Bangkok protests, Vietnam celebrates and Duterte causes stir

This week has seen protests in Thailand, the Malaysian government come under fire from the opposition and an international investigation launched into the Philippines' President

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February 16, 2018

This week has seen protests in Thailand, the Malaysian government come under fire from the opposition and an international investigation launched into the Philippines’ President

Thai pro-democracy demonstrators make anti-military junta gestures during a rally calling for general elections Photo: Rungroj Yongrit/EPA-EFE

When they first seized power in a military coup in 2014, Thai’s military junta promised a swift return to elections. Now, four years later, Thailand has still not held any election.
Hundreds gathered in Bangkok this week to protest after a change in election law dashed any hopes of holding elections soon.
Vietnam is preparing for Tet, or Lunar New Year, the most important holiday of the year Photo: Luong Thai Linh/EPA-EFE

It is the Lunar New Year and for Vietnam that means the annual celebration of Tết. The streets will be decked out in red decorations, as people celebrate with food, shopping and family get-togethers.
For others though, the holiday provides them with a chance to travel. Large sections of the country’s burgeoning middle class are using the Lunar New Year holidays as a chance to venture overseas.
Britsh Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Boris Johnson (L) is greeted by Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha (R) during their meeting at the Government House, in Bangkok, Thailand Photo: Narong Sangnak/EPA-EFE

On Monday the UK’s foreign secretary Boris Johnson met Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha in Bangkok. Before the meeting, Johnson announced on Twitter that he looked “forward to further strengthening the UK’s relationship with #Thailand in the future”.
However, the more interesting discussion is the one that the two politicians didn’t have. The UK, like other Western countries, has remained tight-lipped on the Thai junta’s broken election promises, not wanting to weaken relationships with a country that is fast becoming a major geo-strategic partner to the West. As Thailand and China’s relations blossom, the West doesn’t want to lose an important trading partner in the region.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak is looking to change certain constituency boundaries Photo Fazry Ismail/EPA

Election fever is hotting up all over Southeast Asia, and Malaysia is no exception. As the country prepares for a general election this year, there have been many political twists and turns of late.
The latest controversy is the government’s redrawing of electoral boundaries, which has attracted criticism from an election watchdog group that says the move is tantamount to gerrymandering.
A bulldozer rolls over impounded cars in Manila, Philippines Photo: Mark R. Cristino/EPA

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte is never far from the headlines. This week the divisive leader was making headlines again. The International Criminal Court has opened an investigation into Duterte’s ‘war on drugs’, seeking to discover whether crimes against humanity have been committed.
On a domestic front, Duterte continued his clampdown on corruption by destroying 20 illegally imported luxury cars. The president watched closely as a tractor ploughed over the impounded vehicles.

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