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19.02.21 - 25.02.21 Sup SEAkers!


Anti-coup demonstrations are continuing in Yangon despite a crackdown on dissent, with reports that security forces fired at protesters in the city and in Mandalay on Friday.





This Week's News Spotlight:

Laos leaders fear ‘domino effect’ of Thailand’s pro-democracy movement amid election | Air travel bubble discussions ongoing between Singapore, Hong Kong with dip in unlinked Covid-19 cases | Vietnam builds up defences against Beijing in Spratly Islands: Report | Indonesia and Myanmar foreign ministers meet in Bangkok; pushing for ASEAN-led solution to Myanmar Crisis | Ethnic Chinese caught in Myanmar’s political turmoil



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Laos leaders fear ‘domino effect’ of Thailand’s pro-democracy movement amid election - SCMP

The Lao People’s Revolutionary Party is the only political party permitted in Laos and has been in power since 1975.



With its elections looming on Sunday, Laos’ authorities are increasingly worried about spillover effects of the pro-democracy protests in neighbouring Thailand and Myanmar.


While 224 candidates will be contesting in the general election, some observers have described it as a ‘sham’ as Laos is a one-party state.


Laotian leaders are especially concerned about the effects of these protests on its younger population. Contesting candidates are also largely young and middle-aged, with about one-third under the age of 46.




Air travel bubble discussions ongoing between Singapore, Hong Kong with dip in unlinked Covid-19 cases - Straits Times

Both cities earlier agreed that the travel bubble would be suspended if the seven-day average of unlinked cases in either place exceeded five.



Singapore and Hong Kong are in “close discussions” to restart the air travel bubble, which allows leisure travellers to travel between the two countries without quarantine, said the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore on Saturday, as the Covid-19 situation in Hong Kong is easing up.


The arrangement was suspended indefinitely since Nov 21 last year, one day before it was planned to start, due to a sudden increase in Hong Kong’s Covid-19 cases.



Vietnam builds up defences against Beijing in Spratly Islands: Report - Yahoo News

The most significant upgrades were at West Reef and Sin Cowe Island, according to a report by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies’ Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative.



Over the past two years, Vietnam has been building up defences in the Spratly Islands to “ensure it can strike Chinese facilities” in the archipelago, according to a report by a Washington-based think tank.


Air and coastal defence systems have been improved at Vietnam’s bases in the islands, underscoring the country’s efforts to make its facilities more resilient against China and ensure that Chinese bases were within striking range.


The Spratlys, which are located in the disputed South China Sea, are claimed by both Vietnam and China, as well as the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan, with tensions escalating over China’s increasing assertiveness in the region.




Indonesia and Myanmar foreign ministers meet in Bangkok; pushing for ASEAN-led solution to Myanmar Crisis - Nikkei Asia

"Thailand has conveyed its agreement, and so far ASEAN countries have expressed their commitment to support a meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers," Marsudi said.



Indonesia and Myanmar foreign ministers, Retno Marsudi and Wunna Maung Lwin respectively, met in the Thai capital on Wednesday, with Jakarta stepping up its push for an ASEAN-led resolution to the crisis in Myanmar.


After the meeting, Marsudi said that she stressed the need to avoid bloodshed in Myanmar during her meeting with her Myanmese counterpart and the importance of an “inclusive democratic transition process”.




Ethnic Chinese caught in Myanmar’s political turmoil - SCMP

Multiple ethnic Chinese living in Myanmar are worried that anti-Chinese sentiment will make them the target of backlash.



Ethnic Chinese living in Myanmar fear that they will be the target of backlash, after rumours spread online that Beijing is helping Myanmar’s military in the aftermath of the February 1 coup.


Despite footage of Myanmese Chinese taking part in the protests, doubts have sprung up among the broader population regarding China’s role in the coup and whether Chinese Myanmese support Beijing.


Since the military coup on February 1, Beijing has stuck to its non-intervention policy, emphasised the importance of stability, and referred to the army takeover as a “cabinet reshuffle”.


In Myanmar’s commercial capital Yangon, protestors have gathered outside the Chinese embassy and demanded that China stop supporting the military junta. Beijing, however, insists that it had no role in the coup.

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