LINES OF THOUGHT ACROSS SOUTHEAST ASIA

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Editorial

Vietnamese flavours are changing Texas BBQ for the better

Inside the thriving Vietnamese-American communities of Houston, weighing the legacy of Indonesia’s Jokowi and investigating the plight of Thailand’s migrant workers. We’ve also got a hot new episode of Anakut!

July 10, 2021
Vietnamese flavours are changing Texas BBQ for the better

Our dispatch from Globe-world is pretty light this week, so I can start the letter with news of a little personal victory for me: On Monday, I got my second dose of the Sinovac innoculation for Covid-19. My timing was good, as just a few days after I got my shot, public health officials here in Cambodia ended the vaccine drive in Phnom Penh to focus on reaching communities in other provinces.

Glancing at the latest stats, Cambodian health workers have, by all accounts, delivered some 4.75 million doses of serum across the country. Data aggregators estimate about 3.4 million people, about 20% of the Kingdom’s population, have now been fully vaccinated. As some of its neighbours race to catch up with mass vaccinations, Cambodia has maintained an inoculation rate that has been second in ASEAN only to the wealthy city-state of Singapore.

But the Southeast Asian outbreaks are still far from over.

Public health experts have long pointed to migrant workers as a vital yet overlooked piece of the Covid-19 puzzle. In his latest, Globe columnist Mark Cogan follows the evidence to see how Thai authorities have passed blame to migrants during the pandemic even as they turn a blind eye to their precarious situation in the country.

For some of those in power, the urge to maintain ‘business as usual’ has further dampened the pandemic response.

Almost halfway through his second and final term, Indonesian President Joko Widodo finds himself on the verge of sealing his legacy. But the man better known as Jokowi now juggles his ambitions to build a new capital in Kalimantan with the ongoing struggle to contain his country’s Covid-19 outbreak, it’s anything but clear what that legacy will actually be. Researcher Edbert Gani Suryahudaya from the Centre for Strategic and International Studies offers us this in-depth assessment of Jokowi’s leadership seven years to the day of his first presidential election victory.

Staying on that theme of political balance, we’ve got another episode of Anakut, hot and fresh! In this installment, we spoke with Pou Sothirak and Bilahari Kausikan, a pair of former ambassadors and decorated foreign affairs experts about Cambodia’s role in and relationship to ASEAN. This is a lively episode packed with information you might not find elsewhere — I highly recommend giving it a listen.

Last not but not least, and all the way from the US, Globe reporter Ryan Anders brings us this dispatch from the Texan city of Houston, where Vietnamese-Americans are thriving, blending and redefining their places in society. Really interesting stuff here, with tonnes of local colour.

Back on the Globe front, our fundraiser is still live for another week so please, please consider donating! Every dollar you give will go directly into our operations to deliver even more quality reporting straight to readers like you.



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