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 Events Summary 2020

Facebook Live: Germany-EU in the Indo-Pacific: Responses from India and ASEAN on Thursday, 29th October 2020 at 09.30-11.30 a.m. 

This forum examines Germany’s intended role in the Indo-Pacific in view of the broader EU. What are Germany’s motivations and intentions in its engagement in the Indo-Pacific? Will Germany coordinate its role with France, another major EU member? And how does the EU itself and other EU members see the Indo-Pacific? To address these questions, the Ambassadors of both Germany and the EU will lead our panel discussion. They will be joined by the Ambassador of India and an ASEAN scholar. How should other parties and residents of the Indo-Pacific view and treat EU forays in their neighbourhood? Will broadening the Indo-Pacific to include Europe benefit ASEAN and India? These are some of the questions and issues that will be broached and dissected. 

Facebook Live: Book launch and panel discussion: In the Dragon’s Shadow: Southeast Asia in an Age of Rising Chinese Power on Wednesday, 23rd September 2020 at 07.00-09.00 p.m. 

The 11 nations of Southeast Asia stand uniquely exposed to the rising power of the new China: three share borders with the world’s most populous nation, and five are directly impacted by its claims over the South China Sea. All dwell in the lengthening shadow of Chinese influence: economic, political, military, and cultural. 

Webinar via Zoom: Distinguishing Mainland from Maritime Southeast Asia: How Much Does It Matter? 

Analysts of Southeast Asia, struggling to find commonalities that its eleven diverse countries share, have long distinguished the region’s mainland from its maritime portions. Aspects of the contrast include the mainland’s greater proximity to China. A controversial hypothesis follows: that subcontinental Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, and possibly Thailand (but arguably not Vietnam) are more likely to become peninsular parts of a sphere of influence overseen by China than are the region’s more insular or archipelagic countries—Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Timor-Leste. In support of the mainland versus maritime distinction, historical, cultural, and socioeconomic differences can also be cited. But how much do they really matter? Does the mainland-maritime contrast, for example, enhance or impede the ability of Southeast Asian countries to retain national independence and fashion a common front in defense of the autonomy of their region? Or is location irrelevant? And if other factors matter more, which ones, how, and why? The webinar will offer and explore answers to these and related questions. 

Facebook Live: Thailand's Youth Movement and Political Directions: In Search of A Common Future on Wednesday 26th August 2020 at 09.30 – 11.30 a.m. 

This forum is designed to broach and probe ways forward in Thailand’s longstanding effort to find a common future. We will hear from student activists, a former student leader from the 1970s activist era, and a former constitution drafter (please refer to accompanying flyer for details). 

Webinar: China, the United States, and the Rest: Tensions and Directions During COVID-19 on Wednesday 29th July 2020 at 09.00 a.m. – 10.30 a.m. (Bangkok) / 10.00 a.m. – 11.30 a.m. (Beijing) / 11.00 a.m. – 12.30 p.m. (Tokyo) 

This forum focuses on how China and the US see the fluid pandemic-driven global environment. Are China-US tensions leading to further escalation and confrontation? We already have seen conflicts in bilateral trade, tech, financial, immigration, and so on. Is armed conflict becoming less implausible? How might tensions de-escalate and what are future directions in view of domestic dynamics in both countries? And how should the rest of Asia and beyond handle this superpower faceoff? These are some of the issues and questions that will be addressed. In addition, we will field audience questions beforehand to include them in the discussion. I hope you will join us in what I think will be an informative forum with takeaway insights. 

Facebook Live: Southeast Asia After COVID-19: Pitfalls and Prospects on Wednesday 17th June 2020 at 08.00 p.m. – 09.15 p.m. (Bangkok) 

While states and societies in Southeast Asia grapple with the coronavirus and pressure to end lockdowns and restart economic activities, we invite you to listen to a panel of experts who will analyze the impact on politics, economics, conflict, security, and governance - and possible ways forward. I know there have been and will continue to be myriad virtual and online events about COVID-19 and Southeast Asia. By necessity, we need to engage this “COVID and Southeast Asia/ASEAN” subject like our peers and counterparts. 

Facebook Live: VThai Politics Beyond COVID-19: Underpinnings, Directions, Prospects” Friday, 15th May 2020 at 03.30 p.m. - 05.00 p.m. 

We now turn out attention to Thai politics in view of Covid-19. Will the student-led flash mobs prior to Covid-19 reappear after the virus subsides? What will be the political consequences of the ongoing economic doldrums and GDP contraction? How will the Thai people respond and react to the Covid handling and management under the government of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha? And the role of the military in Thai politics in the coming months? Tensions seem to be mounting as Thailand grapples with political problems and economic adversity over the past several years, now exacerbated by the coronavirus crisis. This webcast public forum will aim to address these questions and issues. 

Facebook Live: Virus Risks and Economic Imperatives: Balance and Priorities on Friday, 1st May 2020 at 09.30-11.00 a.m. 

This forum will focus on the shifting and moving balance between virus concerns and economic imperatives. The Thai government today has announced an extension of the emergency decree for another month until the end of May 2020. This extension is understandable due to the persistence of the deadly coronavirus and its potential new outbreaks, even if numbers of infections and fatalities appear to have stabilized. At the same time, bottom-up pressure for a partial re-opening of the Thai economy is mounting, as economic hardships have hit the people hard and fast. 

Facebook Live: Counting the Cost, Looking for Recovery: The Thai Economy After COVID-19 on Thursday, 23rd April 2020 at 09.30-11.00 a.m. 

