Asia

Another editorial shift; hello, goodbye!

Dear New Mandala readers, It’s time for an editorial change again! Read on to find messages from the outgoing and incoming editors, Becky Gidley and Elly Kent. Becky Gidley: It has been a pleasure to be a part of this amazing institution of Southeast Asian studies, but the time has …

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Looking back at Thailand’s Constitutional Court: Somchai Preechasinlapakun

As the Constitutional Court prepares to rule on the dissolution of the Future Forward Party next week, we sat down with Somchai Preechasinlapakun, head of the Legal Research and Development Centre at Chiang Mai University. This interview is an abridged and translated version of an interview filmed in partnership with …

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Nationalist rhetoric is impeding climate action in Indonesia

As the world’s fourth-biggest greenhouse gas emitter, Indonesia presents itself as a cooperative member of the global community to reduce greenhouse gases emission. In 2015, the government established the Peatland Restoration Agency (Badan Restorasi Gambut or BRG) to accelerate its climate change mitigation effort. Recently, the National Development Agency launched the Low …

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Trapped: slavery in the 21st century

Slavery or, to give it its modern name, forced labour or indentured labour—is something you probably associated with bygone eras. Sadly, it is very much a modern 21st-century problem. It is also often right in front of your eyes. From fishing boats off the Andaman Sea trawling for shrimp that …

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Jokowi’s Macron moment: moving fast or moving together?

With the clock ticking on his reform agenda, 2020 looks set to be President Jokowi’s most pivotal year yet. The new omnibus legislation on the creation of employment, intended to improve the country’s investment climate, has been rejected by Indonesia’s labour unions. In pushing through his pro-investment reform agenda, Jokowi …

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Justice in Myanmar: the view from Auntie’s shop

One day last month, I stopped by Auntie’s shop on my way home from the village and was greeted with unusual urgency. “You’re here!” My friends cheered in Burmese, “good, you can translate!” They pulled me off my motorcycle, past hanging shampoo packets and the piles of snacks, and into …

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Thailand’s previously apolitical join the Run Against Dictatorship

Over the weekend, Run Against Dictatorship, a pro-democracy activist and student group, held a mini-marathon which saw a large gathering of some 13,000 runners in Bangkok and smaller gatherings in many provincial towns. It was the largest political gathering seen in Thailand since the 2014 coup. Thais in foreign countries …

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What lurks beyond the Belt and Road in Myanmar?

Embroiled and engrossed in Myanmar’s many, seemingly intractable problems – which are regularly internationalised – people may have fallen into a ‘distraction’ trap. It is undeniable that this divided, even fractured, country is in bad shape – definitely more so since the 2015 elections. With the opening of a new …

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The ASEAN pincer: Caught between elite capture and populists

It’s commonly argued that populism threatens democracies in ASEAN and elsewhere, but this allows the threat of unaccountable elites to slip under our collective radar. This is unfortunate, because elites could threaten ASEAN democracies more than populists. Democracies are more than just elections (which ASEAN has lots of); they also …

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