South East 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.

Hundreds dead after two Indonesian disasters

By Peter Symonds, 28 October 2010

A tsunami off the west coast of Sumatra and a volcanic eruption in central Java have claimed more than 300 lives this week.

Hunger in the Philippines as President Aquino cuts food subsidies

By Joseph Santolan, 20 October 2010

The budget for the National Food Authority, the agency responsible for the purchase and sale of rice at subsidized prices, has been slashed to meet IMF demands for budget cuts.

The strange end of the 2008 “coup” affair

East Timorese president frees men jailed over alleged assassination attempts

By Patrick O’Connor, 18 October 2010

East Timorese President Jose Ramos-Horta pardoned the men convicted over a supposed double assassination attempt in 2008 targeting himself and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao.

Pentagon chief asserts US “national interest” in China seas

By Bill Van Auken, 13 October 2010

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates used a defense ministers meeting in Hanoi Tuesday to reassert US “national interests” in the maritime disputes roiling relations between China and its neighbors.

Cambodian garment strikers victimised as unions enter talks

By John Roberts, 1 October 2010

As soon as the strikers returned to work—at the behest of the unions and the Hun Sen government—employers began to suspend factory delegates.

Philippine budget: Austerity for the poor, subsidies for the rich

By Dante Pastrana, 29 September 2010

President Aquino’s pro-poor posturing is a sham. Like government leaders worldwide, he is under pressure from global financial capital to rein in public expenditure at the expense of working people.

Thailand: Bangkok rally highlights continuing political tensions

By John Roberts, 25 September 2010

Anti-government protesters held a large demonstration last Sunday to mark the fourth anniversary of the 2006 military coup that ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Philippine president visits US amid rising regional tensions

By Joseph Santolan, 23 September 2010

Like other countries throughout Asia, Aquino is faced with balancing between his country’s growing economic dependence on China and its longstanding ties with the US, the former colonial power.

Cambodian union leaders call off garment workers’ mass strike

By John Roberts, 20 September 2010

Cambodian union leaders last week struck a deal with the Hun Sen government to call off a four-day strike that had rapidly spread to involve more than 200,000 garment workers.

Thai government rules out early election

By John Roberts, 9 September 2010

Despite the government’s promises of reconciliation, the climate of repression continues in Thailand, with emergency rule still in force and key opposition leaders either in jail or being hunted by security forces.

Manila’s water crisis exposes impact of privatisation

By Dante Pastrana, 7 September 2010

July’s week-long rationing of water highlighted the reality: millions of people are denied the basic right to potable water and sanitation while private firms rake in profits at their expense.

US ramps up pressure on Burmese junta over war crimes

By John Roberts, 30 August 2010

Washington’s move has nothing to do with bringing the Burmese generals to justice for their oppressive rule, but is to pressure the junta for concessions, and undercut Chinese influence in Burma.

“Alarm bells” ring for Australian government over deepening China-East Timor ties

By Patrick O’Connor, 27 August 2010

The Australian cited unnamed senior diplomatic analysts who said that “China’s foray into what has been traditionally regarded as ‘Australia’s sphere of interest’ had set alarm bells ringing in Canberra.”

Philippine hostage tragedy exposes tense international relations

By Joseph Santolan, 27 August 2010

These events simultaneously exposed the rot at the core of the new Philippine government, the empty bluster of the news-as-entertainment media, and the taut and tenuous nature of relations between the Philippines and China.

US forges closer military ties with Vietnam

By Peter Symonds, 26 August 2010

The Obama administration has taken several steps to boost its military relationship with Vietnam as part of a broader strategy aimed undermining Chinese influence in East Asia.

First Khmer Rouge defendant convicted in Cambodia

By John Roberts, 16 August 2010

Former Khmer Rouge prison commandant, Kaing Guek Eav, also known as “Duch”, was convicted last month in a UN-backed trial and sentenced to 35 years imprisonment.

Cambodian garment workers strike over low pay

By John Braddock, 10 August 2010

Thousands of Cambodian garment workers, mostly young women, have joined strikes over low pay and poor working conditions in recent weeks, doing battle with riot police using tear gas and electric shock batons.