We will shift gear and focus on Thailand in particular. Our next online public forum on Thursday 23rd April (930am-11am) is entitled “Counting the Cost, Looking for Recovery: The Thai Economy After COVID-19,” featuring two leading economists in Dr Supavud Saicheua and Dr Sutapa Amornwiwat. Their backgrounds are attached. Dr Supavud is a prominent economist in Thailand for more than the past three decades, known for his independent macroeconomic analyses. Dr Sutapa has worked in multiple capacities in the government sector, including with the Fiscal Policy Office, and now with a data analytics tech start-up under Siam Commercial Bank. This online forum will home in on challenges facing the Thai economy during and after the virus crisis. 

Facebook Live: COVID-19 in Thailand and Southeast Asia: Dynamics, Directions, Prospects on Friday, 17th April 2020 at 09.30-11.00 a.m. 

COVID-19 in Thailand and Southeast Asia: Dynamics, Directions, Prospects
Friday, 17th April 2020 at 09.30-11.00 a.m. 

Facebook Live: ASEAN and COVID-19: A Regional Response? Friday, 10th April 2020 at 09.30-11.00 a.m. 

ASEAN and COVID 19: A Regional Response?
Friday, 10th April 2020 at 09.30-11.00 a.m. 

A Public Forum On – Finding Balance and "Happiness": Individuals, States and the International System at 10.00 a.m. – 12.00 p.m. Monday, 20th January 2020. 

Happiness is hard to come by and difficult to define. It derives from a complex and moving balance between work and living, between state and society, between faith and reason, encompassing much more than just what gross domestic product and national income stand for. While happiness can be subjective and tough to measure, it is generally considered to be associated with biological, behavioural, and public policy concerns. In a three-level framework of individuals, states, and the international system, this public forum shares experiences and expertise from the Nordic countries that have been ranked consistently among the top of all societies across the world for overall well-being and happiness.
We will start with a keynote talk by Mr Meik Wiking who is the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute and New York Times Bestselling Author. He will address issues such as how happiness should be measured, how to convert wealth into well-being, explaining why the Nordic model always top global happiness rankings. In addition, we will also listen to local experts who have worked on and practiced health and wellness in Thailand. 

A Public Lecture On - On China: Growth Prospects, Domestic Politics and Geostrategy in the 21st Century at 09.30 a.m. – 11.30 a.m. Wednesday, 29th January 2020. 

This public forum features a keynote lecture by Professor Dwight H. Perkins who has studied China and its development for nearly 70 years, since 1954 as a Cornell undergraduate student, including trips to China and meetings with former Chinese leader Deng Xaioping in the 1970s. Professor Perkins has authored numerous books and articles on China, as his profile on google and wikipedia attests. He has also been consultant and advisor to many committees dealing with China and United States-China relations. I can personally assure you that this is a rare opportunity to listen to one of the world’s most authoritative voices on China. Unlike other forums, we will focus mainly on Professor Perkins’s speech, with just one discussant to tease out local and regional implications. 

(October 30, 2020) The karmic results of voter suppression 

When Thailand's justice system issues decisions that have political ramifications, fewer people are holding their breath these days because conclusions are increasingly foregone. In fact, when the historical record comes into fuller view, it will be seen that the politicisation of the judiciary has fundamentally undermined Thailand's fragile democratic development and reinforced authoritarian rule that has been resurgent over the past 15 years. Nowhere are these judicial sins and shortcoming more salient and damning than the systematic and selective disenfranchisement of voters. 

(October 23, 2020) History not on the side of Gen Prayut 

In the face of sustained and broad-based student-led street protests demanding his resignation, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha remains defiant and determined to soldier on. He has even admonished his critics and detractors by flatly rejecting resignation and asking "What have I done wrong?" Such a provocative and self-righteous question deserves a frontal answer. 

(October 9, 2020) Thai education reform is top priority 

Of the myriad reforms that have been demanded by the ongoing student-led protests, Thailand's deficient and outdated education system is second to none. Education reform has become a self-contained and separate agenda for change. Thai students across the country, particularly in high schools, have been awakened and angry at the fact that they have been kept in the dark and cloistered in a state-imposed mind bubble for so long. Unless it is answered, this awakening and anger is likely to galvanise more protests and point to broader changes that have been pent up for decades. 

(October 27, 2020) Diplomatic synergy and clarity needed 

Thailand's external engagements need the necessary synergy among intra-government agencies as well as strategic clarity. To face the future challenges of a post-Covid-19 world, the country requires a more holistic approach and decision-making that includes all stakeholders. In addition, sufficient financial and human resources must be available in sustainable ways to ensure dynamic policy research, design and implementation to preserve and advance national interests. 

(October 20, 2020) Covid-19 tests Thai-Myanmar ties 

The surging numbers of Covid-19 infections in Yangon and northern Myanmar over the past few weeks is putting the excellent Thai-Myanmar relations under great stress. At this point, the 2,401-kilometre border between both countries is more heavily guarded than ever before. 

(October 13, 2020) In the South, it takes three to tango 

After a pause brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic and unexpected circumstances, some positive signals are coming from the Peace Dialogue Panel, the Thai negotiating team, that the stalled peace process in the country's deep South is moving forward once again. This time, all concerned parties are hoping that dialogue will bridge the divide and forge a common roadmap that will bring an immediate end to the violence and lay firm foundations for peaceful coexistence, greater autonomy and mutual respect for religious beliefs, identities and cultural heritage.