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 Event Summary 2017

Reforming Thailand’s Education System: Where To Start? 

It has become a cliché to say that Thailand needs to fix its education system. All of Thailand’s myriad challenges from social polarization and income inequality to the lack of national economic competitiveness point to the country’s education woes. These challenges are exacerbated by advancing technologies in a fast-changing world where standing still is tantamount to falling behind. The gap between Thailand’s outdated educational system from the past and the reforms required to compete abroad and meet expectations at home is widening. Many have suggestions but few have clear-cut solutions. This panel brings together experts from Thailand, Europe and America to trade notes, share experiences, and reflect/suggest where Thailand has been and where it needs to go to upgrade its education to address grievances and meet demands at home and abroad. 
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Coping with the Fourth Industrial Revolution: Thailand’s Economic Growth Imperatives 

The government’s “Thailand 4.0” economic growth strategy has had a bandwagoning effect, attracting considerable public attention. It is designed to usher the Thai economy into the 21st-century global digitization era by managing and capitalizing on the challenges and imperatives of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. 
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Asian Views on America’s Role in Asia: The Future of the Rebalance 

The U.S. “rebalance” towards the Asia-Pacific region signals a recognition of
the dramatic shift of economic, political, and strategic power towards Asia.
The rebalance policy, announced in 2010, has provoked sometimes-heated
debate and drawn mixed reactions in Asia regarding the policy’s motives and
intentions. Thursday, 2nd March 2017 
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President Donald J. Trump: Meanings and Consequences for Southeast Asia and Thailand 

A “Dream Thailand” Public Forum Series
“President Donald J. Trump: Meanings and Consequences for Southeast Asia and Thailand”
Friday, 3rd February 2017 
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“Migration, Terrorism and Democracy: Lessons and Challenges Across Asia and Africa” 

Institute of Security and International Studies (ISIS) Public Forum
“Migration, Terrorism and Democracy: Lessons and Challenges Across Asia and Africa”
31 January 2017 at 09.00 - 11.00 a.m. 
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 Articles

Thailand amid Asean economic integration. 

The first year and a half of the Asean Community has transpired not with a bang but a whimper. 
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A way out after two trials in two decades 

Ousted prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra, centre, appears at the Supreme Court in July for a witness hearing session in the malfeasance case in which she is alleged to have failed to prevent damage and irregularities in the rice-pledging scheme. PATTARAPONG CHATPATTARASILL 
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Asean regionalism amid authoritarianism. 

If three Asean members -- Indonesia, Myanmar and the Philippines -- have led the way in shedding their authoritarian past, three others -- Thailand, Cambodia and Malaysia --have gone the other way. 
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Dont cry for me Shinawatra why Yinglucks bad luck is good luck for thailand. 

The self-imposed exile of the former prime minister opens a window of opportunity for the powers-that-be on all sides in Thai politics to break the vicious cycle of coups, constitutions, elections, coups 
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Myanmar's Rohingya issue handled poorly 

Less than a year after its last major upsurge in communal violence underpinned by religious tensions between Buddhism and Islam, the northern section of Myanmar's western Rakhine state bordering Bangladesh is again beset with another bout of similar turmoil and bloodshed. 
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Asean test ground for democracy, dictators. 

Much is being discussed in Southeast Asia this month as Asean, the region's premier organisation, reaches its golden jubilee. One salient issue is the domestic politics and governance within individual
Asean states and across them. 
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To survive another 50 years, ASEAN must learn from its past 

Internal divisions and big power interventions are likely to persist 
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Cambodia leads regional authoritarianism 

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha walks with Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen during a visit to Phnom Penh. Cambodia is Southeast Asia's most authoritarian country but followed closely by its neighbour. 
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Vietnam aims to shine under Apec spotlight. 

After more than three decades of economic reforms, Vietnam will play host to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Leaders' Meeting in Da Nang on Nov 10-11. Given the rapidly changing world 
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Shifting Thai alliances in the 21st century 

In view of rising geopolitical tensions in Asia, Thailand's foreign policy strategy and posture has come into focus. 
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Will Trump derail Obama's legacy in SEA? 

