Asia Centre on The SDGs, Climate Change and Human Rights: The Indonesian Palm Oil Industry

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As states seek to address climate change resilience following the Paris Agreement by committing to ‘foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development’, they appear to be willing in so far as such measures do threaten food production” (SDG Indicator 13.2.1). An analysis of the palm oil industry in Indonesia exposes a potential rights conundrum amidst the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Asia Centre’s Dr. Robin Ramcharan dissected this apparent conundrum in relation to the Palm Oil industry in Indonesia in a lecture to the Leuven Center for Global Governance in Belgium on 20 December 2018. The palm oil…

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Asia Centre Develops Partnerships in New Zealand

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Asia Centre has built two partnerships around impact projects on Fake News and the Rohingya refugee crisis in Southeast Asia during its New Zealand outreach from 21-31 October 2018 to seek out collaboration opportunities. Dr. James Gomez, Chair, Board of Directors, Asia Centre, kicked off the first leg of the trip as an Activist-in-Residence at the Massey University-Center for Culture-Centered Approach (CARE) on October 23rd-26th. One focus during this residency was to collaborate with CARE on “Communication, Democracy and Freedom in Asia” highlighting the “Fake News” challenge to democracy. The issues were delivered in the form of a public lecture…

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Asia Centre Reaches Out to Australian Networks

15 November 2018 - The return visit by Union Aid Abroad (APHEDA) Jill Biddington and Tom Addy to discuss collaboration marks Asia Centre successful outreach to activist networks in Australia.  Dr. James Gomez, Chair, Board of Directors of Asia Centre visited Sydney and Canberra from 16 to 21 October 2018 where he gave several public talks and engaged with academics and activists to build solidarity as well as identifying opportunities for policy advocacy in Australia for issues affecting Southeast Asia. At the University of Sydney, co-hosted by Sydney Southeast Asia Centre and Malaysia and Singapore Society of Australia (MASSA), Dr Gomez spoke on…

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Asia Centre’s Japan Outreach

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As part of Asia Centre’s regional outreach, Dr. James Gomez, Chair, Board of Directors, Asia Centre visited Tokyo, Japan during the first week of October 2018. This visit builds on a series of activities over the last three years the Centre has undertaken with Japanese academia, civil society and other supporting institutions.  During the visit, on 2 October, Dr. Gomez was invited by Professor Yasushi Katsuma to lecture on “Fake News and Elections in Southeast Asia” for the graduate students at the Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies, Waseda University in Tokyo. One of the main discussion points was around the question…

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ASEAN’s non-interference policy hinders Rohingya justice

In spite of the United Nations (UN) Fact Finding Commission’s indictment on 28 August 2018, recommending Myanmar’s military officials “be investigated and prosecuted” for “genocidal intent” and crimes against humanity against the Rohingya and other minority groups in Myanmar, the pursuit of justice for the victims and accountability for crimes perpetrated will be hard to achieve at the regional level as ASEAN continues to provide Myanmar protective cover through the bloc’s non-interference policy.Add to this, regional commercial interests in Myanmar and a regional geopolitical climate that does not favour the protection of human rights, then justice for the Rohingyas slips…

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ASEAN’s Fake News Declaration Neglects State Propaganda

ASEAN’s framework to minimize the harmful effects of fake news has a serious omission if we look at the issue of disinformation holistically. What is glaringly absent in the joint declaration signed on 10 May 2018 by ASEAN Ministers Responsible for Information is the neglect to mention the harmful effects of partisan propaganda of the member States. But why would the declaration do so? After all, governments in the region, even before the days of the internet, have  historically been the purveyors of “fake news”, which includes partisan propaganda. They are the ones rolling out one-sided agenda-setting and socialization programmes…

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Establish a Malaysian Democracy Foundation

Following Malaysia's dramatic election in 2018, a range of efforts involving legal, institutional and cultural reforms are currently being initiated to consolidate democracy in Malaysia. However, the establishment of a 'Malaysian Democracy Foundation" or MDF presents a unique opportunity to further institutionalize democracy in the country as well as act as a catalyst in Southeast Asia and beyond. It would be the first such Foundation in Southeast Asia. The proposed MDF could be modeled on other such institutional mechanisms, notably in South Korea and Taiwan. Their experiences in conceptualizing, institutionalizing, funding and operationalizing the Korean Democracy Foundation (KDF) and the Taiwan…

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