Michael Hart

Michael Hart is a writer and researcher covering civil conflict, peacebuilding and war legacy issues in Southeast Asia. He has written about these issues and Asia-Pacific politics more broadly for publications including Geopolitical Monitor, The Diplomat, Asia Sentinel, World Politics Review and Southeast Asia Globe. Michael is currently editorial assistant for The Pacific Review journal, based at the University of Warwick. He previously researched for Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) and the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) and studied an MA in International Relations at the University of Westminster.

In Thailand’s Deep South, COVID-19 Leaves Peace Talks with the BRN On Hold

cc Flickr ITU Pictures, modified, https://www.flickr.com/photos/itupictures/30974080815/in/photolist-TZgoHY-TZgpNo-U2A8SV-2hM5Nxg-2hM2dTj-2hM5Fp8-TZgnv7-AJcKx3-P4hizz-Pc5g78-2hLZy8F-2hM27To-2hLZLix-2hM3oFX-NJhw6E-2hM3BNd-Pc5oQz-2hM3kFo-2hM3Q9R-2hM4HCP-2hM13yo-2hLZpet-2hM4CrB-2hM3viu-WgAvr9-WgArJ9-WWjjEU-XxpAJx-Wj1xpg

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.

What the NLD Election Victory Means for Myanmar’s Civilian-Military Divide

cc Chuck Moravec, Flickr, modified, https://www.flickr.com/photos/21822583@N08/13593187883/in/photolist-mHbDbk-6xWakx-dtNuZq-bDVHE4-bshMrt-6y1eQj-6xW6fD-6y1mzm-6xWbsK-6y1kx3-8gSN9R-eDCHbf-SZnSzL-48zeer-aaUB9J-aaUBRU-buLT91-dY8PeM-48DfLs-gUCP8i-dtNA3b-gUt6cR-6y1x8N-6xWsHP-6y1uim-6xWtwv-6y1yiw-6xWnFn-chEgVf-6xWrHV-chEgD9-6QqQmC-6xW7TB-gUCP8D-aRSnWa-6y1wcq-DwnfnZ-dcyDC9-aFuKTg-ciGSif-ei1Fsk-ciAcbs-ei7qW1-ba62CF-dWsFzC-84Bj7y-h93C5i-6Q7B6m-hhKPAB-hhL6Gd

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 Economy Well Positioned for Post-COVID Surge

Ho Chi Minh City skyline, cc Flickr Sketyl none, modified, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

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.

Family Ties and New Recruits: Abu Sayyaf Proves Hard to Dislodge in the Philippines

Military honors bestowed on 15 AFP soldiers killed in combat against Abu Sayyaf in 2016, public domain, ROBINSON NIÑAL/PPD, modified, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_15_gallant_soldiers_killed_in_combat_with_the_Abu_Sayyaf_in_Sulu_are_given_full_military_honors.jpg

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.

COVID-19 Pushes Laos Further into China’s Economic Orbit

cc Flickr Christian Haugen, modified, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

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.

Singapore Charts a Middle Path Amid Worsening US-China Ties

cc Flickr Pasi Mämmelä, modified, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Singapore has always followed the middle path in its US and China relations, but with the advent of a new Cold War-esque bipolarity, that path is rapidly narrowing.

East Coast Rail Link: Full Steam Ahead for China’s Belt and Road in Malaysia

Malaysia Train, CC Flickr, Khairil Yusof, Modified, https://www.flickr.com/photos/57634952@N00/15362968700/, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has vowed to go ahead with large-scale Chinese-backed infrastructure projects, notably the renegotiated East Coast Rail Link (ECRL), to boost Malaysia’ COVID19-hit economy.

Having Crushed the Opposition, Cambodia’s Hun Sen Mulls a Dynasty

Cambodia's Hun Sen, cc Flickr thierry ehrmann, modified, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

With the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party dissolved, Prime Minister Hun Sen’s eldest son Hun Manet is quickly rising through the ranks of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party.

Thailand’s Student Protestors Take On Military and the Monarchy

Democracy Monument, Cc Flickr, Opal Lee, Modified, https://www.flickr.com/photos/125330872@N02/25344348717/in/,

Thanks to a broad anti-government pro-democracy youth movement, risky calls to reform the Thai monarchy are breaking new ground.

Beyond the Narrative of Progress in Myanmar’s Panglong Peace Initiative

Myanmar, CC Flickr, Toozler, Modified, https://www.flickr.com/photos/toozler/18675948192/in/

With a national election fast approaching, barriers to peace remain in Myanmar’s ethnic borderlands.

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