Issuu on Google+


Januar y-September 2016

Center for ASEAN Studies Newsletter Chiang Mai University




Center for ASEAN Studies Newsletter Chiang Mai University



Center for ASEAN Studies Chiang Mai University 239 Huay Kaew Road, Tambon Suthep, Amphoe Muang, Chiang Mai 50200 THAILAND Tel: 0-5394-3595-6 Email: Editors:

Chayan Vaddhanaphuti Samak Kosem Kunnawut Boonreak Pisith Nasee Jetiphat Piamchamratkul Rissa Itagaki Designed by

Nabwong Chuaychuwong

Photo cover

Publication design: นับวงศ์ ช่วยชูวงศ์ >> >> tel. 0814721400

by Kunnawut Boonreak

Conte nt s

Editorial Note


Local farmers suffer as Thai junta pleases big companies

by Dr Chayan Vaddhanaphuti


Kongpob Areerat

Rethinking about Chinese-Indonesian Position in the Post-Suharto Indonesia


Chontida Auikool

One Belt One Road Initiative


Jetiphat Piamchamratkul

Socio-economic Development in Southeast Asia: A Case Study of the Marginality of Burmese Labourers in the Chang Klan Community in Chiang Mai



Samak Kosem

CMU-ASEAN Seminar 48 China in ASEAN’s Imagination


Akkanut Wantanasombut

Rohingya Proto-nation: A collective Identity in the Making?


Landmark Report Promotes Human Rights in Transboundary Investments

ASEAN Introduction Seminar at Ma Kham Luang Sub-district Administration Center


How ‘Nationalism’ may help push sustainable development?



Maureen Harris

Lower Sesan 2 Dam Jeopardizes Lives of Millions of Cambodia’s River Dwellers


Kongpob Areerat

Environmental Safeguards in Myanmar’s International Investment Agreements


Pariwat Kanithasen

Border Development, Resettlement and Adaptation in a Special Economic Zone


Outsider’s View of “Inside the Fence.”


Review by: Jaewon Shin



Review by: Wasutha Thongnual

Beyond Home: Uncertainty of the Future of Burmese Refugees in “Nothing about Us Without Us”


Review by: Ei Ei Lin

Souksamone Sengchanh

ASEAN Research 27 Supporting the Aged and Identities of Overseas Teochew in Chiang Mai


Actions in the Age of Limited Freedom of Expression: Social Media and New Forms of Movement in Thailand


Land and River Grabbing: The Mekong’s Greatest Challenge

Pisith Nasee

Myint Myint Kyu


Edited by Chayan Vaddhanaphuti and Sabrina Gyorvary


Pongkwan Sawasdipakdi

Becoming Shan: New Voices of Shan Migrant Workers In Chiang Mai


Prof. Dr. Yos Santasombat


Mekong Youth Assembly


Impact of China’s Rise on The Mekong Region


Spaces of Exception and Shifting Strategies of the Kokang Chinese Along the Myanmar/Chinese Border 58

Ph.D. candidate, XiaoXiao Ma

Ecological Child Rights in ASEAN?

ASEAN book reviews

Adolescents in Contemporary Indonesia Lyn Parker and Pam Nilan



B E C O M I N G / 02

Editoria l N ote

by Dr Chayan Vaddhanaphuti Center for ASEAN Studies, Chiang Mai University

The constantly transformation of ASEAN community, especially ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) has captured the eyes of many nations both within and without the region. China is one among many nations that takes interest in the transformation process of the ASEAN community. As one of the world most current influential nations and a biggest nation in East Asia, China has become a force to be reckoned with in military, technology, and economic respects. In term of economic aspect, China possesses the biggest market in East Asia and is capable of mass production of agricultural and industrial products, which are constantly produced and tend to be in higher and bigger scale. With the constantly and rapidly growth of China’s economy, Southeast Asia region is one of the most potential region for China to export its products and investments. With the ASEAN Economic Community coming into effect at the end of 2015, border community will be affected as borders become potentially more open for trade opportunities, however, it could also mean being exploited by foreign investors and foreign nations at the same time. Hence, it is important that individual ASEAN citizen become aware of what integration will mean for them. In this edition of ‘Becoming’ we will learn from individuals who live, experience the effects of the transformation. We will also learn to understand the perspectives of researchers from within and without ASEAN regions as well. Articles include interview and discussion with scholars, activists, and researchers from Southeast Asian nations and China. In order to present a holistic picture of the ASEAN transformation and its effects. A general theme throughout the articles is the struggle of the local community where the transformation and development set in and is exploited by both local and Chinese investors. Issues include; the state of development in Lao’s ‘Special Economic Zone’ (SEZ) where the local are being force to relocate their home in favor to allow Chinese investors to invest in the area, and how the local adapt themselves in order to live and work in the ‘special zone’. With China offering to the nations in the ASEAN region to help develop each country, the developments have exploited and entailed problems along with the development projects. Issues include; the building of hydropower dams in Mekong regions and relocating the populace. Other articles present the state of China’s agreements and investments, including relationship with the ASEAN countries. By learning the issues of relationship, investments, developments, and their problems, all ASEAN citizens could take part in assisting in the transformation of the vibrant, multiethnic, cooperative ASEAN community, and also find out the truth and prevent any possible harms and exploitations from within and without factors. At the Center for ASEAN Studies (CAS) we will specifically concentrate on listening to local voices to learn how ASEAN will affect their livelihood, how state developments cause impacts on their live, and how foreign investors affected their social and cultural values. By a holistic understanding of ASEAN-China relationship, all ASEAN citizens can learn and make the use of such relationship for communities, regions, and countries.

