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Helen Clark

Melbourne, Australia
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About Helen
Helen Clark is a journalist based in Melbourne, Australia.
Portfolio

Indonesia’s new North Natuna Sea: What’s in a name?

02 May 2024  |  www.lowyinstitute.org
Indonesia renamed the waters northeast of the Natuna Islands to 'North Natuna Sea', a move that overlaps with China's nine-dash line and has led to maritime disputes. President Jokowi has increased military presence in the area and made visits to demonstrate sovereignty, but remains focused on narrow territorial interests rather than broader South China Sea issues. China's response to the renaming was dismissive, emphasizing the importance of maintaining the current situation. The article suggests that while Indonesia's actions may protect its interests in the short term, they are unlikely to deter China's growing naval capabilities and aggressive behavior in the long term. The piece also reflects on historical names of the sea and suggests that Southeast Asian states should focus on practical measures against Chinese coercion rather than name changes.

The long struggle of the women’s movement in Indonesian politics

04 Apr 2024  |  lowyinstitute.org
Despite the active role of women in Indonesian politics historically and their campaign skills, as exemplified by Eva Bande and the Kendeng farmers, women's representation in Indonesian politics has not shown significant progress. The number of women lawmakers has never surpassed 30% since Suharto's regime. Efforts to increase women's representation in the Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat have been uneven, with a peak after the 2009 elections at 17.9% and a decrease to 17.3% between 2014–2019. The lack of female representation affects the prioritization of women-friendly regulations, with activists still pushing for the ratification of a sexual violence bill. Historical challenges persist, with women's political activism being suppressed during Suharto's rule and replaced with domestic-focused organizations. However, the spirit of the women's movement continues, with organizations like Kalyanamitra Foundation and Rifka Annisa emerging, and indigenous women like Mama Yosepha Alomang and Aleta Baun leading cultural changes. The future of women in Indonesian politics remains uncertain, with some parties like the Indonesia Solidarity Party (PSI) raising women's issues, but overall, women's roles are often limited to traditional stereotypes. The hope is for women to not only gain more seats in parliament but also hold strategic positions and lead major organizations.

Confronting the elephants in the room: reigniting momentum for universal health coverage

22 Feb 2024  |  www.thelancet.com
Universal health coverage (UHC) has seen a decline or stagnation in progress among WHO member states since the SDGs were launched in 2015, with only 42 countries reducing catastrophic health spending. The article suggests that by addressing four major challenges, momentum towards achieving UHC by 2030 can be revitalized.

Sudan must be pulled back from the brink

08 Sep 2023  |  www.dailymaverick.co.za
Sudan is experiencing severe conflict between military factions led by Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, resulting in over 5,000 deaths and a massive humanitarian crisis. The UN estimates that more than 4.6 million people have been displaced. Despite various international efforts, ceasefire attempts have failed, and atrocities continue. The article calls for a coordinated international response to end hostilities and negotiate a sustainable political solution, emphasizing the broader regional impact and the need for influential actors to align their diplomatic efforts.

WEBINAR: After eighteen months of the war in Ukraine

16 Aug 2023  |  Helen Clark
The war in Ukraine has reached its eighteenth month, with a Ukrainian counteroffensive against fortified Russian lines and a mutiny by the Wagner mercenary group. Ukraine is seeking fast-tracked NATO membership and new weapon systems from allies. A webinar featuring military strategist Mick Ryan will discuss these developments. The Helen Clark Foundation, which advocates for a fairer and more inclusive New Zealand, is organizing the event.

The Status Quo Won’t Save Us From the Next Pandemic

27 Aug 2022  |  Foreign Policy
The article emphasizes the urgent need for global preparedness to prevent future pandemics, highlighting the failures exposed by COVID-19. It calls for stronger international cooperation, enhanced funding for the World Health Organization, and the establishment of a global health threats council. The authors stress the importance of equitable access to health tools and the necessity of sustained political leadership to implement comprehensive reforms. The text underscores that without significant changes, the world risks repeating the catastrophic impacts of the recent pandemic.

Why the Quad is failing on Myanmar human rights

16 Feb 2022  |  www.watoday.com.au
The article criticizes the Quad for its inadequate response to the human rights crisis in Myanmar following the military coup. Despite expressing concern, the Quad members, particularly India, Japan, and Australia, have been reluctant to impose serious measures, citing national interests. The article argues that stronger actions, including sanctions and UN Security Council enforcement, are necessary to support Myanmar's return to democracy. ASEAN's role is acknowledged but deemed insufficient alone to resolve the crisis.

