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Southeast Asia stumbles over politics

The region's role as a motor for Asia's economic growth is threatened by stability risks

It is disappointing to see Aung San Suu Kyi reverse the trend for freedom of expression.   © Reuters

These are challenging times for Southeast Asia. Despite buoyant economies, healthy investment and growing trade ties, predictability and certainty in the political sphere seem elusive for the ten member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

What looked like stable political outcomes or transitions in Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia have more recently generated fear and uncertainty as squabbling entrenched elites are battered by divisive issues of corruption, identity and inequality. In Myanmar and the Philippines democratic transitions have morphed into state-sponsored repressive security crackdowns on hard-won freedoms.

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