Is this the end of Singapore’s Lee family row?

Questions remain over whether Singapore’s prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, has fully weathered the political storm caused by the abuse of power allegations made against him by his estranged younger siblings, despite the two sides signalling they wish to draw a line under the saga.
In a joint statement on Thursday morning, his two siblings Lee Hsien Yang and Lee Wei Ling said: “We are not politicians and do not wish to see Singapore embroiled in a never-ending public argument…

Singapore PM’s siblings offer truce in family feud

The siblings of Singapore’s prime minister offered a truce on Thursday in an explosive family feud over the legacy of their late father, founding leader Lee Kuan Yew, saying they wanted to settle the matter privately.
The tightly-controlled city-state has been captivated by the row over the future of the family bungalow, which has played out in a bitter back and forth across social media since it erupted last month.
“For now, we will cease presenting further evidence on social media…

Thai lawmakers quit assembly to prepare to run in election next year

More than a dozen members of an assembly appointed by Thailand’s junta have resigned to be able to contest elections, one of the first signs of political activity ahead of a poll set tentatively for next year.
The military government had initially promised a vote within 18 months of a May 2014 coup, but the timetable has slipped – intensifying suspicion among government critics about the army’s real willingness to relinquish power.
The vice-chairman of the National Reform…

The optimism deficit: what’s making Malaysians so unhappy?

It’s December 2016 in Manila’s tech-hub, Bonifacio Global City.
People are having brunch at Wildflour – a hip cafe-cum-breakfast joint – before facing the daily grind. Someone in the crowd returns ashen-faced from the money changers: “The ringgit has fallen 10 per cent against the Philippine peso.”
The others chip in:
“Yeah it’s really dropped against the rupiah.”
“…and the dong!”
There’s a moment of silence as the…

Egypt: Draft Law Banning Publishing of Information Concerning the Armed Forces

(Nov. 19, 2014) On November 6, 2014, the legislative department of the State Council of Egypt (a judicial organ) approved a draft law banning the publication in media outlets of any information concerning the armed forces. The State Council referred the draft law to the Council of Ministers, the country’s Cabinet, for further debate and final approval. (The State Council Refers a Draft Law Banning the Publishing of Any News Related to the Armed Forces to the Council of Ministers [in Arabic], AL MASRY AL YOUM (Nov. 6, 2014).)

Highlights of the Draft Law Provisions

The draft law prohibits the publication without permission of any information or news about the armed forces in daily and weekly newspapers, on TV and radio channels, and also on social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. (The Final Text of a Draft Law on the Prohibition of Publishing News on the Army [in Arabic], AL BAWABA (Nov. 9, 2014).)

The draft law also requires that advance permission be obtained from the General Command of the Armed Forces before the following kinds of information are published: the number of Egypt’s military units, statistics or data on the movement of forces, the performance of those forces, military strategies, and “any other information that might harm the security of the members of the armed forces.” (Id.)

The draft law imposes sanctions against individuals who violate the prohibition. The sanctions include a term of imprisonment of six months to five years, in addition to a fine of L.E.10,000-L.E.50,000 (about US$1,403-$7,013). If the violation takes place during a time of war or a state of emergency, the penalty will be increased to long-term imprisonment and a fine of L.E.100,000-L.E.200,000. (Id.)

Civil Society Reactions to the Draft Law

According to news reports, human rights groups have denounced the draft law. They consider it to be one of a series of recent measures adopted by the Egyptian authorities to extend military control over the country’s media outlets. The rights groups also claim that the draft law will eradicate the freedom of speech gained after the January 25, 2011, revolution against former President Hosni Mubarak’s regime. A representative of what is known as “the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression,” a Cairo-based organization, commented that if such a law is approved by the Council of Ministers, it would constitute an infringement of the Egyptian people’s right to access information and right of free speech. (Patrick Kingsley, Egypt Mulls Military News Ban, GUARDIAN (Nov. 7, 2014).)

On the other hand, 17 editors of major state and private newspapers recently agreed to avoid criticizing the performance of certain government agencies. They announced their “rejection of attempts to doubt state institutions or insult the army or police or judiciary in a way that would reflect negatively on these institutions’ performance.” (Id.)

Mexico; United States: Agreements on Counter Proliferation and Customs and Border Security Matters

(July 8, 2014) Authorities from the United States and Mexico recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will allow these two countries to work together in the prevention of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and related technologies and goods. (Press Release, Embassy of the United States in Mexico, U.S. Embassy and SAT Sign Agreement for Closer Cooperation on Counter Proliferation (Apr. 25, 2014).)

Specifically, the MOU provides conditions under which Mexico’s Customs Administration and the U. S. Department of State’s Export Control and Related Border Security program (EXBS) may collaborate in matters related to global, national, and regional threats derived from illegal transfers of these assets. (Id.)

The EXBS program aims at disrupting dangerous transfers and accumulations of conventional weapons and preventing the proliferation of WMD through the establishment of trade control systems in countries that produce, possess, or provide these items or that serve as transit points for them. (Export Control and Related Border Security Program, U.S. Department of State website (last visited July 7, 2014).)

A press release issued on the occasion of the signature of the MOU explains that since 2005, the EXBS program has assisted Mexico in its counter-proliferation efforts in a variety of ways, including:

· sponsoring and conducting several relevant workshops and courses;
· training over 1,800 Mexican officers in a wide variety of counter-proliferation topics, including WMD interdiction and commodity identification; and
· donating several radiation detectors and chemical and radiological identification equipment to the Mexican government. (Press Release, supra.)

The two countries also recently signed a Declaration of Principles agreement that provides several measures on joint border management and security. (Press Release, Embassy of the United States in Mexico, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson Signs Updated Declaration of Principles Agreement with Minister Luis Videgaray (Mar. 20, 2014).)

This agreement provides that the U. S. Department of Homeland Security and Mexico’s Department of the Treasury will collaborate on a number of goals, including:

· development of a single customs manifest that complies with Mexican and U.S. applicable customs requirements for imports and exports;
· increasing the exchange of information in money laundering and trade investigations;
· implementation of pre-inspection programs aimed at facilitating trade; and
· identification of bilateral initiatives and programs to strengthen law enforcement collaboration and improve border operations. (Id.)

Mexico: Admission to Australia Group

(Sept. 26, 2013) The Mexican government recently announced that it has been formally admitted as a member of the 42-member Australia Group (AG). (Press Release, Mexican Department of Foreign Affairs, México Ingresa Formalmente al Grupo Australia (Aug. 12, 2013).)

The AG countries, on a voluntary and cooperative basis, work to prevent the dissemination of technologies, materials, and equipment that may allow terrorists or states to acquire or develop biological or chemical weapons. (Press Release, AG, Mexico Joins the Australia Group (Aug. 12, 2013).)

The Mexican government indicated that, in order to join the AG, it was necessary to work for more than two years to make the country’s legal framework compliant with applicable international export control standards. (México Ingresa Formalmente al Grupo Australia, supra.)

According to the AG press release issued on the occasion,

As an AG Participant, Mexico would also promote the fulfilment [sic] of international obligations created under the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and UN Security Council Resolution 1540, among others.

With its admission into the AG, Mexico has demonstrated the will to implement rigorous controls of high standards in international trade, and its capacity to adapt its national regulatory system to meet the necessities of its expanding economy.(Mexico Joins the Australia Group, supra.)