Greetings Globe readers,
With the summer in full swing in the middle of July, Southeast Asia Globe focused on government and business this week, covering an important study of the microfinance industry, vital funding of unexploded ordnance, regime misuse of the law and ways in which cities can make pedestrians safer.
Globe’s Jack Brook began the week with a big report on the Cambodian microfinance industry. A quantitative study sanctioned by the German government provided the first objective research by a large investor into the scale and roots of the industry’s abuses impacting rural landowners. Globe received an early copy of the study, set to be released in August, which estimated more than 167,000 Cambodian families were forced to sell land to repay debt in the past five years.
Globe’s Anton L. Delgado followed up his previous reporting on the removal of unexploded ordnance in Cambodia with an article on the overlooked issue of funding ‘mine action’ in Southeast Asia, which relies heavily on money from the United States. Laos in particular is at risk of a significant cut into ongoing efforts to remove remnants of past conflicts if the U.S. opts to reduce its financial support for weapons detection and disposal.
A legal tactic known as ‘lawfare’ has enabled governments to slow or silence critics including political activists and journalists who expose repressive policies and actions. Globe contributor Samantha Holmes of advocacy group ARTICLE 19 explained how authoritarian regimes in Southeast Asia have weaponised their legal systems in a shift toward aggressive authority that disregards the rule of law.
In an article advancing some positive suggestions for Cambodian municipalities, contributor Ses Aronsakda offered plans for improving pedestrian safety through urban planning. The Future Forum researcher provided his own illustrations of street redesigns that include extended sidewalks to narrow roadways, street centre islands and raised pedestrian crossings.
We hope you enjoy the articles. We’ll be back next week with more.