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 Events on 2021

Webinar: Mekong Undercurrents Amidst the US-China Geostrategic Rivalry: Pandemic Trends and Prospects 


Webinar: ASEAN at New Crossroads: Cambodia's 2022 Chair, Myanmar's Coup Crisis and Beyond 


Book Launch and Webinar of Facebook Live - The US-Thai Alliance and Asian International Relations 

Please see attached and below information about our next online/virtual public forum on Thailand-United States relations amidst the geopolitics of Asia. The bilateral relationship between Bangkok and Washington is not what it used to be, a treaty alliance that seems to be underperforming compared to times past. On the other hand, Thailand has edged closer to China in recent years as Thai domestic politics has turned inward and more authoritarian. Meanwhile, nearby neighbours, such as Vietnam (a former US foe in a grueling war) and Singapore, have tightened their ties with the US. On the fluid canvass of global politics, how are Thai-US relations to be understood and what is their likely trajectory in the near future? Addressing these questions will shine some light on Thailand’s broader relations with China and the outside world in Asia, Europe and elsewhere.

To do so, it is our pleasure to launch the newest and well-researched book on the subject – The US-Thai Alliance in Asian International Relations – co-authored by Dr Greg Raymond and Prof John Blaxland, two foremost scholars who are seasoned observers of Thai politics and experts on international affairs. Dr Pongphisoot Busbarat, my colleague and accomplished researcher and writer on Thai foreign relations, will tease out some of the key issues and themes as discussant. 

Book Launch and Webinar on Facebook Live – Rivers of Iron: Railroads and Chinese Power in Southeast Asia 

This event is billed as a book launch, thanks to Prof David Lampton, Dr Cheng-Chwee Kuik and Dr Selina Ho, the co-authors of Rivers of Iron: Railroads and Chinese Power in Southeast Asia. This timely (pre-pandemic) book examines President Xi Jinping’s BRI geostrategy and its implications and consequences for mainland Southeast Asia (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam), extending to Malaysia and Singapore. 

Facebook Live – The 45th Anniversary of Vietnam-Thailand Relations: Taking Stock and Moving Forward 

As this year marks the 45th anniversary of Thailand-Vietnam relations, it is therefore opportune to review this remarkable friendship in a forward-looking fashion. Thai-Vietnamese ties have gone through ups and down over the past four decades. Today, both countries are designated as a Strengthened Strategic Partnership to enhance the linkages of their economies and ensure that they will emerge stronger from the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition, as Asean members, they work closely together to promote economic prosperity and the integration of the Asean Community as well as its centrality to maintain peace and stability in the region. 

ISIS Thailand co-hosts with Frontier Myanmar on "Myanmar Economic Summit: Navigating the Crises" 

Join Frontier Myanmar’s inaugural “Myanmar Economic Summit 2021: Navigating the Crises” as we bring together the nation’s leading economists, policy experts, advocates, investors and corporate leaders to examine the immediate and multiple crises facing Myanmar, and their implications for the economy. 

Facebook Live – Myanmar’s Coup Six Months On: Domestic/Regional/Global Dynamics/Responses/Prospects 

The impetus for holding this webinar is to take stock of what has transpired since the coup on 1st February six months previously and to anticipate what might come next. Has Myanmar entered into a prolonged period of civil war and stalemate in view of the Myanmar military/Tatmadaw’s grip on power and inability to put down an oppositional resistance and insurrection from the different columns under the civilian-led National Unity Government, including the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM), the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH), Ethnic Armed Organisations (EAOs), and People’s Defence Force (PDF)? 

Facebook Live - Virus/Vaccine Dynamics/Challenges in the Mekong Region: The Regionalisation Imperative? 

As the coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19) moves from the virus stage to vaccine rollout around the world, the five countries in mainland Southeast Asia around the Mekong Region have become so integrated and connected in recent decades through migrant labour flows, infrastructure linkages, trade/investment ties, and border commerce that each’s economic recovery and post-pandemic “new normal” may be limited and constrained unless the whole of the region can re-emerge together. This public forum focuses on the regionalisation perspective of vaccines and explores the extent to which vaccine rollout can and should be viewed in the Mekong regional context. In doing so, we will also examine stages of herd immunity and when the Mekong mainland countries are likely to get there. 

