South East Asia

Twenty-five years since the Mendiola massacre in the Philippines

By Joseph Santolan, 23 January 2012

On January 22, 1987, 17,000 peasants, workers and students marched across Mendiola Bridge in Manila when police opened fire on them.

Impeachment trial of chief justice opens in the Philippines

By Joseph Santolan, 16 January 2012

This is the second impeachment trial in the country’s history and is part of a campaign by President Aquino to consolidate power.

Scores injured, arrested in housing demolition in the Philippines

By Joseph Santolan, 13 January 2012

The demolition is part of the forcible relocation of the Manila poor and working class carried out on behalf of real estate developers.

Landslide in Philippine mining community kills at least 36

By Joseph Santolan, 10 January 2012

On January 4, a landslide of mud, clay, debris and tree roots buried fifty bunkhouses and many of the sleeping miners and their families.

Malaysia’s opposition leader acquitted

By John Roberts, 10 January 2012

The High Court decision deals a significant blow to the government’s efforts to jail Anwar as it prepares for elections.

US-China rivalry behind fresh corruption charges in the Philippines

By Joseph Santolan, 9 January 2012

Behind the sordid allegations is a simple fact: Arroyo gave a massive infrastructural contract to a Chinese state corporation over a rival bid from a US firm.

Indonesian police kill three protesters during anti-mine protest

By Mark Church, 29 December 2011

The protesters were part of the Anti-Mining People’s Front, which opposes mineral exploration in the area being carried out by Australian Arc Exploration.

Death toll in Philippines flooding over a thousand

By Oliver Campbell, 23 December 2011

It appears that the collapse of dams contributed to the severity of the floods, along with deforestation, silting of the rivers and lack of government planning.

The Philippine ‘left’ and the constitutional crisis

By Joseph Santolan, 20 December 2011

The ongoing constitutional crisis in the Philippines has revealed the bankrupt and unprincipled character of every section of the so-called ‘left.’

Philippines: Hundreds dead and missing in flash flooding

By Oliver Campbell, 19 December 2011

The severity of the floods, which hit residents without warning, was compounded by extensive deforestation and unplanned urbanisation.

Constitutional crisis erupts in the Philippines

By Joseph Santolan, 19 December 2011

President Aquino, employing sharply anti-democratic measures, has had Philippine Chief Justice Renato Corona impeached.

Imperialism and the Khmer Rouge trials

By Mike Head, 17 December 2011

The UN-orchestrated proceedings are designed to bury the underlying responsibility for the Cambodian catastrophe—above all, that of United States imperialism.

Trial of Khmer Rouge leaders underway in Cambodia

By John Roberts, 13 December 2011

The court has been carefully contrived to convict the Khmer Rouge leaders while covering up the responsibility of the major powers for the tragedy that engulfed the Cambodian people.

Obama’s aggressive turn to Asia

By Peter Symonds, 24 November 2011

On every front—diplomatic, economic and strategic—the US president has set course for a confrontation with China in order to reassert American dominance in the world’s fastest growing region.

Obama forces discussion at Bali summit on South China Sea

By Peter Symonds, 21 November 2011

The US diplomatic bullying of China has transformed what was a troublesome, but limited maritime dispute in the South China Sea into another dangerous flashpoint in Asia.

Ex-Philippine President Arroyo arrested for electoral fraud

By Joseph Santolan, 21 November 2011

Aquino’s prosecution of Arroyo occurs in the context of rapidly mounting geopolitical tensions between the US and China, and is driven by the interests of US imperialism.

Thai floods compound government’s political problems

By John Roberts, 12 November 2011

The ongoing flooding has impacted heavily on the Thai economy and is also taking its toll on the newly installed government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

Malaysian government moves for early election

By John Roberts, 8 November 2011

The preparations for an early poll are driven in part by government concerns over the global impact of the economic crises in the eurozone and the United States.

Indonesian government orders police to break Papuan mine strike

By Mike Head, 3 November 2011

Indonesia’s newly appointed energy and mineral resources minister met on Monday with the US ambassador to Indonesia, Scot Marciel, to discuss the two-month-old Freeport dispute.

Political tensions rise as Thai flood disaster continues

By John Roberts, 2 November 2011

Amid rising anger and resentment among flood victims, the Thai government’s chief concern has been to reassure big business and foreign investors.

Twenty thousand displaced as Philippine government bombs Mindanao

By Joseph Santolan, 29 October 2011

The ‘lawless elements’ whom President Aquino has ordered attacked, are the primary hurdle to a US-backed ‘peace’ process in the southern Philippines.

