and Road, while it poses new and grave environmental threats to all of Asia and beyond, if managed properly and responsibly, could also offer extraordinary opportunities for green growth, writes Giovanni Ortolani for Mongabay.

TOKYO INVITES ASEAN AIR FORCE TO WATCH MILITARY TRAINING

Japan’s Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya said on Saturday Tokyo will invite commissioned air force officers from every member state of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to observe Air Defence Force training, Kyodo News reports. Previously, at the 10th  Japan-ASEAN Defense Vice-Ministerial Forum, participants agreed on the importance of further developing the Japan-ASEAN defense cooperation and to uphold the rule of law in light of the increasingly complex and diversifying threats. Japan’s strengthened maritime alliances with Indonesia – the de-facto leader of ASEAN – along with Vietnam and the Philippines – the two foremost ASEAN claimants in the South China Sea dispute – aim to counter the threat posed to the region’s sea lanes by an increasingly assertive China, writes Michael Hart for The Diplomat.