As the world celebrates the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 2018–2019, the region of Southeast Asia highlights two compelling political phenomena: the emergent ‘authoritarian populism’ of Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines and the return to the ‘Asian Values’ of Mahathir Mohamad in Malaysia.
Island Southeast Asia is well-known as a hotbed of mega-biodiversity. But where rainforests meet thriving marine habitats is exactly where numerous large developments are built. Ranging from luxury homes to resorts to industrial areas and ports, coastal infrastructure projects often require dredging, reclamation or the complete destruction of coastal habitats.
A revolution took place in Malaysia on May 9, 2018. It was a silent and peaceful one, amazingly achieved through the ballot box, and is therefore not noticed for what it is. But it is a revolution nevertheless, and the effects of it are moving like a strong undercurrent throughout the nation—cutting down old structures, be these mental ones, social ones or political ones. A sense of jubilation and disorientation now permeates the country, and will do so for a few weeks yet, if not months.
2017 is a particularly critical year for ASEAN as it celebrates its 50th anniversary; it is timely for the Southeast Asia to prove itself as a region that emphasizes putting ASEAN’s people first. Such recognition of civil society, not as a threat, but as an important ally in ensuring the realisation of human rights for all Asean citizens is critical to the development of a sustainable ASEAN Community.
The oil palm is one of the most efficient oil crops in the world, yielding several times the amount produced by other major oil-bearing crops. Its high productivity, competitive price, accessibility for poor households, and versatile uses have driven exponential growth over the past 30 years (USDA-FAS 2009) and secured its place as one of the most important resources in the food industry today.
In August 2015 the Bersih 4 rally drew thousands of protesters to the streets who demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Najib Razak. Where draws the movement its supporters from and how is it in ethnically diverse Malaysia percepted? Which challenges lie ahead?