As the administration of US President Donald Trump enters its tenth month, one of the most frequently asked questions is whether he will try to take down his predecessor's legacy in Southeast Asia. 
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Thailand counts down to final, fond October 

For the past four decades, the month of October has carried certain meanings and implications associated with a left-leaning student-led civil society uprising that overthrew a military dictatorship and implications associated with a left-leaning student-led civil society uprising that overthrew a military dictatorship and a right-wing military-led suppression that crushed mostly university students and chased them into the jungle to join the local communist party. 
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The 184-year-old paradox of elephant-eagle relations 

The elephant and eagle as symbols of Thailand and the United States were not the creation of today’s news spin-meisters. 
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Myanmar broadcast media awakening caught on film 

Documentary maker Turid Rogne: 'It is rare to be able to follow media history in the making'. 
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Rakhine crisis: Lessons from Thailand 

When Myanmar's commander-in-chief Snr Gen Min Aung Hlaing was here last week for a series of top-level meetings with his Thai counterparts 
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Sino-Singapore bonhomie bodes well 

Make no mistake, Singapore will always be a powerful catalyst of Asean-China relations. 
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Thailand’s US pivot: hedging or hugging? 

For the past three years, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has been obsessed with the country’s human trafficking record. He has single-handedly pushed for extensive reforms in all areas of this explosive issue. 
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China's push to make new friends 

As the world's No.2 economic power with growing political clout, China is working hard to find regional strategic partners who it can "trust". 
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Is the Thai-Chinese railway a raw deal? 

Despite repeated assurances to the contrary from the government of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, the planned Thai-Chinese high-speed rail continues to attract scepticism. The government's explanation does not add up. Instead, it exposes the weaknesses and ill-effects of using unchecked power under Section 44 of the coup-sanctioned interim constitution, which is somehow allowed under the 2017 charter. In the longer term, the Thai-Chinese railway may end up being a raw deal for Thailand, and many Thais may not look back favourably toward China for it. 
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Neighbourly diplomacy shifts from Laos 

The twists and turns of Thailand's diplomacy toward its neighbouring countries have recently undergone a metamorphosis. 
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Thailand counts the cost of three lost decades 

The country must reverse course to resume political and economic progress 
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Migrant workers policy yet another flop 

Assessed from just about any angle, it is difficult not to see Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha's recent policy announcements on migrant workers as a series of self-inflicted flops. While damage control is the government's immediate concern, Thailand's longer-term priorities require an overhaul of its manpower strategies and a broader change in the Thai mindset on migrant workers from neighbouring countries. 
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Thai-US relations back on the move again? 

Soon after the Asean Summit in April, United States President Donald J Trump placed phone calls to three Southeast Asian leaders and invited them to the White House. 
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Trump's pragmatic pivot back to Asia 

It is ironic and counter-intuitive, but the administration of President Donald Trump is making more inroads for the United States into South-east Asia than the neighbourhood might have expected. His predecessor, Mr Barack Obama, invested enormous energy and the entire geostrategy of his two presidential terms into a much-touted "pivot to Asia" in rebalancing American interests and resources from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Yet Mr Trump, a walking controversy with a rambunctious leadership style and little foreign policy experience, may end up being more effective for US-South-east Asia relations. 
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Comfort level versus political correctness 

The past few months showed Thailand's pragmatism. Its diplomacy is based on a comfort level rather than on perceived political correctness. 
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'Zbig': Renowned geopolitical maestro 

Last week's death of Zbigniew Brzezinski, the renowned thinker, writer and practitioner of geopolitics throughout the Cold War and onetime national security adviser to former US president Jimmy Carter in the late 1970s, has elicited generally positive global reviews and assessments of his achievements. He died on Friday at the age of 89. 
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Thailand and Vietnam: Stronger together. 