B E C O M I N G / 03

Rethinking about Chinese-Indonesian Position in the Post-Suharto Indonesia Chontida Auikool International Studies (ASEAN-China), Liberal Arts Thammasat University, Bangkok

It is undeniable that there have been enormous improvements toward Chinese-Indonesian community in the reformasi era. In the post-Surhato, after 1998, not only many Chinese-Indonesians have been selected for high positions in Indonesian political system, but also, the Chinese cultural expression has been presented in public space; the Mandarin language taught and enjoyed by both Chinese-Indonesians and Indonesians. All these occurrences were not allowed to demonstrate in public sphere during the 32 years of Suharto regime (1966-1998). The greater freedom and positive modifications on laws and policies noticeably reveal the emergence of reformasi regime, supporting democracy and are expected to enhance tolerance in the society as well as generating equity and harmony by keeping the state ideology, unity in diversity within the country’s rigid multicultural society. However, the process has been continued with several challenges as Indonesia has been widely known for its ethnic and religious conflict and violence reflected on the political, economic and social inequality. In the light of Indonesia’s democratic regime, the Chinese-Indonesians have gained a novel chance to reposition themselves with regard to Indonesian state and local society. Although the discrimination against them is certainly not tolerable nor seen as the sabotage of the state ideology, a certain degree of prejudice and injustice still remains. The perceived inter-group tension and conflict continue towards ethnic overtones. The position of Chinese Indonesians perceivably remains challenged and has not yet fully integrated into the Indonesian nation.

B E C O M I N G / 04

as the second class citizens by the requirement of Certificate of Indonesian Citizenship (Surat Bukti Kewarganegaraan Republik Indonesia, SBKRI) and Suharto officially categorized them as non-pribumi referred to a group of people with foreign origins differentiating from pribumi referred to the indigenous Indonesians (Bertrand, 2004, p. 46). The Chinese problem predictably was used as a method to strengthen Indonesian unity and national togetherness in the opposition to Indonesianess (Coppel, 2004; Surdiyananta, 2008). These practices and government regulations were critical in driving sense of prejudice and discrimination against the whole Chinese-Indonesians.

The hostility against the Chinese-Indonesians has deeply rooted in the history of the county. Scholars generally acknowledged that the institutionalization of Chinese Indonesian exclusion constructed since Dutch colonial period (Hoon, 2008; Heidhues, 1964; Suryadinata, 1992; Lembong, 2008). The Dutch colonial ‘divide and rule’ resulted in the ethnic categorization and had often embedded in the Indonesian perception and singled out the Chinese-Indonesians as outsider and nonIndonesians who had been granted different rights and benefits in comparison with the other Indonesians. These inequalities had caused discontent and depicted sturdy ethnic boundary line in the colony. As a consequence, the Chinese-Indonesians’ loyalty to the country had been questioning and the legacy of the Dutch colonialism had influenced over the concept of Indonesian national model, particularly, under Sukarno and Suharto presidency. For the most part, Suharto presidency that came after 1965 – 1966 communist purges, he had introduced anticommunist and forced assimilation policies toward the ChineseIndonesians. It is important to note that although the violence between 1965 and 1966 in Indonesia did not specifically target on the Chinese-Indonesians, it is still shown as the difficult period for the Chinese-Indonesians in general as their cultural identity was often regarded by Indonesians to be linked with the Mainland China’s communism. Unsurprisingly, under Suharto regime known as New Order, the Chinese-Indonesians position was greatly put in danger by government discrimination policies. The Suharto government highly perceived the ChineseIndonesians as national problem known as Chinese problem (Masalah Cina) that relentlessly threatened national security compulsorily requiring urgent tackle. For such reason, he proposed the implementation of assimilation policies in order to pressure the Chinese-Indonesians to abandon their cultural identity and embrace solely the Indonesian national identity which is also debatable. During that period, the Chinese tradition, language and symbols subsequently were banned in public sphere. The Chinese schools, media and organizations were closed down or under strict control. Also, the government encouraged the Chinese Indonesians to get rid of their Chinese names to assimilate themselves into local society. In doing so, the Chinese-Indonesians still were politically perceived

Despite this high degree of unfairness and discrimination, certain groups of Chinese-Indonesian businessmen were successful in conducting business with Suharto’s cronies. They played significant roles in the country as investors and entrepreneurs. In this regard, government was inevitably dependent on the Chinese Indonesians support and fund in developing countries (Purdey, 2006; Soebagjo, 2008). The Chinese-Indonesians’ image under New Order was then narrowed and linked with the roles of their prominent investor and business people who enjoyed prosperity from Indonesian society. Regarding to these outstanding differences between Indonesians and the Chinese-Indonesians in economic power and status, this had eventually given to social tension, particularly, between 1997 and 1998, a period of economic and political instability which led to the plight of anti-Chinese violence in major cities throughout Indonesia in 1998. The riots known as May incident took place against the background of inequality and social and economic gaps between groups of people. The incident subsequently forced Suharto to step down and paved way to reformasi regime. In the post-Suharto, Indonesian citizens are meant to be treated equally. The recognition of diversities becomes very important following the value of democracy. The legislative codes were reformed and the discrimination laws against the Chinese-Indonesians were all repealed. Importantly, the Chinese-Indonesians have been included in political and cultural structure of the country. It can be seen that at the moment there is a gradual rise in number of the Chinese-Indonesians participating in political, social and cultural organizations. The Chinese-Indonesians, whose political and cultural rights had been rejected for decades, has regained their rights to obtain equal treatments. Among several prominent ChineseIndonesian politicians such as Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (Ahok), Sofyan Tan, Christiandy Sanjaya, Toni Huang, Goh Tjong Ping, Yansen Akun Effndy and Fify Lety Indra, some of them are selected by majority of Indonesians, yet, they still face racism challenges by radical Islamic groups and anti-Chinese sentiment in certain areas (Chong, 2014). However, one can still argue that the number of the Chinese-Indonesians in political institution is yet insufficient to guarantee the welcoming of the ChineseIndonesians in Indonesian politic and society. Some even demonstrates that the lack of representative of the ChineseIndonesians in political institutions is because of the worries and

