Publication in Economics, Politics and Public Policy in East Asia and the Pacific

Human Rights

Cambodia’s foreign policy post-COVID-19

A woman walks outside the Royal Palace which has being closed for visitors as precaution against the coronavirus outbreak in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 19 March 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Cindy Liu).

Author: Kimkong Heng, Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace

The COVID-19 pandemic is wreaking havoc on the global economy, affecting the lives of millions, and increasing uncertainty of a new Cold War between the United States and China. Cambodia, like a few other countries in Southeast Asia, appears to have been fortunate in succeeding to contain the spread of the virus. But its economy is faltering, if not failing. Read more…

Shaping from within: a UN with Chinese characteristics?

The Chinese national flag is seen in Beijing, China 29 April 2020. (Photo: Reuters/Thomas Peter).

Author: Rosemary Foot, University of Oxford

Chinese President Xi Jinping is urging China to ‘lead the reform of the global governance system’ and to ‘actively participate in the formulation of international rules’. Such statements suggest that we now should be able to gain better insight into Beijing’s vision for the world order. What can we learn from its efforts to reshape how the United Nations operates? Read more…

Media repression and authoritarianism a new normal in the Philippines

Journalists cover as ABS-CBN news chief Ging Reyes speaks to fellow employees and supporters of the broadcast network, following the Philippine congress' vote against its franchise renewal, outside the ABS-CBN headquarters, in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines, 10 July 2020. (Photo: Reuters/Eloisa Lopez).

Author: Danilo Araña Arao, UP Diliman

On 6 July the House of Representatives of the Philippines (HOR) ended its 12th and final public hearing on the renewal of the franchise of ABS-CBN, a leading broadcast network in the Philippines which was ordered closed by the government. The HOR’s decision of non-renewal reflects growing media repression in the Philippines. Read more…

Disinformation and xenophobia target Malaysia’s Rohingya

A Rohingya woman a wearing protective mask walks past closed shops amid the COVID-19 outbreak in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 18 May 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Lim Huey Teng).

Author: Harris Zainul, Institute of Strategic and International Studies Malaysia

The Rohingya in Malaysia have become the target of increasing xenophobia and hate speech. Disinformation — the intentional creation of false information — is fuelling the fire of outrage against this marginalised community.

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Protecting Indonesian seafarers’ rights on Chinese vessels

The Indonesian Navy vessel KRI Imam Bonjol (L) inspects the Chinese flagged fishing boat Han Tan Cou (R) in the waters near Natuna Islands, Riau Islands province, Indonesia, 17 June 2016 (Antara Foto/Handout/Indonesian Navy/ via Reuters).

Authors: Anisha Maulida, CSIS Indonesia and Bayu Arif Ramadhan, Brawijaya University

In May, a viral video allegedly showed a Chinese fishing crewman dumping the dead body of an Indonesian seafarer in waters near New Zealand. There have been four Indonesian deaths in six months linked to the same Chinese ship, the Long Xin 629. According to the ship’s captain, every crewman who dies from an infectious disease is buried at sea, despite contractual obligations to return the bodies to their home countries. Read more…

Another Act against democracy in the Philippines

A protestor wears a mask with the face of President Rodrigo Duterte and a clown wig during a rally against the anti-terrorism bill on Independence Day, in University of the Philippines, Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines, 12 June, 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Lopez).

Author: Luke Lischin, National War College

Awaiting the signature of Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte is the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) of 2020, the result of longstanding congressional debate and controversy surrounding the Human Security Act (HSA) implemented in 2007. The latter has been accused of eroding critical protections against government overreach in the fight against terrorism.

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Establishing humanitarian lanes during COVID-19

Essential workers have their noses swabbed before returning to the workforce at a regional screening center amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Singapore 9 June, 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Edgar Su).

Authors: Alistair DB Cook and Christopher Chen, RSIS

COVID-19 is severely impacting the humanitarian system. It has forced countries to focus on containing the pandemic with national lockdown measures — hindering humanitarian action and denying aid to many affected communities in the Asia Pacific. But countries in the region have begun negotiations to normalise international travel, with Australia and New Zealand being the first to initiate bilateral discussions over the establishment of a ‘Trans-Tasman bubble’ and a ‘humanitarian corridor’ to the Pacific during the pandemic. Read more…

Establishing a legal right to healthcare in India

A healthcare worker wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) speaks to a resident about the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at a check up camp in Dharavi, one of Asia's largest slums, Mumbai, India, 7 June 2020 (Reuters/Francis Mascarenhas).

Author: Shivkrit Rai, Delhi High Court

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, two incidents highlighted the fault lines in India’s healthcare system. In 2017, over 60 children died due to lack of oxygen cylinders amid an encephalitis outbreak in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh. In 2019, a similar incident occurred in Muzaffarpur. Reports suggested that the outbreak could have been prevented if Uttar Pradesh state authorities had taken adequate measures. Read more…

Back to square one for inter-Korean relations

South Korean soldiers take part in a live fire exercise near the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas in Paju, South Korea, 23 June, 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji).

