Thailand Government to Meet Southern Separatist in KL

On 4 January 2021, Dr. James Gomez, Regional Director of Asia Centre, discussed the background and context to an upcoming peace talk between the Thai government and the BRN (Barisan Revolusi Nasional), facilitated by the Malaysian government. In the BFM Radio podcast show, Dr. Gomez made the point that the issue in Thailand's deep south has evolved from an ethno-nationalist separatist movement to one around identity politics with Islam as an important religious marker.Listen to the podcast here.

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Media Freedom in Southeast Asia: Repeal Restrictive Laws, Strengthen Quality Journalism

Download Full Report Media Freedom in Southeast Asia: Repeal Restrictive Laws, Strengthen Quality Journalism examines the use of fake news legislation to crack down on legitimate journalistic expression. Seeking to control the flow of information in the online space, governments have enacted these laws to monitor and control the internet infrastructure over which information critical or unflattering of the government can be disseminated. The laws contain vaguely-worded provisions penalising the act of spreading disinformation or information that authorities consider harmful to national security, public order and social harmony. While the negative dimensions of online content are of concern, the increased…

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Business and Human Rights: More Stakeholder Participation Needed in Southeast Asia

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While welcoming the uptake of the BHR agenda across Southeast Asia, panelists in the online forum: ‘Business and Human Rights in Southeast Asia: Progress Towards Developing National Action Plans’(NAPs) emphasised gaps in advocacy on business and human rights across the region. Collectively they noted the need for more stakeholder participation from parliamentarians, business organisations and other non-governmental organisations in NAPs development processes. The event, co-convened by Asia Centre and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, was held on 15 December 2021, 10.00 AM - 4.00 PM Bangkok Time, to mark the launch of the joint publication: ‘Business and Human Rights…

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Business and Human Rights in Southeast Asia: Developing National Action Plans

Download full report AbstractThis work examines the progress made in Southeast Asia towards developing National Action Plans (NAPs) on Business and Human Rights (BHR). A decade after the adoption of the United Nations Guiding Principles (UNGPs) on Business and Human Rights, has there been an uptake in NAPs in the region? What are the various NAPs development processes and platforms across the region? Have all stakeholders been consulted? What are the obstacles to deepening the NAPs processes and the BHR agenda in the region? This work finds that: 1) An initial grudging uptake by States has engendered a cascade in…

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COVID-19 Disportionately Impacts Women’s Rights

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Commissioners from different human rights bodies highlighted that during the pandemic, women disportionately faced various challenges. Despite the operational difficulties, the various commissions nevertheless have tried their level best to call out these COVID-19 related rights violations. Officiated by Frederic Spohr, Head of Friedrich Naumann Foundation in Thailand and Myanmar, these and other issues were highlighted during the International Human Rights Day Roundtable Discussion 'Impacts of COVID-19 on Human Rights' on 9 December 2021.The discussion was part of Asia Centre’s ongoing work on National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) in Southeast Asia. It held its 2nd International Conference on ‘National Human…

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Asia Centre Pens Agreement With Naresuan University

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On 26 November 2021, Dr. Robin Ramcharan, Executive Director, Asia Centre and Dr. Napisa Waitoolkiat, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Naresuan University, Thailand signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to establish a framework of future cooperation. The MOA marked the collaboration between the organisation in a two-part event on ‘Strengthening the Milk Tea Alliance: Building Democracy and Freedom through Speakers and Discussion’ supported by the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy. The first, was held on 26 November 2021 at the Topland Hotel in Phitsanulok, Thailand and the second, on 1 December 2021 at Asia Centre in Bangkok, Thailand.Both events were…

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Media Spotlight Can Help Address Vaccine Inequality

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Vaccine inequality is a growing concern in Asia, where the biggest challenge in keeping the pandemic at bay is the vaccination rates of a country. Hence, verified information on vaccine’s efficacy, and the equity of vaccine provision and distribution is important in putting a spotlight on the underlying inequalities that affect efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.This concern was the main theme of the webinar: “Vaccine Inequality and Worsening Inequalities in Asia” co-convened by Oxfam International and Asia Centre on 24 November 2021, 3:00 PM - 4:30 PM. The event was part of Oxfam International and Asia Centre’s efforts to…

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Anti-Discrimination Laws Needed To Protect Minorities

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Anti-discrimination laws and independent commissions are needed to protect minorities disadvantaged by legal measures that are claimed to be enacted to maintain social harmony. This was a major recommendation arising from the discussion during Asia Centre’s launch of its new baseline study “Harmony Laws in Southeast Asia: Majority Dominance, Minority Repression”The study, in partnership with the Association for Progressive Communications (APC), was released during an online event on 22 November 2021 as part of the 7th annual Southeast Asian Freedom of Religious Belief (SEAFORB) Conference. The report reviews how “harmony” and other laws in Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, and Singapore have…

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Harmony Laws in Southeast Asia: Majority Dominance, Minority Repression

Download full report Harmony Laws in Southeast Asia: Majority Dominance, Minority Repression analyses the legal framework and the impact on Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) and racial discrimination in Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines and Singapore. Colonial era-laws are being supplemented with “harmony” and other laws to manage communal tensions. All four countries are ethnically and religiously diverse with colonial histories and primarily make use of legal provisions to maintain public order and internal stability while appeasing the ethno-religious majority. These legal measures often compromise FoRB and the airing of grievances of minority communities. In Malaysia, the divide between the Muslim majority…

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Malaysian Journalists Influence Media Ethics But Need Support

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In the absence of a progressive legal framework to establish a Media Council and a complimentary Code of Ethics, the actions of journalists as influencers and their adherence to ethical standards and values are what drives quality journalism in Malaysia. While their role is admirable, their impact remains low and needs to be backed up by other stakeholders.These were the key perspectives that emerged on 12 October 2021, during the webinar ‘Media Ethics and Journalism in Malaysia’ co-convened by Asia Centre, in collaboration with the School of Media and Communication of Taylor's University. The event, supported by the Taiwan Foundation…

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