Thousands flee flooding in Thailand

By John Roberts, 27 October 2011

Public holidays have been declared to enable some of Bangkok’s 12 million residents to evacuate and allow others to prepare last-ditch sandbag defences.

Business leaders oppose Thai government’s rice price scheme

By John Roberts, 27 October 2011

Amid the country’s worsening flood crisis, industry chiefs and economists have urged the government to abandon its election promises.

Philippine gunboat rams Chinese fishing vessel in South China Sea

By Joseph Santolan, 25 October 2011

Behind the confrontation and escalating tensions in the South China Sea is the provocative role being played by Washington in the region.

Millions impacted as floods engulf Bangkok

By John Roberts, 24 October 2011

Infighting has erupted in ruling circles as the effects of the record monsoon rains are exacerbated by deforestation, development projects and inadequate flood mitigation measures.

Freeport shuts Papuan gold mine in new strike-breaking bid

By Mike Head, 19 October 2011

The indefinite shutdown came a week after para-military police, mobilised by the Indonesian government, opened fire on protesting workers, killing one striker and wounding a dozen more.

Indonesian police open fire on striking miners in Papua

By Mike Head, 13 October 2011

Employed in the largest and most profitable gold and copper mine in the world, the strikers have demanded that their hourly wages, currently as low as $2, rise to a minimum of $17.50.

Six workers die in Subic shipyard in the Philippines

By Joseph Santolan, 10 October 2011

Keppel, the shipyard operator, has actively suppressed the release of information regarding the accident, denying government officials, investigators and journalists access to the site.

Thailand: Hundreds dead as floods threaten Bangkok

By Oliver Campbell, 10 October 2011

Over the weekend, there were chaotic scenes and frantic evacuations in the ancient city of Ayutthaya, 80 kilometres upriver from Bangkok.

Tensions continue to mount in South China Sea

By Joseph Santolan, 6 October 2011

As Washington engages in political and military machinations throughout the region, the Chinese response is becoming increasingly strident.

Union abandons Philippine Airlines ground employees

By Dante Pastrana, 5 October 2011

The PALEA leaders betrayed a September 27 sit-down strike, continuing their protracted sell-out of 2,600 workers being replaced by contract labourers.

Death toll mounts in the wake of typhoon in the Philippines

By Joseph Santolan, 1 October 2011

The tragedy of Typhoon Nesat was caused by staggering levels of class inequality and by the pursuit of profit in complete disregard for its effects upon human lives.

Philippine Airlines to sack 2,600 ground staff

By Dante Pastrana, 27 September 2011

The job cuts are part of the ongoing restructuring of the airline that began in 1998 when the airline sacked 5,000 pilots, flight attendants and ground staff.

Philippine economy decelerating amid global turmoil

By Dante Pastrana, 19 September 2011

The economic slowdown will only widen the gulf between rich and poor, with the Stratbase Research Institute reporting that the Philippines was already the most unequal among Southeast Asian countries.

Sharp tensions in Indonesian Papua following failure of “peace conference”

By John Roberts, 10 September 2011

The lack of agreement between Jakarta and Papuan organisations was quickly underscored by a spate of violence and protest rallies in Jayapura and other towns.

Nike faces allegations of worker abuse in Indonesia

By John Braddock, 8 September 2011

The latest claims refute the longstanding assertions by Nike and other high-end garment and footwear manufacturers that they are improving conditions in their outsourced sweat-shop operations.

Corruption scandal rattles Indonesian government

By John Roberts, 31 August 2011

The latest scandal has further damaged President Yudhoyono’s standing, particularly as it has involved younger Democrats that helped promote his anti-corruption drive.

New Thai government seeks to appease factional rivals

By Peter Symonds, 15 August 2011

Efforts to patch up the deep rifts in Thai ruling circles reflect fears that last year’s anti-government protests began to express class hostility toward the wealthy elite and threatened to spiral out of control.

Thai parliament endorses Yingluck as new PM

By Peter Symonds, 8 August 2011

Yingluck takes power after five years of intense political upheaval in Thailand following an army coup against her elder brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, in 2006.

Thai parliament to convene next week

By John Roberts, 29 July 2011

Prime Minister-elect Yingluck Shinawatra has not yet named her cabinet, with the entire process fraught with the intense tensions that have marked Thai politics over the past five years.