B E C O M I N G / 05

concerns from the Chinese-Indonesians side themselves to get involved directly in politics (Thung Ju Lan, 2006). Many of the Chinese-Indonesians then prefer to be involved in non-governmental organizations which are founded by the Chinese-Indonesians such as the Indonesian Chinese Social Association (PMSTI), the Chinese Indonesian Association (INTI), Tanoto Foundation, Yayasan Pelita Harapan, Putera Sampoema Foundation, Ciputra Foundation, Yayasan Ikadar Muda. These organizations focally aimed to drive social movements in order to enlarge Indonesian economy by increasing the opportunity in education and business training as well as helping tackling other aspects of social problems, while few of them also work to support Chinese culture and tradition. By doing this, Hoon (2010) argues that these non-profit organizations usually run by the prominent Chinese-Indonesian businessmen in order to show their attempts to include themselves into the Indonesian society and create new representation of the Chinese-Indonesians as a giver and contributor to the country. In cultural sphere, both government and non-government actors play vital roles in celebrating Chinese cultures. There is a steady growth of Chinese tradition and cultural activities throughout the country. The number of Chinese temples and shrines are increasingly professed and Mandarin becomes popular language courses around the country. Chinese television and radio are also allowed to cooperate broadly (Auikool, 2013; Ong 2008; Dawis, 2008; Hoon, 2008). Importantly, the Chinese New Year (Imlek) is widely celebrated as public holiday. However, the Chinese-Indonesian identity these days happens to be more flexible and voluntary among the Chinese-Indonesians. While their cultures in fact are perceived to be hybridized from multiple languages use and lifestyles, many of them decisively recognize themselves as being a part of Indonesian nation. All these changes are crucial moment for the ChineseIndonesians. Conversely, racism and anti-Chinese sentiment have not been completely disappeared. Some forms of informal discrimination are still lingering in certain practices and many Chinese-Indonesians revealing themselves as being the Chinese-Indonesians would be a disadvantage in political and social spheres. There are still the indications stating the anti-Chinese sentiment in some Indonesian conflicts, small riots, quarrels as symbolic conflicts against the ChineseIndonesians occasionally in the post-Suharto. These conflicts are such as the anti-Chinese businessmen demonstration in Medan between 2012 and 2013. The demonstration against the Chinese businessmen bent on the destruction of the Mosque Islamic Raudhatul and turned it into residential complex. At that juncture, the demonstrators’ spreading rumor for destroying Chinese houses in Medan had intensified tension and fear among Medan Chinese in the city. This was seen as a warning of a problem of mutual respects between people from different faiths in the city (Auikool, 2013). Many of these similar conflicts occurring in Indonesia show a complex problem in the country. An increasing growth in religious conflicts has extensively affected the ethnic and

religious groups in general. The dissatisfaction towards the certain groups has been developed, particularly towards the Chinese Indonesians, regarded as non-Indonesian minority and often non-Muslim. With these visible progresses in adjusting the ChineseIndonesian position and fully integrating them into the nation in the post-Suharto, there are remaining challenges toward multicultural Indonesia. Predominantly, not only a growth of religious conflicts, but also the weak rules of law and the high corruption in local society have paved way for informal discrimination. The fear of being unprotected among the Chinese-Indonesians leads to the continuity of grouping themselves in comfort and exclusive zones. The social segregation between ethnic and religious groups in certain areas then has maintained with negative stereotypes against each other, particularly, in the time of conflict and political events. In view of that, it is important for the government to strengthen the rules of law and guarantee equality and equal rights among Indonesian citizens as well as encouraging civic engagement across the ethnic and religious lines to help shape the better multicultural and tolerant Indonesia.


Auikool, C. (2013). Ethnic Relations in Multicultural Medan in Post-Suharto Indonesia. M.A. Thesis, Thammasat University. Bertrand, J. (2004). Nationalism and ethnic conflict in Indonesia: London: Cambridge University Press. Chong, W. L. (2014). Democratisation and ethnic minorities: Chinese Indonesians in PostSuharto Indonesia. Ph.D. Dissertation, National University of Singapore. Chong, W.L. (2014, September 15). Good returns for Chinese Indonesians. New Mandala. Retrieved August 10, 2014 Dawis, A. (2008). Chinese education in Indonesia: developments in the post-1998 era. In Suryadinata L. (Ed.), Ethnic Chinese in contemporary Indonesia (pp. 75–96). Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Hoon, C. Y. (2008). Chinese identity in post-Suharto Indonesia: culture, politics and media. Brighton: Sussex Academic Press. Hoon, C. Y.(2010) “Face, Faith, and Forgiveness: Elite Chinese Philanthropyin Indonesia” Journal of Asian Business 24(1-2): 51-66. Purdey, J. (2006). Anti-Chinese violence in Indonesia: 1996 – 99.Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press. Suryadinata, L. (2004). Ethnic relations and nation-building in Southeast Asia: The Case of the ethnic Chinese. Singapore: Singapore Society of Asian Studies. Thung, J. L. (2006). Chinese Indonesian Local Politic. Kyoto Review of Southeast Asia. Retrieved August 10, 2014 Ong, S. (2008). Ethnic Chinese Religions: Some Recent Developments. In Suryadinata L. (Ed.), Ethnic Chinese in contemporary Indonesia (pp. 97–116). Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.

