ASEAN Roundup: November 20 - November 26, 2017

In this picture taken on October 23, 2017, Mount Agung volcano spews steam and smoke into the air as seen from Bangli on Indonesia's resort island of Bali, Indonesia. (AFP Photo/Agus Ranu)

The fickle environment

This week, Indonesia stole the spotlight with Mount Agung’s phreatic eruption. The treacherous volcano, situated on the island paradise of Bali, has been threatening to erupt for the first time since 1963 has finally erupted, spewing steam plume that reached 700 meters from the peak of the mountain.

Indonesia is home to approximately 130 volcanoes due to its position on the "Ring of Fire" – a belt of tectonic plate boundaries circling the Pacific Ocean where frequent seismic activity occurs.

The Pacific "Ring of Fire".

The ASEAN Post also uncovered the fate of the Sumatran rhino which is being pushed to extinction due to habitat loss thanks to forest conversion for urbanisation development. Given a best-case scenario, most experts think that there might only be 30 left throughout the region.

In this picture taken on November 8, 2016, shows Andatu, a Sumatran rhino, one of the rarest large mammals on earth, at the Rhino Sanctuary at Way Kambas National Park in eastern Sumatra. (AFP Photo/Goh Chai Hin)

Medical researchers identified a strain of malaria that is resistant to antimalarial drugs, artemisimin dubbed the “Super Malaria.” The disease which first emerged in Cambodia in 2008 has since propagated through parts of Thailand, Laos and has arrived in southern Vietnam which make up the Greater Mekong subregion.

The spread of 'super malaria' in the Greater Mekong subregion.

Is the region’s geopolitical order shifting?

Talks of the US, Japan, India, Australia “Quad” – a four-way security dialogue – has been one of the main talking points with regards to regional geopolitics. The ASEAN Post dove deep to shed light on the shifting regional orders which could explain the emergence of the “Quad.”

A visualisation of the East Asia Duel Hierarchy

ASEAN-Japan relations were also explored as Japan looks to deepen its cooperation with Southeast Asian nations in matters of trade and security.

Terrorism financing was also a hot button issue which was raised during a recent conference in the Malaysian capital. From that conference, the South East Asia Counter Terrorism Financing Working Group jointly led by Australia and the Philippines was announced.

How will the South East Asia Counter Terrorism Financing Working Group work?

Domestic issues, regional perspective

The humanitarian crisis unfolding in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine State has once again punctuated headlines the world over. This time, both Myanmar and Bangladesh have agreed on a repatriation deal but observers have warned that repatriation is still “premature.”

In this picture taken on June 13, 2012, Rohingya Muslims, trying to cross the Naf river into Bangladesh to escape sectarian violence in Myanmar, look on from an intercepted boat in Teknaf. (AFP Photo/Munir Uz Zaman)

Cambodia’s democracy which has been faltering all this while, has been dealt a death knell with the dissolution of the opposition, Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP). Free and fair elections remain a far-fetched dream for Cambodia as Cambodian Prime Minister, Hun Sen is likely to win with minimal opposition in general elections next year.

Rise and fall of the CNRP

In less serious affairs, Singapore’s public transportation woes continue to irritate commuters. The recent Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) rail breakdowns have put the Singaporean government in a sticky situation but observers believe that Singaporean efficiency will ultimately prevail.

ASEAN Roundup

The ASEAN Post also explored the dissemination of “fake news” in the region and various methods of combatting it. ENGIE – a French multinational company focussing on the renewable energy sector – was also discussed as the company looks to tap into the biogas potential of the region. Finally, The ASEAN Post delved into the story of tiny Run Island in Indonesia which was traded for New Amsterdam (now Manhattan Island) during the 17th century.


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