The DailyBrief

Tuesday January 24, 2017

Religious and ethnic intolerance in Indonesia is clearly on the rise, with a flood of fake news adding fuel to simmering tensions, writes Yuli Ismartono. The ease of unregulated messaging through cheap and simple-to-use cellular and smartphones has unleashed a torrent of biased, speculative commentaries that have combined to trigger hatred and mistrust across Indonesian society.

The post-truth phenomenon in the world seems to have appeared from nowhere in 2016, but Ranjit Goswami writes this is an old narrative that has long existed outside the West. As the US and UK wake up to this new era, it’s worth noting that the world’s largest democracy has been living in a post-truth world for years. India can be considered a world leader in post-truth politics.

Donald Trump is now in office as the 45th President of the United States and he has fulfilled one of his promises – signing an executive order withdrawing the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, involving 12 nations and covering about 40 per cent of the global economy. What will happen next for the the world’s largest regional trade agreement? Well Japan is the only nation to have ratified the deal. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has touted it as an engine of economic reform, while Australia and New Zealand said on Tuesday they hope to salvage the TPP by encouraging China and other Asian nations to join. In another corner, Harry Kazianis writes that the deal was never about trade for the US.

Sri Lanka has turned a page with a new government under President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe signaling a return to a “balanced” foreign policy, away from its tilt towards China, writes David Brewster. But Sri Lanka’s foreign debt-to-GDP ratio increased to 94% in 2015 from 36% in 2010, and with more than a third of government revenue going towards servicing Chinese loans, the country must pay the price for past economic polices before it can move forward.

As the Year of the Rooster approaches, many in Asia will be gathering with family and friends to celebrate from Tet in Vietnam to the annual colorful festivities at Chinese New Year in Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Taiwan and China. Share your Lunar New Year photographs on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #atimescny and Asia Times will share the best of them with the world.