“CSO Digitalization Needs Informed Support”

On 17 September 2021, English-language news portal Cambodianess published an opinion piece, “CSO Digitalization Needs Informed Support” by Asia Centre’s Dr. James Gomez and CANVAS’s founder Srdja Popovic. In that piece, the authors argue that during the COVID-19 pandemic, CSOs had to move their activities online and take their advocacy efforts to social media platforms. However, this move – costly in money, time and human resources –  did not receive adequate support from donors. The authors encourage the donors to develop a better understanding of the constraints faced by CSOs. This would enable CSOs to better digitalize their activities. The op-ed is based on Asia Centre and EFDEA’s baseline study: “COVID-19 and Democracy in Southeast Asia: Building Resilience, Fighting Authoritarianism”.

The full op-ed is available here

“Data Protection Can Address Online Self-Censorship”

On 2 September 2021, the English-language newspaper published an opinion piece by Asia Centre’s Regional Director Dr. James Gomez: ‘Data Protection Can Address Online Self-Censorship’. The op-ed draws attention to the severe degradation of internet freedoms in Cambodia, in an era of crackdown of the regime on political dissent, illustrated by numerous cases of legal harassment and prosecution over mere social media posts. The State surveillance and persecution of dissenting voices cause a widely-shared self-censorship among internet users in the kingdom. To address this issue, Dr. Gomez hopes for a personal data and privacy protection framework. According to him, it is the best way to restore safety while accessing information and expressing one’s views online.

The full op-ed is available here

“Infodemic infects Southeast Asia”

On 25 August 2021, the Bangkok Post published an opinion piece, co-authored by Asia Centre’s Dr. James Gomez and Dr. Robin Ramcharan, entitled ” ‘Infodemic’ infects Southeast Asia”. The op-ed draws attention to infodemic in Southeast Asia which impact access to accurate public health information in particular during the pandemic. It also points to the use of emergency and existing laws by governments to silence critics rather than suppressing the infodemic or providing citizens with accurate health information.

The full op-ed is available here

“Malaysia’s ‘leaderless’ protests spark political awakening”

On 20 August 2021, Nikkei Asia published an opinion piece by Dr. Benjamin YH Loh, Asia Centre Associate, titled: “Malaysia’s ‘leaderless’ protests spark political awakening”. In the context of political turmoil agitating Malaysia, Dr. Loh finds hope in the new trend of ‘leaderless’ protests. These make it impossible for the government to identify leaders or dismiss thousands of protesters, while social media allows the movement to gain momentum. Recognizing that the ‘leaderless’ model has not achieved maturity in Malaysia yet, and is no perfect solution against government violence, Dr. Loh argues that activists must persevere in pursuit of better governance through decentralized systems instead of personality-driven actions.

The full op-ed is available here

“Thailand faces the spotlight on human rights”

On 23 July 2021, the Bangkok Post published an opinion piece, co-authored by Asia Centre’s Dr. James Gomez and Destination Justice’s Doreen Chen. The op-ed draws attention to the violations of the Human Rights of freedom activists and demonstrators by the Thai police and government. The arrests performed and stringent bail conditions may be read as arbitrary detention, which is forbidden under the ICCPR. In the context of Thailand’s third UPR in November, these violations are expected to receive international attention.

To read the article click here

“Timor-Leste’s Internet Freedoms at Risk”

On 16 July 2021, the Jakarta Post published an opinion piece, authored by Asia Centre’s Regional Director James Gomez. The piece draws attention to the emerging legislation aiming at controlling online content in Timor-Leste. While the country has been consistently  ranked higher than its neighbours in international indices on freedom of expression, and its telecommunication infrastructure has been improving from the last decade, recent legal developments suggest a tendency towards curtailing online criticism. Another concern is the preference of the government in choosing development partners to develop its internet infrastructure. Overall, Timor-Leste’s democratic identity appears to be undermined by recent trends toward controlling online discussion.

To read the article click here

“Australian people-to-people engagement needs democracy”

On 2 June 2021, Asia Centre’s Directors James Gomez and Robin Ramcharan authored an op-ed for La Trobe University’s Asia Brief, ‘Australian people-to-people engagement needs democracy’. In the op-ed, the Centre Directors state that Australia should be doing more to help support the process of democratisation in Southeast Asia, rather than continuing to push their statist foreign policy approach, further entrenching the authoritarian elites. They outline the value of creating an Australian Democracy Foundation in pursuit of this new change.

To read the article click here

“Thailand protests while Australia watches from the sidelines”

On 25 May 2021, Asia Centre’s Yawee Butrkrawee gave his opinion on the lack of Australia’s engagement on civic space in Southeast Asia, titled “Thailand protests while Australia watches from the sidelines” for La Trobe University. In the article, he pointed to the organic, youth-led democratic movement as an example and urged Australia needs to do more to revamp its statist foreign policy.