B E C O M I N G / 06

One Belt One Road Initiative Jetiphat Piamchamratkul

China has been growing extremely rapidly for decades, and China’s growth has been impressive compared to the rest of the world up until now. It continues this growth by proposing the idea of the ‘One Belt One Road’ Initiative. Yídài yílù (一带一路) project, also known as the ‘One Belt and Road Initiative’ (OBOR), was presented by Chinese leader Jinping Xi in September and October 2013. It is a development strategy and framework of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) which focuses on connectivity and economic cooperation among countries majorly in Eurasia. The project consists of two main components; the land based connection called ‘Silk Road Economic Belt’ (SREB) and oceangoing called ‘Maritime Silk Road’ (MSR). The project is to develop and deepen cooperation in a new form, and will have very meaningful implications for the development of the relationships between China and the other nations along the New Silk Road. Now it is being implemented by large infrastructure projects with initial financing support from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). Private companies are also being actively encouraged to invest along the ‘Belt’ and ‘Road.’ The project embodies the message that China has potential to push to take a bigger role in global affairs, and the means to export China’s products in areas of overproduction such as steel, coal, and cement manufacturing, where factories have the capacity to produce up to 30 percent more than current demand. The project aims to build the Silk Road Economic Belt and Maritime Silk Road for the 21st Century by using the areas of the original Silk Road in Eurasia as the initial route plan. In the Eurasia region, there are many regional economic cooperatives such as the Russian-led Eurasia Economic Union, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and other European cooperative organizations. It is believed that by establishing the new Silk Road it would work to spearhead and open possibilities for more cooperation and collaboration among the economic cooperatives rather than closing or blocking out theserelationships. The project imagines that Europe will be at one end and China at the other end to cooperate and gain mutual benefits. Such an idea was stated by Prof. Shi Ze, the director of International Energy Strategy Studies, and China Institute of International Studies. He said, “It is just like a linked dumbbell; the development of this corridor between China and Europe will not only strengthen both Europe and China on each end, but will also bring about the social and economic development in the whole of all of the regions of Central Asia, South Asia, Middle East and Eastern Europe. So, I think that the

B E C O M I N G / 07

New Silk Road Economic Corridor can have direct impact and importance to the European nations. The European nations in this regard, already have a great foundation in their technological basis and the New Silk Road Corridor is something that we think will greatly develop all of these nations.” However, the plan includes the extension of the ‘belt’ in South Asia and Southeast Asia to connect this economic route to the countries that are members of the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).The major members of the bank arealso the countries that have a strong connection with the American government such as the United Kingdom, Australia, and South Korea, and Japan is now seriously considering becoming a member of the Chinese Bank as well. Undoubtedly, the very extension of the belt has included Thailand as one of major targets in the eyes of China. Thailand has both geographical and political advantages a the potential hub and China’s doorway to the sea in the Southeast Asia region. Other than just a new route based on the historical Silk Road with its extensions, China also proposed the Maritime Silk Road, also known as ‘21st Century Maritime Silk Route Economic Belt (MSR).’ The project is a complementary initiative that aims to invest and foster collaboration in Southeast Asia, Oceania, North America, and East Africa through South China Sea, the South Pacific Ocean, and the wider Indian Ocean area. According to the announcement of the president Jinping Xi, the projects will be funded by a 40 billion USD development fund, which will come in the form of the banks created for the initiative and will fund in the form of business investment instead of lending out money. China looks at the idea of business investment as a good gesture in collaboration and helping the counties in need of investment and development. The president of Xuzhou Construction Machinery Group (XCMG) states that, “This is China’s grand strategy, It is like how a person in a village has gotten rich and wants to fix roads, build power points, street lamps for the neighborhood.” In the aspect of innovation of the OBOR Initiative, to China, the challenges are great due to the vision and grand size of the project. The initiative affects not only the necessary cooperation of some of the regions or departments within China itself, but also China’s overseas organizations and entities as well. The initiative is not proposed and established out of the concern for domestic interests and prerogatives of the Chinese government, but also private and state-owned enterprises abroad, as well as international enterprises with multi-income sources. The particular initiative aims to promote both national and international policies in order to facilitate the development along with the New Silk Road Corridor, and also hope to open the possibilities to work with the international community on the basis of equal and mutual developments and to promote a program which would benefit all mankind not just some particular regions.

