ISEAS Library Selects

Daily News on the Southeast Asian Region

11 December 2019  (pm) - 12 December 2019  (am)

This is a daily information alert service containing articles and commentaries selected by six ISEAS Library staff from 95 international and regional news sources every weekday morning. These news sources cover Southeast Asia and special topics relevant to the research interest/ direction/ agenda of ISEAS.  If you think your friends and colleagues would find this alert useful, please invite them to subscribe.

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1 .
Cambodia leaps ahead, but old war still preys on the most vulnerable: This enduring impact on vulnerable communities can be felt in fear and stress, and also in reinforcing cycles of poverty. Landmines prevent communities from utilising land and natural resources to improve their livelihoods. In many cases, vulnerable communities feel as if they have no choice but to try to farm mine contaminated lands in order to survive.
Angela Corcoran, Australian ambassador to Cambodia; Nick Beresford, resident representative, UNDP Cambodia; Julianna Saoud, advocacy and partnerships junior consultant, UNDP Cambodia
Khmer Times, 12 December 2019

2 .
With EBA Status on the Line, Hun Sen Says Cambodia Will Ignore EU's Recommendations: Speaking at a graduation ceremony in Phnom Penh Wednesday, Hun Sen said he is not interested in Thursday's deadline, and cannot concede 100 percent effort on the issue. The prime minister said that should the EU rescind EBA status from Cambodia it would not only affect Cambodia negatively, but would also take away EU leverage in Phnom Penh. "What [the EBA] has done for us will be wasted. [The EU's] leverage will be reduced. It means [they] will also help in killing the opposition," he said.


3 .
EDITORIAL: Democracy or bust: Throughout the year, many developments have pointed to the erosion of democratic practices that had been put in place in the 20 years since the downfall of Soeharto's New Order regime. Security agencies, the National Police in particular, have shown no hesitation to arrest activists and protesters. The policing of the internet and social media has also raised fears that some form of digital authoritarianism has arrived here. Rights groups have also reported more cases of violence against journalists and activists this year.

4 .
KPU akan Revisi PKPU Pencalonan Pilkada [Election Commission to revise rules for nomination of candidates for local elections]: Perubahan peraturan dilakukan berdasarkan putusan Mahkamah Konstitusi (MK) terkait syarat mantan terpidana maju calon kepala daerah pada Rabu (11/12). "Dengan demikian KPU akan melakukan sejumlah perubahan PKPU pencalonan Pilkada 2020 menyesuaikan dengan substansi Putusan MK tersebut," ujar Komisioner KPU Evi Novida Manik, Rabu.

5 .
As Ahok takes reins at Indonesia's state energy giant Pertamina, a corruption case lingers: The ex-Jakarta governor has been tasked with reducing crude oil imports and weeding out graft at the company. But experts say an ongoing corruption case involving former CEO Karen Agustiawan shows how challenging it is to make business decisions at state-owned enterprises

6 .
Why did Indonesia fare badly in PISA 2018? Despite these and numerous other efforts, the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), run by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), showed that Indonesia suffered a decline in all three assessed abilities in 2018, with reading experiencing the greatest drop from 397 to 371.

7 .
NGOs Claim Oks for Indonesian Plantation Were Faked: Permits underpinning a multi-billion-dollar oil palm plantation project in Papua province were falsified, leading to the criminal clear-cutting of a vast area of rainforest 83 sq km in size, according to a report published this week in the conservation and environmental science news NGO Mongabay.

8 .
Indonesia hit with USD5.2 bn in forest-fire losses: World Bank: "The agriculture and environmental sectors make up over half of the estimated loss, because fires damaged valuable estate crops and released significant greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere," the bank said in its Indonesia Economic Quarterly report.

9 .
Earliest known cave art by modern humans found in Indonesia: Cave art depicting human-animal hybrid figures hunting warty pigs and dwarf buffaloes has been dated to nearly 44,000 years old, making it the earliest known cave art by our species. The artwork in Indonesia is nearly twice as old as any previous hunting scene and provides unprecedented insights into the earliest storytelling and the emergence of modern human cognition.


