Greetings from Singapore!
After more than a year of focusing exclusively on European politics, I’m temporarily changing gears: through a 2018 Jefferson Fellowship from the East-West Center, I and ten other American and Asian journalists are spending three weeks reporting on populism and the state of democracy in Southeast Asia.
After starting this week in Singapore, we’ll go on to Manila to learn about Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and his brutal drug war; we’ll then continue to Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia to report on the post-election political situation and ethnic politics.
Our first week of the fellowship was spent at the East-West Center’s offices in Honolulu — hardship assignment, I know — where we all compared notes about how populism and identity politics are manifesting themselves in our home countries. What was clear from the other fellows’ presentations — besides the four Americans, we have fellows from the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia, India, China and New Zealand — is that populism is alive and well in this region as well. I’m excited to get to work learning about these issues in a new region and drawing parallels with what’s happening in Europe. (I’m also hoping the German government doesn’t collapse while I’m away, but that’s another story…)
For more about the fellowship program, see here. I’ll post my coverage along the way!