Sydney, Rabies and Tea Money

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The Philippines has just way too much on at the moment so we’re going to look properly at the ICC. Usually when President Rodrigo Duterte mouths off and says things like ‘we’re withdrawing from the International Criminal Court’ it’s not an immediate cause of concern because a spokesperson will follow up shortly afterwards and say ‘nevermind’. This is different. Yesterday, Duterte notified the UN Secretary-General of his intentions to withdraw the Philippines. The move comes after it was announced last month an investigation into human rights abuses during his war on drugs had begun. The investigation was launched by the ICC after the Philippines refused to take a look at the claims which, according to the Rome Statute, gives the ICC jurisdiction. 

We’ll look more at the attacks on Indigenous activists, as well as the anti-dynasty bill as part of reforms on the 1987 constitution next week.

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Two of my favourite reads of the week on Indonesia come from the South China Morning Post. Firstly, this one is fascinating! I’d never heard of the Chinese Indonesian Literature Museum, which promotes Unity in Diversity by caring for the stories of the community, but I might actually go to South Tangerang for it. Secondly, I keep forgetting Prabowo isn’t officially in the running yet since there are Presiden Prabowo banners all over half of West Jakarta so this is a decent reminder

Alright, here’s the rest of what you need to know: Bali has gone full Nyepia bunch of garlic infested with worms have been imported and omg WHY can’t they have been from anywhere else but China, is Tommy Suharto (yeah, that onetrying to run for 2019?   

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Here’s your Malaysia election links: Maria Chin gets in the gamePakatan Harapan shows its handall about Anwar and old wounds and fresh wounds. Still no date, but looking increasingly like we’ll know for sure by the end of the month. And abroad - Switzerland has a bunch of 1MDB money. I thought this was an interesting one although not totally related: how the UK has responded to a nerve agent attack versus how Malaysia did last year.

Elsewhere in Malaysia, thought the outrage over the Adelina death was going to see real change for perpetrators? Nope! Datin Rozita Mohamad Ali has been spared jail time after abusing an Indonesian domestic worker with, among other things, a knife and a coat hanger. The case is horrifying and the photos are graphic so keep that in mind. She was charged with attempted murder. This is obviously going to do nothing to help mend the split between Malaysia and Indonesia over the issue and is another nail for a judicial system widely seen as favouring the rich and powerful.

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Thailand has rabies. A young billionaire heir is launching a political party ahead of eventual elections, targeting young voters and the disenfranchised. His uncle used to work for Thaksin, but don’t worry about that. Speaking of, Pheu Thai better get it together asap! The party is still divided over stalwart Khunying Sudarat Keyuraphan becoming leader.  

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We’re going light on Asean this week since the analysis and that all comes in later. BUT I did find this one very interesting from Singapore’s PM Lee Hsien Loong about Asean as a balance and key to benefiting from the rise of China and India. From most other leaders this is kinda a ‘no duh’ comment, but after the weird behaviour between China and Singapore last year it’s a good sign the normalcy has totally returned. I’m also really loving how involved India is becoming in Asean in the last six or so months and that’s only going to become a bigger story in the next few years. Singapore, so expensive! Is Singapore under ‘information attack’ by a foreign power trying to influence public opinion?

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Yesterday marked the 50th anniversary of the My Lai Massacre in South Vietnam. This one is from last month at the Mekong Review and a must-read as is this NYT op-edFormer prime minister Phan Van Khai has passed away at the age of 85, serving from 1997 to 2006 he’s described as overseeing the country’s economic development. On a lighter note, the table at which Obama and Anthony Bourdain dined at in Hanoi has been housed in glass to be remembered for the ages.

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Myanmar, it’s a messy one this week. First, Facebook has copped it from the UN who accuse the platform of ‘turning into a beast’ with ultra-nationalist monks spreading hate speech and inciting violence with no intervention whatsoever. Like most Asean leaders, Aung San Suu Kyi is in Sydney this weekend and human rights lawyers are using the opportunity to try and get her done on human rights abuses under universal jurisdiction. It’s not likely the Australian government, given they invited her, are too keen to go ahead with this, but there we go. Meanwhile back home, embassies are weighing in on the ‘dragging out’ of the hearing of Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo.

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The fight to get fair elections in Cambodia this July continues, with the UN calling for a ban on the CNRP to be dropped. Hun Sen has hit the campaign trail already with a series of speeches across the country targeting the working class. But for now, he’s in Sydney where no one is too happy to see him.    

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A rough year in Laos, where corruption is believed to have gotten worse year-on-year. It dropped 12 places to 135 of 180 countries in the latest Transparency Index – it’s all about that tea money, RFA reports. OBOR infrastructure projects aren’t helping the reputation, with 4000 families saying they are still yet to receive compensation.

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Timor-Leste is all borders this week. Here’s a handy easy one from me. But here’s the real smart stuff: the Strategist on what it all means and an optimistic look to future relations at the DiplomatBut there’s still an election to look forward to! I reckon I’m going to go to Dili in May, I’ve always wanted to see it and what a great excuse.

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Brunei has allocated $5 million to launch its stock exchange in the coming years, with telcos, oil and gas and financial institutions. The Scoop has more.