Regional Round-up for Week of 7.19.19


Dept warns of worst drought in decade – Bangkok Post Thailand is going to experience the worst drought in a decade, as average precipitation across large swaths of the country has fallen far short of the monthly average. // People in rural area with relatively poor situation are more vulnerable on negative impacts of drought. As climate change causes extreme weather frequently, policymakers should protect those people from a chain of the negative impacts with priority.

Related:Govt speeding up drought relief work – Bangkok Post

Related: Tap water drying up, crops withering in arid fields – Bangkok Post

Making the Belt and Road work for Southeast Asia – East Asia Forum Southeast Asia is an important strategic partner in China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The region serves as a key link in the BRI’s Maritime Silk Road, which aims to connect China’s coast to South Asia, the Middle East and Europe through the South China Sea and Indian Ocean. But criticisms of the BRI highlight some of the risks of participation. // The BRI’s operation & implementation of projects in Southeast Asia should not become a black box. Transparency through multilateralization of the BRI is surely necessary. Or, the AIIB – more internationalized platform – is a possible key to utilize China’s funds to regional development.


Vietnam, China embroiled in South China Sea stand-off – The Straits Times Vietnamese and Chinese ships have been embroiled in a weeks-long stand-off near an offshore oil block in disputed waters of the South China Sea which fall within Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone, two Washington-based think-tanks said on Wednesday (July 17).

Fixing ASEAN’s partnership with civil society – East Asia Forum In June 2019, Thailand wrapped up the 34th ASEAN Summit. In its role as ASEAN Chair this year, Thailand pushed for an ASEAN that increases partnership with and between the peoples of the region — one that helps build a stronger regional community. But in order for regional initiatives to have a meaningful impact for the peoples, both ASEAN leaders and civil society need to work out exactly what this ‘partnership’ is.


Video shows dolphins caught in fishermen’s net – Bangkok Post An online video showing many dolphins caught in a net set by fishermen for tuna has plucked the heartstrings of netizens, a marine scientist and the incoming natural resources and environment minister.

Related: Mounting dugong deaths cause alarm – Bangkok Post

Waste not: Stepping beyond the trashhold as developing nations refuse to accept trash from the developed world – The Straits Times One by one, developing nations are refusing to accept trash from the developed world. So how is this waste issue being handled?

Can the global cement industry cut its carbon emissions? – China Dialogue It’s everywhere around us but cement is not a material we tend to give much thought to. The powdery substance is a key ingredient in concrete, which has been called “the most destructive material on Earth”.

With coordinated effort, countries gain against illegal fishing – China Dialogue Ocean The fight against a global, multibillion-dollar-a-year illicit activity can be painstakingly slow. And for more than a decade that’s been the story with the effort to end illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing around the world.

Is planting trees enough to fight climate change? – The Third Pole As the effects of climate change have made themselves felt across the world, and particularly in the countries surrounding the Hindu Kush Himalayas, tree plantation drives have been seen as an effective ‘solution’.

Cambodia to return 1,600 tonnes of waste to US, Canada – Channel News Asia Cambodia will send back 1,600 tonnes of plastic waste found in shipping containers to the US and Canada, an official said Wednesday (Jul 17), as Southeast Asian countries revolt against an onslaught of rubbish shipments.

Related: Plastic Cups Runneth Over at Cambodia’s Rubbish Café – The Irrawaddy


AIIB faces climate protests at annual meeting in Luxembourg – China Dialogue The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is holding its first ever annual meeting outside of Asia on 12-13 July in Europe – a continent that has just suffered June temperatures more than 6-10C above average in many countries, including in France, which experienced its hottest day on record: 45.9C.

China’s Q2 growth hits 27-year low – The Straits Times China’s economic growth slumped to 6.2 per cent in the second quarter of this year, a 27-year low.

China says Trump ‘misleading’ people linking trade deal to slowing economy – Reuters  China on Tuesday rebuffed a suggestion from US President Donald Trump that Beijing needs a trade deal with the United States because its economy is slowing, saying this was “totally misleading” and that both countries wanted an agreement.

