Hello Globe readers,
It’s good to be back with another edition of Sightlines. If we had to choose a theme, our week in Southeast Asia was marked by elections.
While Timor-Leste voted in favour of the opposition party this week in its latest parliamentary ballot, Cambodia banned the main opposition Candlelight Party from running in the upcoming general elections – sparking widespread concerns over a shrinking democratic space. In Thailand, in the aftermath of last week’s election, the state is wrestling with the eligibility for prime minister of Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat after a military-backed senator alleged the opposition chief had failed to declare his shares in a media company.
In the meantime, Southeast Asia Globe spoke with newly elected Move Forward MP Chonthicha “Lookkate” Jangrew, a long-time democracy activist, about her political journey. In the recent elections, Chonthicha won a constituency seat for the opposition after spending almost a decade fighting several speech-related criminal charges for her human rights advocacy.
Away from elections, Vietnam is probing TikTok after the single-party government threatened to ban the app. The state investigation of the video-sharing platform began earlier this month in Ho Chi Minh City.
Environmentally speaking, the region is also looking for new solutions to long-running problems. With the help of satellite data from the U.S. space agency NASA, regional organisations are taking a new approach to cross-border management of the Mekong River. Effective data-sharing between the Mekong basin countries has been elusive in the past. The new satellite initiative will prioritise information about hydropower development and climate change, two of the most pressing concerns along the river.
Last but not least, Laos, once known as the “Land of a Million Elephants,” now faces the harsh reality of losing its iconic species due to deforestation and other habitat loss. The country’s captive elephant business, which provides entertainment to tourists, has been reopened after three years of Covid-19 restrictions, and animal welfare experts fear the increasing commercial pressure may affect the survival of the wild herds. Read more at the link below.
That’s all for this week, may you have a wonderful weekend and enjoy the features!