Southeast Asia

Dateline Southeast Asia – October 27 to November 2, 2020

Dateline Southeast Asia – October 27 to November 2, 2020

A pro-democracy protester holds a sign during an anti-government rally in Bangkok on October 26, 2020. Mladen ANTONOV / AFP



The lines are drawn in the streets of Bangkok.

The student-led pro-democracy rallies continue to persist, but across these an equally feisty group also holds its own demonstration. These are ultra-royalists who resent the brickbats being thrown at the Thai royal family.

Be up to date as events unfold in Thailand, as well as across the region, on Dateline Southeast Asia, our dynamic wrap of the latest in the region each week.

Bookmark and refresh this page for updates and analyses of the latest news in Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.


VIETNAM: Western allies boost defense against China

Chito de la Vega

Vietnam’s chairmanship this year of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nation, has opened a door to bolster its defense against longtime rival China through stronger relations with the West, experts say.

The VOANews reports that the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad, a U.S.-led grouping that also includes Australia, India and Japan, invited Vietnam to join talks on COVID-19 and economic impacts in March, and its members have conferred with Vietnamese officials regularly since then.

“Vietnam was invited because Vietnam was one of the bulwarks against China, but they can camouflage that [as] Vietnam was invited because Vietnam is the chair of ASEAN,” said Alexander Vuving, professor at the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies in Hawaii.

THAILAND: Sister of missing Thai activist headed to Cambodia

Chito de la Vega

The sister of missing Thai pro-democracy activist Wanchalerm Satsaksit said she would travel to Cambodia with a team of lawyers to offer evidence she hoped would start an investigation into the whereabouts of her brother, a victim of a suspected forced disappearance in Phnom Penh, reported VOANews.

Nothing has been heard from Wanchalerm since he was reportedly dragged into an SUV in broad daylight near his condominium in the Cambodian capital June 4, despite pressure on the Thai and Cambodian governments to probe how the 37-year-old vanished without a trace.

Wanchalerm’s sister, Sitanan Satsaksit, told VOA she would fly to Cambodia November 10 with 3 Thai lawyers to prepare for a December 8 court hearing they hope would be the first step toward opening a full investigation.

SINGAPORE: No local transmission of COVID-19

The Singapore government reported that there still was no local transmission of COVID-19 on Sunday, November 1.

INDONESIA: Hygiene facilities in Bali’s tourist sites to receive facelift

Chito de la Vega

Indonesia’s Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry is set to revitalize hygiene facilities at several tourist sites in Bali in November, said a report by the Jakarta Post.

Wawan Gunawan, the ministry’s regional II destination development director, said that the program would take in place in one city and 8 regencies, namely Denpasar, Badung, Tabanan, Gianyar, Klungkung, Karangasem, Buleleng, Bangli and Jembrana.

Wawan said that the program would focus mainly on sanitation and health facilities.

SINGAPORE: High Court overturns maid’s conviction for theft from employer

Marguerite de Leon

The High Court acquitted a Filipino domestic worker for stealing her former employer’s ATM cards and withdrawing a total of $8,000 from his bank accounts, reported The New Paper.

Her lawyers claimed she was allowed to make the withdrawals in exchange for sexual favors for said employer – with each favor priced at SGD500.

THAILAND: Chaos in Bangkok

Agence France-Presse, Agence France-Presse
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THAILAND: Protest leader rushed to hospital

Agence France-Presse, Agence France-Presse

THAILAND: 3 pro-democracy leaders in hospital

Agence France-Presse, Agence France-Presse

Three prominent Thai pro-democracy leaders were in the hospital on Saturday, October 31, after chaotic scenes outside a Bangkok police station overnight as officers tried to slap them with further criminal charges.

A court on Friday, October 30, ordered the release of Panupong “Mike” Jadnok, Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul and Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak who have been in custody since mid-October on sedition charges – but police sought to question them over outstanding arrest warrants.

For months, protesters have staged almost daily rallies demanding reforms to the country’s monarchy and for Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha — the former military chief who staged a 2014 coup – to resign.

The student-led demonstrations are also calling for a rewrite of the military-scripted constitution and an end to alleged government harassment of political opponents.

MALAYSIA: Mahathir slams tech giants for removing posts

Agence France-Presse, Agence France-Presse

Malaysia’s former premier Mahathir Mohamad accused Twitter and Facebook of unfair treatment Friday, October 30, after they removed his posts that said Muslims had the right “to kill millions of French people”.

The 95-year-old sparked outrage by posting the remarks on the platforms a day earlier, shortly after a knifeman killed 3 people at a church in Nice, France’s latest attack blamed on Islamist terrorism.

But Mahathir, who was prime minister of Muslim-majority Malaysia until February, said his comments had been misrepresented and his main intention was to express that Muslims had never sought revenge for injustices.