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Let’s get Thailand out of the way. Who had ‘by the end of January’ in the When Will the Junta Dump the 2018 Election Date Sweep? This comes in the wake of an amendment to electoral laws. Ordinarily, amendments come into effect immediately after being passed but this time around the government is after a 90-day delay. Additionally, elections cannot be held until 150 days after an amendment has lapsed. Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam says February 2019 at the latest. But, watchers suggest this has a lot more to do with firming up junta support after (fellow) Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan is looking might suspect in all his watches.
Three people were killed in a bomb in the Deep South on Monday, the first attack after relative quiet for the last few months. This one from Reuters on women’s prisons and efforts to reform the system is fascinating. I missed this one earlier this month, but remember those rascal children in Munich who were shooting plastic pellets at people and one of the targets just so happened to be Thailand’s new king? (A few Munich dads will be dining out on this story forever) They are officially in the clear.
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It is prime Asean-chair-season in Singapore, with an avalanche of stories about where the country sits regionally. Here’s efforts to make Singapore the digital centre of Southeast Asia. Well, first of all, why are there no electrical outlets in SG Starbucks? I can’t think of a better person to read weighing in on the place of colonialism in contemporary Singapore than Kirsten Han. Singapore is ageing, time for some tax reform.
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It’s getting a bit argy-bargy in Malaysia. Yes! I love elections! Police questioned Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali, wife of Mahathir Mohamad, on Friday following a speech she gave at the Purple Walk protest in September last year. The protest was a women-led initiative against the current government, but she stands accused of violating the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012. Today has more. #UndiRosak, a campaign to spoil votes in protest against the options available, has dominated Twitter this week. A youth-led movement, this is one to watch I reckon. The hunt is back on for MH370.
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Timor Leste is back to the polls, as many predicted. This is still very freshly announced so no details yet on when the vote will take place but what you need to know is: this dissolution of government follows last year’s elections and ensuing impasse after months of deadlocks.
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While we’re on the smaller guys, hello Brunei, who has some interesting news this week! Well, it’s kind of more Indonesia but w/e. Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah has complained to Indonesian police about defamatory comments made about him on Instagram by an account named, fittingly, anti_hassanal.
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A few major stories out of Vietnam this week. The country’s U23 soccer side took on Uzbekistan in the AFC Cup final over the weekend, before falling short by one goal on the snowy field. And former Politburo member Dinh La Thang is going to the slammer for 13 years after being found guilty of embezzlement charges. He’s by far the biggest name in the ongoing crackdown. Meanwhile, a Buddhist hermit has been jailed for 12 years for ‘spreading propaganda’
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Across the border in Cambodia, PM Hun Sen has continued to lay into ‘fake news’ outlets taking aim at the deceased Cambodia Daily. Two environmental activists have been jailed after filming ‘suspected illegal sand export activity’. What will the next China-Cambodia military exercise look like? Chinese investment in Cambodian province pushes up crime rate, says governor.
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Laos, honestly I am so sorry! You’re of course on my list that I tick off every week to prevent this kind of thing from happening and yet! Not even Stickies are foolproof. What did the Laos-Cambodia security meeting achieve? Officials are cracking down on the illegal red panda trade.
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It’s been a typically busy week in Myanmar, where plans to repatriate Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh have stalled. Efforts to rebuild Rakhine State have begun. But the big story is certainly Bill Richardson, a former governor in the US and now-former member of the international advisory panel, who left the country accusing Aung San Suu Kyi and the government of actively ‘whitewashing’ the conflict. It gets a bit sticky very quickly, so will refer interested readers to Sean Gleeson who has compiled a short Twitter thread on the farce it descended into. But despite it all, Richardson says ASSK is still the country’s best hope.
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What better way to recap the week in the Philippines than asking the perennial question – Duterte, wyd? The president, while in India for the India-Asean meeting, has inexplicably told Indian investors they will receive 42 virgins in the Philippines. Understandably, rights groups back home are fuming. He also told ASSK to relax, human rights activists are just noisy.
I LOVE this one from Rappler, it’s something I’ve always wondered about! The Philippines' beauty pageant obsession: Who benefits? The Guardian has a photo-essay looking at leprosy in the country. Mount Mayon is ready to blow. A Reuters investigation revealed the extent of looting during the Marawi City siege.
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I have a big old project in the works re: Indonesia and elections, which I’ll get into next week and that is why we’re going to go SUPER easy on Indonesia this week! Except, of course, this absolute ripper from VICE about how candidates use dangdut performances to drum up votes. I can’t leave this without at least one link to US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’ visit.