Southeast Asia will see upsurge in terrorism violence this year, UN reps warn

Source: Asian Correspondent

WITHOUT effective collaboration among ASEAN partners, terrorism in Southeast Asia will continue to thrive this year as foreign fighters now in the Middle East return to home soil to continue their campaign.

The warning by two United Nations representatives came following observations of the rise of terrorism activity in the region last year, in countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand.

The duo – Jeremy Douglas, UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Southeast Asia representative, and Joseph Gyte, UNODC Counter-terrorism consultant for the region – noting in an article on Bangkok Post that Daesh, or the Islamic State (IS) terror network, has in recent months shown great interest in the region.

They cited the uptick in terrorism activity in ASEAN nations last year as an example, pointing out that in Indonesia, the arrests and deaths of terrorist suspects had more than doubled to 170, while Malaysia experienced a steady stream of travel attempts of foreign fighters to Syria or Iraq and saw its first terror attack in June. Read more

Race to the bottom — Aye Thein

Source: New Mandala

Pic from New Mandala.

Pic from New Mandala.

The plight of the Rohingya highlights growing intolerance towards religious minorities throughout the region, Aye Thein writes.

When Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak spoke up for human rights of the “Rohingyas” in Myanmar, he won applause from his home crowd but drew opprobrium from the Myanmar government. Commentators wasted little time pointing out Najib’s action as a politically calculated move amid corruption scandals and eroding popularity.

While Najib’s talk of human rights reeks of hypocrisy (see Human Rights Watch’s report on Malaysia’s human rights records) and selectivity (Najib’s line that he attended the rally in “the name of the Ummah” suggests he was advocating for only the human rights of Muslims), it also raises the broader question of minority rights in ASEAN. With regard to respect and tolerance for minorities, Buddhist Myanmar has more than a few parallels with Islamic Malaysia and Indonesia. For instance, Muslims have been called fast breeding animals in Myanmar just as the Chinese have been called pigs in Malaysia. For all the excesses of Ma Ba Ta (the Association for Protection of Race and Religion) going after a few inappropriately dressed folks, Myanmar is yet to have Buddhist police to rival Malaysia’s “religious officers”, who enforce Sharia law. The notion and practice of bumiputera – Malaysia’s affirmative action favouring ethnic Malay Muslims – is not without its counterpart among Myanmar’s Buddhist chauvinists insisting that Buddhists are rightful owners of the Burmese nation and non-Buddhists, Muslims in particular, are mere guests. Read more

Marred by graft, Malaysia’s civil service struggles with institutionalised corruption — A. Azim Idris

Source: Asian Correspondent

BY A. AZIM IDRIS

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission displays cash and valuables seized last week. Image via @AbdMalekHussin. Image taken from Asian Correspondent

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission displays cash and valuables seized last week. Image via @AbdMalekHussin. Image taken from Asian Correspondent

THE corruption scourge in Malaysia is so rife that is has led many to believe that dodgy officials in the nation’s corridors of power are artisans at swindling taxpayer funds.

But despite their craftiness in carting away money that was otherwise meant for nation-building, many appear not to know how to conceal their ill-gotten gains.

On Wednesday, anti-graft busters made the first big case of the year, announcing yet another arrest of high-ranking government official. This time, authorities seized RM3 million (roughly US$668,000) in gold bars and cash from his upper middle-class property in Subang Jaya.

The following day, the authorities uncovered another RM 2 million (US$450,000) worth of items from the official, bringing the total seized to RM5 million (US$1.1 mil).

Aside from the varying types of gaudy watches, branded handbags, and foreign currencies recovered during the graft haul, such arrests of senior civil servants have, unfortunately and, absurdly, become a run-of-the-mill.

This is not to suggest that all Malaysian politicians and 1.6 million civil servants are tainted by corruption, but the problem seems so rampant that news of any related arrest of a high-ranking official is the new norm. Read more

MP: Asean’s failure to help Rohingya ‘deeply disappointing’

Source: FMT News

DAP lawmaker Charles Santiago laments that Asean foreign ministers caved in to Aung San Suu Kyi’s sweet talk. Pic form FMT News.

DAP lawmaker Charles Santiago laments that Asean foreign ministers caved in to Aung San Suu Kyi’s sweet talk. Pic form FMT News.

KUALA LUMPUR: DAP MP Charles Santiago says it is “deeply disappointing” that the Asean members failed to act decisively to address the ongoing Rohingya crisis, despite urgings from Malaysia.

He said this following a meeting of Asean foreign ministers in Yangon focused on the situation in Myanmar’s Rakhine State.

“That Malaysia failed to convince other Asean members of the urgent need to act is deeply disappointing. Through continued inaction, Asean risks failing the people at its centre.

“This meeting should have been an opportunity to take decisive action to protect vulnerable civilians and hold the Myanmar government and military accountable.

“Unfortunately, though not unexpectedly, it seems it was largely an act of political theatre,” said Santiago, who also serves as chairperson of Asean Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR). Read more

Set up regional criminal court — Dr Muzaffar Syah Mallow

Source: NST Online

W ITH regard to the inhuman treatment, barbaric persecution and alleged ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya community in Myanmar, it is time for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) to strongly consider creating or establishing a criminal court at the regional level to protect the interests of its 650 million people and to guarantee their human rights.

