Laos’ road to its hydropower in the last 20 years or so has from been an easy, or smooth, one. Looking back, it has been the focus of efforts, led by the World Bank, for setting better standards for dam projects, as well as the magnet for a cascade of criticism from environmental and other campaign groups. Johanna Son deliver into these in the second part of this set of stories for Heinrich Boll Foundation Southeast Asia.
Six months after the 2018 collapse of a dam in Laos, the flow of information appears to have slowed down to a trickle, making it difficult to figure out actual costs and the development toll. But could there be new opportunities in what seemed to be more space in public discussion, including in an era of social media, in the aftermath of the dam disaster? Johanna Son looks into these in the first of a two-part set of articles for Heinrich Boll Foundation Southeast Asia.
Navigating the news in Southeast Asia requires separating fake news from professionally done media products, discernment and evaluation, highlighting how the media landscape has changed. In this Q & A with Reporting ASEAN’s Johanna Son, Hong Kong University’s Masato Kajimoto talks about the need for news literacy – and media credibility.
A permanent state of uncertainty is how life is for asylum seekers and urban refugees in Bangkok and other Southeast Asian cities. Often invisible in the cities they live in, they cannot work legally and do not have papers to stay for long periods of time, even if the process of seeking asylum takes years, reports Johanna Son*.
Myanmar may be a politically freer country, but has many more challenges to media freedom today. In this chat with Reporting ASEAN’s Johanna Son, Yin Yadanar Thein, the co-founder of Free Expression Myanmar, says the country’s undemocratic habits – including the Aung San Suu Kyi-led government’s policies toward the press – will take a long time to unlearn.
Reporting on the Rohingya is a tricky assignment, requiring Myanmar’s journalists to pick their way between pressures from the government and from the public. Many avoid discussing the topic too much for reasons of personal safety as well as the political and financial survival of their news outlets, explains Johanna Son in this Reporting ASEAN analysis.
Cleaning up atrocious labor practices in Thailand’s commercial fishing industry won’t happen overnight, even as an International Labour Organisation (ILO) report documents both progress and persistent problems. But experts say reforms may well lead to new norms that other countries in Southeast Asia and beyond would be pressed to follow, reports Johanna Son for the Reporting ASEAN series.
China is not yet an economic behemoth in ASEAN, given that it’s s more of a trade power than a major foreign investor in the region. But the day may not be so far away when ASEAN countries find China’s clout to be much bigger – and a more potent geopolitical tool in areas like the South China Sea disputes – if they do not diversify their economic ties, writes Johanna Son for the Reporting ASEAN series.
ASEAN needs to appreciate its healthy levels of intra-regional migration as an asset instead of a liability, this new World Bank report argues. Likewise, it says that recognizing and institutionalizing the rights and social protection of migrant workers – undocumented included – will deepen the benefits the region can reap from economic integration. Johanna Son reports for the Reporting ASEAN series.
Laos has been more diplomatically adept than Cambodia at balancing ties with China with those of other countries. But while both are undoubtedly dancing with China, the social, economic and developmental cost of this dance remains to be seen in the coming years, says Johanna Son of Reporting ASEAN in this analysis.
The 50 years of existence that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations marks in 2017 is no small feat. This anniversary provides ASEAN citizens a chance to look back, as well as to look forward. It also allows them to take stock of ASEAN’s vision of development – and where the environment is in this […]
At 50 years old, ASEAN has a lot of work to do to boost its internal strength, making itself more of a middle power through concrete steps that include implementing its own agreements, reviewing its currency basket, giving national treatment to its own investors – and beefing up its own security discussion forums. Johanna Son of Reporting ASEAN explains more.
ASEAN is basking in its 50-year glory, but this milestone has also shown how it is, in a sense, its own weak spot. The challenge from within ASEAN itself is its refusal or inability to fix itself from within so that it is solid enough to stave off divisions caused by the presence or absence of external powers, whether it be China, or the United States, explains Johanna Son.
As ASEAN reaches the 50-year mark, it should free itself from the old confines of navigating between the big powers and build its muscle as a middle power – one that confidently and collectively holds its own against undue external pressures, be it China, the United States, or others. Johanna Son* reports.
The growth of ASEAN’s footprint in its constituency’s lives widens the space – and responsibility – by the region’s media to report on the challenges and opportunities of regional integration. While media can invest more in this story, ASEAN’s largely opaque approach to them doesn’t exactly speak of a maturing organisation. This shows few signs of changing radically any time soon, reflecting the less than open attitude toward media freedom by several of its member states, Johanna Son explains in this commentary.
Was it a step forward or a flop? The December ‘retreat’ of ASEAN foreign ministers to discuss the situation in Rakhine state made it crystal clear that the matter is a regional ASEAN issue – and that by itself is a marked difference from ASEAN’s handling of touchy ‘internal’ issues in the past, says Johanna Son in this analysis.
In grieving Thailand, the abrupt and deafening silence is akin to that which follows the sudden switching off of loud music or the television. A visual environment so defined by black – and some grey and white – that it feels like someone pulled down a black-and-white filter across just about everything around. Johanna Son takes us around Bangkok in the days after the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej.