Philippine Peace talks paused, Cambodia’s election anxiety and Apple’s Indonesia app plan

By: Will Feuer - Posted on: May 29, 2017 | Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia Globe’s daily rundown of the region’s top stories – 29 May 2017

Filipino soldiers advance their position on the fifth day of continued fighting between Islamist militants and government forces, Marawi city, Mindanao island, southern Philippines, 28 May 2017. According to media reports, a top official said several foreigners were fighting alongside a local rebel group who laid siege to the Philippines’ southern city of Marawi. Photo: EPA/Francis R. Malasig

The Region Today – 29 May 2017

Philippine government halts peace talks with communist rebels

In the wake of intensified fighting between the Philippine military and the Abu Sayyaf militant group in the south, the government has decided to formally withdraw from peace talks with other armed groups that are part of the long-running communist insurgency.

The decision to halt negotiations came in response to communist leaders giving an order to “carry out more tactical offenses” in light of President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of martial law on the southern island of Mindanao.

Duterte’s chief advisor and negotiator with the communist groups, Jesus Dureza, said the government was withdrawing until there was an “environment conducive to achieving just and sustainable peace.” [Al Jazeera]

Monks detained and journalists targeted ahead of Cambodian elections

With less than a week to go until Cambodia’s local elections on June 4, ruling party officials are sending a message that nobody is safe from its crackdown on dissent over the past two years.

At a rally over the weekend for the Cambodian National Rescue Party, the main opposition, police reportedly harassed supporters and detained four monks.

Officials in the remote northeastern province of Ratanakiri have also filed a lawsuit against two journalists, a Canadian and a Cambodian working for the Cambodia Daily, over their reporting in a commune that voted for the opposition in 2012. [Cambodia Daily]

Turkish school official deported from Myanmar

After the Turkish government cancelled Muhammet Furkan Sokmen and his family’s passports, they were quickly deported from Myanmar back to Istanbul due to suspected ties to US-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen.

Gülen and his loyalist within Turkey’s government and armed forces have been accused by the Turkish government of orchestrating last July’s coup attempt, prompting purges at home and efforts to shut down the cleric’s network of schools overseas.

Sokmen served as a director of Horizon International Schools and as a partner to the Mediterranean International Education Services Co. in Myanmar, both of which are linked to Gülen.

“I do not want to go back to Turkey,” he reportedly told police. “They will definitely put me in jail without any judgment.” [Irrawaddy]

Apple could win big with Indonesia homegrown app decision

In 2015, Indonesia passed legislation stating that all 4G phones sold in the country must contain at least 30% domestically produced components by 2017. However, the government recently decided that locally developed smartphone apps will count towards that figure.

The decision has prompted outcry from some who in the past two years invested massive sums to construct smartphone factories in Indonesia. Apple, which did not build a factory, is taking advantage of the decision with an app-development facility in suburban Jakarta. [Netral English]

Thailand begins push for visitors to make trip to remember late King Bhumibol

Seven months after Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej passed away last October, the country’s Tourist Authority is inviting people to remember the late monarch’s life through their trip named “Follow the Royal Path at the City of Three Bays, the Gateway to the South.”

The trip takes tourists to a number of sites personally significant to the late king, such as Tha Tabun Pavilion, where he and his wife planted mangroves, and Phra Mahathat Chedi Phakdi Prakat, a massive pagoda built specifically for him. [The Nation]