Impunity waters down accountability in Southeast Asia

The provision of impunity to human rights violators is the biggest challenge for ensuring accountability. This was the general conclusion of the panelists at the event Confronting Elusiveness: Demanding Accountability in Southeast Asia.   The speakers from Indonesia, Philippines and Myanmar highlighted how in each of their respective countries human rights violators went on to occupy positions in different human rights mechanisms which watered the whole idea of holding such violators accountable.   Speakers featured at the event included, Galuh Wandita, Co-founder and Director at Asia Justice and Rights (AJAR), Aung Khaing Min, Advocacy and Research Officer Burma Partnership and…

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Asia Centre: Regional Representative for Malaysian Publisher Gerakbudaya

Asia Centre has signed a partnership with Malaysian Publisher Gerakbudaya to be its regional representative in Thailand. Moving forward, Asia Centre will commission, edit, launch a publication series, distribute and sell books on Southeast Asian studies.     The publication series will explore critical issues impacting Southeast Asia as well as the region’s linkages to the rest of the world. The aim is to contribute to research and discussions on regional matters which are alternative and can highlight new and important issues to a wider audience.   The Centre will also act as a bookshop and has started featuring a…

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Cause Lawyering: Advocating For Justice

Cause lawyers set themselves apart in their profession by using the law as tool for social justice. They protect the rights of marginalised communities and bridge the gap between law as it is written in the books and the law as it is lived and experienced.   This was how our panelists described the linchpin role that cause lawyers play in advocating for justice. Cause Lawyering: In Conversation With Regional Advocates was held on 14 May 2016 and attracted about 20 participants.   Mr. Henning Glaser, Director of the  German-Southeast Asia Centre of Excellence for Public Policy and Good Governance…

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Entering Femininity: Reporting Rituals and Violations

Entering Femininity: Reporting Rituals and Violations seminar at Asia Centre attempted to open the topic of female genital mutilation (FGM) for a Bangkok audience. Organised by Alexander Demetrianova, an Asia Centre Associate, the seminar discussed FGM as a violation of child’s and women’s rights by international law and health standards. Worldwide more than 300 million girls and women are “cut” under different interpretations and in different severity. But in most cases, FGM is a very important ritual, ancestral knowledge and practice. It allows girls to gain a status in their community and further enables them to elevate to other positions in life of a woman –…

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Authoritarian Instituitions Help Najib Weather 1MDB Storm

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib has survived the fallout from the 1MDB scandal and is likely to continue in power despite the widespread feeling that it would lead to his ouster. This was Professor William Case assessment of the financial scandal that has dominated Malaysian politics since mid 2015.   The Asia Centre roundtable on 10th May 2016, entitled Stress Testing Single-Party Dominance in Malaysia, saw over a dozen people gather after lunch to discuss the changes precipitated by the 1MDB scandal and how Nabjib has managed to weather the storm. Professor Case,a well-known Malaysian studies scholar, provided the latest updates on…

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Singapore: A Political Dystopia for Democracy

Singapore is not the political utopia that it projects itself to be. Beneath the veneer, lies a dystopia of political repression, self-censorship and culture of fear. This was the nub of Jeannette Aruldoss’ presentation at Asia Centre on 19 March 2016. Aruldoss, a lawyer and an opposition candidate of two election campaigns, shared some of her personal experiences from campaigning in 2011 and 2015 and provided a succinct overview of the political system and raised questions about its efficacy. The lingering question after the latest elections of 2015 was if politics in Singapore was going to change, or would be…

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The Politics Of Conflict

The “Kachin conflict” at its heart is a political one. Even though the term “Kachin conflict” invariably leads to it being framed and discussed as an ethnic conflict, obscuring the politics at play. This was the main point made by Dr Karin Dean, our guest speaker, at the second installment of the Asia Centre Seminar series.   The seminar navigating the participants through the intricacies of the “Kachin conflict” in Myanmar, because to be Kachin can mean more than one thing- as the term does not represent a particular homogenous ethnic group united towards a particular purpose. The seminar attracted an audience…

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Futures Planning: Charting Asia Centre’s Course

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On 17 Feb 2016, the Asia Centre team sat down with Marianne Dutkiewicz, an Asia Pacific Leadership Program Fellow with the the East-West Center in Hawaii, for a peek into the future.   Marianne shared with us a planning tool developed by the East- West Center to help individuals and organisations think strategically about their futures.   The management team along with Centre Associate Dr. Jay Koh mapped out how different variables could impact Asia Centre’s growth and development over the course of 3 to 5 years.   The Futures Planning Workshop was an excellent way for the team to…

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1st Benedict Anderson Memorial Roundtable: Debating Imagined Communities

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Debating Imagined Communities: A Tribute To Benedict Anderson celebrated the life and work of the late Professor Anderson. Held on 30 January 2016 at Asia Centre in Bangkok, Thailand; the event attracted a diverse audience of about 40 people including friends and colleagues of Anderson, as well as students and members of public who were keen to learn more about the scholar and his work.   Professor James Gomez, Associate Dean (International Affairs) at the School of Communication Arts, Bangkok University and co-founder of the Asia Centre, opened the event by discussing how Anderson’s work sits in relation to his contemporaries.…

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Irregular Foreigners’ Right to Health in Japan

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Asia Centre hosted Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies, Mahidol University student Yasuyuki Kato on 19th October 2015. Kato presented his thesis; "Irregular Foreigners' Right to Health in Japan: An Analysis from the Perspectives of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights". Kato's research provided insight into some of the challenges that irregular migrants in Japan face when accessing healthcare services. The seminar also discussed the duties of the Japanese government with regards to the provision of adequate healthcare services as well as their differentiated obligations towards citizens and non-citizens.

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