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 Events on 2022

An International Conference - ASEAN-Japan Relations At 50: Issues and Challenges for the Next Five Decade 

This half-day conference will be divided into two sessions following opening remarks, namely “The New Geopolitics of Asia” (910am-940am) and “Share Prosperity, Economic Security and Geoeconomics” (10am-1230pm)

We intend to tease out key dynamics and trends in the geopolitics and geoeconomics of Asia. As I believe the remarks and insights at this conference will be beneficial to your work and professional interests 

(In-Person/Onsite Event) Myanmar’s Coup and Civil War After 19 Months: Political Dynamics, Battlefield Update, Likely Outcomes 

Our upcoming event focuses on the latest situation in Myanmar and its wider ramifications. As widely known, Myanmar’s coup from 1 February 2021 has turned into a protracted civil war, pitting a broad-based civilian-led opposition under the National Unity Government against the military junta under the State Administration Council. The international community has been concerned but unable to do much more than to impose sanctions on junta members and to demand the cessation of violence, return to dialogue, and restoration of democratic rule. ASEAN, the hitherto 10-member regional organization which includes Myanmar, has been ineffectual in promoting its Five-Point Consensus to stop the violence, provide humanitarian relief, and promote dialogue. 

Facebook Live - Thailand’s “Independent” Institutions in the 2017 Constitution: Time for Reform? 

ISIS Thailand is pleased to invite you to join our next public forum in person on 28th June (online option is also available). This time, we will probe and analyse the roles of Thailand’s so-called “independent” institutions, including the Constitutional Court, Election Commission, National Anti-Corruption Commission, National Human Rights Commission, among others. These institutions are rooted in the political reform movement in the mid-1990s and culminated with the popular watershed 1997 charter. While these institutions were designed to promote a checks-and-balance environment with greater transparency and accountability of Thailand’s political system, they have become politicised over the past two decades, initially under the era of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and later under the rule of his adversaries who gained power after military coups in 2006 and 2014. The results of this politicisation included the systematic weakening of democratic institutions, such as political parties, several of which have been dissolved over this period. Repeated and one-way bans of elected representatives also have enfeebled the growth and strength of democratic institutionalisation. What to do, when and how to adjust and reform these institutions so that they serve the checks-and-balance and fair accountability-promoting roles and functions they were originally set out to perform are the issues and objectives of this public forum. I hope you will be able to join us. 

Facebook Live - Thai Politics from Local to National: Implications from Bangkok’s Governor Election 

Bangkok is not Thailand but it is an integral and crucial part of the country, representing more than 25% of the overall Thai economy. The capital is the most populous of Thailand’s 77 provinces, and is the nexus and vortex of what moves and shakes the entire country. The gubernatorial race has been exciting and dynamic, with much anticipation because Thai citizens who reside in Bangkok have not had a vote for their governor for more than nine years since March 2013, owing to the May 2014 military coup and subsequent junta termination of the elected governor. In the past, the capital has sometimes resembled a bellwether of national electoral trends. The Bangkok vote will be a gauge on how the capital’s residents perceive the candidates that represent the various parties in government and opposition. If a pro-government candidate wins big, it will have much to say about voter preferences. On the other hand, if an opposition candidate triumphs, it could be an omen for results to come when national elections take place by this time next year at the latest. We have a stellar line-up of researchers, academics, and seasoned analysts to tease out the key contours and dynamics from the Bangkok governor results. 

Facebook Live – The ASEAN-Related/G20/APEC Summits in November 2022: Issues, Challenges, Prospects 

It focuses on the crucial summit season in November this year (back to back) from the ASEAN-related summits in Phnom Penh to the G20 summit in Bali and APEC in Thailand. This one-week span will allow world leaders to shuttle around ASEAN to meet counterparts. Among the myriad issues to be discussed, the ongoing Russian war in Ukraine will be front and centre. Indonesia, for example, has invited both the Ukrainian and Russian leaders to the G20 meeting. As these summits held in ASEAN in November are being overshadowed by the Russia-Ukraine war, we will aim to tease out some of the key issues, challengers and prospects. To do so, we have invited well-placed and well-known speakers from Cambodia and Indonesia, as well as from here in Thailand 

Facebook Live - Russia’s War in Ukraine Two Weeks On: Consequences and Directions 

This public forum brings together comments and views from the ambassadors and heads of mission of the European Union, Poland, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand, as well as a former Thai foreign minister. Issues and topics to be addressed include the Russian invasion in view of the United Nations Charter and International Law, Ukraine's predicament involving domestic determination against Russia’s military operations, and Russia's dilemma in case the war drags on. We will also examine the role of the United States, the European Union, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation – whether this broad Western alliance can sustain sanctions and how they might handle the consequences from refugee and humanitarian crises against the backdrop of Russia’s advance and Ukraine’s vulnerabilities. ASEAN member states’ positions and postures, including Thailand’s, will also be discussed. 