Rescheduled Event - Geoeconomic and Geopolitical Power Plays: The Major Powers and Southeast Asia, Friday, 14th Mayl 2021 

This webinar focuses on dynamics and prospects in relations between the major powers and smaller states in Southeast Asia in the 2020s and beyond. We will begin with China-Australia ties and tensions to draw lessons for Southeast Asian states, and then look at the United States’ economic measures and pressures vis-à-vis smaller countries in recent years. As both superpowers have deployed tools of economic statecraft to get their way in international politics, the smaller states in the region need to observe and anticipate what comes next in future exercises of soft/hard geopolitical and geoeconomic power from bigger players. Because of the nature of Chinese power and the structure and methods of China's successful authoritarian capitalist economy with centralised political control, Beijing appears to play by both its own and the established rules and norms. The US also has vested interests and agenda, having recently violated the rules-based liberal international order it crucially crafted around seven decades ago. 

Book Launch via Zoom - Man of Contradictions: Joko Widodo and the struggle to remake Indonesia at Tuesday 27th April 2021 

Book Launch and Discussion via Zoom - Tuesday 27th April 2021 09.00 a.m. – 10.00 a.m. (Bangkok/Thailand) / 12.00 p.m. – 13.00 a.m. (Sydney/Australia) 

Facebook Live – The Empire Strikes Back: What’s Left of Thailand’s Youth Protest Movement? 

Tuesday, 30th March 2021 at 09.30 a.m. - 11.30 a.m.

In late February 2020, anti-government flash mobs started to mushroom on university campuses in reaction to the dissolution of Future Forward Party, which had been the third-largest winning party in the March 2019 polls. The initial campus protests were interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic and consequent restrictions and lockdown in March-May 2020 but resumed with popularity and intensity in June. Over the subsequent months, the youth protest movement gathered steam and transformed into an anti-Establishment drive. It first called for a halt to official harassment, constitutional amendments, and new polls. Later, the three demands became the resignation of the prime minister, a new constitution, and monarchical reform. Street protests peaked in October-November 2020, involving tens of thousands of mostly young demonstrators, mirrored by similar activities on campuses. By December 2020, as the second Covid-19 wave struck, the youth protest movement lost momentum, undermined by internal divisions, an inability to broaden, and the arrest of key leaders. By early 2021, the movement appears a shell of itself, diluted and fizzled. This public forum intends to analyse and locate the underpinnings and dynamics of what is left of the movement in a forward-looking fashion to see whether it still has traction or otherwise. 

Facebook Live – Myanmar (One Month) After The Coup: Domestic Politics, Regional Repercussions, Global Implications 

Monday, 1st March 2021 at 09.30-11.30 a.m.

As Myanmar’s military coup reaches its one-month mark, it is timely to take stock of what’s been happening in the predominantly Buddhist country of 55 million. By all accounts, the coup has been a setback for Myanmar’s road towards political liberalization and economic development. Under fluid and precarious circumstances, we will examine post-coup events and dynamics from the domestic politics context within Myanmar and regional repercussions in Southeast Asia as well as global implications in view of China, Russia, and the West. What is the status and road ahead for the Myanmar military (the Tatmadaw) and its commander-in-chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing? Where does Aung San Suu Kyi, at 75, go from here? Where does the future lie for the ethnic minorities around the country and what about the persistent internal conflicts between the Tatmadaw and ethnic armies? These are some of the hard questions this public forum will try to address. Our speakers line-up represents a range of diverse views and experiences which I think will add up to a dynamic and stimulating conversation. 

Facebook Live – Thailand’s Economic Outlook 2021 and Beyond: Vaccine, Growth, Value Chains 

Thursday, 18th February 2021 at 09.30-11.30 a.m.

As the most recent Covid-19 restrictions have been eased, ISIS Thailand is pleased to return to action with a limited in-person public forum on vaccine dynamics, the Thai macro-economy and future growth model in view of pandemic effects and shifting/fluid global value chains. We are delighted to have Dr Daniel Kertesz, the head of the World Health Organisation in Thailand, kick off with his expert view and analysis of the global Covid-19 pandemic and the vaccine situation broadly, with reference to Thailand and Southeast Asia. An independent and highly regarded economist, Dr Supavud Saicheua will delve into Thailand’s macroeconomic consequences from the pandemic. When will Thailand regain its growth footing and how to get there after a severe economic contraction last year? With publications on global value chains in top international scholarly journals, Dr Pavida Pananond will tease out the trends and prospects of trade, foreign direction investment and global production in the post-pandemic global economy with implications for Thailand and Southeast Asia. 