Laos' Economic Challenges Amid New Bullet Train and Cryptocurrency Ventures

15 Dec 2021  |  international.thenewslens.com
Laos faces significant economic challenges, highlighted by its inclusion in an IMF list of nations at risk of economic collapse. The country has undertaken a $5.9 billion bullet train project to boost its economy, despite accruing substantial debt. Additionally, Laos is exploring cryptocurrency mining as a revenue stream, with the government permitting six companies to trial the initiative. The plan leverages excess hydropower and aims to utilize bitcoin mining machines from China. However, concerns about transparency and the financial experience of the involved companies persist. The country's financial system remains underdeveloped, and previous cryptocurrency attempts have been unsuccessful. The article also touches on the risks associated with hydropower dam construction in Laos.

China: Forget wagging the dog, make a cat laugh

18 Nov 2021  |  Asia Times
Australia's political landscape is heating up as the country approaches elections, with significant debate over its relationship with China and the implications of the AUKUS treaty. Former Prime Minister Paul Keating and Senator Penny Wong criticize the government's national security strategy, particularly its alignment with the US and potential involvement in a conflict over Taiwan. Defense Minister Peter Dutton defends the government's stance, emphasizing support for the US. The article highlights the broader geopolitical tensions involving the US, China, and Taiwan, and the domestic political ramifications in Australia.

The anguish of Myanmar

25 Oct 2021  |  opinion.inquirer.net
Myanmar has been in turmoil since the military coup, with over 1,100 deaths and significant displacement. The economy is collapsing, and the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the situation. The National Unity Government has declared a defensive war against the junta, with numerous militias active. The Rohingya crisis has been overshadowed by the broader conflict. Asean's five-point consensus for peace has seen limited progress, leading to the exclusion of the junta leader from recent summits. The Global Leadership Foundation calls for the restoration of democracy and urges international support, particularly from China and the US, to resolve the crisis.

Why We Worry About the U.S.-China Trade War

12 Oct 2019  |  www.realclearpolitics.com
The 18-month trade war between the United States and China is identified as the most significant threat to global economic growth, with potential to trigger a recession in the United States, Europe, Japan, and other economies if not resolved satisfactorily. It also poses a serious risk to China's near-term growth prospects.

A Quiet Kowari: US, Australia, and China Trilateral Military Exercise

01 Sep 2019  |  thediplomat.com
Australia has hosted the Kowari trilateral military exercise with the United States and China for six years, focusing on collaborative problem-solving, leadership, and teamwork. This year's exercise was quieter, reflecting Australia's balancing act between its trade relationship with China and defense alliance with the U.S. The exercise, involving small units from each nation, aims to build trust and effective communication. Despite some skepticism about its impact on regional stability, the exercise is seen as a prestigious and unique experience for participants, fostering person-to-person relationships and military diplomacy.

Should Australia fear an influx of Chinese?

25 Jun 2017  |  South China Morning Post
Australia's demographic landscape is shifting with increasing Asian migration, particularly from China, now outpacing European migration. Despite historical fears of being 'swamped by Asians,' the current focus has shifted to concerns about Chinese influence and property ownership. The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports significant Asian language presence, and the media highlights fears of Chinese government influence through local Chinese-language media. While some Chinese Australians maintain positive ties with China, others, like Dr. Feng Chongyi, criticize China's 'soft power.' The article also touches on the broader acceptance of Chinese culture and the impact of skilled migration on Australia's education system.

Nothing personal: a lesson for Trump in Vietnamese politics

04 Jun 2017  |  South China Morning Post
The meeting between Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Donald Trump highlighted the differences in their political styles, with Vietnam focusing on trade and strategy over personal ties. Despite their differences, the meeting resulted in Vietnam purchasing $8 billion worth of goods from the US. Vietnam values international relationships but avoids personality politics, contrasting with the more charismatic approaches of leaders like Obama and Duterte. The article also touches on internal Vietnamese politics, including the fall of showman politicians like Nguyen Tan Dung and Dinh La Thanh.

What’s really behind Vietnam’s sacking of top Communist Party official?

14 May 2017  |  South China Morning Post
The article examines the dismissal of Dinh La Thang, a top Communist Party official in Vietnam, for serious mismanagement and corruption. It highlights the ongoing anti-corruption campaign led by General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, which appears to target allies of former Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung. The piece delves into the political factions within the Communist Party, contrasting the ideologies and approaches of Trong and Dung. It also touches on other systemic issues in Vietnam, such as land disputes and public dissatisfaction with corruption, illustrating the broader context of political and social challenges in the country.

Report digs deeper hole for Australia's Indian coal mine plan

28 Apr 2017  |  South China Morning Post
The Carmichael coal mine project in Australia, backed by Adani, faces opposition due to its environmental impact, including risks to the Great Barrier Reef, and questionable economic benefits. Despite promises of job creation and state revenue, independent think tank The Australia Institute warns of reduced thermal coal prices and royalty revenue for New South Wales. Adani's claim that the coal will be used in its own power stations in India and not affect international markets is disputed. Public sentiment is turning against the mine, with notable figures like Ian and Greg Chappell opposing it. The federal government's loan for the project's infrastructure and the controversy over pro-mining social media campaigns further complicate the situation. Industry consultants doubt the mine's completion by 2020 due to high capital expenditure and low demand for thermal coal.