B E C O M I N G / 08

In term of political achievement from the initiative, China’s AIIB initiative clearly shows that Asian and European countries do not want to choose sides between China and the United States, and do not have any reason to do so. China’s economic rival,the United States, has made a mistake in handling the AIIB initiative by being unable to dissuade its allies to join the bank. The Chinese government agencies and Chinese private companies also endeavor to establish cooperation and collaboration with its neighbouring countries. The General Office of China’s Henan Province has unveiled its cooperation plan with Tajikistan, which calls for intensified cooperation with Tajikistan in agriculture, trade and mining to echo the ‘One Belt One Road’ Initiative. This process of works and collaborations surely will help China to gain a foothold and spread its influence across the regions toward Europe, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. It is clear that there have been many changes and development in the regions close to the route of the ‘Belt’ and the ‘Road.’ For instance, both the Chinese government and private firms have immensely invested within the region of Southeast Asia such as Lao, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Thailand. With the influence of the One belt One Road initiative, Southeast Asian countries have pushed and established several infrastructure projects with help and support from the Chinese government and the AIIB such as the ‘Special Economic Zone’ (SEZ) in Tonpheung province, Lao, and a hydropower dam along the Mekong river, or the construction of new train routes in Thailand, all of which are the results of efforts to support the innovation and transformation posed by the initiative. The initiative affects not only the international scale, but also regional. It is well known that Chiang Mai, the northern capital of education and tourism of Thailand, is one of the most popular destination for Chinese tourists and investors. By taking advantage of new opportunities created through China’s ‘One Belt One Road’ Initiative, an increasing number of Chinese businessmen, especially from Chengdu, have begun to invest in Chiang Mai in agricultural, tourism, and food service industrial sectors. This gesture of investment demonstrates great confidence in Thailand’s markets and encourages China’s Chengdu and Thailand’s Chiang Mai to become ‘sister cities.’ It is clear that in terms of political aspects, this initiative proves to be a grand measure to expand China’s role and its influence on the international stage and to counterbalance super power countries such as the United States in the process. Stretching from Hungary to Indonesia, Beijing estimates its much-hyped “One Belt, One Road” Initiative will add a 2.5 trillion USD to China’s trade in the next decade, more than the value of its exports in 2013. The domestic response to China’s overcapacity problem is a set of reforms that emerged from the Third Party Plenum in November 2013. Together, these form a coherent set of measures that would rein in wasteful investment. Despite China’s endeavors of establishing the route to develop and export its over-manufactured products, many companies in China such as steel companies stated that the plan of OBOR Initiative is not yet enough to increase the demand from overseas to solve the low price problem caused by excessive supply. It is estimated that over 235 billion USD in state funding had been committed to the initiative through Beijing’s new policy and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). Despite the attempts of China’s unleashing budget, many experts in economic field are still not truly convinced to believe that the OBOR could be the ideal solution to solve the problem of overcapacity that was created by China’s earlier economic boom. On the other hand, the development also poses challenges and problems in the affected regions such as protests about local populace relocation, hydropower plant construction, etc. It is not over exaggerated to state that the One Belt One Road Initiative creates development and collaboration and also brings problems along its way. Nevertheless, it is not yet clear whether the project would bring more good than harm in the long run, meanwhile, the possible way to ensure its maximum benefits is to take measures and proceed development with caution and transparency as best as each nation’s government could to ensure the best and highest benefit for its people in the regional and international stage.


China Go Abroad, ‘One Belt One Road’ Initiative’, 2015, web. October 12th, 2015. ( Dollar, David, ‘China’s Rise as A Regional and Global Power’, Horizons, no.4, 2015, pp. 162-172. Kugasemrat, Juthathat, International News Bureau of Thailand, ‘Ministry of Foreign Affairs Explains China’s “One Belt One Road” Strategy’, April 8th, 2015, web. October 11th, 2015. ((http:// Richardson, Alex, ‘China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ looks to take construction binge offshore’, Reuters, September 6, 2015, web. October 6th, 2015. ( uk-china-economy-silkroad-idUKKCN0R60X820150906) Santasombat, Yos et al, ‘Impact of China’s Rise on the Mekong Region’, The Thailand Research Fund, January, 2014. The International Schiller Institute, ‘Prof. Shi Ze: “One Road & One Belt” & New Thinking With Regard To Concept and Practice’, 2015, web. October 3rd, 2015. (http://newparadigm. Wikipedia, ‘The Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road’, October 11, 2015, web. October 3rd, 2015. ( and_the_21st-century_Maritime_Silk_Road) Xinhua Finance Agency, ‘One Belt and One Road’, 2015, web. October 2nd, 2015. (

B E C O M I N G / 09

Photo :

How ‘Nationalism’ may help push sustainable development? Akkanut Wantanasombut

Despite the fact that the rise of China-led investment firms could financially and strategically support the ASEAN’s connectivity masterplan(Das, 2015), the ASEAN’s ambitious plan to connect member states altogether mainly the infrastructure such as road, rail, power grid, etc., the resistances from the locals are mushroomed. Since the social protection is neglected, as we all have heard, conflicts arisen in every single project in ASEAN funded by Chinese capital.

B E C O M I N G / 10

In fact, the Chinese government has concerned about these problems. In order to reduce pressure from host countries side, in 2013, the Chinese government issued the Guidelines for Environmental Protection in Foreign Investment and Cooperation. With this guideline, the Chinese government hopes the Chinese enterprises will actively perform their social responsibilities of environmental protection and promote the sustainable development in the host countries. However, this measure is considered merely a guideline, not a binding law(Liu, 2014), Chinese firms do not really follow the guideline. Thus, conflicts and resistances are remaining as same as the anti-Chinese sentiment. It seems the Chinese capitals are generating conflicts from development projects rather than a fruitful livelihood. It was the Asian financial crisis in 1997, widely known as ‘Tom Yam Kung crisis’, that allowed ASEAN and China to tighten their relationship (Salidjanova, Koch-Weser, & Klanderman, 2015). A currency swap initiative, also known as ‘the Chiang Mai Initiative’, between ASEAN member states, Japan, South Korea, and China, known as ASEAN+3, was introduced. Since then the negotiations on Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between ASEAN and each country from the “plus three” began, including the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area (ACFTA), which was fully enacted in 2010. The ACFTA has boosted up trade between China and ASEAN member states, China rapidly became a major trade partner of ASEAN. At 2014 China was the first trade partner of ASEAN, accounted 14.5% of the ASEAN total trade with others (, 2014). In the same vein, the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flows to ASEAN has risen consecutively since 2011. Lately, the inward FDI to ASEAN has increased from $117.7 billion in 2013 to $136.2 billion in 2014 though the global FDI flows decreased by 16%. This level even exceeded the FDI that inflows to China for the first time since 1993, making ASEAN the largest recipient of FDI in the developing world (ASEAN Investment Report 2015, 2015).