10 .
Lao bourse needs more transparency, openness: THE fledgling Lao Securities Exchange (LSX) has kept its scoreboard ticking with new listings and reforms since it was launched almost 10 years ago. Now, the Laotian government is amending the securities law in order to liberalise trading rules. It is expected to soon revise the law on securities to improve operating conditions for state-owned and private companies so that they can raise funds from the LSX.

Malaysi a

11 .
Higher-income earners, urbanites 'more supportive of Pakatan': More than half of those earning RM3,001-RM5,000 (51%) and above RM5,000 (52%) backed PH, while only 40% (earning less than RM3,000) picked the ruling coalition. Among those earning less than RM3,000, 45% picked Umno-PAS.

Malaysian Insight, 12 December 2019

12 .
More willing to vote independent in GE15, survey finds: Of those aged 31 and below, 19% said they will vote for an independent party, compared with 16% in the 31-40 and 41-50 age brackets. Among respondents aged 51 and above, 17% said they will vote independent. Across ethnic lines, more Indians (25%) and Chinese (24%) said they will support an independent party, compared with Malays' 14%.

Malaysian Insight, 12 December 2019

13 .
Umno jangan berangan [Stop dreaming, Umno]: Tidak kurang yang menganggap bahawa sokongan sudah kembali berpihak kepada Umno. Malah, keyakinan bahawa Muafakat Nasional, setakat ini telah menyediakan jawapan yang dicari-cari oleh Umno. Terdapat empat sebab mengapa keyakinan-keyakinan sedemikian mesti dimatikan segera dan Umno perlu berhenti berangan. Pertama, kemenangan dalam beberapa pilihan raya kecil yang lepas tidak menggambarkan bentuk dan sokongan yang tetap dalam pilihan raya umum akan datang. ...
Mohd Daud Mat Din adalah pengarah Penyelidikan Bait Al Amanah
Malaysian Insight, 12 December 2019

14 .
Opinion: Zahid's trial and the cancer of corruption: When the asset declaration motion was announced, Umno-Baru went on the defensive. Some said that they had been in the corporate world, before they entered politics and had become millionaires. Others said that they had saved since they were children. A few claimed that their wealth was a family inheritance. All said that if they were to declare their assets, they would be targeted by kidnappers and their families safety would be jeopardised. None mentioned bribery and corruption.
Mariam Mokhtar
MySinchew, 12 December 2019

15 .
Peralihan jawatan PM perlu diputuskan Majlis Presiden PH [The transfer of office to PM should be decided by the Presidential Council of PH]:   "Adakah ada peralihan tersebut sebelum atau selepas November 2020, sebaliknya PH perlu pastikan kerajaan kekal stabil dan boleh memberi khidmat terbaik kepada rakyat, itu yang paling penting," kata Mohd Yusri kepada Sinar Harian semalam.

16 .
Petronas dan geopolitik Sabah, Sarawak [Petronas and the geopolitics of Sabah and Sarawak]: Ada dilaporkan bahawa permintaan Sabah dan Sarawak untuk meningkatkan royalti boleh menyebabkan Petronas membayar sehingga RM29.15 bilion setahun.

17 .
言论:马国族群政治炒作愈演愈烈 [Malaysia's racial politics intensifies] :希盟里尤其是以马来党员为多的成员党,一方面对自身的未来政治土壤忧心不已,另一方面也想尽量把这些保守派选民争取过来,至少不敢得罪这些选民。这无形中也让巫、伊两党占据政治上的道德高地,即只要他们提出任何有关捍卫马来特殊地位的课题,希盟方面都穷于应付,至少不太敢高调反驳,深怕一不小心会让保守派选民更为不悦。
联合早报 , 12 December 2019

18 .
Malaysia's exports of palm oil to India dropped 60% in October: India is expected to buy more Malaysian palm oil in the near term after its imports contracted by 60% in October following its import tax hike on refined palm oil from Malaysia. Deputy Primary Industries Minister Shamsul Iskandar Mohd Akin said India raised the import tax on refined palm oil from Malaysia for six months starting Sept 4 to protect and spur its palm oil refining industry and reduce dependence on vegetable oil imports.

