Southeast Asia Globe’s daily rundown of the region’s top stories
3 May 2017
Suu Kyi and the EU butt heads over Rohingya probe
The European Union voiced its support for the UN’s mission to investigate alleged atrocities carried out by Myanmar’s military and security forces against the oppressed Rohingya minority. The statement drew the ire of Myanmar’s visiting leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, who has described the mission as a breach of her country’s sovereignty.
Suu Kyi has been the subject of mounting international criticism for her failure to find a resolution to the protracted problems affecting Rakhine State. In an interview with the BBC in April, Suu Kyi said “ethnic cleansing is too strong an expression to use for what is happening” in the troubled State.
This week, Suu Kyi, who is officially the state counsellor and foreign minister, also declined an invitation to meet US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson along with other Asean foreign ministers, citing a busy schedule. [Reuters]
Related reading from Southeast Asia Globe: Rampant nationalism in Myanmar leaves Rohingya without allies
Thai Lawyer feared latest case of forced disappearance
Prawet Prapanukul, a prominent human rights lawyer and critic of the monarchy, has been missing since security forces raided his home on 29 April, leading to concerns that he has become a victim of an enforced disappearance.
Prapanukul provided legal assistance to members of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), commonly known as the “red shirts”, and also defended Daranee Charnchoengsilpakul, who was convicted for insulting the monarchy under the country’s draconian lèse majesté laws. [Human Rights Watch]
Related reading from Southeast Asia Globe: Dancing with dictators in Myanmar: Robert Sann Aung
Silk Road stirring trouble along the Mekong in Thailand
China’s plans to shape the Mekong River in line with its economic aims have been met with fierce resistance in Thailand, where protesters say they will fight to the end to prevent Bejing from blowing up half-submerged rocks to allow bigger cargo ships to pass through.
While the move would bring welcome trade benefits to China, Niwat Roykaew, chairman of the Rak Chiang Khong Conservation Group said it would “be the death of the Mekong”. [Channel News Asia]
Related reading from Southeast Asia Globe: Lower Sesan 2 dam putting livelihoods and environment at risk
Jakarta’s divisive election is an omen for worse to come
The recent Jakarta election, which saw a moderate Muslim opportunistically exploit the city’s growing islamisation to become governor, has opened the door for radical Islamic groups to become the country’s “new kingmakers”, according to the best-selling Indonesian author Eka Kurniawan.
“It’s tempting, and perhaps reassuring, to cast the Jakarta election as a standard contest for power among political elites,” he wrote. “In fact, the Jakarta election stands for something much more ominous.” [The New York Times]
Related reading from Southeast Asia Globe: Anies Baswedan: the ousted minister who may be Jakarta’s next governor
Shamed Singapore restaurateur dishes out free meals to cabbies
After getting a cabby’s back up by trying to pay a S$12.45 fare with a thousand-dollar bill and obnoxiously flaunting his wealth, restaurant owner Gary Lim is seeking to make amends by offering cabbies a free meal at his restaurant for one day.
Lim was moved to take action after a video emerged on social media showing him counting out thousand-dollar bills while saying “look I have so much money, I can’t control myself…you know why you are a taxi driver? Because you can’t do big things”. [BBC]
Related reading from Southeast Asia Globe: The state of the city