Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘Southeast Asia’

9th August 2013

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the regional bloc which includes Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam, celebrated it’s 46th birthday. To quote directly from the website thepeninsulaqatar.com:

DOHA: Ambassadors of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) in Qatar were in accord, saying Asean will meet its target to integrate the 10 nations’ economies by end of 2015, as they celebrated the 46th Asean Day yesterday at the Vietnam Embassy…Singapore Ambassador Wong Kwok Pun cited some areas that Asean has made progress on the implementation of the Asean Charter. In particular, he pointed out Asean has made headway on disputes settlement mechanism, has been working towards the implementation of the roadmap for the Asean community, and taken big steps toward an integrated and sustained economic development…

The implementation of policies which would create an ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) has been an oft-discussed topic among business and legal professionals throughout Southeast Asia. This issue is such a significant topic because by creating a unified Southeast Asian marketplace the countries which comprise ASEAN would become one of the largest markets in the world virtually overnight. That stated, there is a great deal of debate as to whether or not the transition into a unified market will occur smoothly. Some argue that the disparate laws, regulations, and policies throughout the ASEAN member states will not easily coalesce into a workable framework for businesses to operate in the region until governments in ASEAN can implement local policies to bring their regulations in line with the other ASEAN nations. On the  other hand, some argue that because ASEAN leaders have adopted a slow approach to integrating the ASEAN economies the nations which comprise this trading bloc will be able to integrate within the larger body relatively quickly.

Of further concern to both foreign nationals as well as nationals from ASEAN member nations is the promulgation of a single ASEAN visa scheme. Presently, there is not a single visa which one can obtain which would allow the bearer to travel unfettered throughout the the whole of ASEAN. However, leaders in some of the ASEAN countries are looking to remedy this. To quote from the website aseanvisa.com:

Ministers and tourism authorities of the Philippines, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Indonesia have expressed their intention to collaborate with relevant government agencies and other stakeholders to facilitate travel in the region by developing a common smart visa system…According to www.smartvisa.travel, a smart visa is a digital paperless substitute for a traditional visa that can be obtained by a traveler from a travel agent or participating airline…

Clearly, steps are being taken to create some sort of travel document which would provide immigration benefits in multiple ASEAN nations simultaneously. The impetus behind the push for a single ASEAN visa seems to stem from two sources. First, many of the ASEAN nations would appear to view an ASEAN visa as a means of increasing tourism throughout ASEAN. This would appear to especially be a concern to officials in those Southeast Asian nations which do not benefit from high tourism as compared to their other ASEAN counterparts. By creating a visa which allows for access to more than one ASEAN jurisdiction tourist travel to some countries might increase as travelers are no longer deterred in making “side trips” to less popular destinations due to a desire to avoid the need to obtain another visa. Another consideration would appear to be business travel, as ASEAN economic integration continues to gather steam it stands to reason that more foreign nationals will need to visit multiple ASEAN jurisdictions in order to conduct business in the region. By implementing policies to provide for a single ASEAN visa, business travel may increase throughout the region.

The aforementioned article also mentions the recent decision by Thai and Cambodian Immigration authorities to provide a unified visa scheme for travelers wishing to visit those two countries. To quote further from the aseanvisa.com article:

It [the single ASEAN visa scheme] also builds on the single visa scheme for tourism travel between Cambodia and Thailand, which was implemented on January 1, 2013. Progressive relaxation and an Asean common visa would also benefit non-Asean nationals who intend to visit the Asean countries…

One can speculate whether or not the Thai-Cambodian visa scheme mentioned above will one day be consolidated into a pan-ASEAN visa scheme. There are certainly arguments as to the benefits of such an integration, most notably the probable increase in tourism to all of the ASEAN nations. However, one thing remains clear: it appears that virtually all leaders of the ASEAN nations are assiduously studying the ramifications of a single ASEAN visa scheme and should their findings prove that such a scheme would be a benefit to all of ASEAN; then it is likely that such a scheme will eventually come into existence.

For related information please see: Thailand visa.

