The two must read this week from Indonesia obviously is from me: here on MD3 and here on terror survivors as advocates. But I also enjoyed: The “orang gila” scare from New Mandala, SCMP’s look at the ‘10 mini Balis’ and of course this one from Kate Lamb at the Guardo about scrap metal workers finding sunken body remains while on the job. This analysis on the ‘medicalisation’ of marriage is absolutely required reading. Christine Lagarde says the economy is looking good, keep up the reforms.
Re: Malaysia, I WILL continue telling you to sign up here for the twice-weekly election special until after poll, so you may as well just do it. This week we looked at Malaysia’s richest man Robert Kouk and the scandal surrounding alleged donations to DAP, as well as the fall-out.
But the election is playing second fiddle this week to 1MDB – which has been largely absent in the lead up to polls – after Jho Low had his superyacht confiscated by Indonesian authorities off the coast of Bali this week. Supporters (and a minister) aren’t happy about the turn of events, but frankly, he’s lucky this was done in conjunction with the US Department of Justice because something tells me Ibu Susi would love to blast a US$250 million yacht. And what’s a massive corruption scandal without a Trump administration link?
Cambodia and Australia continue to duke it out over Hun Sen’s comments about assaulting protesters when he visits for the Asean-Australia summit this month. It was all a big game he tricked us into, he says: “In fact, speaking truly and clarifying for you, you are being tricked by Hun Sen.” A crackdown on migrant workers without visas is imminent, with fines, deportations and jail time on the cards.
Hun Manet, eldest son of Hun Sen, has been appointed joint chief of staffs for the military in yet another shudder-inducing move to consolidate power. These types of moves prompted the US to cut some of its aid budget. While assistance to programs helping every day Cambodians will continue include mine clearing, US$8.3 million will be stripped from supporting the tax directorate. ‘Dishonest’ is how the Cambodian government characterised the move, saying it wouldn’t kowtow to ‘foreign interference and colonisation’.
Firstly, Thailand, huge congrats to Khaosod English on breaking this absurd story of a Russian woman who has offered secrets on interference in the 2016 US election if they’ll help her out of jail. Someone find Armando Iannucci immediately. Anyway, we’re light on Thailand this week because I was actual scared of opening too many links while there.
Undefeated Thai 'dwarf giant' one win from Mayweather record – the photos in this are just brilliant! A safety zone has been proposed for the Deep South. Over 30 parties showed up to register for the election, but since we have no idea when that will be it’s all a bit ho-hum for now.
Singapore! I loved this one from Kirsten Han at New Naratif exploring what media literacy means to Singapore. BBC’s report on ‘nudging’ is a fascinating read. SG Twitter popped off at this piece about elixir Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa and now I want some.
A big week for anniversaries in the Philippines, with Leila de Lima marking one year since she was imprisoned. It was also the 32nd anniversary of the People Power demonstrations which brought down the Marcos dictatorship. I’m doing literally three stories on the Philippines in the next few days and it has fried my little brains so let’s just leave it there until next week.
Brunei’s Kampung Ayer has long been on the top ten Asean must-see list for me, but Channel News Asia has me keen to get there asap.
Fresh border disputes for Laos and Cambodia? Not quite, but watch this space.
We have a maritime border agreement! After long-running negotiations, Australia and Timor Leste have sorted it! But, we’ve still got a decade or so until we see an actual development in the fields. There is a lot of room here for analysis about what this actually means for Timor and I’ll be bringing all of that next week. Meanwhile, here’s a fascinating read on national hero Nicolau dos Reis Lobato (and features a big name back here in Jakarta).
Hello, Vietnam! This one did the rounds quickly on Twitter this week and for good reason. How thrilling (if not also very dark) to learn the one country on earth which is close to capable of sustaining its population is one of Asean’s own! And then you hear about activist Pham Doan Trang who has been forced into hiding after writing in favour of democracy and you have to go ‘oh yeah’.
‘Communist Vietnam is set to host the largest US military presence on its soil since the 1970s when the USS Carl Vinson arrives in the coming days, the first postwar visit by a US aircraft carrier.’ After a couple of years of defiant fishermen fighting off PLA in the South China Sea, this is interesting.
Last week we touched on the thousands of refugees stuck on the border between Myanmar and Bangladesh, and BBC has more as troops are sent to the site. Relax, Myanmar says. It’s an ‘anti-terror operation’. There’s a big NYT piece doing the rounds at the moment about Myanmar, but I think how they went about it was very reckless and so won’t be sharing it here.
I’m really nervous that so often the Myanmar section here has been wholly Rakhine crisis related. Obviously, it is THE story of Asean lately, but there’s so much more to Myanmar. If you’re from/based in Myanmar or come across interesting pieces please feel free to forward them to me!
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