Good morning. Here's my take on some of the stories driving the debate in politics, finance and social issues across Asia today:
Buyer's remorse in Australia
It normally takes Australians a couple of years to turn on a prime minister, but polls show Tony Abbott has pulled off this dubious feat in just two months. A clumsy transition from opposition to ruling-party status gets some of the blame. But the real culprit is Abbott backtracking on a number of core election promises, inducing education reform and deficit reduction, and his amateurish handling of allegations that Australia tapped the Indonesian president's phone in 2009. Rather than striking a conciliatory note, Abbott played hardball and alienated a key Asian ally. Australians, too.
Japanese airline thumbs nose at China
Until now, I was more inclined to laugh at Peach Aviation than fly it. Naming a Japanese budget carrier after the fuzzy-skinned fruit? Seriously? But not anymore, not after the airline thumbed its nose -- literally and figuratively -- at China's new air-defense zone that has so enraged Japan's government. OK, a Peach flight zooming through the zone without alerting the Chinese isn't as dramatic as a couple of American B-52 bombers doing the same thing. But hats off to Peach. I'm no longer giggling: I intend to become a loyal customer.
In Bangkok, a very low political bar
"Peace cannot be born out of hatred, but many Thais are simply too consumed by hatred to recognize it." Rarely have truer words been said about Thailand's seemingly perpetual political crisis. In this timely and thoughtful Op-Ed in Thai newspaper The Nation, Pravit Rojanaphruk explains how Bangkok politics became this toxic and dysfunctional. Today, the Thai central bank even unexpectedly cut its benchmark interest rate to calm a growing panic among foreign investors. Also worrisome, though, is how low the bar has become for a successful outcome to this latest dust up. "If we can get through the current crisis and political confrontation without killings or a coup, that in itself would be an accomplishment and a sign of political maturity," Pravit argues. Well, yeah, until the next one. Thailand need to better and it's high time its politicians got their act together.
Reimagining India amid 5 percent growth
The growth downshift and political paralysis in New Delhi has pundits around the globe mulling India's future. McKinsey takes a timely crack at answering that question in this new book of essays. The day executives enamored with India's burgeoning middle class have long dreaded seems to be here. Growth in Asia's third-biggest economy probably stayed below 5 percent for a fourth straight quarter between July and September (we'll know Friday). That would be the worst performance since 2005 and shows the extent to which Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is losing the battle to boost investment, tame inflation and attract more investment into an economy that should being doing infinitely better.
History of the zany Japanese TV shows
It's been 10 years since Sofia Coppola's "Lost in Translation" offered Western moviegoers a rarefied look at life in Japan. In the quirky fish-out-of-water comedy-drama, Bill Murray played an aging American film star visiting Tokyo for a multimillion-dollar payday doing a whiskey commercial. Perhaps no scene captured Murray's culture shock better than his appearance on a zany game show with a dancing, singing, wildly over-the-top host. This lively Atlantic piece, headlined "The Misunderstood History of the Wacky Japanese Game Show" explores the genre and its increasing appeal to Americans.
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