Welcome to the monthly political compass of Southeast Asia from The Journal Radar! Our quarterly political compass aims to give our readers a quick quarterly summary and a better understanding of hot political events across Southeast Asian nations. The second quarter political compass will summarize the event from April, May, and June of 2023.
What to Watch?
The Chinese navy agreed to the joint maritime exercise which predicted would last from late April to early May. The joint exercise is considered to be the policy for China’s military engagement in Southeast Asia. It is believed to challenge the influence that the United States has shaped with countries including Singapore and Indonesia in coming years.
Two years ago, China and Singapore held a combined military drill in international waters at the southern tip of the South China Sea, following a bilateral defense pact upgrade in 2019 to include bigger-scale exercises among their army, navy, and air force.
On 11 April 2023, the military junta leadership in Myanmar brazenly repressed their people through air strikes against civilians in the north of the country. It is believed that the strike killed 168 people, including 40 children and 24 pregnant women.
The airstrike is believed to be the deadliest airstrike by Myanmar’s military government. The NUG (National Unity Government), which was set up by elected politicians and activists to oppose the military regime, has recorded more than 600 airstrikes between October 2021 and March 2023.
In the middle of May, Malaysia stated that the country would sanction firms and strip away licenses from recruitment agencies involved in hiring migrant workers who later found themselves stranded without jobs in the country. The plight of the migrants comes amid concerns over workplace abuses in Malaysia, with several companies facing U.S. bans for forced labor in recent years. Malaysia’s Labour Department vowed to take action against recruitment agencies and companies found to have misused government quotas and licenses for hiring migrant workers.
Indonesia has been strengthening its bilateral relationship with several countries. In early June 2023, President Joko Widodo visited Malaysia to strengthen the relationship with Malaysia especially in fighting against palm oil discrimination. The world’s two largest palm oil producers would continue to cooperate closely. President Joko Widodo also host the first visit of the new Japanese Emperor Naruhito since ascending the Chrysanthemum Throne in 2019, the visit has further strengthened the friendship between 2 nations.
By: Putu Radar Bahurekso