Cleaning up a dirty industry: ASEAN is becoming more dependent on coal but it has an obligation to mitigate its environmental impact

Universal electricity access is a key pillar of ASEAN’s development goals. The regional bloc has committed to providing every citizen with an electricity supply by the early 2030s. To achieve this end, the region will need to increase its power capabilities by some 60% by ...

Oliver Ward

Chinese-owned banana plantations expand in Laos despite lingering environmental and health concerns

In 2017, the Lao government ordered the closure of the country’s Chinese-owned banana farms following reports of pollution and workers falling ill after being exposed to dangerous chemicals. Firms already operating in the country were allowed to stay open until their contracts expired. The ban prohibited ...

Oliver Ward

Will climate change spell the end of coal and hydropower in the Mekong?

This year has been rough for the 70 million people who call the Mekong River basin home:  a severe drought rocked the region for months before yielding to deadly flooding.  The Mekong slowed to its lowest level in recorded history, knocking the world’s largest freshwater fishery—Cambodia’s Tonle Sap Lake—out of ...

Skylar Lindsay

The Lao National Assembly refocuses attention on the issue of corruption

On June 14, members of the Lao National Assembly stood up, one after another, and recounted cases of bribery, embezzlement and corruption within the country’s courts and political system. Members described how courts routinely reversed decisions, revisiting judgements after receiving letters in favour of the accused, even after ...

As local residents question Belt and Road impacts, China and Myanmar remain silent

Chinese investment in projects for the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is changing the homes, economies, and environments of people across Myanmar, often in conflict zones. In some cases, those affected by the projects are calling for the government to stop or alter Chinese-backed projects ...

Skylar Lindsay

EU-Vietnam trade deal prompts concern in Thailand

On June 30 in Hanoi, Vietnamese and EU officials signed a new free trade deal that could shift the balance of manufacturing in the region. The EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement and the EU-Vietnam Investment Protection Agreement will reduce tariffs and facilitate trade between the two parties. Vietnam will ...

Skylar Lindsay

Leaders grapple with ASEAN’s thorniest issues at the 34th ASEAN Summit

The 34th ASEAN Summit, which ended on June 23, brought ASEAN leaders together to discuss regional economic, environmental and diplomatic challenges.   This time around, the biannual summit centred on sustainability. The bloc is home to some of the fastest growing economies in the world, and sustainable development is a ...

Zachary Frye

Reuters journalists in Myanmar freed but press freedom and rule of law still in jeopardy

Reuters reporters U Wa Lone and U Kyaw Soe Oo were recently released from prison in Myanmar. They spent 16 months behind bars on charges related to their reporting on the Inn Din massacre of Rohingya civilians in September 2017. Their imprisonment and the Myanmar courts’ repeated rulings against their appeals ...

Skylar Lindsay

A shift in Myanmar’s nationalist rhetoric offers a glimpse of what’s to come in 2020

Burmese nationalism has played a central role in many of the darker chapters of Myanmar’s recent history. The roots of the latest conflict in Rakhine State that has left hundreds dead and displaced more than 700,000 are earthed in Buddhist nationalism. Anti-Muslim protests in 2012 ...

A Chinese Special Economic Zone is deepening conflict in Myanmar’s Rakhine State

Resource-rich Ramree Island, on the coast of Myanmar’s Rakhine State, has remained on the sidelines of recent violence as fighting between the Myanmar military and the Arakan Army (AA) continues to intensify. But the Myanmar government’s relations with the AA are now increasingly shaped by pressure from ...

Skylar Lindsay

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