Thai law under fire, IS in Indonesia and Singlish on an international platform

By: Will Feuer - Posted on: June 14, 2017 | Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia Globe’s daily rundown of the region’s top stories – 14 June 2017

Indonesian Military Chief Gatot Nurmantyo takes an oath of office during his swearing-in at Merdeka Palace in Jakarta, Indonesia, 08 July 2015. Photo: EPA/Adi Weda

The Region Today – 14 June 2017

Indonesian general claims Islamic State sleeper cells all across the country

Islamic State (IS) group “sleeper cells” have infiltrated almost every province of Indonesia, according to the country’s military commander General Gatot Nurmantyo.

“It’s easy to jump from Marawi to Indonesia and we must all beware of sleeper cells being activated in Indonesia,” he told reporters at a press conference in Jakarta, referring to the ongoing conflict between IS-linked militants and the military in the Philippines, which has claimed over 100 lives.

Ganip Warsito, another general in the Indonesian army, offered a grim analysis of the conflict on Mindanao island.

“If the Philippines wins, Indonesia would get a spill over effect from the retreating militants,” he said. “But if the Philippines loses, Mindanao would be a strong regional ISIS base that threatens Indonesia among others.” [Time]

Related reading from Southeast Asia Globe: Philippines deploys tanks and helicopters in attempt to reclaim southern city

UN Calls for revision of Thai lèse-majesté law

The UN Human Rights office is calling for Thailand to rethink its controversial lèse-majesté law, which strictly criminalizes criticism of the Thai royal family. Since the junta took power through a military coup in 2014, it has applied the law liberally to detain activists, journalists and civilians critical of the government.

The call comes just days after a social media user was handed a 35 year sentence for posts deemed insulting of the monarchy.

UN spokesman Rupert Colville said the human rights office was “very concerned by the rise in the number of lèse-majesté prosecutions in Thailand since 2014 and the severity of the sentencing.” [Associated Press]

Related reading from Southeast Asia Globe: The “ultimate weapon”: lèse-majesté

Singapore-based e-commerce company secures funding for regional expansion

Shopmatic, a Singapore-based e-commerce service for small businesses and entrepreneurs, has raised $5.7 million to expand into Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines and elsewhere.

In return for a monthly subscription fee of $20, Shopmatic helps businesses build their online stores, handling everything from payments and deliveries to customer analytics.

“Our approach of simplicity with a wide value proposition to our customers has grown the category of online sellers,” said CEO and co-founder Anurag Avula. [Tech in Asia]

Related reading from Southeast Asia Globe: Indonesia on the cusp of an online shopping revolution

Singaporean character in American TV’s Orange is the New Black goes viral

With season five of the prison fiction series taking the world by storm, one particular character in the trailers has represented Singapore globally, attracting more than 16,000 ‘likes’ on Netflix Singapore’s Facebook page. The character, Ah Lian, portrayed by Michelle Chong, makes reference to Singaporean culture, including the use of Singlish terms.

“I think the Ah Lian culture is something that is truly, uniquely Singaporean, belonging to us and us only. So when Netflix approached me to do this, I thought it was time we introduce her to the international stage,” said Chong. [Straits Times]