US-Vietnam nuclear talks heighten frictions with China

By Peter Symonds, 9 August 2010

Nuclear negotiations between the US and Vietnam are another sign that the Obama administration is engaged in an aggressive strategy of countering Chinese influence in Asia.

US ends ban on Indonesian Kopassus commandos

By John Braddock, 6 August 2010

The Obama administration is to lift a decade-long ban on US military contact with Indonesia’s notorious Kopassus special forces.

US-China tensions over South China Sea

By John Chan, 4 August 2010

Hillary Clinton’s provocative stance at the South East Asian Nations security forum last month, opposing China’s claims in the South China Sea, has inflamed another global flashpoint.

West Papuan protests voice discontent with Indonesian rule

By John Braddock, 20 July 2010

The demonstration was the biggest in the province since the fall of former Indonesian dictator Suharto in 1998.

Thai government extends emergency rule

By John Roberts, 8 July 2010

Emergency rule has been prolonged under conditions of simmering resentment and social discontent.

Report highlights political persecution in Indonesia

By John Braddock, 2 July 2010

Despite efforts to portray Indonesia as “democratic” following the fall of the Suharto dictatorship in 1998, a recent Human Rights Watch report demonstrates the government’s continuing abuse of basic democratic rights.

Aquino installed as Philippine president

By Joseph Santolan, 1 July 2010

Lurking behind Aquino’s insipid rhetoric of change and an end to corruption is a continuation of the anti-working class policies of his predecessor.

UN report reveals deep social divide in Thailand

By John Braddock, 23 June 2010

A report released last month points to the underlying social tensions that helped fuel recent anti-government protests in Bangkok.

Thai government continues crackdown on opposition

By John Roberts, 18 June 2010

Despite a so-called national reconciliation plan, the Thai government and military are still detaining and pursuing anti-government protesters.

Australia-East Timor conflict intensifies over Greater Sunrise gas project

By Mike Head, 9 June 2010

A bitter dispute between Australia and East Timor over a giant gas and oil project in the Timor Sea has worsened.

Thai prime minister survives no-confidence vote

By John Roberts, 5 June 2010

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s government defeated censure motions in the country’s parliament on Tuesday, in a bitter debate that demonstrates that Abhisit is not prepared to make any concessions.

Thai government widens political witch hunt

By John Roberts, 29 May 2010

Despite its calls for “reconciliation” in the wake of last week’s military’s crackdown on the “Red Shirt” protests, the Thai government is extending its dragnet of opposition leaders and supporters.

The political lessons of the Thai protests

By Peter Symonds, 27 May 2010

Last week’s military crackdown may have crushed anti-government protests in Bangkok but the underlying social tensions and political issues remain and will inevitably erupt again.

Thai government maintains state of emergency

By John Roberts, 24 May 2010

Following last Wednesday’s military crackdown, Thai Prime Minister Vejjajiva has ruled out a national election in the immediate future and continued the state of emergency in Bangkok and other provinces.

Bangkok’s bloody events: a warning

By Peter Symonds, 22 May 2010

There has been no international condemnation of the Thai military’s crackdown on anti-government protesters in Bangkok that left more than 80 people dead and hundreds injured.

Heavy military presence continues in Bangkok

By John Roberts and Peter Symonds, 21 May 2010

The Thai government yesterday extended the curfew in Bangkok and a third of the country’s provinces after troops cracked down on “red shirt” protesters on Wednesday.

Thai military crushes Bangkok protest

By John Roberts, 20 May 2010

At least six people were killed and more than 60 injured yesterday when the Thai army cracked down on anti-government protesters in Bangkok.

Indonesian finance minister appointed as World Bank director

By John Braddock, 19 May 2010

Mulyani’s elevation to the World Bank is not just a career change, but is bound up with deepening conflicts within the Indonesian ruling elite.

Thai demonstrators defy government ultimatum to end protest

By John Roberts, 18 May 2010

After the deadline passed, the thousands of troops and police surrounding the protesters’ barricades held off a direct assault. A nervous standoff continues this morning.