Author: Scott Snyder, Council on Foreign Relations

On the eve of the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War, the two Koreas face a dramatic breakdown in relations. Tensions rocketed on 16 June when North Korea demolished a liaison office that had stood as a symbol of hope for improved communications. For the South Korean Moon administration, the re-establishment of inter-Korean summitry in 2018 represented an historic step toward establishing a permanent peace, coexistence and economic integration on the Korean Peninsula. Read more…

Sri Lanka’s return to ethnic majoritarianism

Supporters of Sri Lanka People's Front party presidential election candidate and former wartime defence chief Gotabaya Rajapaksa celebrate after he won the presidential election in Colombo, Sri Lanka, 17 November 2019. (Photo: Reuters/Dinuka Liyanawatte).

Author: Shyam Tekwani, APCSS

The voyage from Serendib to Sri Lanka through Ceylon continues to be an uninterrupted tale of opportunities lost, scorned and spurned. The brutal end to the quarter-century war with the Tamil Tiger separatists in 2009 brought an unprecedented opportunity for the government to heal the Sinhala–Tamil ethnic divide. But now a new front is opening, one against Sri Lanka’s Muslim minority. Events since the Easter attacks of 2019 are reinforcing the belief that tolerance and inclusive governance are a chimeric dream. Read more…

The global pushback against China’s overreach in Hong Kong

Supporters of Hong Kong anti-government movement gather at Liberty Square in Taipei, Taiwan, 13 June, 2020 (Reuters/Wang).

Author: Andreas Fulda, University of Nottingham

On 28 May 2020, with a vote of 2878 to 1, China’s rubber stamp National People’s Congress passed and enacted its new controversial Hong Kong national security legislation. It sent a clear message to the international community: Hong Kong’s ‘one country, two systems’ model is history. But the process of hollowing out Hong Kong’s autonomy started much earlier.

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Vietnam’s judicial system on trial

Vietnamese policemen stand guard outside a courtroom in Hanoi, Vietnam 8 January 2018, Picture taken January 9, 2018 (Photo: Reuters/Kham).

Author: Duy Dinh, IHEID

On 14 January 2008, two female postal workers were found murdered inside a small post office where they also resided in Vietnam’s Long An province. Ho Duy Hai was detained two months later by the police and it was reported that he admitted to committing the crime. He inexplicably declined lawyers contracted by his family and only accepted the lawyer appointed by the investigative agency. No one was allowed to visit him until the trial day. Read more…

Humanity’s COVID-19 crossroads

A man is sprayed with hypochlorous acid water as a measure to prevent an infection with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the entrance of Kichiri Shinjuku, a Japanese style pub known as an 'izakaya', in Tokyo, Japan 19 May, 2020 (Reuters/Issei Kato).

Author: Naoto Kan, Tokyo

COVID-19 quickly spread worldwide from the end of 2019. While some countries are seeing a decline in transmission and are relaxing restrictions after almost six months of disruption and uncertainty, there are still no signs of an end to the emergency in many countries. Meanwhile, the global economic impact of the virus is worsening, and there is concern that the number of suicides linked to economic collapse will increase. Read more…

COVID-19, economic crisis and gender equality in Asia

Women are pictured wearing a protective face mask and face shield as the Indonesian government eases restrictions to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak in Jakarta, Indonesia, 8 June 2020 (Reuters/Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana).

Authors: Elizabeth Hill and Marian Baird, Sydney University

The global research evidence is clear: economic crises exacerbate pre-existing inequalities, damaging the employment opportunities and economic security of women more than men. The 1980s debt crisis, the 1997 Asian financial crisis and the 2008 Global Financial Crisis all provide stark warnings to governments and businesses that recent efforts to promote gender equality and economic empowerment will be undone unless women are prioritised in COVID-19 recovery planning and policymaking. Read more…

Hong Kong’s COVID-19 debate: are health and freedom really at odds?

Playground is seen temporary closed, following the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Hong Kong, China, 29 March 2020. (Photo: Reuters/Tyrone Siu).

Authors: Joseph H Walline, CUHK and Priscilla P Song, HKU

Hong Kong has faced a series of infectious disease threats over the past two decades, including H5N1 avian influenza (1997), SARS (2003), H1N1 swine influenza (2009) and MERS (2015). In response, the Hong Kong government developed a series of ‘preparedness and response’ plans to address infectious diseases of public health concern. This system was activated to the highest level on 25 January 2020 when a train passenger from Wuhan became the first confirmed COVID-19 patient in Hong Kong. Read more…