Having such a court at the Asean level is crucial as it can be a legislative body to monitor the conduct of all 10 member states. It should also be allowed to carry out criminal prosecution on governments or individuals that breach international human rights’ conventions and norms against their own people or those in the region.

The functions and powers of such a court can follow the model adopted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, the Netherlands. ICC has the jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Read more

The Rohingyas: Act now to stop the genocide! — Azril Mohd Amin

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Azril Mohd Amin is chief executive of Centhra while JUST Malaysia.

Azril Mohd Amin is chief executive of Centhra while JUST Malaysia.

NOVEMBER 28 — There is increasing recognition of the fact that “ethnic cleansing” of the Rohingyas — a genocide — is taking place in Rakhine, Myanmar. A number of groups and individuals are coming to terms with this grim reality especially after the “evidence of a new reign of terror and wholesale destruction of communities exercised by the Myanmar state against the Rohingya population has emerged” in October/November 2016.

On November 25, 2016, the Malaysian government officially referred to the “alleged ethnic cleansing” of the Rohingyas.

Given the constraints of bilateral relations within the context of their common Asean membership, the Malaysian government has more than at any time in the past admonished the Myanmar government for its acts of commission and omission vis-à-vis the tragic plight of the Rohingya people. Read more

Applications open for inaugural ASEAN CSR Fellowship

The ASEAN CSR Network is a private sector, not-for-profit organization, which was formed with support from the ASEAN Foundation in line with the achievement of an ASEAN Community in 2015.  We advance responsible business principles and behavior in the region by aligning practices in our current priority areas of business integrity, business and human rights, and food security and sustainable agriculture (i.e. environment).  We do so by bringing key stakeholders i.e. private sector, government and civil society together through thought leadership, capacity building and research in conferences, forums and workshops.  At times, we provide representation for the business community to the ASEAN body and other inter-governmental agencies, think tanks on relevant policy issues under our priority areas.  Since our establishment in 2011, much has been achieved through our efforts in developing and implementing the “ASEAN CSR Vision 2020”.  For the first time, the principle of sustainable development has been incorporated across the three pillars of the ASEAN new blueprint for 2025.

Applications open for inaugural ASEAN CSR Fellowship!

www.asean-csr-network.org/fellowship

20-30 full/partial scholarships available, funded by the Government of Sweden

APPLY BY: 30 Sept 2016 (for commencement on 9 Jan 2017) Read more

A successful Asean only possible if civil society taken seriously — Asean Peoples’ Forum Secretariat

Source: The Malay Mail Online

SEPT 8 — Civil society’s anticipation of the 28th and 29th  Asean Summit in Laos has been met with disappointment at the continued lack of opportunity to voice human rights concerns and critically engage with Asean member states.

We recall the positive decision to formally receive our final statement which was adopted during the AMM 2015 in Malaysia.

We were hoping that this good modality would continue this year but it is not the case during this year’s chairmanship of Asean.

We must endeavor to find more ways to engage and not limit the possibilities.

“Despite being vocalized repeatedly, civil society’s concerns over Asean member states’ lack ofrecognition of civil society as a critical stakeholder seems to be falling on deaf ears. Even though Asean’s theme is to be people-centred, civil society yet again we are on the outside waiting for full integration as a full partner in Asean processes,” said Jerald Joseph of Pusat Komas, who was Co-Chair of ACSC/APF 2016. Read more

A New Generation of Free Trade Agreements That Privilege Business Interests Over Human Rights — Shalini Bhutani

Source: The Wire

BY SHALINI BHUTANI

There must be ex ante human rights impact assessment of the trade agreements and investment treaties that are being negotiated by the ASEAN community, including with and in India.

Will RCEP trade negotiations privilege businesses over human rights? Credit: Reuters

Aug 30, 2016. The founders of the Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN) – foreign ministers of Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, had in 1967 in Bangkok, Thailand created an organisation meant for peace, freedom and prosperity of the region’s people.

Today, the ASEAN is a group of ten countries in the South East Asia (SEA) region. The group comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines.

ASEAN is also to expand to include more countries. Papua New Guinea and Timor-Leste are seeking accession; while Fiji and Bangladesh are likely future members.  An ASEAN charter rendering the grouping a legal personality came into force as recently as December 2008. And ASEAN members formally declared the establishment of the ASEAN Community with effect from 31 December 2015. Read more

Asean adopts roadmap to become haze-free by 2020

Source: The Star Online

Reuter photo published on The NST Online

KUALA LUMPUR: A roadmap on regional cooperation to tackle the persistant haze problem has been adopted by Asean in its effort to achieve a transboundary haze-free region in less than four years.

The roadmap, aptly called Asean Cooperation towards Trans­boundary Haze Pollution Control with Means of Implementation, serves as a framework towards a haze-free region by 2020.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said all ministers have reaffirmed their commitment to prevent and monitor transboundary haze pollution from land and forest fires through concerted national efforts and regional cooperation.

Yesterday, Asean ministers and officials convened at the 12th meeting of the conference here.

Dr Wan Junaidi said he was optimistic that, with Indonesia’s commitment, the haze situation this year would be less severe.

“Indonesia has given its assurance. A total of 3,000 military and police personnel have been put on watch to monitor the haze situation,” he added.

The senior adviser on energy to Indonesia’s Minister of Environ­ment and Forestry, Arief Yuwono, said President Joko Widodo issued a directive to seriously combat and prevent land and forest fires. Read more