Outlook 2017: South-east Asia, India

This is the fourth of a five-part series looking at the key events and issues facing the world in 2017. Today, The Straits Times looks at race and religion in South-east Asia and PM Modi's challenges in India.

Rise of Muslim hardliners

Muslims holding a street protest against Jakarta governor Basuki on Nov 4. Race-based politics is a concern in Indonesia and Malaysia.

A controversial move by Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS), an ultra-conservative party in Malaysia, to push through legislative changes that will empower Syariah courts to pass heavier sentences is now under way.

The ruling party Umno, which is led by Prime Minister Najib Razak, is backing the plan - giving a lot more weight to the proposed Bill.

In neighbouring Indonesia, hard- line Muslims in the hundreds of thousands have been rallying against a Chinese Christian politician, demanding his arrest over allegations of insulting Islam.


Testing times for Indian PM with polls and cash crisis

In November, Mr Modi announced the demonetisation of 500- and 1,000-rupee banknotes, a move that some have called his biggest gamble yet and perhaps his riskiest because of the chaos it has caused.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is facing political and economic challenges heading into the new year as he seeks to ease a crippling cash crisis while preparing for state polls, including in his home state of Gujarat. 

Mr Modi came to power in 2014 in a landslide victory, promising bold steps to boost economic growth and employment and root out corruption. 

His boldest steps came this year, midway through his five-year term.