Facebook Live – Biden and the U.S. Commitment Challenge in Southeast Asia 

This event is organized as a launch of Dr. Prashanth Parameswaran’s book, Elusive Balances: Shaping U.S.-Southeast Asia Strategy. As a seasoned analyst, researcher and writer on myriad Southeast Asia-related topics, Prashanth tries to explain in this timely book the patterns and dynamics in Washington’s commitments in its relations with Southeast Asia. In doing so, Prashanth discusses the challenge the United States faces in forging sustained, balanced commitment to match Southeast Asia’s growing importance over the past half-century. The book develops and applies an original “balance of commitment” model to analyze U.S. commitment to Southeast Asia over time and includes recommendations for moving forward under the Biden administration and beyond, amid intensifying U.S.-China competition and regional concerns about rising polarization and protectionism in Washington. The book illustrates that the U.S. commitment challenge in Southeast Asia is rooted not just in differences between administrations or divides between Washington and the region, but in the structural challenge of simultaneously calibrating adjustments between power, threats and resources – what the book refers to as the pursuit of “elusive balances.” After presentation of the book’s main themes and argument, we will be joined by Dr Van Jackson, also a well-known author and strategic thinker on American foreign policy in Asia who is based at the Centre for Strategic Studies in Wellington, New Zealand. He will tease out some of the key takeaways from the book in a robust fashion. 

Facebook Live – The Russia-Ukraine War and Prospects: Impact for World Order and Implications for Asia 


Facebook Live – Thai Politics Update: Polls, Players, Prospects 

While the coalition government of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha has shown signs of divisions and instability, it has managed to soon reach its fourth and last year in office, based on the last general election in March 2019. As the current four-year term of the House of Representatives will be completed just over a year from now, there is much debate and discussion about when the next nationwide poll will take place, which political parties will be contesting under what terms, and who the major players will be, including candidates for the premiership. In addition, the Bangkok gubernatorial poll is also at stake, expected to take place this year, possibly as early as May. When it comes to electoral politics, Bangkok is no Thailand but the capital’s gubernatorial outcome may be indicative of poll results elsewhere. Amidst polls and personalities, we will also assess the trend and direction of the youth-led protest movement that made much political splash in 2020-21. Has the student-led political movement lost ground, or does it still have traction and wherewithal to make its voices heard once again in future? How will these youths vote in the upcoming elections? These are some of the questions and issues the expert and experienced line-up of speakers will address in this public forum. 

Facebook Live – Myanmar’s Coup One Year On: Realities, Trends, Prospects 

This webinar focusing on the one-year anniversary of Myanmar’s military coup that took place on 1st February 2021. In view of the preceding decade of political liberalization, democratic reforms and civilian rule, it is hard to believe that Myanmar’s putsch and reversion to military dictatorship has come up to a full year. Unlike previous coups in the country in 1962 and 1988, the Tatmadaw (Myanmar’s armed forces) under the coup-appointed State Administration Council (SAC) this time has succeeded in taking power but not imposing control. By all accounts, Myanmar is locked in a civil war and at risk of a humanitarian catastrophe amid a nationwide uprising against the coup and military rule. International responses have been ineffective to broker a dialogue and return to democratic process. ASEAN’s attempts to mediate, highlighted by its “Five-Point Consensus” from April last year, also have gone nowhere. Under Cambodia’s current chairmanship, ASEAN is seen to be even weaker with less leverage in dealing with the SAC. Realities and trends on the ground are grim, and prospects are bleak. The situation is likely to worsen before any breakthrough can come about. 