Photo :

B E C O M I N G / 11

From the report by ASEAN secretariat (ASEAN Investment Report 2015, 2015), in 2014 the top five sources of FDI flew to ASEAN were the European Union (EU), intra-ASEAN, Japan, the United States and Hong Kong (China). While the EU and the United State heavily invested in the financial sector, the intra-ASEAN invested mainly in the primary sector, Japan dominated the industrial manufacturing activities, China emphasized in extractive industries and infrastructures especially in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam (CLMV Countries). During the 1990s the Chinese government has pursued the so-called ‘Go-Out’ policy to encourage Chinese firms for to invest overseas. For Myanmar, the Chinese Government had increased its diplomatic and economic ties with the military regime during the period which Myanmar was embargoed by the US and the EU. In 2009, China established the China-ASEAN Investment Corporation Fund (CAF), one of the largest Chinese equity funds led by the Export-Import Bank of China. CAF supports the expansion of Chinese investments in ASEAN and targets mainly in infrastructure, energies, and natural resources(2016). Not only that, China has initiated the foundation of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a similar function to the World Bank, together with the other 56 states including all ASEAN member states. China holds a majority shareholder, approximately 30% of the share. The capital of the bank is $100 billion, equivalent to two-thirds of the capital of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and about half that of the World Bank(S.R., 2014). The establishment of investment firms that focus specifically on development projects in ASEAN is a part of ‘The Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road’, also known as ‘One Belt, One Road’, the development strategy and framework of the Chinese government to engage in the world economy. It implies the economic enthusiasm and ambition of China with countries in this region and the world. With all these ongoing initiatives, more Chinese FDI flow is certainly expected. It is widely known that China specifically emphasizes in infrastructures and extractive industries. Energy security seems to be one among China’s top priority. In Myanmar alone, China buys oil and natural gas and invest tremendously in hydropower projects. The total number of the hydropower dam built and planned to build under Chinese investment, all over Myanmar, is 49 projects. Most of the hydropower plants were situated in the ethnic minorities’ areas. Thousands of people were forced to move from their habitat, exacerbating the ongoing arms conflicts between government and minority ethnic groups. The resistance from the local seems unheard, Chinese investments brutally exploit resources with the consent of the host countries. However, there is a good example in Myanmar that worth studying, the Myitsone Dam. The Myitsone Dam is a 4,100 Megawatt project at Myitsone, 42 km north of Myitkyina, the capital city of Kachin state. It was started in 2009 with the total investment of 3.6 billion US dollars. The project was suspended in 2011 by the Burmese government due to the nationwide protest and public critics. The Myitsone dam was agreed to build under a cooperation of Chinese companies and a local Burmese company which was heavily criticized as a crony of the military regime. The project started without a well-studied on its impact to communities and ecosystem of the Irrawaddy River, the main river that millions of Burmese people have to rely on.

Photo :

B E C O M I N G / 12

The Burmese government decided to suspend the project after the campaigners successfully brought to the public concern, not only among the ethnic people but of the Burmese who worry the project could affect their livelihood. The strong nationalism sense of the Burmese has played an important role to pressure their government. Only when the project was suspended that the study in various aspects has conducted. Environmental impacts, food security, social impacts, and public participation are being introduced, these made the change to the public perceptions besides the question that who is the real beneficiary of the project? Although the suspension of the Myitsone Dam is a small phenomenon, it helps to guide the ways of resistance. The campaigners have learned that, for a country like Myanmar, in order to be heard, they need to make it become a common agenda through the sentiment of nationalism. Eric Hobsbawm (1992) argues in his book, Nations and Nationalism since 1780, that nationalism is no longer the historical force. He believes that Nationalism negatively affects future of the states in the age of globalization. For Hobsbawm, the growth of the international economy, the better communication technologies, and the improvement of the logistic and supply chain, have weakened the vitality and purpose of nations. International associations, trade organizations, and transnational corporations are usurping economic powers from nations and replacing them as the major building-blocks of the world system which challenges the ability of nations to continue to dominate the international order and economy. Anyhow, the case study of Myitsone dam seems to give us a conclusion in the other way round. The sentiment of nationalism is, somehow, be used to hold things back and reshape the development project in a better and sustainable way.


(2016, April). Retrieved from China-ASEAN Investment Corporation Fund: ASEAN Secretariat. (2014). Retrieved from ASEAN Secretariat. (2015). ASEAN Investment Report 2015. Jakarta: ASEAN Secretarial. China, M. o. (2013, March 1). Notification of the Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Environmental Protection on Issuing the Guidelines for Environmental Protection in Foreign Investment and Cooperation. Retrieved from Ministry of Commerce, People’s Republic of China : Das, S. B. (2015, July 16). What AIIB means for Asean connectivity. Retrieved from The Straitstimes: what-aiib-means-for-asean-connectivity Hobsbawm, E. (1992). Nation and Nationlism Since 1780. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Liu, C. (2014, June 10). CLEAN ENERGY:China-led hydropower project faces resistance in Cambodia. Retrieved from E&E Publishing: http:// S.R. (2014, 11 11). The Economist Explains. Retrieved from The Economist: economist-explains-6 Salidjanova, N., Koch-Weser, I., & Klanderman, J. (2015). China’s Economic Ties with ASEAN: A Country-by-Country Analysis. U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. The World Commission on Environment and Development. (1987). Our Common Future. WCED. Weng, K., Choy, W., & Zhang, Y. M. (2011). Economic relations between China and ASEAN: 1970-2010. Chinese Management Studies, 20-34.