US-China rivalry drives corruption scandal in the Philippines

By Joseph Santolan, 29 July 2011

Former Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has been charged on five counts of plundering the economy during her tenure as president and with election fraud.

Australian government signs punitive refugee deal with Malaysia

By Will Morrow, 27 July 2011

Labor’s policy will send at least 800 asylum seekers to Malaysia, a country notorious for its mistreatment of refugees.

Trial of Khmer Rouge leaders underway in Cambodia

By John Roberts, 25 July 2011

What is taking place is a show trial designed to close the book on the Khmer Rouge genocide while covering up the responsibility of the major powers, including the US and China, for the atrocities.

Malaysian government cracks down on opposition protesters

By John Roberts, 23 July 2011

The fact that the government has whipped up a communist scare campaign reflects deeper fears in Malaysia’s ruling circles of growing social tensions and the potential for unrest.

New Thai government faces pressure to ditch election pledges

By Peter Symonds, 14 July 2011

Having raised expectations during the election campaign, any move by the new government to abandon its promises to working people would heighten social and political tensions.

Malaysian government cracks down on electoral reform rally

By John Roberts, 11 July 2011

Despite the limited character of the Bersih coalition’s call for electoral changes, the government was clearly unnerved by the rally.

After the Thai election: A warning to the working class

By Peter Symonds, 8 July 2011

No one should be under any illusion that Puea Thai’s win has brought to power a government that will act in the interests of the millions of urban and rural poor who voted for it.

Hacienda Luisita and the farce of Philippine land reform

By Joseph Santolan, 7 July 2011

What hides behind the opaque language and convoluted logic of the Supreme Court decision is the final scrapping of even the most limited land reform in the Philippines.

Pro-Thaksin party to form next Thai government after election win

By John Roberts and Peter Symonds, 5 July 2011

The election outcome expressed the bitter resentment among the urban and rural poor involved last year in months of anti-government protests that were violently crushed by army.

Washington boosts military ties with the Philippines

By Joseph Santolan, 4 July 2011

The Philippine administration has, since the election of President Benigno Aquino last year, aligned its foreign policy more and more closely to the United States.

US-China rivalry compounds Thai election tension

By Peter Symonds, 2 July 2011

The renewed American focus on Thailand stems from a sense that the US has allowed China to strengthen its influence in Bangkok at the expense of longstanding strategic ties with Washington.

Washington continues to escalate tensions in South China Sea

By Joseph Santolan, 30 June 2011

A US Senate resolution passed this week deploring China’s use of force and supporting continued US military operations heightens the danger of a confrontation in the South China Sea.

Political unrest looms after Thai elections

By John Roberts, 28 June 2011

Regardless of the outcome of Sunday’s election, further political unrest is possible amid infighting in Thai ruling circles.

Election campaign heightens Thai political tensions

By John Roberts and Peter Symonds, 16 June 2011

The campaign for the July 3 election is revealing the rifts in ruling circles, as well as the social tensions behind the military’s suppression of “Red Shirt” protests last year.

South China Sea disputes heighten danger of conflict

By Joseph Santolan, 15 June 2011

Tensions have intensified as Vietnam and the Philippines, tacitly backed by the US, assert their claims in the contested waters of the South China Sea.

Gates outlines aggressive agenda for US imperialism in Asia

By Joseph Santolan, 7 June 2011

The US Defense Secretary’s speech came amid rapidly mounting tensions between China and other claimants to the South China Sea.

Chinese patrol boats confront Vietnamese oil exploration ship in South China Sea

By Joseph Santolan, 31 May 2011

Tensions are being fuelled by the US backing of Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries to contest China’s activities in a strategically sensitive region that has vast oil and gas reserves.

A revealing prison “escape” in the Philippines

By Joseph Santolan, 28 May 2011

The living conditions of wealthy prisoners in New Bilibid Prison are much better than those of the people who live on the edges of the prison grounds.

US and the Philippines: naval ships and ‘historical ties’

By Joseph Santolan, 21 May 2011

With US backing, the Philippines has been playing an increasingly provocative role in the South China Sea in asserting its stake in the disputed waters, especially against China.

Judge endorses prosecution case in Malaysian opposition leader’s trial

By John Roberts, 20 May 2011

The court not only ruled that the prosecution had a prima facie case against Anwar, but declared that the evidence of its chief witness was “reliable”.

Singapore election reflects anti-government groundswell

By our correspondent, 14 May 2011

Tens of thousands flocked to opposition rallies before the election to express their anger over the PAP’s pro-business policies.