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17th September 2012

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the American Secretary of Defense recently commented upon the apparent tensions arising between Tokyo and Beijing over island claims increasingly disputed between China and Japan. In order to provide further insight into these developments it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of The Japan Times, JapanTimes.co.jp:

Visiting U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Monday urged Japan and China to peacefully resolve the intensifying territorial dispute over the Senkaku Islands, expressing concern the diplomatic row could result in a military clash over uninhabited islets in the East China Sea. ”It is extremely important that diplomatic means on both sides be used” to avoid further escalation, Panetta said… [H]e also repeated that the United States will “stand by treaty obligation” with Tokyo, which includes defending Japanese soil, based on the Japan-U.S. security treaty…The Japan-U.S. security treaty obliges the U.S. to defend Japan if an area under Japanese administration is attacked by another country. But observers say if a remote island is attacked, it would likely be up to Japan to respond first, not the U.S. military…

Readers are encouraged to visit the hyperlinks noted above to read this story in detail.

It might seem unlikely that this situation could evolve into major confrontation, there are signs that tensions between Japan and China could get worse if some sort of solution is not found. This information comes as anti-Japanese protests in China spread and claims to certain Southeast Asian islands by members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are voiced. Hopefully, this situation will be resolved peacefully and to the benefit of all concerned.

Meanwhile, it would appear that the Malaysian and Singaporean stock exchanges are set to link up in an effort to provide more trading opportunities and capabilities on each of those respective platforms. To shed further light upon these developments it is necessary to quote from the official website of Live Trading News, LiveTradingNews.com:

The Malaysian and Singaporean stock exchanges are seeking to attract individual investors and boost volumes by offering cross-border trading, the 1st step in creating a Southeast Asian platform. Singapore Exchange Ltd. (SGX) and Bursa Malaysia Bhd. (BURSA) start offering the services Tuesday…

Readers are again asked to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read this article in detail.

These developments could result in future interest in Southeast Asian Securities from investors abroad. Concurrently, it would appear that Thailand’s stock exchange is prepared to provide more integrated services for ASEAN investors, to quote further from the aforementioned article:

[T]he Stock Exchange of Thailand is set to join the link-up between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations members next month…The trading platform is part of a push by Asean Exchanges to boost regional capital markets and lure more investors to exchanges whose companies had a combined market value of $1.98-T at the end of March, according to the group’s website…

Although the results of these efforts remain to be seen, there is good reason to speculate that these developments could lead to further investment in Southeast Asia both by domestic investors as well as investors from outside the region.

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17th August 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that a former officer at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has been sentenced in connection to charges stemming from apparent corruption. In order to provide further insight it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service (USICE, although sometimes colloquially referred to as ICE) website, ICE.gov:

LOS ANGELES — A former supervisor with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and his son were sentenced Thursday on federal corruption charges to 60 months and 48 months in prison, respectively, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations and the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General. Fernando Jacobs, 72, of Upland, Calif., and his son, Patrick Jacobs, 44, of Ontario, Calif., were sentenced by U.S. District Judge George H. King. Judge King also ordered Fernando Jacobs to pay a $30,000 fine. Fernando Jacobs was remanded into custody to begin serving his prison sentence immediately. Patrick Jacobs has been in custody since his arrest in December 2009. Fernando Jacobs, who was a supervisory immigration services officer with USCIS, and Patrick Jacobs were convicted by a jury of conspiracy, bribery and honest services wire fraud. Additionally, Fernando Jacobs was also convicted of visa fraud. The evidence presented during the two-week trial in U.S. District Court in April showed the elder Jacobs accepted bribes in exchange for helping aliens seeking status in the United States and that his son acted as a middleman brokering deals with those individuals. “The significance of public corruption cases like this cannot be overestimated,” said U.S. Attorney André Birotte, Jr. “The American public demands honest government service and the Department of Justice is committed to policing government and preserving the public trust.” The evidence showed the elder Jacobs and his son engaged in a scheme to defraud USCIS of Fernando Jacobs’ honest services, using his authority and official position to enrich themselves by receiving payments in return for various actions…

The administration of this web log encourages readers to click upon those relevant hyperlinks noted above to learn further details from this interesting article.

