Is the China debt-trap diplomacy real in the form of a calculated move by China to seize strategic assets to further its geopolitical ambitions as an emerging superpower? Or is a misuse of language to describe a common phenomenon depicting the need and greed of financially incompetent borrowers?
The prospects of the inevitable end of the Bhumibol era loomed large over 21st century Thailand. Events have now taken their course and King Maha Vajiralongkorn has been crowned. The new King is beginning to make his presence felt, but in important ways, Thailand is still in an interregnum: a time when the old order is dying but a new one struggles to be born.
To discuss the harsh realities confronting Rohingya people in Myanmar and refugee camps in Bangladesh, FORSEA-FRC Legal Roundtable brings together a group of leading experts on Rohingya genocide with a wealth of first-hand professional experience in various UN accountability mechanisms including the ICJ, ICC and International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia.
While the human rights situation in Indonesia at large – and particularly in West Papua – has worsened, there is increased state repression towards civil society actors and journalists. Furthermore, strong identity politics, cultural intolerance, and religious fundamentalism have risen, resulting in discrimination and violence against vulnerable social groups including women.
The clash between living god’s notions and basic human rights does not only lead to many dilemmas in Thailand, but there are also struggles in the Thai community over the nation’s border, like what has taken place in the Thai community in Boston, USA.
In cyberspace, the Thai Palace and its proxies are taking an aggressive approach. But this approach will eventually be counterproductive, since social media users today, mostly in their youths, have access to alternative information about the monarchy and refuse to be “brainwashed” by the state, like their predecessors.
The British-trained international law scholar, politician and humanitarian Tan Sri Dr Syed Hamid Albar with decades of experience in government and international politics will share his thoughts on Malaysia's stalled democratization and the state of democratization in the region.
Against the backdrop of the current framing of protests as “unprecedented” in the way they publicly and frontally criticise the Thai monarchy and the monarch himself, Thongchai reminds us that it was only 2 or 3 generations ago that the public in the kingdom were able to openly talk about the monarchy, critically or not.
Thongchai Winichakul, one of the world's best known scholars on Thailand and Southeast Asia and a prominent student leader from the 1976 Democratic Uprisings at Thammasat University in Bangkok will offer a historical overview of Thai people's struggles for democracy and freedom.
If the NLD does win by an even larger margin than in 2015, and the military-aligned Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) does worse—the NLD would potentially have the opportunity to follow through on promised reforms that would reduce the power of the armed forces, the dominant institution in Myanmar.