(November 25, 2022) Geopolitical takeaways from SEA meets 

Southeast Asia's summit season has come and gone with takeaways that concurrently eased geopolitical tensions and underlined risks that could lead to future global conflict. The three major summits -- the East Asia Summit (EAS) in Phnom Penh, the G20 in Bali, and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) in Bangkok -- also demonstrated that the Covid-19 pandemic over 2020-21 has been practically overcome as in-person meetings are back in full force. Overall, the three hosts came away with mixed highlights. 

(November 11, 2022) Apec's geopolitics and geoeconomics 

The upcoming leaders' meeting in Bangkok among the 21 member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) should be seen in conjunction with its preceding Asean-related summits in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh and the G20 summit in Bali, the Indonesian island resort. This one-two-three combination in three Southeast Asian countries over a ten-day period is supposed to showcase Asean's central role in the promotion of peace, security and prosperity in the region and the wider world. But as Asean's summit season gets underway in Cambodia, excitement and promise have given way to anxieties and apprehensions. While these summit talks are an extraordinary opportunity to tone down geopolitical temperatures and geoeconomic competition, they are likely to yield mixed results. 

(October 28, 2022) Thai sovereignty is not for abuse 

Thailand's dramatic and damaging shift in position towards Russia's aggression in Ukraine raises myriad questions with few answers -- none holding any water. 

(November 22, 2022) Three summits jointly boost centrality 

Cambodia, Indonesia, and Thailand with distinctive styles of leadership and diplomatic finesse have succeeded in performing the most difficult somersault in international relations by uniting concerned parties from all sides over the Ukraine war to agree to disagree and then agree to agree. Bravo to the trio of Asean members for the outstanding success. A task that seemed impossible just a few weeks ago suddenly became a possibility. Indeed, if global leaders had some humility like the leaders in this part of the world, the outcome of these regional summits could serve as a stepping stone for peace and stability in the wider world. Southeast Asia could even shape the new international order in the making, as the hosts of three summits -- Asean, G20, and Apec -- have demonstrated. 

(November 15, 2022) Xi's visit to Bangkok: East wind blowing 

Thai government this week will welcome Chinese President Xi Jinping with three understandings at the forefront of its mind, namely that now is the Asian Century; that China is the undisputed leader; and that Thailand-China ties are consequential to peace and stability in the region. Thailand will do its utmost to further strengthen bilateral ties with China in anticipation of the 50th anniversary in 2025 and beyond. 

(November 8, 2022) Hun Sen juggles global, regional politics 

Who could have imagined that the world's longest reigning prime minister, Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen -- or Prime Minister Hun Sen as he is more commonly known -- would stand in the front row defending Ukraine against Russia as the biggest war in Europe since World War II rages on? 
 Articles - Ms.GWEN ROBINSON

(September 3, 2022) Myanmar's sentencing of former U.K. envoy shows 'nobody is safe' 

BANGKOK -- The sentencing in Myanmar of former U.K. ambassador Vicky Bowman and her husband, Burmese artist Htein Lin, to one-year prison terms Friday by a military-controlled court has sunk bilateral relations to a new low and eradicated any remaining confidence in the regime among the business community. 

(August 3, 2022) Myanmar shifts ASEAN to 'a la carte' diet 

It should be a moment of glory for Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen in his starring role as chair of this week's Association of Southeast Asian Nations foreign ministers' meeting and the associated ASEAN Regional Forum, a showcase of regional diplomacy involving 27 countries. 

(June 22, 2022) Hey soldier, mind your missus 

"If a soldier is going to defect, the first thing he does is consult his wife," says Su Thit, a young and determined-looking Burmese woman. "If she agrees, then it will happen." She should know, having urged her husband, an army captain, to leave his unit in northern Myanmar after the Feb. 1, 2021, military takeover. The two traveled across the country to safety last August. 
 Articles - Ambassador Kasit Piromya

(August 1, 2022) ASEAN Can No Longer Remain Neutral on Myanmar 

Eighteen months on from the military coup, it is time for the bloc to decide which side of history it wants to be on. 

(June 1, 2022) Cambodia Needs Democracy, Not Another Electoral Charade 

When Cambodians vote in commune elections this weekend, the world should not be fooled by the appearance of political pluralism. 

(May 11, 2022) US must assist with climate finance 

As US President Joe Biden is due to meet with leaders from Southeast Asian countries this week at the US-Asean Summit in Washington from May 12-13, one issue on which Washington bears an enormous responsibility -- and from which Asean countries suffer enormous consequences -- will be high on the agenda: climate change.