B E C O M I N G / 13

Landmark Report Promotes Human Rights in Transboundary Investments Maureen Harris

Almost 10 years ago, hundreds of villagers in Sre Ambel District in Koh Kong Province, south-western Cambodia, were violently evicted from their homes to make way for a massive land concession granted to a group of companies to develop a sugar plantation and processing factory. The plantation and factory, majority owned by Thai company Khon Kaen Sugar Limited (KSL), produces sugar for duty free imports to the United Kingdom, in the name of supporting ‘economic development’ in Cambodia under the European 1 Union’s ‘Everything But Arms’ trade for development initiative. Almost 500 families from the villages lost approximately 5,000 hectares of land and most of their livelihoods, security, and well-being to the privately run sugarcane plantations in the concession. Many of those displaced have continued to fight for a decade to have their land returned and the violations remediated. Finally, a report of the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand2 has publicly acknowledged the human rights violations associated with the land concession - the first time any national human rights institution (NHRI) in the region has received and investigated a complaint about the impacts of transboundary investments. The report’s findings vindicate the ongoing efforts by the villagers to have the violations recognised and addressed. It paves the way for broader recognition of the extra-territorial obligations (ETOs) of governments and companies to respect human rights in relation to overseas investments.


Inclusive Development International, ‘EU’s Everything But Arms initiative is impoverishing Cambodian farmers: Trade scheme must be reformed to safeguard human rights’, 17 September 2013, available at:


National Human Rights Commission of Thailand, Findings Report No. 115/2558 Re: Allegation that Khon Kaen Sugar Industry Public Company Limited, recipient of a land concession to grow sugarcane and establish a sugar factory in Cambodia, has caused human rights violations against Cambodian citizens. March 10, 2015 (B.E. 2558). Unofficial English translation available at: unofficial_english_translation_-_tnhrc_report_on_findings_-_koh_kong_land_concession_cambodia.pdf.

B E C O M I N G / 14

The Sre Ambel case has become emblematic of the rampant land grabbing and human rights abuses associated with economic land concessions (ELCs) in Cambodia, where massive redistribution of land to private companies for commercial plantations and agribusiness has occurred over the last two decades. Since the mid-1990s, land concessions have shifted control of huge portions of Cambodia’s land area to private enterprises, including protected areas and land belonging to indigenous peoples.3 ELCs have forced thousands of Cambodians off their land, leading to a growing class of landless villagers with little means of self-sustenance. With 70% of the Cambodian population depending upon agriculture for their livelihoods,4 the vast amounts of arable land granted in concessions inhibits the ability of many Cambodians to support themselves. In 2007, the then Special Representative of the Secretary-General for human rights in Cambodia concluded, “instead of promoting development and poverty reduction, economic land concessions have compromised the economic, social and cultural rights of rural communities in Cambodia.”5 3

Surya Subedi, UN Human Rights Council, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia, A/HRC/21/63/Ad. 1, 24 September 2012, paras 93-95, available at: Session21/A-HRC-21-63-Add1_en.pdf.


Open Development Cambodia, “Economic Land Concessions,” (2014), available at: briefing/economic-land-concessions-elcs.


Special Representative of the Secretary-General for human rights in Cambodia, ‘Economic Land Concessions in Cambodia: a Human Rights Perspective,’ Cambodia Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, June 2007, at 20, available at: http://cambodia.

B E C O M I N G / 15

Unfortunately, due to weak rule of law and a lack of judicial independence, the avenues to seek recourse for such abuses are extremely limited in Cambodia. This is especially so where powerful political actors are invested in concessions or relationships with corporate entities. The resulting displacement and disenfranchisement of communities goes hand in hand with corruption and illegality in the granting of concessions. Few of the investors and companies complicit in such abuses have been brought to justice.6

A landmark report from the Thai Human Rights Commission The National Human Rights Commission of Thailand’s (NHRCT) investigation of the Sre Ambel case found that the land grab violated the right to life, the right to self-determination, including the right to manage and benefit from natural resources, and the right to development of the affected villagers. The report states that KSL bears responsibility for the human rights violations, even if the company itself did not perpetrate the abuses, due to its decision to receive and benefit from the land concession where the violations occurred.7 The NHRCT’s analysis drew on human rights obligations under Thai laws and international treaties, as well as the United Nations ‘Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights’.8 The NHRCT’s investigation has been recognized by Surya Subedi, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Cambodia, as “a landmark case for international advocacy in Cambodia”, noting that “the use of [national human rights institutions] NHRIs could be further explored for land concession cases.” 9 The report is important, and not just for Cambodia. Increasingly, companies from Thailand and other wealthier economies in Southeast Asia are eyeing investments in neighboring countries, where weak legal regimes are further hampered by opaque and unaccountable decision-making, leaving communities threatened by the harmful impacts of investments and without any means of recourse. In a region where intra-regional investment is on the rise, facilitated through the establishment this year of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), the laws and institutions governing environmental protection and safeguarding human rights vary widely, in terms of both standards and their implementation.

A model for the region? The NHRCT’s ground-breaking investigation is an important step in promoting accountability for communities harmed by transboundary investments, and a potential model for the region on strengthening the extra-territorial obligations (ETOs) of governments and companies to ensure human rights are protected and respected in overseas investment activities. Since the complaint by the Sre Ambel villagers, other complaints have been filed with the NHRCT regarding human rights abuses associated with Thai investments in neighbouring countries, including another sugar plantation in Oddar Meanchey, Cambodia, the development of the Dawei Special Economic Zone (SEZ) and mining projects in Myanmar, and construction of the Xayaburi hydropower dam in Laos. In October last year, local communities in Cambodia and Thailand filed the first complaint regarding transboundary investment to the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (SUHAKAM). 10 The complaint concerns involvement by Malaysian company Mega First in the Don Sahong 6

In relation to government involvement in land-grabbing, on 7 October 2014, a communication was filed by lawyers representing ten Cambodian land-grabbing victims before the International Criminal Court (ICC) alleging that widespread and systematic land grabbing conducted by the Cambodian government for over a decade amounts to a crime against humanity. The case is currently pending. See: International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Press Release: Cambodia: ICC preliminary examination requested into crimes stemming from mass land grabbing, 7 October 2014, available at: cambodia/16176-cambodia-icc-preliminary-examination-requested-into-crimes-stemming-from.