How Australian wines breached the Grape Wall of China

12 Feb 2017  |  South China Morning Post
Australian wines have successfully penetrated the Chinese market, aided by tariff reductions under the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement, with tariffs set to be eliminated by 2019. Despite a setback in 2012 due to a ban on extravagant gift-giving by Chinese officials, Australian wine exports have rebounded, particularly at the premium end. Australian wines are favored in China for their perceived trustworthiness and fresh, fruity qualities. Companies like Ferngrove Estate, Best Bottlers, and Yalumba Wines have adapted their products to suit Chinese tastes, with some producing wines higher in residual sugar. The growth in the wine market is expected to continue, with predictions of 150 million regular wine drinkers in China by 2025. The popularity of Australian wines may also boost Chinese tourism to Australia, with partnerships between Wine Australia and Tourism Australia already in place.

Farewell to Vo Quy, Vietnam’s Hero of the Environment

01 Jan 2017  |  thediplomat.com
Vietnamese Professor Vo Quy, a renowned zoologist and environmental hero, passed away at age 87 in Hanoi. Known for his work on Agent Orange and establishing national parks, Quy was recognized by Time Magazine as a Hero of the Environment in 2008. Despite his connections with the ruling Communist Party, he was not a strident activist but an advocate with influence. The article reflects on his legacy in the context of Vietnam's growing environmental activism, particularly following the Formosa fish kill scandal.

Crocs in the Cabinet: A Sordid Look at Australian Local Politics

01 Jan 2017  |  thediplomat.com
Australian local politics, particularly in the Northern Territory, is depicted as chaotic and corrupt in 'Crocs in the Cabinet' by NT News journalists Ben Smee and Christopher A. Walsh. The book details the downfall of the Country Liberal Party, highlighting various scandals and misdeeds. The authors provide a first-hand account of the dysfunction within the party and the broader political landscape, emphasizing the Territory's unique and contradictory values. The narrative also touches on the harsh treatment of juvenile offenders at the Don Dale correctional facility, which led to a Royal Commission. The book serves as a cautionary tale on governance, illustrating the consequences of ambition without ability.

Why is climate-conscious Vietnam choosing coal over nuclear?

09 Dec 2016  |  South China Morning Post
Vietnam, facing economic constraints and public debt, has opted for coal over nuclear energy despite its climate-conscious stance. The decision is influenced by the high costs and safety concerns associated with nuclear power, as well as the halving of coal prices. This shift contradicts Vietnam's carbon emissions pledges from the 2015 UN Convention on Climate Change, with coal expected to rise from 30% to 50% of the power supply. The move also marks a significant setback for Russian investment in Vietnam's energy sector.

What avocados have to do with housing crises from Australia to Hong Kong

06 Nov 2016  |  South China Morning Post
The article discusses the impact of lifestyle choices, such as spending on avocado toast, on the ability of millennials to afford housing in markets like Australia and Hong Kong. It critiques the notion that cutting back on small luxuries could significantly contribute to a home deposit, highlighting the broader issue of housing affordability. The piece references the role of baby boomers in inflating the market through investment properties and negative gearing, and notes the demographic effects of young people delaying starting families to save for homes. The article suggests that the housing affordability crisis is severe, with first-home buyers being priced out of the market, and the average age of these buyers increasing.

Caught between China and US, what Australia has to fear from a Trump presidency

25 Sep 2016  |  South China Morning Post
Australia faces significant strategic and economic challenges if Donald Trump becomes president, with potential isolationist policies threatening the US-Australia alliance and economic repercussions from tariffs on Chinese goods. Kim Beazley, a former Labour Party leader and ambassador, criticizes Trump's foreign policy, highlighting the profound ignorance and potential economic crisis in Asia. The article underscores Australia's dependence on the US for security and China for economic growth, raising questions about future strategic and economic priorities.

Whales Again a Diplomatic Issue for Australia-Japan Relations?

01 Dec 2015  |  thediplomat.com
Australia and Japan's diplomatic relations are strained over Japan's decision to resume whaling in the Southern Ocean, despite a ruling from the International Court of Justice against it. Australian opposition and activists urge the government to take a stronger stance. Japan plans to limit its whale catch, but conservation groups remain critical. The Australian government has made high-level representations to Japan, urging compliance with international obligations.

One-Term Tony? Australia’s Prime Minister Hoping for Reset

01 Dec 2014  |  thediplomat.com
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is facing significant political challenges, including a larger budget deficit than expected and criticism over budget cuts and policy missteps. Despite securing free trade agreements, his government's domestic policy contradictions have overshadowed these achievements. Even conservative commentators and media figures have criticized Abbott's management. The Palmer United Party's steadfast opposition to education reforms and the Labor Party's victory in the Victorian state election signal widespread dissatisfaction with Abbott's leadership, raising the possibility that he may only serve one term.
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