19 .
Warisan to contest in Kimanis by-election after all: Senior leaders of Sabah Pakatan Harapan component parties arrived at a consensus today to allow Warisan to contest the Kimanis by-election.

20 .
What boycott? We still buy Malaysian palm oil, says Indian envoy The Indian High Commisioner to Malaysia, Shri Mridul Kumar, today rubbished any incident of a palm oil boycott by India against Malaysia, when asked about the update on the reported disputes between the two nations. Speaking to Malay Mail, Mridul said that the Indian government makes its own stand on matters as such, and no other organisation can speak on its behalf.

21 .
Harapan's feebleness enabling Umno's relevance: Umno's relevance is based solely on its currency of demonising the Chinese community in its continuing quest to maintain racial and religious hegemony. The recent Umno AGM was an orderly congress of racist polemics and religious baiting that finds support in the majority community burdened by the failure of Harapan's neo-Barisan Nasional (BN) policies. If you are someone who believes in the "social contract" or the "shared prosperity" propaganda, then you would probably be comfortable with the possibility of Umno and PAS returning this country to Old Malaysia status.
S Thayaparan
Malaysiakini, 11 December 2019

22 .
Education for nation-building: I OFTEN wonder why we still need to have the lyrics of Negaraku projected each time on the screen during official events. After more than 60 years of Merdeka I reckon that all Malaysians attending such official events are able to sing the national anthem by heart. I recall how it was for me at a tender age in school, where the classes were more heterogeneous than today.
There was no need for the National Anthem Act to govern our behaviours towards it. That it should be in Bahasa Melayu (before Bahasa Malaysia become fashionable) is also unquestionable. A love is a love regardless of the language. There's no need for translation. You would belt it out heartily when the need arises.
Dzulkifli Abdul Razak
Sun Daily, 10 December 2019


23 .
The battle of The Hague: As Myanmar's de-facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi takes the unprecedented step of defending her nation on charges of genocide in front of the International Court of Justice, Rohingya Muslims watch on with fear and trepidation using mobiles phones from refugee camps in Bangladesh

Southeast Asia Globe, 12 December 2019

24 .
Myanmar defends against Gambia in day two of genocide bout: The following is the full transcript of the oratory by The State Counsellor as she begins the defence of Myanmar against genocide accusations by The Gambia at the International Court of Justice on 11.12.2019.

25 .
UK to still fund Myanmar camps despite fears of 'apartheid-like' conditions: The UK has broken ranks with the UN and will keep funding "closed" Rohingya camps inside Myanmar despite fears that doing so may entrench "apartheid-like" conditions in the country, the Guardian has learned... The UN took a stand in June that they would withhold support "beyond life-saving assistance" to camps officially "closed" by the Myanmar government - many of which are in reality still operating as before - and others in the process of being closed, until the Rohingya and other minorities were given greater freedom of movement.

26 .
The Gambia v Myanmar: Day 1: It is good to keep in mind that these hearings are for this limited and specific purpose only. This is not a hearing on the merits of the case. One might have forgotten that, especially at the initial stages of the hearings, when The Gambia team elaborated in significant detail the allegations of atrocities and genocidal acts. However, this was a necessary strategy, in order to lay the groundwork to satisfy the legal requirements for provisional measures, that is, urgency and necessity of the measures, as well as prima facie jurisdiction and underlying plausible rights.

27 .
Aung San Suu Kyi claims no genocidal intent in campaign against Rohingya Muslims: The State Counsellor's argument, to be backed up by other speakers presenting the Myanmar side, is that a judicial process is already underway to assess the validity of human rights abuse that came out of the conflict in Rakhine State. The main thrust of her argument is that the label genocide is not applicable to the conflict that she claimed was a response to deadly attacks by ARSA terrorists.

