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Myanmar’s Deep Fissures Make Explosive Powder Keg

A sense of apprehension and impatience, at times reluctantly expressed but nevertheless real, is fast tempering the heady optimism about Myanmar’s political change nearly two months into the Aung San Suu Kyi-led government. Johanna Son analyses the reasons behind this feeling of discomfort in this piece for the ‘Bangkok Post’.

After 10 Years of Talking, ASEAN and Activists Still Far Apart

It’s been 10 years since civil society groups in ASEAN started having annual interactions with ASEAN leaders, including face-to-face meetings at summits. But beyond making headlines, how effective have these been in influencing ASEAN’s work or its members’ policies? Mia Gomez and Johanna Son attend a meeting ahead of the 2016 ASEAN People’s Forum to find out in this story for the ‘Reporting ASEAN: 2015 and Beyond’ series.

Thailand Being Left Behind by Neighbours

If Thailand were to regress from a democracy to the military-authoritarian rule of before, it would not look out of place in Southeast Asia’s mixed neighbourhood of absolutism, communism, and competitive authoritarianism. But the region is changing, leaving Thailand as the laggard, argues Thitinan Pongsudhirak in this ‘Bangkok Post’ article.

Building the Bloc

ASEAN Secretary-General Le Luong Minh, seen as low-profile compared to his Thai predecessor, has been underrated for achievements such as strengthening the secretariat, getting the European Union to open a mission to ASEAN, and telling China its behaviour in the South China Sea has eroded ASEAN-China links, says this article in SEA Globe.

China’s ‘Water Grab’ and Its Consequences

Southeast Asia’s waters are boiling with politics, tussles involving fishing boats, South China Sea disputes and dam issues in the Mekong – on top of the steaming-hot weather these days. Thitinan Pongsudhirak analyses China’s conduct in the region in this commentary in the ‘Bangkok Post’.

Five Decades On, Is ASEAN Ready to Grow Up?

Strong outside, weaker inside? ASEAN needs to address its internal contradictions before it can achieve true integration and be considered a regional powerhouse. Ahead of the ASEAN Community’s launch, Johanna Son takes a closer look at the ASEAN way in this story for ‘The Irrawaddy’ under the ‘Reporting ASEAN: 2015 and Beyond’ series.

ASEAN Political-Security Community ‘Still A Distant Goal’

ASEAN’s reticence to speak as a united voice against Chinese incursions in the South China Sea threatens to set back regional security and political cohesion efforts. Albert Wai of Today explains how this will affect the creation of the ASEAN Political-Security Community in his story for the ‘Reporting ASEAN’ media fellowship programme.

Standardizing Human Rights in ASEAN

JAKARTA, Aug 25 (Jakarta Post) – Despite the absence of a joint communiqué from the 45th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (AMM), foreign ministers of the regional grouping have agreed to release its “key elements” to public as part of consultations before the adoption of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD) at the 21st ASEAN Summit in November in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

ASEAN: Useless Body, Superpower or Somewhere in Between?

SINGAPORE (IPS Asia-Pacific) – Say ‘ASEAN’ and South-east Asians are likely to know of their main regional organisation. But this good recall does not always mean they understand how ASEAN really works, its kind of regionalism, or how this relates to their governments’ policies or their daily lives.

Myanmar, A Middle-income Country by 2030 – AsDB

BANGKOK, Aug 27 (IPS Asia-Pacific) – Busy shedding off its reputation as a recluse after decades of self-imposed isolation, Myanmar is playing catch-up with it neighbours and may well become a middle-income nation by 2030, the Asian Development Bank (AsDB) says in a report released this month.

Myanmar Turns ASEAN’s Democracy Beacon

BANGKOK, Apr 12 (IPS) – Long Southeast Asia’s black sheep, Myanmar is
enjoying an image change following its landmark Apr. 1 by-elections.
Tongues are now wagging about the region’s new beacon of hope for
democratic change.

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