To read the article click here

“Autocracy stymies study freedom”

On 10 May 2021, Asia Centre’s Dr. James Gomez oped “Autocracy Stymies Study Freedoms” was published in the Bangkok Post. In the article, Dr. Gomez argues that academic freedom alongside the press and internet freedoms must be considered together as a cluster of rights that contribute to democratic development. A negative impact on one will negatively affect the others.

To read the article click here

“Media gains reversed in Myanmar coup”

On 5 May 2021, Asia Centre’s Dr. James Gomez and Khin Mai Aung penned an oped for The Jakarta Post. In it, they discuss how press freedom in Myanmar has been diminished by the actions of the Military Junta. The authors argue that the junta’s actions have made the independent press another victim of the coup.

To read the article click here

“การแพร่ระบาดของโควิด -19 ทำให้เห็นถึงความไม่เท่าเทียมกันสำหรับคนชายขอบ”

On 18 April 2021, Transborder News (สำนักข่าวชายขอบ) published a translation of Asia Centre’s and Oxfam in Asia oped “Pandemic exposes inequalities for marginalised” in the Bangkok Post ”.

To read the translated article in Thai click here

“Pandemi Mengungkap Ketimpangan dalam Komunitas yang Terpinggirkan”

On 10 April 2021, Nussdo.com, an Indonesian portal for journalists and bloggers, published a Bahasa translation of Asia Centre’s and Oxfam in Asia oped “Pandemic exposes inequalities for marginalised” in the Bangkok Post ”. The translation was done by Wisnu T Hanggoro, Director of The Tamborae Institute, who was one of the judges of the Journalism for an Equitable Asia Award.

To read the translated article in Bahasa click here

“Towards Greater BIMSTEC Cooperation: The Need for Values Connectivity”

Dr. Robin Ramcharan, Asia Centre’s Executive Director, authored an article: “Towards Greater BIMSTEC Cooperation: The Need for Values Connectivity” in the volume of essays: Reimagining BIMSTEC: Strengthening Regional Solidarity Across the Bay of Bengal, published by the Observer Research Foundation on 9 April 2021. The article calls for a stronger streamlining of the Sustainable Development Goals and of Human Rights Values in the BIMSTEC cooperation. His recommendations go towards cooperative efforts involving civil society organisations and national human rights institutions to elaborate and monitor the values framework, as well as business organisations in the sharing of good practices.

To read the article click here

“Pandemic exposes inequalities for marginalised”

On 31 March 2021, Asia Centre’s Dr. James Gomez and Oxfam in Asia’s Mustafa Talpur’s op-ed “Pandemic exposes inequalities for marginalised” was published by Bangkok Post. In the op-ed, the authors highlight that the COVID-19 pandemic has sharpened inequality among marginalised communities in Asia. The oped is based on the entries of the top ten finalists in the 2020-2021 Journalism for an Equitable Asia Award.

Read the article here

“Lawlessness threatens to plunge Myanmar into protracted civil war”

On 23 March 2021, Asia Centre’s Dr. Robin Ramcharan penned an oped for the East Asia Forum. In the oped, he discusses the issue of lawlessness of the military junta in Myanmar. Dr. Ramcharan outlines the solutions and approach needed to address the situation and to avoid the risk of the country plunging into civil war.

Read the article here

“Myanmar’s digital regime foreshadows SE Asia”

On 15 March 2021, Asia Centre’s Dr. James Gomez and Khin Mai Aung penned an op-ed for Bangkok Post. In the op-ed, the authors discuss how the Junta’s blocking of the internet and media holds consequences for Southeast Asia. The authors argue that the tactics deployed by the junta during the coup do not bode well for the region.

Read the article here

“Myanmar’s troubles signal erosion of democracy in Southeast Asia”

On 3 February 2021, Asia Centre’s Dr. James Gomez and Khin Mai Aung penned an op-ed for the Jakarta Post. In the op-ed, the authors argue that the coup in Myanmar is a sign of democracy’s regression in Southeast Asia. COVID-19 is increasingly being used by authoritarian regimes as an excuse to move against democratic gains acquired by political opponents.

Read the article here

“COVID-19 eroding electoral democracy in Southeast Asia”

On 10 January, Asia Centre’s Dr. James Gomez and Khin Mai Aung wrote an oped for Mizzima News on COVID-19’s impact on Southeast Asia’s electoral democracy. They noted that governments across the region have used the pandemic as an excuse to call off parliament sittings, manipulate the timing of elections to their advantage or declare emergency rule. The article was published in Myanmar 3 weeks before the coup.

Read the article here