Thai military escalates crackdown

By John Roberts, 17 May 2010

The Thai military is poised to move against thousands of anti-government protesters encamped in Bangkok’s Ratchaprasong commercial district.

Ten dead as Thai military lays siege to protesters

By John Roberts, 15 May 2010

At least 10 people have been killed and 125 wounded over the past two days after the Thai military sealed off all access to the anti-government protest site in Bangkok.

Thai government’s deal with protesters breaks down

By John Roberts, 13 May 2010

An agreement reached last week between the Thai government and the opposition United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship appears to have collapsed after opposition protesters refused to disperse.

Noynoy Aquino wins Philippine presidency

By Joseph Santolan, 12 May 2010

The one-term senator and scion of the Cojuangco dynasty is set to enter office facing a 4.358 trillion peso national debt.

Fear of election failure in the Philippines dominates lead up to Monday’s voting

By Joseph Santolan, 8 May 2010

From the disputes in ruling circles and the press, it is clear that the bourgeoisie is terrified of an election that fails to give the stamp of legitimacy to the victor.

Hacienda Luisita haunts Philippine presidential candidate Aquino

By Dante Pastrana, 7 May 2010

With the Philippine elections taking place next Monday, leading candidate Senator Benigno Aquino III continues to be plagued by controversy over his family’s huge sugar plantation.

Thai protest leaders agree to government deal

By John Roberts, 6 May 2010

While UDD leaders accepted in principle a government proposal for a November election, none of the underlying political and social tensions that provoked the protracted protests have been resolved.

Thai prime minister issues election offer to protesters

By Peter Symonds, 4 May 2010

Abhisit’s proposal amounted to an ultimatum that came with thinly veiled threats. As the prime minister outlined his plan, an army spokesman said security forces were preparing to use armoured vehicles to disperse the protesters.

Uneasy standoff in Bangkok after violent clash

By John Roberts, 30 April 2010

A clash on Wednesday between anti-government protestors and Thai security forces has left one soldier dead and two others injured, along with 16 demonstrators.

Charges dropped over Philippine political killings

By John Braddock, 28 April 2010

The Philippine government has dropped charges against two members of a prominent political family accused of conspiracy in last year’s massacre of 57 people in southern Mindanao.

Political stalemate continues in Thailand

By John Roberts, 27 April 2010

The crisis in Bangkok is intensifying as thousands of anti-government protesters entrenched in the upmarket Ratchaprasong commercial area confront heavily armed soldiers and police.

Military menaces anti-government protesters in Thailand

By John Roberts, 21 April 2010

A tense standoff continues between heavily-armed troops and thousands of anti-government protesters in the Ratchaprasong commercial area of Bangkok.

Thai government prepares new crackdown on protests

By John Roberts, 17 April 2010

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva set the stage on Friday for a showdown between the army and anti-government protesters who continue to occupy Bangkok’s main commercial district.

The class struggle in Thailand

By Peter Symonds, 15 April 2010

What has erupted in Thailand is the elemental first stage of class struggles that have broad significance for workers throughout the region and internationally.

Thai government shaky as mass protests continue

By John Roberts, 14 April 2010

The political crisis in Thailand has deepened following Saturday’s deadly street battles on the streets of Bangkok.

Philippine port workers sold out by unions

By Dante Pastrana, 14 April 2010

The trade unions paved the way for the privatisation of Manila North Harbour by signing a sell-out agreement with the new port operator on March 30 that will lead to major cutbacks in jobs and conditions.

Thai military crackdown on anti-government protest leaves 21 dead

By John Braddock and Peter Symonds, 12 April 2010

At least 21 people are dead and 874 injured after fierce street battles erupted on Saturday in central Bangkok as soldiers in riot gear attempted to disperse thousands of anti-government protesters.

Thai government imposes state of emergency, but protests continue

By John Roberts, 9 April 2010

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva seized on a protest at the national parliament on Wednesday to declare a state of emergency in Bangkok and surrounding provinces.

Anti-government protests continue in Thailand

By John Roberts, 7 April 2010

Red-shirted pro-Thaksin demonstrators in Bangkok are demanding new elections, maintaining a three-week protest.

