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 Events on 2021

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. 

(July 30, 2021) Correcting the pandemic policy tack 

That Thailand's coronavirus pandemic has been grossly mismanaged is self-evident. Infection rates have soared to new highs this month while vaccine availability and access remain shoddy and abysmal. The overstretched healthcare system is creaking under growing demand, while several scenes so far of Covid-afflicted people being left to die on the streets have shaken the country's collective morale and elicited soul-searching questions about how Thailand has managed to reach this dire juncture. 

(July 23, 2021) Govt must take vaccine responsibility 

After more than six months of virus policy bungles, vaccine shortages and repeated denials, senior public health officials at last have admitted their mistakes and apologised to the public. But these apologies came with attachments and excuses that fall short of owning up squarely to the pandemic calamity that is besetting Thailand. Worse, the ultimate decision-makers in charge, from Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, have been nowhere to be seen. The Prayut government has yet to take full responsibility for Thailand’s pandemic mismanagement that is claiming hundreds of lives with many thousands more infected and untold hardship across the country. 

(July 16, 2021) Thailand's jab fiasco needs an inquiry 

Thailand's vaccine rollout is evidently a complete shambles due to questionable procurement, supply shortage, and misallocation amid a deadly surge of the Covid-19 "Delta" variant. The situation has been going from bad to worse with no end in sight as a poorly conceived strategy unfolds into a national calamity. As public anger mounts with fast-spreading calls for Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha's ouster, the Covid-19 pandemic is becoming Thailand's political game-changer more than anyone could have anticipated. 

(July 27, 2021) Brunei's chairmanship is truly Asean 

By default, Brunei's Asean chairmanship has brought into the open the bloc's strengths and weaknesses for all to see due to political disruption within the region. Throughout its 54 years of existence, Asean has been chastised and belittled as a talk-only-no-decision institution. Given the current environment, its success in maintaining regional sustainable peace and development for the past five decades nevertheless has become little more than a cliché. 

(July 20, 2021) New US push: Vaccine and Mekong 

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken used the special session with Asean last week to shore up Washington's position in Southeast Asia. He touched on China, the disputes over the South China Sea, the situation in Myanmar and the response to Covid-19, amongst others. Strangely enough, the phrase "free and open Mekong" was introduced for the first time in the latest US position regarding the most important strategic area of mainland Southeast Asia. 

(July 13, 2021) Russia is back and it's a little bit better 

Make no mistake, Russia is back in Southeast Asia, the region where its former empire reigned during the Cold War. This time, Russia is more sophisticated and more assertive, as another global power that can shift and change the present strategic environment in the most visible way. Today Russia is determined to break US-led sanctions and further integrate its economy with the region's economic dynamics. 
 Articles - Ms.GWEN ROBINSON

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

New report details factors hitting economy and public health 

(July 8, 2021) 

Fire sale highlights dilemmas for companies seeking to operate ethically 

(June 10, 2021) Myanmar junta's solar power bid tests post-coup investor sentiment 

BANGKOK/YANGON -- Myanmar's junta has launched an ambitious scheme to build solar farms that can generate up to 320 megawatts across the heartland regions, areas dominated by the predominantly Buddhist Bamar population, in a major test of investor confidence in the new regime. 
 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.