ASEAN’s tangled web: Governments flex legal muscles to stifle online dissent

Source: Asian Correspondent

AS the 2016 calendar year draws to a close, analysts and experts are rolling out predictions and looking back at the past 12 months in review – What have we achieved so far? Where will we be at the dawning of 2017?

2016 has witnessed exponential advances in technology: From self-driving vehicles to virtual reality headsets, artificially intelligent voice-controlled butlers and an ambitious plan to colonise Mars, we have seen and heard it all.

The ASEAN economy is chugging along, albeit at a slower rate, but a Focus Economics forecast says dynamics in the region will likely improve next year, after an expected 4.6 percent expansion in 2016.

“They offer important markets with middle-class consumers,” an article in Business Mirror says of emerging economies like Indonesia and Vietnam.

Hand-in-hand with growth is, of course, the demand and need for free flow of information, and the ease at which such information is accessed. As Computer Weekly suggests, the Internet of Things (IoT) is quickly gaining momentum in Southeast Asia. Citing a forecast by Frost and Sullivan, it says IoT spending in the region is expected to grow in value by 35 percent from an estimated US$1.68 billion last year to US$7.53 billion in 2020.

In fact, the region’s Internet economy on the whole is expected to be worth a staggering US$200 billion annually within just 10 years, according to a report released by Singaporean sovereign wealth fund Temasek and Google.

The region of 600 million is also home to highest number of social media users in the world, signalling a marked increase in access to broadband networks and with it, the inevitable shift in news appetites from traditional to new media.

But as evidenced over the year, the proliferation of new media content has stoked government fears of dissent and uprisings by media-savvy youths, and led to the implementation of tougher Internet controls, often on the pretext of maintaining peace and public order.

In fact, despite the region’s high Internet penetration and increased accessibility to web-based resources, almost all of the 10 ASEAN-member countries, with the exception of Burma, have shown either no improvement or a decline in Internet freedom rankings this year. Read more

Ideas: Why is Felda paying so much for Indonesian company?

Source: FMT News

There are lots of questions about the deal and the premium price fuels speculation, says Ideas CEO. Pic taken from FMT News.

There are lots of questions about the deal and the premium price fuels speculation, says Ideas CEO. Pic taken from FMT News.

PETALING JAYA: Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) must answer why it chose to pay a high price to acquire PT Eagle High Plantations.

Wan Saiful Wan Jan, who heads the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas), said the main focus right now is the risks the deal may pose to taxpayers.

“It is mysterious to me how better shareholder value will be created when it looks like Felda is paying a very high price for Eagle High’s shares.

“Felda has to answer why they agreed to this high premium. There is already a lot of questions about the deal and this premium adds to the negative speculation about it,” he said in a statement today. Read more