Southeast Asia

 
 

Should we boycott Myanmar?

Mish Khan

Society and culture | Southeast Asia

 

In tourism brochure clichés, Myanmar is often referred to as the last jewel of Asia. After fifty years of isolation under military rule, the newly open Southeast Asian nation conjures quaint images of the last untouched frontier in a shrinking world. Although we must remind ourselves that such romanticisation can be misplaced, given the authoritarian regime was a harsh reality rather than a luxurious abstinence from modernisation, many foreigners are curiously enthusiastic about visiting the country.

7 minute read

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To choose or not to choose: That is the question for Myanmar

Liam Brewin Higgins

Politics | Southeast Asia

 

The low sonorous murmurs of Buddhist prayer rising above the sea of twinkling golden stupas becomes distant and distorted, as the startling bright lights of gleaming shopping centres engulfs the crammed streets of downtown Yangon.

Myanmar, like many countries, is a place of contrasts, challenges and complexity.  As an undergraduate student taking part in the ‘Political Economy of Myanmar Course’ this year and a first-time traveller to Myanmar, I became increasingly aware of the great importance of the multi-dimensional relationship between Myanmar and China. From lively karaoke in Naypyidaw, to the green mountain tops of the Shan mountains and to the smallest villages in between, the cultural and geographical diversity of this country should not be underestimated.

5 minute read

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Indonesia: From paradox to partnership

Peter Bright

Politics | Asia

 

Whilst Australia and Indonesia have shared strategic challenges in the past, we are now seeing a convergence of interests that should see cooperation, rather than rivalry, defining bilateral relations.

Of course a convergence of strategic interests is a necessary, but not sufficient condition for cooperation. Australia and Indonesia will need strong leadership, long-term policy making, and a concerted shift in strategic thinking.

5 minute read

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Apocalypse not-right-now: The unsurprising disorder in Mindanao

Miguel Galsim

Politics | Asia

 

On May 23, militants from the Abu Sayyaf (ASG) and Maute Groups stormed the city of Marawi in the southern Philippine province of Lanao del Sur, Mindanao. The conflagration was sparked by a raid conducted by the Armed Forces of the Philippines which intended to capture Isnilon Hapilon, the leader of ASG. Maute reinforcements were called into the city shortly afterwards, eventuating in the current crisis.

5 minute read

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Thailand’s sexy problem

Jordi Rudd Hughes

Society and culture | Southeast Asia

 

Bangkok is a hedonist’s paradise. Cheap food, luxury hotels and a rampant sex trade are fuelled by local lust and foreign adventurism. But this all comes at a cost.

Roaring tunes, bright lights and scantly clad women assaulted my senses as I walked down ‘Soi Cowboy’ last July. The world of go-go bars, massage parlours and street girls is disparate to quaint Canberra. On the surface it appeared harmless; jovial workers solicited and chatted with the diverse group of revellers enjoying late night debauchery.

4 minute read

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Stress, study and suicide: Why Singaporean students are suffering

Evangeline Kinajil-Barfield

Society and culture | Southeast Asia

 

For many, Singapore represents the modern face of Southeast Asia. Held as a global hub of commerce, culture and tourism, the city-state also boasts the world’s best education system, according to a 2015 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) study.

It would be then almost unbelievable to think that this contemporary education system could be a “pressure cooker” of toxic cultural beliefs that are harming the nation’s students.

5 minute read

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Carry on doctor: Vietnam

Robin Spurr

Society and culture | Southeast Asia

 

Had I been told I would be spending 48 hours in a Vietnamese hospital during my travels, I would have refused to leave Australia. But, I survived the experience, and now am only horrified by my preconceptions.

Sprawled on my bedroom floor in the hotel, strategically placed between bed and bathroom, my room-mate walked in and trod on me. It was at this point I admitted that I needed medical help. For six hours, I had played a humiliating game of musical chairs and heads down thumbs up, with the toilet, and wasn’t winning.

But I did not want to go to hospital in Vietnam.

5 minute read

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