Regional Roundup for Week of 11.13.16

R.I.P. US Rebalance to the Asia Pacific

EXSE FOCUS

 Asia, a Target of Trump’s Criticism, Greets His Election With Caution—New York Times Donald J. Trump has had harsh words for China and other nations, but the question for the region now is how much of that rhetoric he will act on.// We cannot know what to expect in terms of how the US’s role in Southeast Asia will shift. What is likely is that the TPP will not survive and that China will take on a larger role in the region.

Related: ‘An epochal change’: what a Trump presidency means for the Asia Pacific region—The Guardian

Related: President Trump and Southeast Asia—New Mandala

Related: Trump Wins: Implications for US Allies and Partners in Asia—The Diplomat U.S. allies will face new levels of uncertainty (and anxiety) under President Trump.

Laos pushes ahead with plan for third contentious dam on the Mekong—South China Morning Post Laos has notified its Southeast Asian neighbours that it’s moving ahead with a third contentious hydro dam on the Mekong River’s mainstream. The MRC is now under a lot of pressure. The failure of the first two consultation processes lead to a feeling of pessimism surrounding the utility of the entire consultation process. Unfortunately, the reputation of the MRC has also been too closely linked to the success or failure of these consultation processes. No changes have been made to date to the MRC’s Procedures for Notification, Prior Consultation and Agreement since they were first agreed upon. However, more research on the cumulative impacts of hydropower construction on the Mekong mainstream has been completed since the first consultation was done for the Xayaburi dam in 2010.

Related: Press Release | Flawed Prior Consultation Cannot Legitimize New Mekong Dam

International Rivers

Related: Laos Submits Mekong Dam Proposal—Mekong Eye

Myanmar’s plan to arm, train non-Muslims in Rakhine ‘recipe for disaster’, watchdog says—South China Morning Post Myanmar’s plans to arm and train non-Muslim residents in the troubled north of Rakhine State is likely to “aggravate an already dire human rights situation”, the International Commission of Jurists, a human rights watchdog, has said

Land grabs on the rise as Burma pushes for peace—DVB Land conflicts in Burma have escalated in recent years, with military and armed groups driving people from their land, and new laws failing to protect farmers, a rights watchdog said on Thursday.

 

REGIONAL RELATIONS

Rodrigo Duterte Plays U.S. and China Off Each Other, in Echo of Cold War—New York Times The Philippine president’s strategy of balancing between the powers by threatening to change loyalties was used successfully by leaders throughout the era.

Trump Election Kills TPP—The Diplomat President-elect Donald Trump promises to roll back free trade, starting with aborting TPP and killing NAFTA.

The End of American World Order—The Diplomat Insights from Amitav Acharya

ASEAN’s Mekong Potential the Focus in Vietnam Meeting—The Diplomat The recent WEF-Mekong meeting in Hanoi was a useful reminder of the subregion’s significance.

Unshackling ASEAN—Project Syndicate The Association of Southeast Asian Nations is required to make decisions by consensus, which unites disparate member states, while allowing them to protect their national interests. But this provision also limits ASEAN’s effectiveness in addressing emerging regional security threats, not least China’s territorial claims.

Malaysia Is Not Pivoting to China With Najib’s Visit—the Diplomat Suggestions of a dramatic shift are grossly exaggerated and not grounded in reality.

Philippines’ Duterte hails Trump, wants no more quarrels with US—South China Morning Post Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte congratulated Donald Trump on his election win and said on Wednesday he now wished to stop quarrelling with ally the United States

Trump Business Partner Is Philippines’ New Trade Envoy to U.S.—New York Times The chairman of the company that is building the Trump Tower in metropolitan Manila will be the special envoy for trade, investment and economic affairs.

 

SUSTAINABILITY AND NATURAL RESOURCES

KNU Signs Forestry Memorandum with WWF—The Irrawaddy ‘The objective is to protect and restore forests and wildlife in KNU areas’ says KNU forestry department.

Can Myanmar’s hydropower study truly be for the people?—Myanmar Times In recent weeks, violent clashes in Kayin State have further disrupted Myanmar’s fragile peace process.

A call for basin-wide energy plans—Mekong Eye Preparatory work for the next big dam on the Mekong — Pak Beng — in northern Laos has begun.

Pak Beng – The Third Domino in The Series of Mainstream Dams on The Lower Mekong in Laos—Mekong Eye According to MrViraphonh Viravong, Deputy Minister of Energy and Mines of Laos, Pak Beng is one of the five hydropower dam projects on the mainstream to be built in North Laos in the district of Pak Beng, Oudomsay Province.

Ministry of Environment issues island protection decree—Phnom Penh Post A new decree has been issued by the Ministry of Environment in regards to the protection and preservation of nature within the Kingdom.

Ministry plans wildlife corridors to boost Cambodia’s biodiversity—Phnom Penh Post Cambodia’s Ministry of Environment gathered a network of government and civil society representatives on Tuesday to begin planning the creation of a biodiversity conservation corridor that would make it easier for wildlife to thrive.

Vietnam Scraps Plans for Its First Nuclear-Power Plants—Wall Street Journal Vietnam’s government has decided to scrap its long-delayed plan to build the country’s first nuclear-power plants because other energy sources have become cheaper and power demand has slackened due to slowing economic growth.

