17 February 2017

On the regular Policy File we round-up some essential weekend policy reading from around the web. This week we look at Trump’s meeting with Abe, the Jakarta election, and the ‘fake news’ phenomenon.

President Donald Trump’s recent meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was an important sign of the direction of US foreign policy in Asia under his administration. On Policy Forum, Stephen Nagy writes that Southeast Asian nations are pinning their hopes on the future of the US-Japan alliance, while on Forbes, Ralph Jennings argues that Abe and Trump are teaming up to resist Chinese expansion.

Trump and Abe’s otherwise successful summit was interrupted by North Korea’s launch of a ballistic missile. At The National Interest, Patrick M Cronin writes that the missile test is a sign of North Korea’s weakness, while at The Atlantic, Joel S Wit and Richard Sokolsky write that Trump has a shrinking opportunity to secure a deal with the Hermit Kingdom and bring stability to the Korean peninsula.

Jakarta voted this week to determine the city’s next governor, with early results predicting that a run-off vote will be needed to decide the fate of controversial incumbent Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama. At New Mandala, Edward Aspinall analyses the election result and writes that it shows there is a significant constituency for pluralism in Jakarta. At CNN, Ben Westcott and Kathy Quiano write that the outcome could change the face of Indonesia.

President Rodrigo Duterte’s talk of moving the Philippines closer to China last year raised eyebrows in Washington. Writing for Policy Forum, Monish Tourangbam and Pawan Amin argue that beyond the headline-grabbing rhetoric, Duterte is demonstrating that even weak nations can play great power politics. On The Diplomat, Roncevert Ganan Almond writes that Trump will have his work cut out for him shoring up the US-Philippines alliance.

Good public policy should be grounded in science and evidence, yet too often there is a wide gap between the research and policy communities. The latest Policy Forum Pod hears from three experts about how to give researchers a stronger voice in policy decisions. Kathleen Segerson writes that as Trump is now discovering, public policy is the art of trade-offs. Meanwhile Suzi Kerr writes that dialogue processes could help bring rigorous researchers and risk averse decision-makers closer together to achieve better policy outcomes.

The problem of ‘fake news’ has gained widespread attention following last year’s US presidential election. On Wired, Samanth Subramanian delves into the Macedonian ‘fake news complex’ responsible for generating fake news articles during the election, while on The Jakarta Post, Warief Djajanto Basorie writes on how the phenomenon is affecting Indonesian politics. On the topic of inaccurate information going viral, at DevPolicy Blog, Amanda H A Watson busts the myth that Papua New Guinea tops the world in internet searches for pornography.

The idea of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) to combat inequality and economic insecurity is gaining traction around the world. The Economist writes that India is taking the idea of a UBI seriously, if not literally, while on Policy Forum, Elise Klein argues that the Australian economic model needs a radical overhaul, and a UBI should be part of the answer. For more on the costs and benefits of Universal Basic Income, have a listen to our podcast on the topic – it has interviews with some of the world’s leading experts on UBI, including Charles Murray, Guy Standing, Peter Whiteford, and the leader of the Finnish UBI project, Olli Kangas.

Want more for your weekend? You can catch up with our Policy Forum podcast here, or via iTunes, Stitcher, and Soundcloud. If you like what you hear, please give us a review on iTunes and help us get the word out.

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