New & Noteworthy
The Philippine Congress voted on Saturday to extend martial law in the southern part of the country, giving the military five more months to crush a rebellion there by Islamic State-inspired militants.
In this report, IPAC examines how support for ISIS and an “East Asia Wilayah” came about, how the Marawi siege has affected the two main networks of pro-ISIS supporters in Indonesia, and what might happen next.
Schools should be safe places for everyone. But in the Philippines, students who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) too often find that their schooling experience is marred by bullying, discrimination, lack of access to LGBT-related information, and in some cases, physical or sexual assault.
Two years after his death, no memorials, statues or streets in Singapore are named after Lee Kuan Yew, who established this city-state as a modern nation and built it into a prosperous showcase for his view that limited political freedoms best suit Asian values. Now a bitter and public family dispute over the fate of his modest house has shattered Singapore’s image as an orderly authoritarian ideal and hinted at deeper divisions about its political future.
On July 10, Indonesia’s President Jokowi signed a decree that allows for the banning of civil society organizations. Usman Hamid, director of Amnesty International Indonesia, and Liam Gammon, a PhD student at Australian National University, argue that with this decree "Jokowi has placed the legal existence of every NGO and civic organization in Indonesia at the mercy of a unilateral executive decision.”
Cambodia has one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, with a booming manufacturing industry and agricultural exports. But a burgeoning real estate market is causing displacement among farmers and low-income Cambodians, as the government grants large swaths of territory to companies for commercial projects.
For about two weeks now, dozens of Islamist militants have faced off against the Philippine armed forces in the city of Marawi, on the southern island of Mindanao, where most of the Philippines’ Muslim minority lives. The pitched battle, which is unusually fierce even by the standards of this conflict-prone part of the country, indicates that the Islamic State is now also a Southeast Asian problem and that the Philippine government may be the region’s weak link in addressing it.
Every year, the U.S. deports thousands of immigrants who are convicted of crimes after they serve their prison terms -- including green card holders and those granted asylum. The policy dates back to the Clinton and Bush administrations as part of their efforts to step up national security.
On January 29th, Ko Ni, sixty-three years old, was assassinated at the airport in Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city. He had just returned from a democracy conference in Indonesia and was waiting for a taxi curbside, while holding his young grandson, when a gunman in sandals sauntered up and pumped a bullet into Ko Ni’s head at close range. Nay Win, a taxi driver who tried to chase down the assassin, was also shot to death.
On the new Policy Forum Pod, Josh Kurlantzick discusses his new book on the CIA’s secret war in Laos, and how the legacy of the conflict still echoes through US foreign policy today.
The Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict's latest report focuses on the evolution of the role of women in Indonesian extremist organizations. The report follows the December 2016 arrest of two Indonesian women as would-be suicide bombers and examines how their desire for action coincided with the decision of ISIS leaders in Syria that in emergency conditions, women could be tactically deployed in jihad operations.
Luthfi Assyaukanie, a researcher and scholar of Islam and politics, offers his view of how hard-line Islamists have been able to capture the national stage.
Matthew Walton, author of Buddhism, Politics and Political Thought in Myanmar, speaks with New Books in Southeast Asian StudiesRead more
Endy Bayuni, the chief editor of the Jakarta Post, recently spoke at Columbia University, giving his assessment of the Jokowi administration at the halfway mark. Bayuni described how Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has gone from being an outsider elected president in 2014 to being the most powerful president to date in 2017. Initially, Jokowi struggled to gain support even from his own party, the PDIP (Partai Indonesia Perjuangan). Gradually, according to Bayuni, Jokowi employed strategic political moves and transformed his weak position into one of strength and now presides over the parliament, the cabinet, and even the national police.Read more
In recent months, public life in Thailand has been overshadowed by the momentous October 13, 2016 passing of long-reigning King Bhumibol, and the December 1 accession of the King Vajiralongkorn to the throne. Although a popular referendum approved the 2016 draft constitution last August, that constitution has yet to pass into law, and no date has been set for the next general election. As the ruling military junta completes its third year in power, freedom of expression remains severely constrained, and Thailand faces a range of economic and social challenges. During this third Columbia Thailand Update event, eight speakers will present their research and views on the latest developments and prospects, at a crucial juncture in the country’s history.Read more