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.
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.
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.
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.
Thanks to a broad anti-government pro-democracy youth movement, risky calls to reform the Thai monarchy are breaking new ground.
With a national election fast approaching, barriers to peace remain in Myanmar’s ethnic borderlands.