Southeast Asia Globe’s daily rundown of the region’s top stories – 4 July 2017
The Region Today – 4 July 2017
Foreign pressure to blame for crackdown on migrant workers, says Thai PM
Thailand’s new foreign labor laws, which have led to the exodus of roughly 29,000 migrant workers since they came into force a week ago, are an attempt to appease international pressure to combat human trafficking, according to the country’s prime minister.
The laws place massive fines on those not registered to work in the country and threaten them with lofty prison sentences. During a meeting with Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha at the National Economic and Social Development Board, private sector leaders complained that businesses were hurt by the laws.
While Thai authorities continue to point at a 120-day grace period built into the law, workers from Myanmar and Cambodia are flooding out of the country, according to news reports, with some estimates placing the number in the tens of thousands.
“Migrant workers [return home] due to their fear of the government measures,” said Adisorn Kerdmongkol, Thailand coordinator at the Migrant Working Group. “In this situation the employers take the opportunity to dismiss their workers with no compensation or other labour rights.” [Bangkok Post / Cambodia Daily / Radio Free Asia / ABC]
Related reading from Southeast Asia Globe: Myanmar workers at risk of exploitation during mass deportations from Thailand
Indonesia is still a moderate Muslim nation: President Widodo
Despite continuing reports of extremist attacks in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country and the jailing of former Jakarta governor on blasphemy charges, Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said his country remains a model of moderate Islam.
While preaching tolerance and pluralism, Jokowi took a weak stance on LGBT rights. “We are the largest majority Muslim country so Indonesia has its own religious norms, unique values and also cultures that must be respected” he said in an address that comes about a month after a male couple was sentenced to 85 lashes for homosexual acts.
Jokowi added that Indonesia is working hard to contain the emerging threat posed the Islamic State, whom some believe are attempting to establish a stronghold in Southeast Asia amid an ongoing conflict in the Philippines. “ISIS has no place in Indonesia,” he said. [Reuters]
Related reading from Southeast Asia Globe: Crowds in Indonesia watch gay couple publicly caned
Philippine Senate will investigate police cover-ups of executions
Following the publication of a Reuters report exposing the practice of Philippine officials sending the corpses of executed drug suspects to hospitals in order to make murders look like untimely deaths, a Senate committee will commence investigations.
The Senate has routinely challenged President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs with televised interviews of repentant police officers and former hitmen, capturing attention at home and abroad and becoming a thorn in Duterte’s side.
The death toll of Duterte’s war on drugs is now upwards of 8,000. [Reuters]
Related reading from Southeast Asia Globe: Ronald dela Rosa’s endless war
Indonesian ride-hailing apps hit with restrictions
Indonesia has served as the region’s breeding ground for ride-hailing apps such as Uber and local competitors Grab and Go-Jek, but as of 1 July these companies face a fresh batch of regulations.
Among the most controversial of the new rules are a per-km price cap, limits on fleet size and the requirement that all cars serving these apps must be registered with a commercial entity or cooperative.
Indonesian transportation minister Budi Karya Sumadi told local media outlet Kumparan that the government will reevaluate in six months and revisions could be made if the rules are, “felt to be making it difficult for the population.” [Tech in Asia]
Related reading from Southeast Asia Globe: Uber to face stiff competition as ride-sharing service targets Southeast Asia
Trainer tells Pacquiao it’s time to stop fighting
Philippine senator and global boxing icon Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao’s Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach advised the fighter to retire from the sport after his recent and controversial loss to unbeaten Australian Jeff Horn.
However, Pacquiao doesn’t appear keen to take the advice.
“We have a clause for a rematch. No problem,” Pacquiao said in the ring immediately after the fight with Horn, referencing an agreement for a rematch in the fight’s contract. [Philstar]