southeast asia

SINGAPORE --- “Just turn on the faucet.”

That’s the answer most Americans and others in the developed world would give if asked how to get plenty of clean water. But for about two billion people, such a response is meaningless. These people – almost a third of the world’s population – do not have access to water that can be drunk without adverse health effects. An even greater number lack access to adequate sanitation, which is a principal reason that more than two million children die of diarrheal diseases each year.

Some politicians, scholars and officials wishfully claim that co-operative activities such as ship visits, combined disaster-relief exercises or partnership against piracy will translate into wider strategic trust. But there is little sign this is happening.

Nobel Peace laureate and Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is to talk with Hong Kong University students via a live video link. The event marks the first time Suu Kyi has accepted an invitation from an Asian university to speak since her release from house arrest.

Say Myanmar and most people will think of its military junta, the plight of Aung San Suu Kyi and the problems of a country led by an oppressive regime. But three young skateboarding filmmakers from the United Kingdom headed out there in 2009 to film "Burma behind the headlines."

The government is launching a new initiative to bring Malaysian TV and film projects to the world. As local productions have increased and the country has become a prominent location double for other Asian countries, it is investing in efforts to increase Malaysia’s international presence.

For its relatively short history and small land area, Singapore’s range of nation branding efforts is ambitious, concerted and seemingly ceaseless. Its desire to establish and seal its reputation as a leading global city has translated into strategic public diplomacy initiatives that span and encompass practically every sector of its economy and society. This intensive repertoire of public diplomacy is captured in Koh Buck Song’s latest book, Brand Singapore: How Nation Branding Built Asia’s Leading Global City.

JAKARTA, Indonesia — On the third floor of a shopping mall here, around the corner from a Gap Kids and a Wedgwood china outlet, a new tenant is busily promoting what is perhaps the world’s biggest brand: America.

In the realm of international broadcasting, Radio Taiwan International (RTI) serves as the “voice of Taiwan.” The station is an amalgamation of the “Voice of Free China” service that served as the Republic of China on Taiwan’s international broadcasting arm plus the Central Broadcasting System, which for years broadcast to mainland China.