In Asean, Vietnam is Thailand's only strategic partner. Three points in particular underpin the countries' unique ties. 
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Reality sets in three years after the coup 

Three years after it seized power in Thailand's 13th successful coup in 85 years, the government of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha appears embattled. Growing popular grievances have focused on Thailand's economic doldrums, persistent corruption, intractable polarisation, and a problematic roadmap to return to democratic rule. In addition, a string of mysterious bomb blasts in Bangkok with murky implications has recently undermined the political stability and social calm that the National Council for Peace and Order was supposed to be good at achieving. 
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The submarine deal that won't go away 

Despite widespread public opposition, the Thai navy inked a 13.5-billion-baht contract last week for the first of what will be three Chinese submarines in an 11-year deal worth 36 billion baht. Myriad criticisms have been expressed in as many media platforms by both experts and observers alike. Yet there are four broader implications which argue against the submarine deal and warrant a mention on record. 
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Trump promotes a 'pivot in Asia' 

It was bound to happen. With one brief trans-Pacific phone call to Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, U.S. President Donald Trump replaced the playbook that has governed U.S.-Thai 
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North Korea must win back Asean goodwill 

North Korea has officially asked for Asean’s support in its row with the US over the current stand-off. Frankly speaking, it was a bit too late and also unwarranted. 
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Are Thais getting the dictators they deserve. 

For a society that has overthrown two military dictatorships over the past two generations, what has been happening in Thailand is astonishing. 
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Thailand's new Constitution points to more political imbalance 

Set against a political malaise that has persisted for more than a dozen years of topsy-turvy protests and turmoil, punctuated by two related military coups in 2006 and 2014, Thailand's newly promulgated Constitution under the new reign of King Maha Vajiralongkorn is supposed to restore a semblance of stability and provide a way forward. That is not the case. 
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Thailand lacks understanding of CLMV 

Thailand loves to discuss plans to help its neighbouring countries. “Prosper-Thy-Neighbour” has been the motto for decades for successive Thai governments. Since the end of the Vietnam war and the subsequent rapid economic development period of 1980s, Bangkok has dished out so many strategies and plans to bring about their developmental and improve their standard of living. 
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Challenges, prospects of 2017 constitution 

Nearly three years after its last military coup, there is good and bad news as Thailand gears up to leave behind the current period of military government, whose record has been mixed at best. 
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Thailand's murky, muddled road ahead 

In a new era of transformative technologies and tectonic geopolitical shifts, standing still is tantamount to falling behind. This is what Thailand is doing. 
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Why Thailand is not taken seriously on rights issues 

Long before the concept of Responsibility to Protect (R2P) existed, which gave a new meaning to the duties and responsibilities of states and individuals to prevent inhuman acts of all kinds, Thailand has long shown goodwill and humanitarian gestures, without attaching any label to those deeds, throughout its modern history. 
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Thailand's empire-building tycoons 

BANGKOK During Thailand's boom years, between 1986 and 1996, business owners didn't have to look far beyond their own national borders to guarantee healthy profits. 
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Political fallout from the Dhammakaya case 

To the average bystander, the recent brouhaha over the Dhammakaya temple raises many questions with few answers and just about no clarity. 
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Thailand and Philippines: Twins separated at birth. 

The best description of Thailand-Philippine friendship would be as twins separated at birth. Both countries are close allies of the US and each has their ups and downs. They fought side by side as members of the UN-led international forces in the Korean War. 
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Combatting corruption starts at the top 

There is something fundamentally similar and entwined about the need to tackle Thailand's endemic corruption and the imperative to reform its education. 
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Dire airport, culture hub belie 'Thailand 4.0' 

Thailand is prone to policy faddism. Several years ago, the AEC (Asean Economic Community) was all the rage until it officially came into being with a whimper at the end of 2015. Back then, hardly a day went by without some kind of a workshop or conference in Thailand about the AEC. 
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Trump, Southeast Asia and Thailand 

No newly inaugurated president of the United States in the contemporary era is more controversial nor as derided as Donald Trump. Already, there have been pre-inauguration insinuations and plots among his critics and detractors to see him eventually impeached or at least occupy the White House for only one term 
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Myanmar rebuffs Malaysia on OIC as ASEAN warns on Rohingya naming issue 

Naypyitaw accuses Malaysia of 'exploiting' Rohingya crisis as regional bloc warns over use of ASEAN name 
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A Sino-American showdown in Southeast Asia? 