Philippine president proposes to evict 500,000 slum residents from Manila

By Joseph Santolan, 12 May 2011

Aquino’s plan aims to simultaneously clear urban land for private developers and to stem the mounting threat of a food crisis.

ASEAN summit fails to resolve Thai-Cambodian conflict

By John Roberts, 12 May 2011

At present, the border conflict appears to be driven primarily by internal political considerations but both Washington and Beijing are no doubt calculating how best to exploit the Thai-Cambodian tensions to their own advantage.

The Pacquiao phenomenon in the Philippines

By Joseph Santolan, 9 May 2011

Like almost every boxing figure before him, Manny Pacquiao came from a life of grinding poverty. It is this history—the intimate shared reality of suffering and struggle—that the vast majority Filipinos identify with.

Defence lawyers demand acquittal of Malaysian opposition leader

By John Roberts, 6 May 2011

Any ruling by the judge to acquit Anwar would run counter to the government’s determined campaign to remove the opposition leader from the political scene.

Tensions escalate over the South China Sea

By Joseph Santolan, 3 May 2011

China, Taiwan and the Philippines have each stepped up their rhetoric regarding the contested oil-rich Spratly Islands and deployed troops to the region.

Renewed fighting on Thai-Cambodian border

By John Roberts, 27 April 2011

Clashes erupted last Friday near two ancient temples, about 160 kilometres west of the Preah Vihear temple where fighting took place in early February.

WikiLeaks’ cables reveal:

Portugal’s intelligence chief accused Australia of “fomenting unrest” in East Timor

By Patrick O’Connor, 25 April 2011

The Australian government, then led by John Howard, targeted Alkatiri because of his perceived alignment with rival powers, especially Portugal and China.

Thai government prepares for early election

By John Roberts, 23 April 2011

None of the divisions within the ruling elites that led to last year’s military crackdown has been resolved.

Good Friday crucifixions in the Philippines

By Joseph Santolan, 22 April 2011

The spectacle is an annual celebration of gore and obscurantism, an international media circus, and a tourist bonanza.

Fears of a looming Philippine rice crisis

By Joseph Santolan, 15 April 2011

The public furor over possible rice shortages has exposed the precarious position in which Aquino administration’s policies have left the country’s food supply.

Workers buried alive in Vietnamese quarry disaster

By Wasantha Rupasingha, 12 April 2011

Despite official displays of concern, hundreds of quarries are permitted to operate in Vietnam without proper safety measures.

Japan promotes its nuclear industry at special ASEAN summit

By Joseph Santolan, 9 April 2011

Supposedly called to discuss ASEAN aid for Japan following the March 11 quake, the summit’s hidden agenda is to promote the Japanese nuclear industry.

China’s execution of Filipino drug couriers highlights mounting regional tensions

By Joseph Santolan, 5 April 2011

The three prisoners became pawns in a vast geopolitical game involving the China, the Philippines, the US and the Association of South East Asian Nations.

Thailand: a bonanza for international investors

By Peter Symonds, 29 March 2011

The Thai government headed by Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai is being hailed in the world's financial centres as a model for the International Monetary Fund's intervention into the Asian economic crisis.

Inflation fuels social unrest in Vietnam

By Wasantha Rupasingha, 21 March 2011

In the first two months of this year, more than 20 strikes have been reported, triggered by surging prices.

US plays key role in Philippine corruption scandal

By Joseph Santolan, 8 March 2011

US-instigated charges of corruption in the Philippine military have become a weapon in the hands of President Benigno Aquino III as he strives to consolidate his hold on power.

Philippine planes confront China in disputed South China Sea

By Joseph Santolan, 5 March 2011

Two Philippine military planes chased Chinese patrol boats from disputed waters in the South China Sea on March 2.

UN rejects intervention in Thai-Cambodian border tensions

By John Roberts, 21 February 2011

By handing the border conflict to ASEAN, which historically has had little influence in dealing with the rival interests of its member-states, the UN Security Council inflamed an already volatile situation.

Vietnamese Communist Party opens its arms to the capitalist elite

By Wasantha Rupasingha, 10 February 2011

Little more than 35 years after the military victory over US imperialism in 1975, the Vietnamese Communist Party declared at its 11th congress that it will open up party membership to the country’s emerging business elite.