China’s LNG Imports Spark Security Debate – Radio Free Asia Analysts are divided on the degree of China’s risks from its growing reliance on imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) as threats to shipping from the Persian Gulf grow.


Huge Chinese influx divides Sihanoukville – Bangkok Post An ongoing massive influx of Chinese into the coastal city of Sihanoukville is generating mixed reactions among local residents.

Nearly 500 Families to be Displaced This Month for Laos’ Fifth Mekong River Dam – Radio Free Asia A new Mekong river dam in Laos’ Luang Prabang province will displace up to 465 families this month, the latest in the continuing trend of hydropower projects forcing villagers to relocate all over the country.

Monsoon flooding forces thousands from their homes in Myanmar – The Straits Times Days of heavy monsoon rain and dangerously high river levels in Myanmar have forced more than 18,000 people from their homes and flooded at least one camp for people displaced by recent fighting, authorities and a politician said on Monday (July 15).

Poll: Ending corruption should be cabinet priority – Bangkok Post A majority of people want the new cabinet under Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to do away with corruption in the spending of public money for state projects, according an opinion survey by Suan Dusit Rajabhat University, or Suan Dusit Poll.

Vietnam’s New High-Speed Reunification Express Proposed For $26 Billion – Investvine Vietnam’s ministry of planning and investment has presented a new concept for the country’s planned north-south high-speed railway along the route of the Thong Nhat (Reunification) Express at an investment of $26 billion, as opposed to an earlier proposal by the ministry of transport of $58.7 billion.

Malaysia seized $330m from Chinese state firm over pipeline project: PM Mahathir – The Straits Times  Malaysia seized 1 billion ringgit (S$329.98 million) from a bank account of state-owned China Petroleum Pipeline Engineering Ltd (CPP), Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Monday (July 15). The seizure comes nearly a year after Malaysia suspended two pipeline projects, valued at US$2.3 billion (S$3.12 billion), on which CPP was the lead contractor.

Malaysia to file WTO complaint on EU’s palm oil curb by November – The Straits Times Malaysia will file a complaint at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) by November to challenge a European Union move to phase out palm oil from being used in transport fuels in the bloc.

New reporting requirement for digital asset trading – Bangkok Post Parties involved with digital asset transactions worth above 5 million baht will have to report their trades to the Anti-Money Laundering Office (Amlo).

Myanmar Opens Yangon Stock Exchange To Foreigners – Investvine Myanmar will allow direct foreign ownership of shares at the Yangon Stock Exchange, the Securities and Exchange Commission of Myanmar said in a note on July 12.

Constitution Amendment Committee Returns Nearly 4,000 Recommendations – The Irrawaddy The Union Parliament’s Charter Amendment Committee—tasked with making the military-drafted Constitution democratic—has put forward more than 3,700 recommendations for various changes to provisions of the Constitution, suggesting amendments, additions and/or repeals.

Related: Myanmar Lawmakers Propose Constitutional Reforms to Dilute Military Control – Radio Free Asia

Vietnam Aims To Become ASEAN’s Leading Digital Economy – Investvine Vietnam aims to become the leading digital economy in the ASEAN by 2030 as a result of the national digital transformation strategy by Vietnam’s Authority of Information Technology Application (AITA) under the country’s Ministry of Information and Communications.

Nearly 9,500 People Affected by Rakhine State Floods – The Irrawaddy The Kaladan and Lemyo rivers began rising on July 11 due to heavy rains, flooding Kyauktaw, Mrauk-U and Minbya townships in Mrauk-U District in northern Rakhine. Roads in Kyauktaw were impassable, disrupting transportation.

Displaced Villagers in Laos Still Waiting for Railway Compensation – Radio Free Asia Many Lao villagers who were forced to relocate for construction on the Laos-China railway are still waiting for compensation from the government, while others who have received payments say the payments are much lower than they had expected.

Cambodia’s Construction Sector In Rapid Expansion – Investvine Cambodia’s construction sector attracted total investments of $3.39 billion in the first half of 2019, up 57.5 per cent over the same period last year.

This week’s news digest was curated by Hiroshi Yasui.

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