(December 17, 2021) Implications of Blinken's aborted visit 

Having skipped Thailand due to a Covid-19 case among his travel delegation, the United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken's aborted three-country tour of Southeast Asia has hindered the full projection of President Joe Biden's Indo-Pacific geostrategy. Not wrapping up the trip with a visit to Thailand, a mainland Southeast Asia pivot and longstanding US treaty ally, also misses an opportunity to shore up what has been a relative bilateral estrangement. In short, Secretary Blinken's diplomatic foray in Southeast Asia has fallen short for the time being. 

(December 10, 2021) The misguided US 'democracy summit' 

The United States government under President Joe Biden is putting up the right fight in a counterproductive way in its online organisation of a "summit for democracy" this week. Much touted since he won the election in November last year, President Biden's summit of democracies has proved controversial, with both good intentions and unintended consequences. The real battleground, as clichés about the benefits and drawbacks of democracy go, is to make the case that popular rule where citizens should have rights and freedoms for their own collective self-determination is ultimately preferable and superior than all other forms of government. 

(December 3, 2021) The geopolitics of China's CPTPP move 

Nowhere is the intersection between geopolitics and geoeconomics more evident than the accession negotiations under the 11-member Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). At issue are three new applications for accession by the United Kingdom, China, and Taiwan. While the UK's candidacy alters the geographic crux of what has been Asia-Pacific trade liberalisation, China's and Taiwan's entry efforts represent a proxy showdown between the United States-led global order and 75-year-old alliance system versus Beijing's geostrategic ambitions and objectives. 

(December 21, 2021) Lauding RCEP: free trade for (almost) all 

When the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) comes into force on Jan 1, its member countries can look back with satisfaction at their accomplishments that required more than hard bargaining and negotiations with all kinds of specific instructions from the bosses. Over time those men and women became a family. When they met, they laughed and cajoled, knowing full well what would happen after each session. 

(December 14, 2021) Can Hun Manet deliver in the top job? 

It has taken Prime Minister Hun Sen almost a decade to announce his political successor, which he did on Dec 2. At first, he has in mind at least four choices -- the first pair comprising his two sons, Hun Manet and Hun Many and the second pair of senior colleagues, Sar Kheng and Say Chumm of Cambodia People's Party. Then, he decided to focus on the first pair. 

(December 7, 2021) Thailand-UN at 75: Peace and security 

There are a few things at which Thailand has excelled at the United Nations: Multilateralism, South-South cooperation, social development, women's empowerment, drug control, peace-keeping and global health security to name a few. But one notable achievement is the country's attempt to rid the world of dangerous nuclear weapons, very much to the chagrin of powerful allies and friends. 
 Articles - Ms.GWEN ROBINSON

(November 16, 2021) Japan, China, Thai envoys diversify Myanmar diplomatic focus 

A series of high-level visits to Naypyitaw by envoys of Japan, China and Thailand reflects growing international concern about Myanmar's trajectory and the increasing use of bilateral approaches to the military regime which took power on Feb. 1. 

(November 1, 2021) Can ASEAN overcome the 'Myanmar curse'? 

It was a bad week for Myanmar's military regime and a good one for ASEAN, or so it seemed. The bloc drew praise for barring Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, Myanmar's military ruler, from a summit and meetings that took place Tuesday through Thursday, restoring some of the credibility it had lost for its ineffectual handling of the recalcitrant member state. The widespread criticism had been exemplified by the trending Twitter hashtag #uselessASEAN. 

(September 7, 2021) Telenor's Myanmar sell-off mired in uncertainty 

YANGON/BANGKOK -- Norwegian telecom giant Telenor Group remains stuck in Myanmar for now, despite its July announcement of the $105 million sale of its local business to Lebanese investment company M1 Group, as sources confirmed the military regime's reluctance to approve the deal. 
 Articles - Ambassador Kasit Piromya

(November 15, 2021) Indonesia’s green economy efforts deserve scrutiny, but also support 

At the recent COP26 climate conference in the Scottish city of Glasgow, Indonesia was one of more than 40 countries that pledged to transition away from "unabated coal power generation" in the next few decades. 

(November 3, 2021) Cambodia must strike a new path 

The Paris Peace Agreements on Cambodia was signed 30 years ago. The deal was a major international achievement to end more than a decade of war in the country. It stipulated that the country must hold free, fair and competitive elections. The United Nations organised the first elections in the country in 1993. But the world decided too quickly that the job was done and forgot about Cambodia. The mandate of the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) ended after the elections. 

(November 1, 2021) Cambodia Must Change Course on Democracy to Avoid Myanmar’s International Isolation 

Cambodia urgently needs to restart its domestic political process to avoid joining Myanmar in international isolation.