It has always been this blogger’s experience that officers of the USCIS are upright, hardworking, and forthright individuals; but notwithstanding this fact there are instances where corruption can exist in any organization. Therefore, it is a genuine relief to see prompt action to discourage this behavior while simultaneously seeing that those engaged in illegal activity are brought to justice. Hopefully further efforts will yield more efficient and effective government in the future as such factors could result in more efficient and faster processing times for adjudication of bona fide immigration petitions and applications.

In news pertaining to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), it recently came to this blogger’s attention that China considers engagement with ASEAN in the future as both important and strategic. To provide further insight it is necessary to quote directly from the online Asia Times website, ATimes.com:

Under its “good neighbors policy”, Beijing naturally considers improving relations with ASEAN an important strategic task. China has built up a strategic partnership with the 10-member ASEAN since 2003, and also with some of its members, one after another…

This article was also very noteworthy to this blogger because it highlighted some interesting issues arising in ASEAN and the future of the geopolitical situation in said region. The author, “an Assistant Professor of the Institute of International Studies at Fudan University,” Dr Jian Junbo, provides fascinating insights into the possible role of China in the Asia-Pacific region in the coming years:

China should help ensure regional public security with its growing military capability. Beijing should be broader-minded than its neighbors in regard to the use of its military to maintain regional stability by fighting piracy, terrorism and other international crimes in the Pacific Ocean. Instead of flexing its military muscle in territorial disputes, China should encourage political, economic and cultural integration in East and Southeast Asia. All in all, China should reshape its Asia strategy with an aim to functioning as a stabilizing force, while maintaining its strategy to keep a balance with the influence of the US in this region…

This blogger strongly encourages readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read this incisive article in detail.

As economic and cultural integration increases in ASEAN, the so-called BRICS countries, the Asia-Pacific region, and the United States of America it stands to reason that further economic development will occur exponentially as a result of the current economic “cross-pollination” phenomenon which is happening at a rather rapid rate in the Pacific compared to roughly 10 years ago. As the economies of Greater Asia continue to prosper there are some who could argue that many financial and economic benefits will be accrued to the benefit of all concerned.

– Benjamin Walter Hart

For information about registering a company in America please see: US Company Registration.

For information pertaining to legal services in Southeast Asia please see: Legal.

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9th August 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that some media outlets are noting the comparatively positive aspects of the economies which comprise the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). In order to provide further insight to the reader it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of The Wall Street Journal, WSJ.com:

JAKARTA—Investors and companies should look to Southeast Asia as they seek shelter from the world-wide markets meltdown, said the secretary general of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Surin Pitsuwan noted that Southeast Asia is growing, it is nestled between India and China and it dealt with its own scary debt problems over a decade ago, making it an attractive alternative amid the global volatility triggered by concerns about how the U.S. and Europe will deal with their debt, as well as whether the U.S. economy will slide into recession again. “If they are looking for a safer haven, this is it,” he told The Wall Street Journal in an interview. “The Chinese and the Japanese that are worried will want to look around for better prospects for their investments and this is one of the hopeful regions…”

The administration of this web log strongly encourages readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read this well written article by Eric Bellman in detail.

Frequent readers may recall that the ASEAN region as a whole, and the component jurisdictions therein, have shown tremendous economic strength in recent months. Meanwhile, these jurisdictions are believed by some to have substantial economic potential in the future. There has been some discussion in recent weeks regarding the prospect of a possible ASEAN visa not unlike the Schengen system currently employed in Europe. Whether such a program will ultimately be implemented remains to be seen. In any case, there is certainly strong evidence to support the inference that the ASEAN jurisdictions will be increasingly important in a geopolitical and economic context moving forward.

In news pertaining to the continuing struggle for LGBT Equality in the United States, it recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of the United States appears to be refusing recognition of same sex marriages, even those legalized and/or solemnized in an American State jurisdiction. To provide further information this blogger is compelled to quote directly from the official website of MSNBC at MSN.com:

For all those same-sex newlyweds in New York, Lawrence S. Jacobs has a message: Enjoy the Champagne and the honeymoon, but expect no gifts from the IRS. Jacobs, a lawyer in Washington, specializes in estate planning for same-sex couples — and in delivering the bad news that their unions aren’t legal in the eyes of the IRS, a policy that will cost them time and money during tax season.Same-sex couples in Washington, which last year legalized gay marriage, must fill out a federal return to make calculations required for their D.C. joint return. But then they must set that work aside and fill out separate federal returns because the IRS doesn’t regard their union as legal, Jacobs says. “You just spent decades getting your marriage recognized, and now the feds say, ‘No, you’re not,’” says Jacobs, who as a partner in a same-sex marriage has firsthand experience of the problem.