28 .
Bangladesh: Rohingya Mock Aung San Suu Kyi's Rejection of Genocide Claims: Tareque Shamsur Rahman, a professor at Bangladesh's Jahangirnagar University, described Suu Kyi's presentation at the ICJ as "full of lies and counter allegations." "She has basically shielded the military and the vigilante Buddhists who went to every Rohingya village and killed innocent people of all ages with genocidal intent," he told BenarNews... Bangladesh Foreign Minister Abdul Momen told reporters he felt sorry that Suu Kyi defended the military.

29 .
Pembelaan Suu Kyi untuk Militer Myanmar [Suu Kyi's defence of the Myanmar military]: Myanmar berargumentasi operasi pembersihan militer di Rakhine adalah reaksi sah untuk menindas terorisme dan tentaranya telah bertindak secara layak. Walaupun misi pencari fakta PBB mendapati bahwa kejahatan besar berdasarkan hukum internasional telah dilakukan di Myanmar dan menyerukan pengadilan pemusnahan suku, tak ada pengadilan yang memiliki bukti yang memberatkan dan menetapkan pemusnahan suku di Myanmar.

30 .
Aung San Suu Kyi says it's 'misleading' to label Myanmar's treatment of Rohingya Muslims as genocide: Leading Myanmar's defence herself at the court in The Hague Suu Kyi, Myanmar's top political leader and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate acknowledged "disproportionate force" may have been used at times by the military, but said it did not prove it was trying to wipe out the minority group. The conflict in the western Rakhine state was "complex and not easy to fathom", she said.

31 .
The World Has Not Forgotten Us.' A Rohingya Activist Speaks as Myanmar Faces Genocide Case
Wai Wai Nu is a Rohingya activist, former political prisoner, and founder of the Women Peace Network in Myanmar.
Time, 11 December 2019


32 .
Analysts see clearer signs of a pick-up next year: MAS survey: HOPES of an economic boost from fiscal stimulus have dimmed, even as global trade tensions continue to weigh on the growth outlook, according to the latest quarterly survey of private-sector analysts by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).

33 .
Realising the potential of Asean's digital workforce: AS we head into 2020, a decade of change and transformation is upon us, one that is underpinned by the growing importance of data. As we learn to create more value with data, digital skills will determine the success of individuals, businesses and entire economies in a future that is now defined...


34 .
Building on health gains: Today, Thailand celebrates UN-designated Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Day with a success story to share with other countries, near and far. Thailand took the lead with its universal health coverage (UHC) in past decades. Thailand's UHC was put in place in 2002 -- after being piloted for one year-- by the Thaksin Shinawatra government. It was then known as the 30-baht healthcare scheme and launched amid caution.

35 .
Economy to pick up on state enterprises' investment: [Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana] said that the Thai economy would not enter into a recession and could continue its growth momentum. The ministry has forecast a 3-per cent growth next year.   He added that state enterprises had been told to accelerate budget spending in the last quarter.   If needed be, the government is ready to introduce additional stimulus packages next year, he said.

36 .
For Thailand's Progressives, It's Been a Year of Trials and Tribulations: His removal from public office marks the latest milestone in the country's backward slide into authoritarianism. Worse, it foreshadows a more sinister item in the regime's menu of manipulation: maneuvering behind a façade of checks and balances to keep the opposition at bay.

37 .
Young Thai opposition party pushed a step closer to dissolution: The decision by the Election Commission was a second major blow to Future Forward. The court ruled on Nov. 20 to strip Thanathorn of his status as a member of parliament, claiming the party leader had failed to prove that he had sold off his media shareholdings before running for office. [...] Indeed, the case against Future Forward is being closely watched by the international community, which has accused the government led by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha of suppressing democracy.

38 .
Will Thailand's Future Forward party survive a Prayuth government? On Wednesday , Thailand's election commission will look into the billionaire's financial loans to the Future Forward Party, totalling over 100 million baht. If found in breach of a political funding election law, the party could be dissolved and its executive members banned from politics.


