All of the recent frictions underpinning the US-Philippine alliance are on display in recent attempts to renegotiate the Visiting Forces Agreement.
Muhyiddin Yassin is clinging to power amid a COVID-19 state of emergency. A new election would test the unity of the ruling Perikatan Nasional bloc and opposition parties led by Anwar Ibrahim.
Already fragile under the NLD, talks to secure peace with Myanmar’s ethnic minorities stand on the brink of collapse following the February coup.
Cambodia has extracted its first crude oil from the Gulf of Thailand. Yet with oil prices low amid COVID-19 and production peaking at 7,500 barrels per day, the impact on Cambodia’s economy will be marginal.
While media focus fixates on other BRI infrastructure projects in Malaysia and Laos, Indonesia is quietly nearing completion of a $6 billion high-speed rail link between Jakarta and Bandung.
The emergence of COVID-19 delayed peace talks between the Thai government and southern rebels last year. A year on, the pandemic is still complicating any restart.
In November’s election, Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) won 83% of seats, yet constitutionally must share power with the military, meaning five more years of an uneasy alliance.
Vietnam is one of few nations expecting positive GDP growth in 2020. Given its apt handling of COVID-19 and ongoing US-China tensions, the country is now well placed to lead Southeast Asia’s economic recovery.
It was hoped the defeat of Abu Sayyaf and their Maute allies in Marawi in October 2017 would extinguish the threat of Islamist militancy in the Philippines. Three years later, ISIS-affiliated groups remain active.
Already heavily indebted to Beijing over Belt and Road infrastructure projects, the economic hit from COVID-19 has pushed Laos further into China’s sphere of influence.