Hello everyone and hope your week is going well!
Among the biggest Southeast Asia stories this week is the Myanmar National Unity Government’s declaration of a “people’s defensive war” against the military junta via Facebook Live earlier this week. Citizens were urged to target military personnel and the junta’s assets, leading many in the international community to condemn the call for violence and urge a more peaceful approach. Diplomats called for dialogue, but many anti-military activists say that’s wishful thinking. The junta has killed more than 1000 citizens and responded to peaceful protests and dissent without mercy, leading activists to argue counter-violence and a large-scale uprising are the only ways forward to restore Myanmar’s democracy. “This revolution is a just revolution,” acting NUG president Duwa Lashi La stated in his Facebook address.
The NUG leader’s speech and formal embrace of violence comes as Myanmar’s resistance holds its breath in anticipation of an upcoming United Nations General Assembly vote next week. The UNGA will have to decide whether to recognize the military junta or the opposition’s shadow government, an important decision that could offer greater legitimacy to the resistance movement. Since the military coup in February overthrowing the elected civilian government, the international community has done little to formally intervene against the junta or support the NUG’s resistance efforts. A UNGA decision to support resistance to the junta could change that, at least symbolically. We’ll be offering more coverage and analysis of the evolving crisis in Myanmar in the coming weeks.
For now, our lead feature this week focuses on Myanmar students desperately seeking ways to continue their education abroad, from departing Globe reporter Kiana Duncan. She’ll continue her excellent coverage of Myanmar with the Democratic Voice of Burma, so be sure to follow her on Twitter to stay updated on her work.
Here’s more on Kiana’s piece and the rest of our week’s features:
As Myanmar’s education system reels from the coup, students are seeking any means possible to get out of the country to continue their education, reports Kiana Duncan. Every step of the processes needed to fill out applications, from finding transcripts to visa paperwork, remains fraught with risk and requires interacting with the junta’s apparatus. But students are willing to do whatever it takes to get out.
Amidst the increasing Islamisation of the country’s laws, Malaysia’s transgender community still faces conversion therapy due the belief that their identity can be cured, Ashley Yeong reports. State and private religious institutions peddle gaslighting pseudoscience to outright physical abuse in response to transgender identity as the trans community perseveres, pushing for a law to allow a “third gender.”
Wealthy Singaporeans have come to rely on low-paid, live-in domestic workers from poorer Asian countries, but this arrangement has enabled abuse and exploitation. A government initiative, the Household Services Scheme, aims to support part-time home cleaners instead, offering improved labor conditions. But it hasn’t been easy to get Singaporeans to give up in-house help, reports Rachel Genevieve Chia.
As big brands such as clothing retailer H&M Group set goals for reducing carbon emissions in their supply chains, Cambodia risks losing their business if the country continues to prioritize coal and gas energy over renewables, argues Peter Ford, an environmental consultant for H&M.