Treading on thin ice

National discord, looming security threats and international feuds remain pressing regional challenges for Southeast Asia. This week, we looked at Sam Rainsy’s long-promised return to Cambodia, the changing landscape of Southeast Asian terrorism, how Trump abandoned ASEAN and more

Julija Veljkovic
November 9, 2019
Treading on thin ice

Across Phnom Penh, street vendors closed shop early. An ominous police presence lingered, as gun-strapped officers patrolled the roads. Those who could afford it abandoned ship, swapping the capital for the countryside. 

Some would say it has been a nervous week in Cambodia, as Cambodian opposition leader, Sam Rainsy, vowed to return home and lead demonstrations against Prime Minister Hun Sen. However, all that built-up tension withered away as Rainsy was prevented from even boarding his flight from Paris.

It is not the first time Rainsy has left his fans hanging. While his promise fell flat, Hun Sen fulfilled his word, teaming up with ASEAN leaders to block Rainsy and fellow opposition leader Mu Sochua from flying in from a neighbouring country. We examine what this no-show means for Cambodian opposition party’s disappointed supporters. 

The recent death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi sparked an international debate about the future of terrorism. We found that while pro-ISIS cells continue to function in Southeast Asia, their ability to operate effectively is fragmented, meaning that a spate of revenge attacks are unlikely to hit the region anytime soon. Realistically, Southeast Asian cells will sit tight until they have the capabilities and resources to strike, irrespective of what’s happening in Syria. 

As the United States and China continue their trade war, ASEAN is sandwiched in between, dependent on both superpowers for its prosperity. Yet Trump’s indifference, most recently illustrated by his no-show for the second year running at the ASEAN and East Asian summits, deals another blow to already strained relations. 

Tying in regional security concerns with the pressing need for health reform, we revisited our 2009 archive story on how elderly Thai reinvent themselves in society, and took a fresh look at the challenges faced by Cambodia’s Kantha Bopha hospital group in running a multi-million dollar operation. We’re dedicated to bringing you daily longform features blending quality journalism with creative design. We are currently on the hunt for stories related to the environment, so if you have an engaging story in mind, please contact us here.

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