Parents who say Indonesia’s haze killed their children testify in citizen suit—Mongabay The father of a little girl who died during Indonesia’s 2015 fire and haze crisis testified on Thursday as part of a legal challenge to the police’s closing of cases against 15 companies alleged to be complicit in the burning.

 

CHINA

China’s new cybersecurity law sparks fresh censorship and espionage fears—The Guardian Legislation raises concerns foreign companies may need to hand over intellectual property and help security agencies in return for market access// The new cybersecurity law is significant not only for foreign companies, who will face tough choices on how much information they are willing to provide to the Chinese government in order to do business there. It is also an important change for Chinese citizens, since the new law has provisions for greater censorship of the internet in China.

Related: China Approves Cybersecurity Law—Wall Street Journal

Hong Kong Elected 2 Separatists. China Took Drastic Action.—New York Times By acting against two dissident lawmakers, Beijing is asserting an authority to set policy in the territory, challenging its semiautonomous status.

Related: Clashes, Pepper Spray in Hong Kong Amid Angry Protests Over China’s Intervention—RFA

 

SOUTHEAST ASIA

Bersih and the battle to unseat Najib Razak—Southeast Asia Globe For the past decade, Malaysian protest movement Bersih has been demanding sweeping political change. But Prime Minister Najib Razak is unlikely to feel threatened as long as the country’s opposition remains weak and fragmented

Philippines, Malaysia agree to cooperate on tackling Abu Sayyaf kidnappings—South China Morning Post The Philippines on Thursday agreed to allow Malaysia and Indonesia to carry out “hot pursuits” in its territorial waters, as the three nations look to tackle kidnappings and piracy by Islamist Abu Sayyaf rebels.

Philippine agency files corruption, narcotics charges against key Duterte critic—South China Morning Post A Philippine law enforcement agency filed bribery, graft and drug-related complaints against a senator and former minister on Thursday, in the first step towards prosecuting the biggest critic of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs

Islamists March in Jakarta, Demanding Christian Governor Be Jailed—New York Times Tens of thousands of Indonesians marched in Jakarta on Friday, demanding that the city’s first Christian governor in decades be jailed for blasphemy.

Related: Hard-Line Strain of Islam Gains in Indonesia—Wall Street Journal

Related: Indonesia’s president blames ‘political actors’ for stirring Muslim protest—South China Morning Post

Indonesia’s Challenge to Radical Islam—The Diplomat The country is emerging as a champion of tolerance amid the rise of the Islamic State.

Stuck in the immoderate middle—New Mandala Recent protests and riots have put a sharp focus on sectarianism, political opportunism and Jakartans’ grievances against their Christian-Chinese governor, Ahok. But a lot of this opposition is being spurned on by Indonesia’s Muslim middle class.

Islamic rage and identity politics in Indonesia—New Mandala How Jakarta’s 4 November protest will impact on Indonesia’s democratic consolidation and the Jokowi presidency.

Political actors suspected of behind violence on Friday’s protest in Jakarta—Thai PBS Indonesian national police have launched an investigation into President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s suspicions that political actors were behind the eruption of violence of the otherwise peaceful protests by Muslim hardliners in Jakarta last Friday

Controversial Jakarta land reclamation project gets legal go-ahead—Mongabay The developers behind Islet G, a small artificial island off the coast of Jakarta, may have finally been given the legal green light to continue the project, which has been stalled since April of this year.

Aid to Resume in Northern Arakan—The Irrawaddy Diplomatic mission returns from two-day visit to area under military lockdown, calls for ‘independent and credible investigation.’

HRW: Peace Process Exposes Farmers to New Glut of Land Seizures—The Irrawaddy Burma’s peace process opens up access to ethnic areas and leaves farmers vulnerable to powerful interests ‘gaining land through questionable means.’

The Public Loves Myanmar’s New War on Muslims—Foreign Policy One year after a historic election put a civilian government in charge, the country’s army is using brutal methods to regain its popularity.

Myanmar Government Takes Measures to Prevent Spread of Zika—RFA Myanmar’s health and sports ministry is warning women not to travel abroad where cases of the Zika virus have been reported, as the country battles its own recent outbreak of the disease.

Who buried The Brunei Times?—New Mandala More bad news for press freedom in Southeast Asia.

Cambodia’s Hun Sen Calls on the Military to Suppress ‘Color Revolutions’—RFA On the same day jailed opposition party activists called on Cambodia’s political leaders to set aside their differences for the sake of the nation, Prime Minister Hun Sen issued a call to the nation’s armed forces to put down any so-called “color revolution.”

Thai junta offers farmers $514 million in rice loans—DVB Thailand‘s rice committee announced new loan schemes worth US$514 million on Monday to help rice growers struggling with falling prices as farmers of the grain become the new battleground between the junta and the opposition ahead of 2017 elections.

Politicising rice can be a worthy cause—Bangkok Post The regime’s responses to plummeting rice prices have been both disappointing and disastrous to it and farmers

Related: Band-aid solutions hide real rice problems—Bangkok Post

 

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