ASEAN Roundup: November 27 - December 03, 2017

Pope Francis (L) and Myanmar's President Htin Kyaw (R) attend a meeting in Naypyidaw on November 28, 2017. (AFP Photo/Phyo Hein Kyaw)

The Pope comes to town

The biggest story this week was Pope Francis’ visit to Myanmar and Bangladesh. During the pontiff’s four-day visit, he spoke to Myanmar’s leaders and addressed the Rohingya humanitarian crisis unfolding in northern Myanmar although he did not mention the term “Rohingya.” He also lead a huge mass for Catholics and urged for peaceful resolution of the refugee crisis.

Pope Francis' visit to Myanmar and Bangladesh.

Facing the threat of climate change

In collaboration with Project Syndicate, The ASEAN Post published an op-ed by Justin Adams, Global Managing Director for Lands at the Nature Conservancy. Adams elaborated on the integral role of land-use management is in addressing climate change.

On another positive note, Singapore recently announced that 2018 will be the “Year of Climate Action.” The island nation would also be joining the Ministerial Declaration on Carbon Markets – only the 20th country to do so.

Source: National Climate Change Secretariat

The ASEAN Post also published an article in collaboration with MongaBay which delved into efforts by the Indonesian government to establish “eco mosques.” The initiative would help the mosques source renewable energy, sustainably manage food and water needs, reduce and recycle waste and provide environmental education.

Animal conservation

A huge breakthrough in the scientific world – when the discovery of the newest species of orang utan, The Tapanuli orangutan (Pongo tapanuliensis) was announced by an international team of scientists. However, the orang utan is already an endangered species with 800 or fewer individuals left in the wild.

In this handout picture taken on 2 November, 2017, released by the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP) shows the Tapanuli orangutan at the Batang Toru Ecosystem in the Tapanuli districts in North Sumatra, Indonesia. (AFP Photo/James Askew)

The ASEAN Post also explored the increasing cases of whales being beached off the coasts of Indonesia’s many islands. The recent beaching incident saw the desperate rescue attempt to re-float the 10 stranded sperm by experts and local helpers.

Locations of whale sperm stranding in Indonesia from 2010-2017.

Developing the ASEAN region

The Belt Road Initiative was discussed this past week and plans are already underway – ports, roads, rail infrastructure, oil and gas pipelines, fibre optics networks. As China’s estimated five trillion-dollar ambition slowly takes shape, will ASEAN member states have to sacrifice centrality for development?

Conceptual framework of the Belt Road Initiative.

The issue of economic integration was also explored, given that it is one of the top priorities for Singapore as it assumes the chairmanship of ASEAN in 2018. The ASEAN brand of economic integration has come a long way and Singapore’s touch may bring it to a whole new level.

ASEAN Economic Community 2025 goals.

Sustainable development is also vital to the region. Development without giving a thought for the environment can be dangerous in the long-term. Hence, The ASEAN Post deep dived into the efforts by InfraCo Asia to illustrate that sustainable development can be a useful development model for infrastructure developers in the region.

Nuclear threats from the North

North Korea recently tested an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), to the furore of countries like the US, Japan and South Korea. Actions in the Korean Peninsula is bound to have significant ramifications in Southeast Asia which lies within the East Asia neighbourhood.

Hence, ASEAN must learn to better deal with Pyongyang so that escalations like these don’t lead to a full blown nuclear war.

Reach of North Korea’s missiles (Source: AFP).

Women of ASEAN

Violence against women in Southeast Asia is a serious issue particularly with regards to domestic violence, marital rape, child marriages and trafficking of women. It is high time the region steps up to the plate and addresses such issues swiftly.

In this picture taken on June 23, 2009, Indonesian domestic workers who say they have fled from abusive employers spend their afternoon at a shelter inside the Indonesian embassy in Kuala Lumpur. (AFP Photo/Saeed Khan)

The ASEAN Post also covered The ASEAN Women of Tomorrow Conference 2017, organised by LeadWomen. This year’s Conference encouraged women to equip themselves with a futurist mindset to navigate in the new economy and to foster a purpose-driven leadership to ensure a sustainable future.


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