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 Event Summary 2018

Myanmar's Rohingya/Rakhine Crisis: Domestic Roots and International Dynamics 

As we are aware, Myanmar's promising reforms from 2011 culminated with elections four years later and a power-sharing agreement between generals and civilians, the latter led by Aung San Suu Kyi. Economic development has risen markedly, albeit from a low base, but fatigue and disillusion have beset democratization under high expectations. Due to the Suu Kyi-led government’s own fault and to intractable ethnic unrest, Myanmar has become a single-issue country revolving around the persecution of the Rohingya Muslim minority in westernmost Rakhine state. Myanmar’s economy is poised to enjoy a prolonged expansion as more capital and labor are deployed on fertile land but the country's democratic politics will be messy and unsatisfactory, leaving its erstwhile supporters in the international community feeling jilted. Against this backdrop, our public forum on this occasion will examine the trends and dynamics of Myanmar's Rohingya/Rakhine crisis. 
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 Articles

The Trump-Kim summit and its aftermath - Thitinan Pongsudhirak 

The unprecedented and dramatic summit meeting between President Donald Trump and Chairman Kim Jong-un, the current leaders of the United States and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (otherwise known as North Korea), will go down in history as another case of "better the devil you know than the devil you don't". Since the Korean War stopped without a permanent truce in 1953, the world has become accustomed to the North Korean regime as a menace to regional peace and stability with ominous global ramifications because of its nuclear weapons. 
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Thailand revitalising Acmecs scheme - Kavi Chongkittavorn 

Renewed schemes for the region's three great rivers -- under the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (Acmecs) -- are making a comeback after some soul-searching amid a plethora of connectivity plans. Bangkok will host the 8th Acmecs summit this Friday and Saturday. 
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Uni rankings, wages need a bigger boost - Thitinan Pongsudhirak 

The Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University rankings for 2018 are out, and the news is again not good for Thailand. Compared to the rest of the world, Thailand's top universities don't stand in good stead. Nor do they rank well compared to their peers in the region. 
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Modi sees Asean as key to Indo-Pacific policy - Kavi Chongkittavorn 

India took exactly 25 years to define its place in the broader Asia region. When Indian prime minister Narasimha Rao first outlined his country's "Look East" policy in 1993 in Singapore, economic imperatives were the main driving force and not much thought was given to strategic components. After all, it was before the rise of China, the decline in US influence, Japan's strategic-oriented foreign policy and the establishment of the Asean Community. 
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The Indo-Pacific and Asean centrality - Thitinan Pongsudhirak 

Even though US President Donald Trump repeatedly alluded to it in his speeches at Asean-led summits in Danang and Manila late last year, and despite its reference in both the United States National Security Strategy and National Defence Strategy, the geographic notion of a "free and open Indo-Pacific" (FOIP) straddling both the vast Pacific and Indian oceans has been given short shrift in many capitals. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi suggested last March that the Indo-Pacific was only an "attention-grabbing idea", akin to "the sea foam in the Pacific and Indian Ocean" that "may get some attention but will soon dissipate". Asean leaders have paid some attention but have not had a collective and cohesive reaction to it. But now everyone in Asian security circles and beyond will take notice. 
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Baloney by any other name is still baloney - Kavi Chongkittavorn 

It does not take long to find commonalities between US President Donald Trump's lies and Thai politics' platefuls of baloney. The same logic holds true for Mr Trump's war on the "deep state" and the outcry in Thailand over a "third hand" pulling the strings behind political happenings. 
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Lasting lessons from Malaysia for SE Asia - Thitinan Pongsudhirak 

Some have likened it to an "earthquake," while others have called it a "tsunami." However it is billed, Malaysia's election outcome still reverberates far and wide. Its political aftershocks yield lessons and considerations for politics in Southeast Asia, particularly Thailand, which holds the dubious distinction as the only parliamentary system in this region that does not know when it will next stage a poll. 
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'New Malaysia' can be a catalyst for region - Kavi Chongkittavorn 

The recent Malaysian political tsunami will endow the country with more equality among different races and render positive impacts for the rest of the region and beyond. 
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Southeast Asia-US relations under Trump - Thitinan Pongsudhirak 

Widely despised at home and abroad, US President Donald Trump is still in office well over a year into his controversial first term. Daily headlines from the leading media of the world have suggested from the outset that he is likely to be impeached, that his presidency is destined to be derailed due to this or that scandal. In the predominant view of the global intelligentsia more broadly, Mr Trump has been so damaging and toxic to the fabric of American democratic values and to the coherence and longevity of the rules-based liberal international order that has lasted over the past seven decades that he should not be allowed to last a full four-year term. 
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Thailand's black site: Who is accountable? - Kavi Chongkittavorn 

Suddenly Thailand, a name synonymous with coups and democratic struggles, has been mentioned repeatedly by US lawmakers and TV personalities over the last few weeks. 
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