The administration of this web log strongly encourages interested readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to view this story in detail.

Frequent readers may recall that the issue of same sex marriage has been a “hot button” issue in recent months as Senate Judiciary hearings have recently been held to scrutinize the Constitutionality of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) in light of proposed replacement legislation in the form of the bill colloquially referred to as the Respect for Marriage Act (RFMA). In an immigration context, the issue of federal recognition of same sex marriage is of substantial importance since agencies such as the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) and each and every US Embassy or US Consulate overseas is legally compelled to disregard a same sex marriage when adjudicating family visa matters pursuant to the provisions of DOMA. Therefore, bi-national same sex couples cannot obtain a travel document such as a K-1 visa, CR-1 visa, or IR-1 visa in the same manner as their different-sex counterparts. Meanwhile, there is some hope that this current legal discrimination will be overcome as some US Courts have ruled that DOMA’s non-recognition, at least at the federal level, of State licensed same sex marriage is Un-Constitutional. Concurrently, the United States Bankruptcy Courts have begun allowing joint bankruptcies for same sex married couples.

It remains to be seen whether same sex couples will ever be accorded the same benefits as their different-sex counterparts in the eyes of American law, but the overall situation appears to be gradually improving.

For related information please see: Americans Resident Abroad.

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5th July 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Union of Myanmar (sometimes colloquially referred to as Burma) may soon see some new direct flights between Yangon (Rangoon) and other cities in Southern Asia, In order to provide further insight into these developments it might be prudent to quote directly from the official website of the Peoples’ Daily Online, PeopleDaily.com.cn:

Myanmar Airways International (MAI) will launch a direct flight service to link Yangon with Jakarta and Bali in November this year, the local Weekly Eleven reported Monday. Aimed at boosting bilateral trade between the two countries, the planned direct flight is prompted by the Myanmar President U Thein Sein’s recent visit to Indonesia in May this year. As part of the cooperation between the two countries in the tourism sector and for both having historic cultural heritage, beautiful scenery and beaches, Thein Sein said plan is also underway to launch Yangon-Singapore-Jakarta flights which will be finalized at the second meeting of the joint commission for bilateral cooperation to be held in Myanmar at this year-end…[sic]

The administration of this web log encourages readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to read this story in detail.

As a member of the ten member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Myanmar seems to have become increasingly integrated into the broader Southeast Asian economy. This current situation stands in rather stark contrast to that nation’s position in the relatively recent past. As mundane as airline routes may seem to the casual reader at first glance it should be noted that such events can have tremendous implications for business travelers and can also result in wholly new business opportunities as it becomes increasing less difficult to travel to a particular destination. All of the ramifications of this announcement remain to be seen, but it seems likely that there will be positive economic benefits for all of the jurisdictions concerned.

Meanwhile, in news pertaining to the United States and the United Kingdom it recently came to this blogger’s attention that London is home to a new statue honoring a former President of the United States of America. In order to shed further light upon this situation it may be best to quote directly from an article written by Ravi Somaiya and posted on the official website of The New York Times, NYTimes.com:

LONDON — Passers-by at the American Embassy, in the heart of London’s upscale Mayfair district, were greeted Monday morning by the disembodied voice of Ronald Reagan drifting through the air from large speakers — a prelude to the unveiling of a $1 million bronze statue of the former president here to commemorate the 100th anniversary of his birth…The statue of a smiling Reagan, dressed in a crisp suit, was paid for by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation as part of a worldwide effort to promote his legacy, according to the organization’s executive director. Similar events have been held in the last few days in Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary…

This blogger asks readers to click on the relevant hyperlinks above in order to read this interesting article in full.

It would appear that many around the globe feel as though President Reagan was deserving of an enduring tribute for his efforts to further the cause of international freedom. Hopefully the statue noted above will act as a long term reminder of the need to be ever vigilante in the struggle to maintain the principles of liberty and justice.

For information pertaining to legal service please see: Legal.

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