SE Asia News Roundup

* Malaysia: Najib Razak has been sworn in as Malaysia’s new Prime Minister. As his first act in power, he freed 13 people held under indefinite detention under the tough Internal Security Act, criticized by opponents as a tool to silence opponents; he also lifted a recent ban on two opposition newspapers. These are welcome first steps in a developing modern country that is infamous for its authoritarian tendencies.

* Thaland: The former PM in exile Thaksin, ousted in a coup several years ago, is asserting his power by backing the anti-government protests, and it is giving him influence in disrupting civil society in Thailand. He has also rejected any talks as a way to resolve the crisis, probably thinking he has nothing to lose by pursuing a return to power.

* Cambodia: The army is defending against Thai troops crossing into Cambodian territory along a disputed border, the government rejects wider Khmer Rouge court trials, and cosmetic surgery is booming in Cambodia, despite the general poverty and concerns about quality and safety.

* Laos: Laos is boosting its international cooperation with countries such as Thailand (in both good and bad ways), Vietnam (both in government and with the military), and Australia.

* Burma/Myanmar: Secretary of State Clinton made headlines in February when she said in Tokyo that the Obama administration is reviewing Burma policy. We now see this coming to fruition — as part of Barack Obama’s softening up to the thugs of the world, the US is giving food aid to Myanmar, and Washington is considering lifting sanctions. As the Myanmar military junta and Beijing have close ties, some think this may be part of containing China.

About Curzon

Lord George Nathaniel Curzon (1859 - 1925) entered the British House of Commons as a Conservative MP in 1886, where he served as undersecretary of India and Foreign Affairs. He was appointed Viceroy of India at the turn of the 20th century where he delineated the North West Frontier Province, ordered a military expedition to Tibet, and unsuccessfully tried to partition the province of Bengal during his six-year tenure. Curzon served as Leader of the House of Lords in Prime Minister Lloyd George's War Cabinet and became Foreign Secretary in January 1919, where his most famous act was the drawing of the Curzon Line between a new Polish state and Russia. His publications include Russia in Central Asia (1889) and Persia and the Persian Question (1892). In real life, "Curzon" is a US citizen from the East Coast who has been a financial analyst, freelance translator, and university professor; he is currently on assignment in Tokyo.
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3 Responses to SE Asia News Roundup

  1. elambend says:

    Only Obama can go to Naypyidaw

  2. Aceface says:

    I’d say lifting sanction is a rational policy toward Burma,especially they are no longer depending on developed countries economically and even enjoying trade surplus.Time to empower middle class with foreign aid.
    http://www.aseanaffairs.com/myanmar_reports_11bn_in_foreign_trade_in_2008

  3. Eddie says:

    Given our sanctions have accomplished next to nothing, I would appreciate an Obama Admin. effort to look at ways to get involved there, since the Indians, Chinese and others have been with nary a concern for the welfare of the people there or the rights record of the junta. There has to be another option between our path (sanctions) and their path (unbridled investment).