Jun 1, 2014

Southeast Asia @Diplomat_APAC in last three days

@Diplomat_APAC have a several interesting articles about Southeast Asia during the weekend. We summarized a post to our readers:

Connecting the Dots on Buddhist Fundamentalism | The Diplomat


Worrying Future

These unprecedented developments raise many concerns. Not least among them are a further rise in attacks on Muslim minorities, threat to international security and tarnishing of the reputation of Buddhism as a religion of peace.

In Thailand, the Buddhist-Muslim conflict has thus far been confined to the south, but it’s not hard to foresee it expanding to other parts of the country if extremist Buddhist groups from Sri Lanka and Myanmar are allowed to influence local Buddhist groups.

Nor can Cambodia be taken for granted. Prime Minister Hun Sen has on occasions portrayed the Cham Muslim minority as a possible threat to national and international security. This positioning could potentially be used as fodder to create tensions.

Islamist militants have been waging war against Shias, Ahmadis, Jews, Christians, and secular governments across the world, but now their list of “enemies” could well include Buddhists, as suggested by the recent bombings at the Ekayana Buddhist Centre in western Jakarta, Indonesia and in Bodh Gaya in Bihar, India.

The international media now seems to have no reservations against using strong terms such as “Buddhist terror” about a religion that the world has always associated with peace. Buddhist nations and international organizations would ignore the gathering storm at their own risk.

Thailand’s Coup – Will ASEAN Answer? | The Diplomat


Why should we expect any ASEAN comment at all though, since ASEAN prefers to stress the policy of non-interference and a hands-off approach concerning member states’ domestic issues? The answer is that the non-interference norm has lately seen some recalibration. Domestic issues that have regional implications, or the potential to threaten regional stability and security, are no longer taboo.

Abe’s Attempt to Corner China Through Diplomacy | The Diplomat


Japan’s attempts to counterbalance China in Southeast Asia certainly aren’t new. However, China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea is making Japanese involvement in the region more attractive to states like Vietnam and the Philippines. China will continue to draw attention to Japan’s attempts to change its Constitution and empower its military. However, the regional response to Japan’s actions will likely be muted so long as China viewed as the more antagonistic power in Southeast Asia.

Papua New Guinea Begins LNG Exports | The Diplomat


But as is often the case with natural resource projects in developing countries, the most difficult task is ensuring that the gains are spread evenly among the population and bring a genuine improvement in living standards. The project is the largest private investment in PNG and the country’s first foray into the global LNG market, which will undoubtedly test Prime Minister Peter O’Neil’s economic management skills.

Thailand’s Coup Just One Sign of Southeast Asia’s Regression From Democracy | The Diplomat


Yet since the late 2000s, Southeast Asia’s democratization has stalled and, in some of the region’s most economically and strategically important nations, gone into reverse. Over the past ten years, Thailand has undergone a rapid and severe regression from democracy and is now ruled by a junta. Malaysia’s democratic institutions and culture have regressed as well, with the long-ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition cracking down on dissent and trying to destroy what had been an emerging, and increasingly stable, two-party system. In Cambodia and Myanmar, hopes for dramatic democratic change have fizzled. Only the Philippines and Indonesia have stayed on track, but even in these two countries democratic consolidation is threatened by the persistence of graft, public distrust of democratic institutions, and continued meddling in politics by militaries.


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