NBA in Manila: Rockets, Pacers, and Larry Bird Arrive in the Philippines

Also: Hong Kong journalists have been removed from APEC. Tuesday ASEAN links.

By J.T. Quigley for

Some Tuesday ASEAN links:

Two professional basketball teams from the U.S. arrived in the Philippines yesterday for the country’s first NBA game, to be held on Thursday evening. The Houston Rockets will face off against the Indiana Pacers – who were accompanied by franchise president and NBA Hall-of-Famer Larry Bird.

“The two teams are also scheduled to make trips around the city and drop in on neighborhood basketball courts,” reported Manila Standard Today. “They will also conduct several NBA Cares activities for local kids at the Mall of Asia Arena and in selected neighborhood basketball courts.”

The Philippine visit is part of an eight city, six country tour called “The NBA Global Games.” Three upcoming matches will also take place in other Asian cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, and Taipei. The remaining games will be held in Brazil, Spain, and the U.K.

Meanwhile, in Indonesia, four Hong Kong reporters had their press credentials revoked after shouting questions at Philippine president Benigno Aquino III. Aquino was speaking at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum when the journalists began “aggressively questioning him about a hostage siege in Manila that left eight Hong Kong people dead in 2010.”

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Indonesian officials have denied that they are restricting the freedom of the press, claiming that the journalists’ press passes had be taken away due to security concerns.

“We deemed it improper for media to act that way, as they didn’t talk normally but they were very demonstrative, like they were protesting,” said Gatot Dewa Broto, the Indonesian communications ministry official who is in charge of the APEC media center in Bali, in an interview with AFP.

In economic news, over in Malaysia the Oxford Business Group has expressed concerns that 2020 fiscal targets will not be met. Lower than expected productivity, weak growth in the service sector, and increasing sovereign debt are likely culprits.

According to Free Malaysia Today, Malaysia’s productivity growth is at 4.55 percent per year – “behind benchmark countries such as China that regularly posts productivity growth of above 8 percent.”

FMT also said that the service sector would need to grow “at least three times faster” to hit the 70 percent goal set for 2020.

Though real estate is booming, household debt is also increasing – the signal of a potential housing bubble. Inflation remains low compared to other ASEAN members, but government stimulus spending could spell disaster down the road.

Although Malaysia has nearly seven years to fine-tune its economic policy before 2020, Singapore may be facing financial woes presently. Economists have predicted a third quarter contraction for the nation’s GDP.

“Some are expecting a sequential GDP contraction in the third quarter, given the country's weak export and manufacturing performance,” said Channel NewsAsia.

Singapore’s Trade and Industry Ministry will release advance estimates of the third quarter GDP on October 14. The government has already predicted the year’s GDP growth to be between 2.5 and 3.5 percent.

J.T. Quigley is assistant editor of The Diplomat.