Philippine presidential candidates to cut budget deficit

By Dante Pastrana, 30 March 2010

While all the presidential candidates in the May elections are making empty promises to help working people, the next administration will quickly launch a further assault on living standards.

A tense election campaign in the Philippines

By Joseph Santolan, 26 March 2010

A worsening economic crisis is fuelling sharp rivalry between the various factions of the ruling elite, which also reflect the international tensions between Beijing and Washington.

Malaysian government plays the communal card

By John Roberts, 26 March 2010

Tacitly backed by the government, Muslim hardliners are continuing to stoke communal tensions over the use of the word “Allah” by non-Muslims.

Mass protests in Thai capital as political crisis continues

By John Braddock, 16 March 2010

Tens of thousands of supporters of Thailand’s former prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, rallied in Bangkok on Sunday and yesterday in ongoing protests.

Acquittal in East Timor marks collapse of official “coup” story

By Patrick O’Connor, 11 March 2010

A court last week acquitted dual East Timorese-Australian citizen Angelita Pires of all charges relating to an alleged assassination plot in 2008, in which President Jose Ramos-Horta was shot.

Indonesian bank bailout exposes split in ruling coalition

By John Braddock, 1 March 2010

Sharp political divisions in Indonesia’s ruling coalition emerged as the representatives of political parties on a parliamentary special committee on the 2008 bailout of Bank Century presented their findings.

Australian military vehicle responsible for elderly woman’s death in East Timor

By Patrick O’Connor, 13 February 2010

The death of Gracinda da Costa in an apparent road accident involving an Australian military vehicle has highlighted the blanket immunity enjoyed by the intervention force in East Timor.

Trial of Malaysian opposition leader begins

By John Roberts, 9 February 2010

A sodomy conviction would effectively end Anwar’s political career and undermine the opposition, which made significant inroads at the 2008 national election.

Further questions raised in East Timor “assassination” trial

By Patrick O’Connor, 30 January 2010

An ongoing trial relating to the alleged failed assassination of East Timor’s president and prime minister has raised further serious questions about the murky affair.

Clinton speech underlines US-China tensions

By John Chan, 15 January 2010

A speech by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Hawaii on Tuesday underscored the rising rivalry between the US and China.

China and ASEAN create free trade bloc

By John Roberts, 12 January 2010

A Free Trade Agreement between China and the Association of South East Asian Nations came into effect on New Year’s Day, creating the world’s third largest free trade bloc.

Malaysian government continues persecution of opposition leader

By John Roberts, 28 December 2009

The Malaysian government is continuing its prosecution of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim following a High Court ruling dismissing his application for sodomy charges to be struck down.

Martial law in the Philippines

By Peter Symonds, 14 December 2009

The resort to martial law in the Philippines is directed against the working class and highlights the political consequences of the deepening global economic crisis and rising class tensions internationally.

Philippine president declares martial law in Maguindanao province

By Peter Symonds, 12 December 2009

In a further erosion of democratic rights in the Philippines, President Arroyo has imposed martial law over most of Maguindanao province on the southern island of Mindanao.

Philippine political massacre foreshadows widespread election violence

By Joseph Santolan, 1 December 2009

The 57 people killed were victims of the violence of the electoral process that is wielded with impunity by powerful political families throughout the Philippines.

Corruption scandal creates major crisis for Indonesian president

By John Braddock, 27 November 2009

Barely a month after his inauguration for a second term, Indonesian President Yudhoyono is embroiled in a scandal involving attempts to discredit the Corruption Eradication Commission.

Another Indonesian ferry disaster claims dozens of lives

By John Roberts, 25 November 2009

In the latest Indonesian ferry disaster, at least 29 people are dead and many missing after an overcrowded boat sank in bad weather off the Riau Islands province.

Indonesian police shoot two refugees trying to reach Australia

By Mike Head, 18 November 2009

The real face of the Rudd government’s hoped-for “Indonesian solution” for asylum seekers began to emerge last week. Indonesian police shot and seriously wounded two men trying to reach Australia aboard an Afghan asylum seekers’ boat.

