The DailyBrief

Thursday October 5, 2017

South Korean economy: A former IMF economist has urged President Moon Jae-in to immediately address structural impediments to increasing wages, improving income equality and energizing industries, William Pesek writes. In an op-ed, Lee Jong-wha said, “That means accelerating domestic structural reforms to improve productivity, enhance labor-market efficiency, upgrade institutions, and foster a business environment that supports modern service industries and innovative start-ups.” However, hostilities with North Korea are making it near impossible for Moon to focus solely on economic retooling. Each day Moon is distracted from raising his country’s game puts it on a Japan-like trajectory that could lead to Seoul’s own lost decade.

Indonesia’s Mr Teflon: Thanks to the vagaries of the Southeast Asian country’s court system, Golkar Party chairman and House of Representatives Speaker Setya Novanto has momentarily managed to sidestep his indictment on charges of orchestrating Parliament’s most egregious ever corruption case, John McBeth writes. Ruling on a pre-trial motion Novanto filed to dismiss his suspect status, a lone judge last week found four grounds for upholding his appeal, which compels the Anti-Corruption Commission (KPK) to end its investigation prematurely. The KPK can still renew the indictment, based on new evidence they already appear to have. But the case serves as another reminder that Indonesia has a long way to go before the politically pliable judiciary earns the public trust.

Indonesia’s red scare: The anniversary of the start of the Southeast Asian country’s notorious “September 30 Movement” purge, a year-long mass killing of alleged PKI (Indonesian Communist Party) sympathizers, ethnic Chinese and leftists spanning 1965-66, serves annually as a divisive reminder of one of the country’s murkiest and most violent episodes, Erin Cook writes. But a recent clash between protesters, counter-protesters and police in central Jakarta was an unusually controversial beginning to a time of year typically known for anti-communist activism. The nationwide massacres, where at least 500,000 and possibly as many as three million were killed, ranks among the worst mass murders of the 20th century and has never been adequately addressed by successive Indonesian governments.

US-India defense deal: Upgraded only last year, US-India relations entered a new upbeat phase this August with the signing of the landmark bilateral Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement that enables reciprocal military access of facilities for both countries, Sabena Siddiqui writes. It was the second of the initial four foundational agreements the US usually has with its defense partners; the first one was the General Security of Military Information Agreement, which India signed in 2002. Having felt uneasy about committing itself to the remaining three agreements, the previous Indian government held off, as going ahead would have been perceived as lodging it in the US “camp.” As of now, even the current government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not set any timeline for signing the remaining two deals.

US-China economic rivalry: Forced technology transfers are the new bone of contention in the intellectual-property battle of the impending trade war, Giovanni Di Lieto writes. Since 1989, the Office of the US Trade Representative has released an annual review of the global state of intellectual property rights (IPR) protection and enforcement called “Special 301,” which ultimately serves to provide Washington with legal evidence to activate Section 301 of the 1974 Trade Act against IPR violations. In fact, over the past two decades, the Special 301 Report has regularly put China on the Priority Watch List, in particular regard to counterfeit goods and software piracy. However, in more recent years, technology transfers have emerged as a highly contentious area of international trade policy that governments and multinational corporations can see as both limiting or enabling innovation and investment, according to their different economic circumstances.

Asia Times app: Asia Times has launched an app for both iOS- and Android-based devices that delivers the publication’s regular daily news, commentary, blogs and live coverage while also bringing readers added functionality. As we report here, the app, launched on July 25, includes content notification, share and save functions and is free to download from both the Apple Store and Google Play