From his election campaign to the eve of his inauguration, U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's initial isolationist leanings have morphed into a knee-jerk foreign policy conducted under an "America First" geostrategic mantra. 
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A primer on Asean for Trump 

Six things the new US president should know about this 50-year-old group

The new United States President Donald Trump must be “fantastically” happy with a “wonderful” Asean because it is the only “great” regional organisation that has no military might and has not been at war. The problem is, he might not know about the grouping at all.Here is a six-point dossier on the 50-year-old Asean and its top secrets. 
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Where is the good news about Myanmar? 

Where is the good news about Myanmar?
The country is making progress despite global media focus on the sectarian divide 
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Forging a Thai-Myanmar partnership in Asean 

At a briefing in Yangon last Monday, Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi expressed appreciation for Thailand’s efforts and understanding of the situation in Rakhine State. She also thanked her eastern neighbour for its ongoing assistance there. 
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Thailand's prospects for 2017 and beyond 

Thailand's prospects for 201 and beyond
Thailand and the world at large are concurrently going through a rut that comes with the transitional end of any long era. For the world, this period is known as the postwar liberal order that was constructed 
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Asean at 50: Thailand must do more 

As one of the founding countries of Asean five decades ago, Thailand has a responsibility to ensure that the group is running well and moving towards full implementation of the Asean Community (AC), which is now entering its second year. 
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How a Trump presidency will affect Southeast Asia 

The spectacular electoral upset that handed Donald Trump victory in the Nov. 8 U.S. presidential election will hasten the end of the 70-year-old postwar liberal order and shift relations between the U.S. and Southeast Asia onto a new footing that favors interests over values. 
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America's presidential poll and Thai-US ties 

As the current presidential cycle in the United States closes with elections on Nov 8, there will be a global sigh of relief that it is finally over. The longest electoral contest in the world's ostensible bastion of democracy has become increasingly dysfunctional and malfunctioning. 
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King Bhumibol leaves behind a grateful nation 

The passing of King Bhumibol Adulyadej brings to a close a defining chapter in Thailand. During his seven-decade rule, the monarch presided over Thailand's climb from a village backwater to a modern nation. 
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Why the Thai people cry for His Majesty 

While the vast majority of Thais at home and abroad are in a mourning mood, yearning for a bygone past with an emerging angst for what is to come after King Bhumibol Adulyadej's spectacular seven-decade reign, this grief is not universally shared. 
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Could the economy be Thailand's saving grace? 

After King Bhumibol Adulyadej's seven-decade reign, Thailand is an emotionally charged landscape, overcome with grief and nostalgia for a remarkable past and anxious about an uncertain future. 
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Thailand as we knew it is now at an end 

When it comes to public readership, I was taught more than 30 years ago to write invariably in the third person. The time has come for change and exception because there is no better way for me to describe what has just happened in Thailand. What was once unimaginable when I was a schoolboy eventually became inevitable, and now is undeniable in my midlife. 
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Why no one wants to rule Thailand other than the military 

While it is always topsy-turvy and unwieldy, Thailand’s political environment has rarely been as tumultuous as in the past decade, characterised by recurrent street protests along pro- and anti-establishment lines. 
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After a decade of polarisation, a new balance in Thailand 

The Aug 7 referendum in Thailand yielded a surprising result, with most voters backing a charter drafted by the military government. The result shows that voters want compromise and reconciliation for Thailand, with both monarchist and democratic elements in the right mix. 
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Rivalries and excessive arms spending threaten regional peace 

Ahead of its 50th birthday next year, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations is discovering that its recipe for success is being put to the test. 
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Thailand attacks: who are the likely perpetrators? 

The coordinated bomb and arson attacks across Thailand’s southern provinces may signal a new phase of confrontation and brinkmanship, following the vote in favour of a military-backed constitution in a referendum on Sunday. 
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 Event Summary 2016

Migration, Terrorism and Democracy: Lessons and Challenges Across Asia and Africa 

Institute of Security and International Studies (ISIS) Public Forum
“Migration, Terrorism and Democracy: Lessons and Challenges Across Asia and Africa”
Tuesday, 31st January 2017 at 9.00 – 11.00a.m. 
More>>

President Donald J. Trump: Meanings and Consequences for Southeast Asia and Thailand 

A “Dream Thailand” Public Forum Series
“President Donald J. Trump: Meanings and Consequences for Southeast Asia and Thailand”
Friday, 3rd February 2017 
More>>

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