Thai-Cambodian tensions escalate over Thaksin appointment

By John Roberts, 16 November 2009

A diplomatic row between Bangkok and Phnom Penh over Cambodia’s appointment of former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra as economic advisor intensified last week.

Australian government’s “Indonesian Solution” in disarray

By Richard Phillips, 2 November 2009

Two weeks after an Australian customs ship rescued 78 Tamil asylum seekers, the unresolved standoff over their future has focussed attention on the Labor government’s inhumane and illegal treatment of refugees.

Australian imperialism, the 1999 East Timor intervention and the pseudo-left

By Patrick O’Connor, 2 November 2009

September marked the tenth anniversary of the Australian-led military intervention into East Timor. It is also a decade since a layer of pseudo “left” groups organised “troops in” demonstrations—performing a vital service for the Howard government and the Australian ruling elite.

Indonesian earthquake toll soars

By John Braddock, 20 October 2009

The death toll from the September 30 earthquake in West Sumatra reached 1,115 last week after officials ended the search for 300 missing people and declared them dead.

Political fallout grows over Indonesian bank bailout

By John Braddock, 14 October 2009

A festering scandal in Indonesia over the government bailout of the mid-sized Bank Century late last year is threatening to cast a shadow over the second term of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Vietnamese economy hit by global crisis

By John Braddock, 12 October 2009

According to the Ministry of Planning and Investment, Vietnam’s year-on-year economic growth slowed to 3.9 percent in the first half of 2009, down from 6.2 percent in 2008 and 8.5 percent in 2007, as the global recession slowed exports and investment.

Thousands feared dead after Indonesian earthquake

By John Roberts, 3 October 2009

An earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale struck Indonesia on Wednesday, causing enormous destruction in and around the Sumatran city of Padang.

Typhoon causes widespread destruction in the Philippines

By John Roberts, 30 September 2009

A major storm struck the Philippines last Saturday killing at least 250 people and causing over 435,000 to flee their flooded homes.

Anti-government rally on third anniversary of Thai coup

By John Roberts, 21 September 2009

The opposition is demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his Democratic Party-led government.

Earthquake devastates Indonesia’s West Java province

By John Roberts, 5 September 2009

At least 64 people were killed, including a number of children, as a result of the earthquake that struck off the coast of West Java on Wednesday.

Ten years since East Timor’s independence vote

By Patrick O’Connor, 31 August 2009

Yesterday marked the tenth anniversary of the referendum that saw nearly 80 percent of the East Timorese people vote to secede from Indonesia and become a separate nation-state.

Indonesian court rejects election challenge

By John Braddock, 21 August 2009

The Indonesian Constitutional Court last week dismissed an application for a presidential election re-vote by the two losing candidates, Megawati Sukarnoputri and Jusuf Kalla.

Mass arrests at Malaysian protest

By John Roberts, 5 August 2009

Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Kuala Lumpur to demand the repeal of draconian security laws. Police responded with beatings, tear gas, water cannon and mass arrests.

Corazon Cojuangco Aquino, 1933-2009

Part two

By Joseph Santolan, 5 August 2009

Corazon Aquino, former president of the Philippines, died of colon cancer on August 1. She had scarcely been dead for thirty minutes when eulogies and encomia began to flood the mainstream media.

Corazon Cojuangco Aquino, 1933-2009

Part one

By Joseph Santolan, 4 August 2009

Corazon Aquino, former president of the Philippines, died of colon cancer on August 1. She had scarcely been dead for thirty minutes when eulogies and encomia began to flood the mainstream media.

Indonesian president’s re-election disputed

By John Roberts, 3 August 2009

The official declaration of incumbent President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s landslide election victory has been challenged by losing candidates.

Indonesian bombings portend renewed attacks on democratic rights

By John Braddock, 29 July 2009

The July 17 suicide bombings in Jakarta are being exploited to justify inroads into the limited democratic rights gained in Indonesia since the end of the Suharto dictatorship.

Clinton’s ASEAN appearance signals US “back in Asia”

By John Chan, 28 July 2009

In a bid to bolster US standing and counter growing Chinese influence, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attended the ASEAN summit in Thailand and signed ASEAN’s Treaty of Amity and Cooperation.