Thai-Cambodian border clash driven by internal political tensions

By John Roberts, 9 February 2011

Instability and political machinations within Thailand appear to be the key factors behind the renewed conflict.

Ten workers die in construction accident in the Philippines

By Joseph Santolan, 1 February 2011

These workers died because the enforcement of even minimal safety standards would have hampered their employers’ rapacious pursuit of profit.

ASEAN transport links boost economic integration with China

By John Chan, 27 January 2011

Amid growing rivalry with the US, China is building a network of roads, railways and pipelines, designed to protect its access to energy imports and bring South East Asia further into its economic orbit.

Stranded migrant workers protest in Saudi Arabia

By Joseph Santolan, 26 January 2011

The plight of the Filipino contract workers demonstrating outside Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Riyadh is typical of the plight of thousands of migrant workers from numerous countries who are trapped in Saudi Arabia.

Rising work-related deaths and diseases in Vietnam

By Wasantha Rupasingha, 21 January 2011

The basic reason for the death and injury toll is the regime’s embrace of the freewheeling capitalist exploitation of workers and the rural poor by foreign and local investors.

Opposition rally in Thailand cuts across government’s election manoeuvres

By John Roberts, 18 January 2011

The demonstration was the first major mobilisation of Thaksin supporters since the government ended the state of emergency in the capital and three surrounding provinces on December 22.

WikiLeaks cables confirm US knowledge of Indonesian military’s crimes

By Oliver Campbell, 10 January 2011

Leaked US embassy cables demonstrate that Washington was well aware of ongoing human rights abuses in Papua even as it pursued closer ties with the TNI.

East Timor: Alleged 2008 “coup” plotter accuses Prime Minister Gusmao of political manipulation

By Patrick O’Connor, 6 January 2011

Gastao Salsinha, one of the leading participants in the so-called “coup” attempt in East Timor on February 11, 2008, has spoken out against Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao in an interview with Dili newspaper Tempo Seminal.

President Aquino imposes strike ban on Philippines Airlines workers

By Dante Pastrana, 3 January 2011

Philippine President Aquino has by-passed his labor secretary, Rosalinda Baldoz, and assumed jurisdiction over a long-running industrial dispute at Philippine Airlines.

Malaysian opposition leader suspended from parliament

By John Roberts, 29 December 2010

Through Anwar’s suspension the government has regained the two-thirds parliamentary majority needed to change the country’s constitution at will.

Cables show US reversed Indonesian army ban for Obama visit

By John Braddock, 18 December 2010

The resumption of US ties with Kopassus was determined by the Obama administration’s steps to counter Chinese influence in Asia.

WikiLeaks cable reveals US role in 2006 Thai coup

By John Chan, 18 December 2010

A US diplomatic cable has shown that Washington knew in advance of the preparations for the 2006 military coup that ousted Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Court ruling protects Thai government

By John Roberts, 14 December 2010

In a politically motivated decision, the Constitutional Court in Thailand has dismissed charges of electoral fraud against the ruling Democrat Party.

US praises Malaysia’s autocratic government

By John Roberts, 29 November 2010

Visits to Malaysia by Hillary Clinton and Robert Gates earlier this month amounted to a US endorsement of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO)-led coalition government.

Hundreds die in Phnom Penh bridge stampede

By John Roberts, 27 November 2010

Most of the dead were young people who had come to the capital from Cambodia’s rural areas for the annual Water Festival.

Obama trip consolidates strategic ties with Indonesia

By John Roberts, 17 November 2010

Obama’s visit to Indonesia was part of an aggressive US diplomatic campaign aimed at curbing China’s rising influence in Asia.

Released opposition leader Suu Kyi calls for talks with Burmese junta

By K. Ratnayake, 15 November 2010

After being released from house arrest, Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has indicated that she will hold talks with the military junta.

Indonesian government dismisses evidence of torture in Papua

By John Roberts, 9 November 2010

Captured on video, the Indonesian military’s torture of two Papuans in May highlights the extent of the violence and intimidation that exists throughout Papua.

Indonesia: Inadequate relief endangers disaster victims

By John Roberts, 3 November 2010

There is mounting criticism of the government as relief workers struggle to cope with two disasters involving tens of thousands of people—the October 25 tsunami in the Mentawai islands and the eruption of Mount Merapi in central Java.

Aquino government blocks strike at Philippine Airlines

By Dante Pastrana, 30 October 2010

President Benigno Noynoy Aquino’s administration has issued a labor department order barring Philippine Airlines employees from striking in support of a pay agreement.