39 .
言论:越南成立独立工会:利益与风险并存 [Vietnam sets up independent labour organisation - benefits and risks] : 虽然越南政府在《劳动法》(修订案)中仍然强调了越南共产党的领导,但如何对独立工会进行有效的政治控制,仍然是越南不得不面对的一个重要问题。此外,西方国家在越南加入 TPP 以及签署 EVFTA 的硬性要求中,加入成立独立工会的要求,看似是为了保护劳工权益,但实际上欧美等国存在着推动越南政治体制民主化的深刻动机。
李根是云南大学国际关系研究院 硕士研究生,主要研究越南与大国关系
联合早报 , 12 December 2019

ASEAN/Southeast Asia

40 .
ICJ hearing opportunity for Myanmar to explain its side of Rohingya issue: Ministry: Breaking from the majority of the OIC's members, Indonesia has said it does not favor adopting a "reward and punishment" approach toward its Southeast Asian neighbor, highlighting the complicated nature of the conflict in Myanmar and choosing to view the plight of the Rohingya as part of a wider humanitarian crisis.

41 .
Kingdom's trade with Vietnam rises 13.8%: The two-way trade between Cambodia and Vietnam reached USD4.4 bn, an increase of 13.8 percent from January to October, according to local media quoting a Vietnam trade body's figures. The rise comes close to their joint target with the two governments committed to increasing trade volume by reaching USD5 bn by 2020.

42 .
COP25: A new carbon market offers hope for Asia's forests: All across Southeast Asia, the Nikkei Asian Review spoke to conservation organizations that have been offered funding from companies ranging from oil majors to automakers, tech companies to theme park operators. All are looking to gain access to carbon credits, whether to meet their own climate change pledges, to absolve themselves in the eyes of their customers, or to get ahead of the emissions regulations that many believe are inevitable.

43 .
ASEAN to take immediate steps to combat drought in SE Asia: Intani Nur Kusuma, senior officer at the Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance Division of the ASEAN Secretariat, said that a declaration on drought would be adopted by leaders at the ASEAN Summit to be held in Vietnam in November next year. ASEAN has worked closely with relevant sectors to help the ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management draft the declaration, she said, adding that drought-related activities need to be integrated into the future action plan of ASEAN.

Asia Pacific

44 .
2019 in Asian Geopolitics: A Year of Change
[21-minute podcast]

45 .
Strength in numbers in the eastern Indian Ocean: Australia-India cooperation is not only an end in itself, but the foundation for a wider network of multilateral MDA-building and -sharing arrangements. Their most important potential third partner is Indonesia.

46 .
Inclusion, sustainability should be cornerstones of policies: APEC: "APEC 2020 will focus on redefining the role of trade and investment from one that is solely for wealth creation to one that is also able to deliver social and economic inclusivity," Hairil Yahri Yaacob, chair of APEC Senior Officials in 2020, stated. The first priority is to restore public confidence in multilateralism, investment, and trade, which has propelled the region's growth for three decades but viewed as expediting inequality.

47 .
OPINION: Asia must rethink its cities to make the most of urbanization: ...while the region's cities are sure to increase in size, they may fail to fulfill their potential as engines of growth and job creation as governments underinvest in urban infrastructure, provide insufficient affordable housing and offer unsynchronized spatial and economic planning. Policymakers must start to address this.
Rana Hasan is a director in the Economic Research and Regional Cooperation Department of the Asian Development Bank.
Nikkei Asian Review, 11 December 2019

East/South China Sea

48 .
Vietnam stresses settlement of maritime disputes by peaceful measures: Pham Hai Anh, Vietnam's representative to the United Nations, on December 10 affirmed Vietnam's consistent stance that all disputes should be settled via peaceful measures, in line with international law, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

49 .
Japan's Options in the South China Sea: With some reverse thinking, smaller nations may be able to deter a major power.
Yoji Koda is former Commander in Chief of the JMSDF Fleet.
Diplomat, 9 December 2019


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