LINES OF THOUGHT ACROSS SOUTHEAST ASIA

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Editorial

Internet gateway delayed, Vietnam’s fraught child abuse and the Mekong River’s endangered flow

Cambodian officials offer few details on internet routing, Vietnamese activists fight child abuse, experts warn against Mekong dams

February 19, 2022
Internet gateway delayed, Vietnam’s fraught child abuse and the Mekong River’s endangered flow

Hello Globe readers,

The Covid-19 omicron wave appears to be in full swing here in Cambodia and is spreading through other parts of Southeast Asia. Whether you are out in the world trying to avoid the dreaded antigens or hunkering down in self-isolation, we have some great stories to help round off your week.

In Siem Reap, where the city is beginning to emerge from a pandemic slumber, a NGO training youth for the hospitality industry recently transitioned to all-Cambodian leadership and became locally registered to avoid closing. As Jack Brook reports, SPOONS Cambodia is the latest example of a broader shift in the largely foreign-run NGO landscape toward local management.

Cambodia’s much-anticipated national internet gateway, which would channel all internet traffic through a single set of government-controlled servers, was scheduled to go into effect this week. But hours after publication of a story by Fiona Kelliher about possible delays, the government confirmed the gateway rollout was on pause, leaving observers confused but not comforted.

After an 8-year-old girl died at the hands of her parents, discussions over corporal punishment have resurfaced in Vietnam, where there were at least 337 child abuse deaths between 2015 and 2019, Govi Snell reports. Experts fear pandemic lockdowns and economic hardship have exacerbated maltreatment and made tracking more difficult, while the government and local teens push initiatives to slow the abuse.

In Cambodia, Globe reporter Anton L. Delgado explores the influence of hydropower dams on the Mekong River, where water release from upstream reservoirs is expected to shift the river’s flow and ultimately endanger aquatic ecosystems, wildlife habitat and even birds. Experts have called for protections including coordinated management of reservoirs and dams and negotiated water use.

In the Philippines, strongman President Rodrigo Duterte faces a “daunting political task” in balancing Filipino interests and diplomatic relationships in the South China Sea, contributor Nafisa Halim writes. While China attempts to woo Duterte with vaccine supplies and investments, the U.S. is pushing to reaffirm its longstanding alliance with the country, compelling Duterte to maintain a pragmatist attitude.

Please enjoy this week’s stories and stay healthy.



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