PHNOM PENH (Reuters) – His party is reeling from its worst-ever election result. His political opponents have grown bold and vocal. His people are protesting on the streets. So why is Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen smiling?
The long-ruling autocrat emerged beaming from lengthy closed-door meetings this week with his old political foe, Sam Rainsy, who says Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) cheated its way to a narrow victory in a July 28 general election.
YANGON (Reuters) – Every evening, long after Yangon’s office workers have squeezed onto packed buses for grueling commutes to the suburbs, a single room remains lit up on the top floor of City Hall.
Inside sits Toe Aung, a former army major who almost by accident bears one of the biggest responsibilities in reform-era Myanmar: planning Yangon’s unstoppable transformation from a regional backwater into Southeast Asia’s next megacity.
By Andrew R.C. Marshall
(Reuters) – Attempts to bring stability to Myanmar’s strategic northwest Rakhine State could be unraveling after police opened fire on Rohingya Muslims for the third time in two months, reviving tensions in a region beset by religious violence last year.
Villages outside the state capital Sittwe remain volatile after a dispute over custody of a dead Rohingya quickly escalated into a day of clashes on Friday in which police raked Rohingya crowds with gunfire, according to witnesses.
NAUNG CHEIN, Myanmar (Reuters) – A year ago, Wun Naung Lay left his village in northern Myanmar to look for work and found heroin instead. Today, the skeletal 25-year-old is locked up and going cold turkey beneath a filthy blanket in a bamboo cell.
Wun Naung Lay is one of more than 600 young men who have undergone primitive drug rehabilitation at the Youth for Christ Centre, a collection of tin-roofed shacks on a riverbank in Kachin State.
YANGON (Reuters) – The Buddhist extremist movement in Myanmar, known as 969, portrays itself as a grassroots creed.
Its chief proponent, a monk named Wirathu, was once jailed by the former military junta for anti-Muslim violence and once called himself the “Burmese bin Laden.”
NAYPYITAW, Myanmar (Reuters) – Myanmar’s Immigration Minister has expressed support for a controversial two-child limit on a Muslim minority group that opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the United Nations call discriminatory and a violation of human rights.
Khin Yi, Minister of Immigration and Population, is the most senior official to publicly support the recently announced enforcement by local authorities of a two-child policy in northwestern Rakhine State for Rohingya Muslims, a stateless minority termed “Bengalis” by the Myanmar government.
JAKARTA (Reuters) – Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, the governor of Jakarta, might well be the future of Indonesian democracy. Here’s why.
On a recent afternoon he visited Tambora, a densely populated area of west Jakarta, to inspect the aftermath of a slum fire. Within minutes, the narrow streets were a moshpit of jostling well-wishers. Women embraced him. Men kissed his hand. School children chanted “Long live Jokowi!”
DUKU, Thailand (Reuters) – Rusnee Maeloh slept through the 30-minute gunfight that killed her husband, but her neighbors in the notoriously violent Bacho district of southern Thailand heard distant explosions and feared the worst.
Mahrosu Jantarawadee, 31, was Rusnee’s childhood sweetheart, the father of their two children, and part of a secretive Islamic insurgency fighting a brutal nine-year war with the Thai government that has killed more than 5,300 people.
ROVIENG, Cambodia (Reuters) – The remote district of Rovieng was once a battleground between Cambodian government troops and Pol Pot’s genocidal Khmer Rouge. Unexploded bombs still lurk in its fields and forests.
So does something more desirable – iron ore – and supposedly in such huge quantities two Chinese companies have an $11-billion plan to extract it.
Ever heard of Tun Aung? I hadn’t until researching my recent Reuters special report on Myanmar’s year of reforms. Human rights activists claim his plight is proof that the country’s reformist government, like the military junta it replaced, is relying on repressive laws and secretive trials to silence perceived enemies.
Tun Aung, a practicing medical doctor and Islamic leader, was arrested in June 2012 after clashes between Buddhists and Muslims in Rakhine State killed at least 80 people. He was accused of inciting unrest in the town of Maungdaw, although Amnesty International said credible eyewitness reports suggested that Tun Aung “actively tried to defuse the violence.”