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 Events on 2021

Book Launch and Webinar on Facebook Live – Rivers of Iron: Railroads and Chinese Power in Southeast Asia 

This event is billed as a book launch, thanks to Prof David Lampton, Dr Cheng-Chwee Kuik and Dr Selina Ho, the co-authors of Rivers of Iron: Railroads and Chinese Power in Southeast Asia. This timely (pre-pandemic) book examines President Xi Jinping’s BRI geostrategy and its implications and consequences for mainland Southeast Asia (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam), extending to Malaysia and Singapore. 

Facebook Live – The 45th Anniversary of Vietnam-Thailand Relations: Taking Stock and Moving Forward 

As this year marks the 45th anniversary of Thailand-Vietnam relations, it is therefore opportune to review this remarkable friendship in a forward-looking fashion. Thai-Vietnamese ties have gone through ups and down over the past four decades. Today, both countries are designated as a Strengthened Strategic Partnership to enhance the linkages of their economies and ensure that they will emerge stronger from the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition, as Asean members, they work closely together to promote economic prosperity and the integration of the Asean Community as well as its centrality to maintain peace and stability in the region. 

ISIS Thailand co-hosts with Frontier Myanmar on "Myanmar Economic Summit: Navigating the Crises" 

Join Frontier Myanmar’s inaugural “Myanmar Economic Summit 2021: Navigating the Crises” as we bring together the nation’s leading economists, policy experts, advocates, investors and corporate leaders to examine the immediate and multiple crises facing Myanmar, and their implications for the economy. 

Facebook Live – Myanmar’s Coup Six Months On: Domestic/Regional/Global Dynamics/Responses/Prospects 

The impetus for holding this webinar is to take stock of what has transpired since the coup on 1st February six months previously and to anticipate what might come next. Has Myanmar entered into a prolonged period of civil war and stalemate in view of the Myanmar military/Tatmadaw’s grip on power and inability to put down an oppositional resistance and insurrection from the different columns under the civilian-led National Unity Government, including the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM), the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH), Ethnic Armed Organisations (EAOs), and People’s Defence Force (PDF)? 

Facebook Live - Virus/Vaccine Dynamics/Challenges in the Mekong Region: The Regionalisation Imperative? 

As the coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19) moves from the virus stage to vaccine rollout around the world, the five countries in mainland Southeast Asia around the Mekong Region have become so integrated and connected in recent decades through migrant labour flows, infrastructure linkages, trade/investment ties, and border commerce that each’s economic recovery and post-pandemic “new normal” may be limited and constrained unless the whole of the region can re-emerge together. This public forum focuses on the regionalisation perspective of vaccines and explores the extent to which vaccine rollout can and should be viewed in the Mekong regional context. In doing so, we will also examine stages of herd immunity and when the Mekong mainland countries are likely to get there. 

Rescheduled Event - Geoeconomic and Geopolitical Power Plays: The Major Powers and Southeast Asia, Friday, 14th Mayl 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. 

(October 8, 2021) Aukus pact raises geopolitical tensions 

In less than a month, the trilateral security partnership among Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom (Aukus) has stolen the thunder from other geostrategic schemes that have been around for over a decade. 

(September 24, 2021) The UK moves into a tougher new world 

The United Kingdom is on the move. From the "Brexit" referendum result more than five years ago to the recent launch of the Australia-United Kingdom-United States (Aukus) trilateral security partnership, it is unmistakeable that the post-World War II rules-based liberal international order is coming under increasing strain. As the global order unravels, the UK is facing a brave new world that requires calling up its inner strength in ways not seen since its finest battle against tyranny and aggression some 80 years ago. And there are reasons to think the UK will do better than its critics and detractors suggest. 

(September 17, 2021) The trade-off: Freedom and authority 

Freedom is a funny thing. In excess, it leads to complacency and devaluation. In scarcity, it brings about urgency and desperation. Put this way, nowhere is freedom more taxed and toyed with than in the United States of America, a country that has so much going for it and yet is so conflicted within. 

(October 5, 2021) Asean can live with Quad and Aukus 

The current strategic situation is not quite the same as Asean faced in its early days, but there are several similar characteristics. The rivalry between the two then superpowers -- the US and the former Soviet Union -- was visible and rising incrementally and would soon reach its peak. Fuelling the enmity was their ideological differences -- free world versus orthodox communism. Today, the fight is about technological supremacy and governance. 

(September 28, 2021) Thailand's 'Next Normal' vision at UN 

This year the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) was quite exceptional because of its jam-packed agenda dealing with ways to save lives from natural and man-made disasters, not to mention the fraught US-China relationship. 

(September 21, 2021) We must end torture in all its forms 

The whole country has been shocked by a video clip of a rogue police officer torturing a drug suspect to death last month. The Thai public generally know and accept that the Thai police are not good cops but to watch them from their living rooms so blatantly torturing a man was a bit too much. The drama helped lawmakers pass the draft bill on prevention and suppression of torture and enforced disappearances last week without any objection; that same bill that was quickly dismissed in the parliamentary debate some six years ago. 
 Articles - Ms.GWEN ROBINSON

(September 7, 2021) Telenor's Myanmar sell-off mired in uncertainty 

YANGON/BANGKOK -- Norwegian telecom giant Telenor Group remains stuck in Myanmar for now, despite its July announcement of the $105 million sale of its local business to Lebanese investment company M1 Group, as sources confirmed the military regime's reluctance to approve the deal. 

(September 2, 2021) Myanmar parallel government to challenge regime with $700m budget 

BANGKOK/YANGON -- Myanmar's shadow National Unity Government has stepped up its revenue generation and fundraising efforts to channel hundreds of millions of dollars into opposing the military regime that seized power on Feb. 1. It is also tapping international supporters, including wealthy overseas Burmese, and lobbying to cut funding flows to the military regime, known as the State Administration Council, while pressing foreign investors to divest from military-linked businesses. 

(July 26, 2021) World Bank forecasts 18% annual decline for Myanmar's economy 

New report details factors hitting economy and public health 
 Articles - Ambassador Kasit Piromya

(March 24, 2021) Thailand must be a friend to Myanmar people 

Ten years ago, when Myanmar's then-ruling junta initiated a series of reforms to open the country up after decades of military rule, was also the time I was Thailand's foreign minister. I remember well how myself and other Asean foreign envoys met regularly with our Myanmar counterpart ahead of Myanmar's 2010 general election -- a heavily flawed vote, but one that would pave the way for some form of democracy in the country.