Duncan McCargo: Trends in Southeast Asian Politics: Mediated Populism, Electoralism, Authoritarianism? By Prof. Duncan McCargo (The School of Politics and International Studies (POLIS), University of Leeds) Moderator: Asst.Prof. Prajak Kongkirati, Thammasat University
Amnesty International is alarmed by the detention and treatment of at least 168 Cambodian and Vietnamese asylum seekers and refugees in Thailand, and urges the Thai authorities to release them immediately pending the assessment of their asylum claims. Amnesty International has raised the issue of the treatment and deportation of asylum seekers and refugees with the Thai government in the past1, but regrettably we have seen the absence of concrete improvements in the protection of people seeking asylum in Thailand.
New owners and managers took over on 7 May 2018 the editorial and operations of the last independent English-language newspaper in Cambodia – The Phnom Penh Post – after its sale to a Malaysian investor over the weekend. A representative of the new owner fired the editor in chief, and several senior staff resigned over their refusal to take down the report about the new ownership of the Phnom Penh Post.
The release of Cambodian political fugitive Sam Serey early on Friday morning earned the praise of the international community while stoking tensions with Cambodian officials. But a researcher at Human Rights Watch is doubtful that his release indicates a broader change in the way Thailand treats refugees and asylum seekers. Thailand released Sam Serey on 27 April to be flown back to Denmark, where he has permanent resident status. Serey was arrested last Wednesday for overstaying his visa.
For the first time, a Thai conglomerate is facing a lawsuit for violating human rights in a foreign country. The company allegedly evicted about 600 Cambodian families from their lands, killed their livestock and set fire to their homes, according to the plaintiffs. On 28 March 2018, two villagers, representing about 600 families in Oddar Meanchey Province, Cambodia, filed a compensation lawsuit against the Mitr Phol Group, Thailand’s biggest sugar conglomerate.
After Bangkok deported an outspoken Cambodian activist, Phnom Penh has agreed to help Thailand in hunting for Thai fugitives.
On 5 January 2018, the Thai authorities detained Sam Sokha, a prominent labour activist, and deported her to Cambodia on 8 February. The incident has raised concerns among various human rights organisations that Hun Sen and the Thai military government are covertly making a deal on exchanging political refugees. The Thai and Cambodian government officials cooperated in arranging a hurried deportation of the activist. She was deported little more than a month after she was arrested.
The Cambodian government has launched over the past 3 weeks a systematic attack aimed at silencing independent media in the country with at least six media outlets being shutdown, forced off the air, or facing closure. One daily newspaper, two foreign media services and three local radio stations have been targeted in the clampdown.
Unknown to many Cambodians, severe damage that may affect the whole country is currently occurring. This is being caused by just one dam, the Lower Sesan 2.
The Cambodian National Council for Sustainable Development (NCSD), in collaboration with U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and its partners, launched a report today that highlights Cambodia’s need to set a formal target for renewable energy generation for sustainable and secure economic growth.