The DailyBrief

Tuesday July 18, 2017

Mahathir eyes return? As Malaysia moves into a new election season, 92-year-old ex-premier Mahathir Mohamad is increasingly seen as the opposition’s best bet to unseat incumbent Prime Minister Najib Razak’s scandal-plagued government, writes Radzi Razak. Mahathir, who has been involved in Malaysia’s politics for six decades, is emerging as the symbolic figurehead of an opposition coalition that will run a campaign around accountability, transparency and liberal governance.

India’s hardline President: Early indications are that dalit (or “untouchable”) Ram Nath Kovind, the centre-right National Democratic Alliance candidate, has won India’s presidential election, reports E Jaya Kumar. The election has exposed a divided opposition but many have criticised Kovind’s hardline Hindu background and the concern is the new president will work not for the well-being of the nation but only for the party which nominated him.

Myanmar’s legacy question: The lead up to tomorrow’s 70th anniversary of Myanmar’s Martyr’s Day has seen a construction boom in new statues of Aung San Suu Ky’s father, independence hero General Aung San. David Scott Mathieson writes that there is an irony here as Myanmar is also now filled with a growing sense of unease about the faltering democratic transition and a disappointment that Suu Kyi’s distant style of governance remains overshadowed by the menacing political presence of the armed forces.

Silk Road troubles: The worsening law and order situation in southwestern Pakistan is becoming a serious challenge to Beijing’s regional Silk Road ambitions and its current attempts to build modern transport connections from China’s interior to Pakistan’s Gwadar seaport. F.M. Shakil reports that this strategically important region straddles both Iran and Afghanistan, and, despite being now patrolled by heavily-armed Pakistani Army and paramilitary units, the deadly attacks continue.

Obituary, Maryam Mirzakhani: Few academic careers are as short yet prolific and brilliant as that of the globally-recognized Iranian mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani, who died at a Californian hospital on Saturday, aged 40, writes Sami Moubayed. Mirzakhani rose to international fame in 2014 by winning the Fields Medal, considered the Nobel Prize for mathematicians, and her heroic national standing was underlined when Iranian newspapers broke a strict taboo over the weekend by publishing front page photographs of her with no hijab.