Regional Round-up for Week of 8.23.19

EXSE FOCUS

UN WARNS MEKONG RIVER IS A DISASTER HOTSPOTKhaosodenglish Vulnerable populations living around the Mekong River suffer from a high risk of exposure to flooding and drought. In order to mitigate risks, nations must strengthen cooperation amongst one another and address water issues that affect the region.// The Mekong River basin was identified as a major disaster risk hotspot by the United Nations today. 

Related: Mekong River Strikes Another Record Low

Myanmar Fishermen, Farmers Fear Losses From Kyaukphyu Sea-Port ProjectRadio Free Asia Local access to water and fishing must be considered and solutions that benefit all parties must be found when the state government opens special economic zones to foreign entities.//  Villagers living near the site of a proposed deep-sea port in the town of Kyaukphyu in western Myanmar’s Rakhine state fear losses as the joint project with China gets under way, with fishermen already restricted from access to the sea, sources say.

Indigenous Communities in Myanmar Take Action Against Top-Down ConservationThe Diplomat When it comes to conservation efforts, local communities should be consulted for their expertise and be a vital force when efforts are executed.// The need to put indigenous peoples at the center of conservation efforts could not be clearer. Evidence is mounting that indigenous stewardship of natural resources is key to combating the climate crisis and protecting the biodiversity that sustains the planet.

REGIONAL RELATIONS

Thai, Indian Firms Selected to Supply Power, Gas to Myanmar New City Near YangonIrrawaddy The main developer of a controversial new city slated for construction on the western bank of the Yangon River has selected two foreign companies to supply and distribute electricity and natural to for the project.

US, Japan Vow to Back ‘Responsible Investment’ in MyanmarIrrawaddy Japan and the US stand with Myanmar to promote responsible, quality and ethical investment “for the benefit of the people of Myanmar” and “for the country’s economic development”, the two countries’ embassies said on Tuesday.

Vietnam Seeks Australia’s Support on the South China SeaThe Diplomat Vietnam is hosting Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison amid escalated tensions between Hanoi and China in the South China Sea.

What’s in the New India-Vietnam Patrol Vessel Project Launch?The Diplomat Both sides broke ground on the first specific project to operationalize their defense partnership in this realm. 

Southeast Asia’s Hidden Female Genital Mutilation ChallengeThe Diplomat Activists have launched a new Asia-wide network to end the lesser-known practice of FGM in the region.

US and ASEAN to hold first joint naval drills near South China SeaNikkei Asian Review The Association of Southeast Asian Nations is holding its first joint military exercise with the U.S. Navy in the Gulf of Thailand early next month.

SUSTAINABILITY AND RESOURCE MANAGEMENT

Australia branded a leading ’emissions exporter’ over coal, LNG shipmentsStraits Times Australia is the world’s third-largest emissions exporter, with more than a billion tonnes of carbon dioxide shipped abroad each year in the form of coal and liquefied natural gas, a think tank study showed on Monday (Aug 19).

Waste wars: Indonesian government faces uphill battle to rid country of imported refuseStraits Times The government of Indonesia faces an uphill battle to rid the country of imported refuse as low-income citizens fail to see the harm of turning trash into cash.

Malaysia’s Mahathir says linking palm oil to deforestation ‘baseless’Reuters Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Friday (Aug 23) said linking the production of palm oil to deforestation was “baseless, unfair and unjustified”, and that the industry has grown responsibly.

CHINA

Myanmar’s Cross-Border Trade with China Halted by Clashes-Irrawaddy Myanmar’s border trade with China through Muse in northern Shan State has come to a complete halt due to the destruction of bridges by rebel forces on the Mandalay-Muse Road, and ongoing clashes.

Philippine online casino ban highlights Duterte’s unwise China policyNikkei Asian Review Gambling has brought flood of money but also corruption, xenophobia and threats.

Trouble in paradise: Thailand fears decline in Chinese visitorsFinancial Times Once a driver of economic growth, the country’s tourist industry is struggling to adapt to the era of Airbnb

Vietnam and Indonesia stand out as Belt and Road bets, reports showAsian Nikkei Review Southeast Asia is becoming ever more of a hotbed for investment related to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, two separate reports issued this month show.

SOUTHEAST ASIA

Cambodia Says EU Rice Tariffs Hurting FarmersReuters Cambodia said on Thursday European Union tariffs on its rice had hurt half a million farmers with a sharp decline of exports to the bloc, as it reviews the Southeast Asian nation’s duty-free trading access over human rights concerns.

Cambodian PM Hun Sen sues opposition leader Sam Rainsy in French courtStraits Times Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has filed a defamation lawsuit in French court against his longtime political enemy Sam Rainsy, a lawyer for the South-east Asian leader said on Tuesday (Aug 20).

Cambodia Bans Online GamblingBangkok Post Cambodia will no longer issue licenses to online gambling businesses, and all existing licenses will not be renewed when they are expired, the country’s Prime Minister Hun Sen said in a directive on August 19.

The Future of Indonesia’s ‘Millennials Party’The Diplomat Amid of the hectic atmosphere of Indonesian politics preceding the elections of April 2019, eyes were almost exclusively focused on the Jokowi-Prabowo presidential race.

Race and religion remain Malaysia’s most divisive issues: The Star columnistThe Star In his commentary, the writer says that recent events, such as the furore against Indian Muslim preacher Dr Zakir Naik, show that the Pakatan Harapan is not much different from Barisan Nasional.

On the Armed Conflict in Northern MyanmarIrrawaddy Welcome to Dateline Irrawaddy! This week, we talk about the recent attacks of the military coalition the Northern Alliance (NA).

German Firm to Advise Central Bank of Myanmar on Licensing Foreign LendersIrrawaddy Amid the ongoing liberalization of Myanmar’s financial sector, the central bank has hired a German consulting firm to provide advisory services on the process of awarding licenses to foreign banks looking to do business here.

Myanmar girls sold as brides to men in ChinaStraits Times Gender imbalance in China fuels human trafficking in border areas.

Thailand asks tech firms to set up centres against ‘fake news’ in South-east AsiaReuters hailand is proposing that tech companies set up centres in each of the 10 South-east Asian countries to curb the flow of “fake news” and fake accounts, the country’s telecommunications regulator said on Monday (Aug 19).

Thai govt unveils $14b economic stimulus packageStraits Times Thailand’s new government yesterday unveiled a 316 billion baht (S$14.2 billion) plan to stimulate the country’s economy, which posted its slowest growth in nearly five years in the second quarter.

Related: Thailand’s economy expands at slowest pace in nearly five yearsNikkei Asian Review US-China trade war forces government to cut annual growth-rate forecast

Vietnam Among Top Ten Fastest-Growing Tourism Destinations WorldwideInvestvine Vietnam has been ranked as one of the world’s ten fastest-growing tourism destinations by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), according to information revealed at a conference themed “The world tourism development trend and the impact on Vietnamese tourism” organised by the General Department of Tourism on August 20 in Hanoi.

This week’s news digest was curated by Anvy Tran.

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