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 Events on 2021

Webinar via Zoom - Geoeconomic and Geopolitical Power Plays: The Major Powers and Southeast Asia, Friday, 30th April 2021 

This webinar focuses on dynamics and prospects in relations between the major powers and smaller states in Southeast Asia in the 2020s and beyond. We will begin with China-Australia ties and tensions to draw lessons for Southeast Asian states, and then look at the United States’ economic measures and pressures vis-à-vis smaller countries in recent years. As both superpowers have deployed tools of economic statecraft to get their way in international politics, the smaller states in the region need to observe and anticipate what comes next in future exercises of soft/hard geopolitical and geoeconomic power from bigger players. Because of the nature of Chinese power and the structure and methods of China's successful authoritarian capitalist economy with centralised political control, Beijing appears to play by both its own and the established rules and norms. The US also has vested interests and agenda, having recently violated the rules-based liberal international order it crucially crafted around seven decades ago. 

Book Launch via Zoom - Man of Contradictions: Joko Widodo and the struggle to remake Indonesia at Tuesday 27th April 2021 

Book Launch and Discussion via Zoom - Tuesday 27th April 2021 09.00 a.m. – 10.00 a.m. (Bangkok/Thailand) / 12.00 p.m. – 13.00 a.m. (Sydney/Australia) 

Facebook Live – The Empire Strikes Back: What’s Left of Thailand’s Youth Protest Movement? 

Tuesday, 30th March 2021 at 09.30 a.m. - 11.30 a.m.

In late February 2020, anti-government flash mobs started to mushroom on university campuses in reaction to the dissolution of Future Forward Party, which had been the third-largest winning party in the March 2019 polls. The initial campus protests were interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic and consequent restrictions and lockdown in March-May 2020 but resumed with popularity and intensity in June. Over the subsequent months, the youth protest movement gathered steam and transformed into an anti-Establishment drive. It first called for a halt to official harassment, constitutional amendments, and new polls. Later, the three demands became the resignation of the prime minister, a new constitution, and monarchical reform. Street protests peaked in October-November 2020, involving tens of thousands of mostly young demonstrators, mirrored by similar activities on campuses. By December 2020, as the second Covid-19 wave struck, the youth protest movement lost momentum, undermined by internal divisions, an inability to broaden, and the arrest of key leaders. By early 2021, the movement appears a shell of itself, diluted and fizzled. This public forum intends to analyse and locate the underpinnings and dynamics of what is left of the movement in a forward-looking fashion to see whether it still has traction or otherwise. 

Facebook Live – Myanmar (One Month) After The Coup: Domestic Politics, Regional Repercussions, Global Implications 

Monday, 1st March 2021 at 09.30-11.30 a.m.

As Myanmar’s military coup reaches its one-month mark, it is timely to take stock of what’s been happening in the predominantly Buddhist country of 55 million. By all accounts, the coup has been a setback for Myanmar’s road towards political liberalization and economic development. Under fluid and precarious circumstances, we will examine post-coup events and dynamics from the domestic politics context within Myanmar and regional repercussions in Southeast Asia as well as global implications in view of China, Russia, and the West. What is the status and road ahead for the Myanmar military (the Tatmadaw) and its commander-in-chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing? Where does Aung San Suu Kyi, at 75, go from here? Where does the future lie for the ethnic minorities around the country and what about the persistent internal conflicts between the Tatmadaw and ethnic armies? These are some of the hard questions this public forum will try to address. Our speakers line-up represents a range of diverse views and experiences which I think will add up to a dynamic and stimulating conversation. 

Facebook Live – Thailand’s Economic Outlook 2021 and Beyond: Vaccine, Growth, Value Chains 

Thursday, 18th February 2021 at 09.30-11.30 a.m.

As the most recent Covid-19 restrictions have been eased, ISIS Thailand is pleased to return to action with a limited in-person public forum on vaccine dynamics, the Thai macro-economy and future growth model in view of pandemic effects and shifting/fluid global value chains. We are delighted to have Dr Daniel Kertesz, the head of the World Health Organisation in Thailand, kick off with his expert view and analysis of the global Covid-19 pandemic and the vaccine situation broadly, with reference to Thailand and Southeast Asia. An independent and highly regarded economist, Dr Supavud Saicheua will delve into Thailand’s macroeconomic consequences from the pandemic. When will Thailand regain its growth footing and how to get there after a severe economic contraction last year? With publications on global value chains in top international scholarly journals, Dr Pavida Pananond will tease out the trends and prospects of trade, foreign direction investment and global production in the post-pandemic global economy with implications for Thailand and Southeast Asia. 

(March, 26 2021) Asean's Myanmar crisis out of control 

Myanmar's spiralling post-coup violence and bloodshed has become Asean's existential crisis. It is customary to pin hopes on an Asean way of fudging and nudging the main protagonists into some workable, face-saving compromise to save the day but this time the situation is dire and dark. Unless the 10-member regional organisation can make a difference in halting Myanmar's descent into uncontrollable violence and potential civil war, Asean is at risk of undermining and perhaps ending its success story. 

(April 23, 2021) Govt ducks Asean Myanmar challenge 

Asean's highly anticipated "special" summit tomorrow in Jakarta on Myanmar's crisis can be declared moot on arrival. What goes into it is likely more telling that what will come out of it. Nearly three months and more than 730 civilian deaths after Myanmar's military coup on Feb 1, Asean is still unable to address its rogue member state's atrocities against its own people. The summit attendance foretells trends and dynamics of what might come next in Myanmar's fast-moving and deadly events on the ground and how they will shape regional responses and global concerns. 

(March 19, 2021) The anatomy of waning youth protests 

By all accounts, Thailand's youth protest movement over the past year has lost steam. Its key leaders have been charged on anti-monarchy grounds and jailed without bail, while the rank-and-file are demoralised, still on the move but in thin numbers. On the other side, the incumbent centres of power have reasserted control and put down what at its peak was the most vociferous and vigorous anti-establishment movement Thailand had seen in decades. 

(April 20, 2021) US creates 3 new entrapments in Asia 

With 90 days of the Biden Administration, three new entrapments have been on display by its foreign and security team dealing with China, Asean and the Mekong subregion. Future policies and the implementation of these three areas will have far reaching implications for the region. Notwithstanding the threats posed by Covid-19, they can further endanger and split the region into strategic jigsaw pieces that have the potential to dislocate the superpowers' endgames. 

(April 13, 2021) UN-Asean cooperation deepens 

Almost immediately upon her arrival here in Bangkok last weekend, the UN special envoy on Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, tweeted that she regretted that Tatmadaw was not ready to receive her. "I am ready for dialogue. Violence never leads to peaceful, sustainable solutions," she said. 

(April 6, 2021) Myanmar crisis: Asean's next moves 

The recent call by Indonesian President Joko Widodo for a meeting with his colleagues on the Myanmar crisis is gaining traction. It is now possible to say that the proposed leaders' meeting could take place at the end of this month, after the Songkran break and the Muslim Ramadan festival.