Regional Outlook, Global Perspective
ROHINGYA MILITANTS MASSACRED HINDUS IN MYANMAR: AMNESTY

Rohingya militants massacred Hindu villagers during last year’s uprising in Myanmar’s Rakhine, Amnesty International said on Wednesday in a report that sheds fresh light on the complex ethnic rivalries in the state. Nevertheless, this does not refute the fact that the Rohingya people has long been a favorite target for persecution by the country’s Buddhist central authorities. The Rohingya have a different religion, a different skin color, and speak a different language than most of their neighbors. It was “imperative” to find sustainable solutions for the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees facing the likely prospect of a prolonged stay in camps in Bangladesh, the International Crisis Group has warned in its latest report on the crisis.

20 YEARS ON, INDONESIA CONSIDERS LEGACY OF ITS ‘REFORMATION’

This month marks 20 years since Indonesia’s Reformasi (Reformation), the tumultuous end of Suharto’s dictatorship, and two decades into their democratic experiment, many Indonesian activists are reflecting on the promises, both kept and broken, of that era. A survey that was released on Sunday shows that two decades on, many Indonesians choose the former strongman as the country’s best ever president, pointing to the stability and security he brought. Reformasi has seen significant reforms in terms of politics and civil liberties as well as the separation of the army and the police, but, practically, human rights are still under threat in the country, writes Usman Hamid for The Diplomat.

MAHATIR ON A DRIVE TO CUT GOVERNMENT SPENDING

The newly-installed Malaysian Cabinet has agreed to take a 10 per cent cut in ministers’ salaries as part of efforts to curb government expenditure, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Wednesday. Thousands of government workers in Malaysia will lose their jobs, state agencies dissolved and some projects could be aborted as the new prime minister moves to cut the national debt of 1 trillion ringgit (US$251 billion).  Mahathir said the national debt of Southeast Asia’s third-largest economy was 65% of GDP, and earlier this week blamed abuses by the previous government, led by the ousted premier Najib Razak, for the ballooning figure.

MALAYSIAN STATE-LINKED MEDIA LEFT SCRAMBLING AFTER POLL UPSET

After decades of slavishly backing the only government Malaysia had ever known, state-linked media are scrambling to find their feet after the election landslide, seeking to shed a reputation as official mouthpieces but facing a challenge from plucky independent websites. After almost 60 years of political independence in peninsular Malaysia, and nearly 54 years after the formation of Malaysia, the country has instead regressed so much in terms of press freedom and freedom of expression, writes Mustafa K Anuar for Aliran. In 2016, the U.S. State Department criticised restrictions on access to domestic and international reporting on Malaysia as the country reels from the 1MDB scandal that implicated then-prime minister Najib Razak.

IN POWER-HUNGRY PHILIPPINES, SOME ADVOCATE A NUCLEAR REVIVAL

As electricity demand soars in one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, the Philippines’ energy ministry is looking seriously again at nuclear power and urging President Rodrigo Duterte to fast-track its revival. In Morong, Bataan, surrounded by the crashing waves of the West Philippine Sea and the ghostly outline of Mount Mariveles, the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant slumbers. It has done so since its completion in 1984, dreaming of what it could have been, the catalyst meant to launch the Philippines into the nuclear age and economic prosperity. The Philippines, with a population of more than 100 million people spread over 7,000 islands, aims to double its power generation capacity by 2030 to prevent major power failures experienced during the energy crisis in the 1990s.