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Articles
(June 21, 2019) Seeing Asean straight as Thailand chairs - Thitinan Pongsudhirak 
When Asean organises big meetings, the tendency for the host is to talk up a brouhaha. So it goes with the 34th Asean summit under Thailand's rotating chairmanship this year. By year's end, several hundred Asean-related meetings will have taken place, highlighted by the final annual summitry in October-November that will include top leaders from China, India, Japan, Russia, the United States, among others. 
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(June 18, 2019) Thai chair and new branding of Asean - Kavi Chongkittavorn 
Now the election has passed and Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha has been named to head the soon-to-be civilian government. Until the new cabinet is officially named, Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai will stay on in his position. With both of them at the helm, the Thai Asean chairmanship will proceed as planned. Nearly six months have elapsed since Thailand became chair, but what it has been able to accomplish over 130 meetings of various committees has gone totally unreported, as the local media was zeroed in on the post-election drama and political brinksmanship manifested by Thailand's 27 parties. Thai bureaucrats are free to prepare for the Asean summit and related meetings. 
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(June 14, 2019) Post-poll transitions and directions - Thitinan Pongsudhirak 
Almost three months after the March 24 poll, Thailand has barely managed to come up with a new government leader, who remains Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, but a cabinet has still yet to be announced owing to haggling and bargaining over portfolios. 
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(June 11, 2019) Vietnam plays role of reluctant Asian middle power - Kavi Chongkittavorn 
In private discussions with senior Vietnamese foreign ministry officials, one could easily get the feeling that the socialist republic is a reluctant rising middle power in Asia. In their view, Vietnam is doing well in terms of regional and international profile, with its uninterrupted political stability and expanding economic growth. The latest report by the Asia Development Bank that its GDP growth will be around 6.8% this year is good testimony to its success. 
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(June 7, 2019) What went wrong for the Democrats? - Thitinan Pongsudhirak 
It is hard to believe today that Thailand's Democrat Party was widely worth rooting for not so long ago. In past eras of military-authoritarianism, Democrat MPs used to be seen as a force for good, pitted against ruling generals in support of popular rule. Somehow during the current military regime that dates back to the September 2006 coup, Thailand's oldest party has tilted away from democracy towards authoritarianism. But just as the party is demoralised and in disarray, it offers a silver lining in new and fresh faces that could offer a way forward if party elders are willing to step aside. 
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(June 4, 2019) Can China-Japan-S Korea get closer? - Kavi Chongkittavorn 
Thanks to President Donald Trump’s oft-repeated mantra “America First,” accompanied by his disdain for and hostility towards globalisation and multilateralism, the rest of the world is perplex. Some of them in various continents are getting together in like-minded groups that would be able to respond to the inward-looking US policy, East Asia is no exception. Very few country will be acting alone as the US holds formidable power in the world. 
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(May 29, 2019) China’s superpower pragmatism in Southeast Asia - Thitinan Pongsudhirak 
Discerning visitors can see why the United States has locked horns with China over trade and technology. Standing in downtown Beijing or Shanghai and being dwarfed by their skyscrapers yields a sense of awe. In less than two generations, the Chinese have nearly caught up with the Americans, leapfrogging them in notable ways. Just as gleaming Manhattan in New York City once symbolized the U.S.’s economic prowess and confident cosmopolitanism, the newer, equally modern Beijing and Shanghai are giving China’s global rival a run for its money. Seen from this perspective, it is unsurprising that Washington is pushing back against China for taking advantage of the international economic system that the U.S. has built. 
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(May 28, 2019) More 'substantive' deal on S China Sea - Kavi Chongkittavorn 
Goodwill between Asean and China has reached an unprecedented level as both sides are working diligently to conclude the much anticipated code of conduct on the South China Sea. The process, which began in 2002, has now reached a crescendo, though there are still issues and differences that need to be ironed out. 
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(May 24, 2019) 5 years backwards under military rule - Thitinan Pongsudhirak 
Now that five years have elapsed since Thailand's last military coup, it is an opportune juncture to take stock of where the country is heading. When it seized power in May 2014, the military junta, known as the National Council for Peace and Order, initially had legitimacy from royal ascent and broad approval from its restoration of stability and order after more than half a year of street protests in Bangkok by the People's Democratic Reform Committee that was intent on overthrowing the Pheu Thai government. 
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(May 21, 2019) Admit Timor Leste to bloc now or never - Kavi Chongkittavorn 
The Asean founding fathers' dream was to have all Southeast Asian countries under one roof. Timor Leste's (East Timor) dream was to join Asean as soon as possible. Both dreams have yet to be fulfilled. The reason is simple enough: Certain Asean members are not ready to have the world's youngest democracy stand among them. 
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