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.

US-Philippine Alliance: Duterte Demands US ‘Pay’ to Salvage Troop Deal

cc Flickr Republic of Korea, modified, https://flickr.com/photos/koreanet/28703735468/in/photolist-FtEJCQ-aFoxc8-2fP6tAW-657Esq-657Esj-657Esd-657Esf-KXvcYS-JcMnPr-JcMpfH-JcMorD-256YCLN-256YBuE-JcMrgr-27RLXJx-ChbKf8-4nShjJ-4nShis-ZKXFZb-qBEabT-5Z5d1T-5Z5d8B-5Z9pHG-5Z5cSB-24qsjaX-qkdzP2-67g7gV-ZMXa8L-27MSpQW-27MSqdu-257B5gU-KJs9wQ-ZKXG9j-PTaqsC-WPUSze-Ld2cyW-Ni1riL-ZFRVMN-ZFRWWG-YFr2LC-2jjbnEo

All of the recent frictions underpinning the US-Philippine alliance are on display in recent attempts to renegotiate the Visiting Forces Agreement.

Election Talk Heats Up in Malaysia

cc Firdaus Latif, modified, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Anwar_Ibrahim_(8730532535).jpg

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.

Tatmadaw Coup Leaves Myanmar’s Peace Process on a Precipice

cc VOA Burma, public domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Protesters_against_the_military_coup.jpg, modified,

Already fragile under the NLD, talks to secure peace with Myanmar’s ethnic minorities stand on the brink of collapse following the February coup.

Striking Oil Is No Antidote for What Ails Cambodia’s COVID-hit Economy

cc Flickr Glenn Beltz,modified, https://flickr.com/photos/n28307/33200942298/in/photolist-SzRvrC-2hBksnf-2hLfSNc-2i4K6EB-2i4pnnM-2dZTpah-2euF7o8-2hiVcbD-2hMrzuj-25WYghM-2eBnBvG-3KAozn-4FawhR-jiUx9-6bL1gX-6Ez632-6Ez61B-jiUqV-69vEai-ccWzWG-9pLRJn-2eG9ZZV-QmzGca-2jRZVcc-2i5SW4Q-RRrAUS-zZPeGW-2jtUuKU-A1gkT1-zZP5A9-zLKnTV-zL5akW-z7Nhas-z54Jbo-A1oxMr-z3TTDN-zMuCTj-bcTn8P-zJwQ1n-z5bJqC-A3e67q-A2REWY-RruHiW-jzaouT-A3dYCJ-zLBq9m-zahV4t-zMAc6d-A2T22W-z7msaQ

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.

Belt and Road: Flying Under the Radar in Indonesia?

G category high speed train (G665 to Xi'an North) at Beijing West Railway Station, China, cc Fabio Achilli from Milano, Italy, modified, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:G_category_high_speed_train,_Beijing_West_Railway_Station,_China.jpg

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.

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.

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