Supra, note 2.


Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the Issue of Human Rights & Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises, Guiding Principle on Business and Human Rights: Implementing the United Nations “Protect, Respect and Remedy” Framework Principle 1, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/17/31 (2011), available at: GuidingPrinciplesBusinessHR_EN.pdf.


Supra, note 3.

10 EarthRights International, Press Release: No Fish, No Food: NGO Coalition Files Complaint Against Don Sahong Dam Developer, 20 October 2014, available at:

B E C O M I N G / 16

hydropower dam in Laos. The dam is being developed on the Mekong River less than two kilometres from the Cambodian border, threatening the fundamental rights of communities up and downstream who rely on the river’s fisheries for their food security and livelihoods. These cases were presented in April this year at a regional workshop in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, during the ASEAN People’s Forum, an annual gathering of civil society organizations from across ASEAN. The workshop was facilitated by EarthRights International and engaged civil society panellists from Equitable Cambodia, Community Resources Centre (Thailand), Dawei Development Association (Myanmar), and speakers from the NHRCT, SUHAKAM, and the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR). Panel discussions at the event highlighted the accountability gap posed by human rights complaints regarding cross-border investments and the potential role of national and regional human rights institutions in preventing and addressing abuses. Measures are urgently needed within ASEAN to implement and strengthen recognition of ETOs at national and regional levels and ensure access to remedy for affected communities.

ETOs developing in international law Complaints about the human rights impacts of transboundary investments are supported by recent developments in international law. In an increasingly globalised world, economic arrangements and corporate activities regularly transcend national borders, sometimes with profound impacts on the exercise of human rights. The current pattern of transnational trade and investment raises issues over accountability for human rights abuses, where the actors involved in or benefitting from such abuses are spread across countries and jurisdictions. Several recent international instruments and standard setting initiatives recognise this issue and provide increased clarity on the extraterritorial obligations (ETOs) of government and businesses to protect and respect human rights, including in overseas investment activities. •

The United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), adopted by the Human Rights Council in 2011, outline the respective obligations of businesses and governments in relation to the human rights impacts of business activities, including in relation to overseas investments and supply chains. Government have a duty to protect human rights by regulating the conduct of companies within their territory or jurisdiction to ensure that adverse human rights impacts are avoided or addressed. Companies have a separate duty to ensure respect for human rights in all of their business activities, through measures such as human rights due diligence and establishing internal grievance procedures.

Building on the momentum of the UNGPs, the UN Human Rights Council recently passed a resolution on the development of an international legally binding instrument on business and human rights. The treaty will further develop and strengthen the standards laid out in the UNGPs, introducing legally binding human rights obligations for business activities.11

The Maastricht Principles on the Extraterritorial Obligations of States in the Area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights12 were developed in 2011 by a group of legal experts and international jurists. The principles aim to define and clarify state human rights obligations in the current era of economic globalization, expanding the scope of obligations beyond borders, including the responsibility to regulate the conduct of companies operating abroad.

In Southeast Asia, the Bangkok Declaration on Extraterritorial Human Rights Obligations13 was produced in 2014 by a roundtable of civil society, human rights experts, government representatives, and national human rights institutions (NHRIs) (including the Thai, Malaysian, Indonesian, and Philippines institutions). The Declaration articulates an urgent need to advance the implementation of ETOs in light of the rapid pace of economic, political, and social integration in the region and an associated increase in cross-border human rights violations in Southeast Asia. It recognises a critical role in this regard for NHRIs. Across the region, communities suffering the adverse human rights impacts of transboundary investment activities lack access to an effective remedy. In Sre Ambel, in the absence of national mechanisms or laws to address adverse human rights impacts and the impunity of the actors involved, the NHRCT’s investigation and report represent an important platform for addressing the issues facing the communities. It has enabled the voices of the villagers to be heard, human rights abuses to be identified and articulated, and bolsters the ongoing efforts of the communities to seek resolution and remediation.

11 United Nations General Assembly, ‘Resolution on the elaboration of an international legally binding instrument on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights’, Human Rights Council, 26th session, 24 June 2014, UN Doc. A/HRC/26/L.22/Rev.1. 12 ETO Consortium, ‘Maastricht Principles on Extraterritorial Obligations of States in the Area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights’ Heidelberg, January 2013, available at: www. 13 ETO Consortium, ‘Bangkok Declaration on Extraterritorial Human Rights Obligations’, developed at the Roundtable on Extraterritorial Human Rights Obligations of States, Bangkok, 10-11 October 2014. Available at:

B E C O M I N G / 17

Lower Sesan 2 Dam Photo: Giorgio Taraschi /Al Jazeera

Lower Sesan 2 Dam Jeopardizes Lives of Millions of Cambodia’s River Dwellers Kongpob Areerat With an increasing need for energy, the Royal Cambodian Government has spent nearly a billion US dollars on a hydroelectric dam that it claimed was necessary for industry. However, the real social and economic cost of the dam, which will flood an area equivalent to a small province and submerge thousands of families’ houses, might far exceed its construction cost as it might deprive millions of Cambodians of their most important food staple. It is the beginning of the monsoon season in June and it did not take very long for Thongming a Laotian-Cambodian fisherman, to catch three big fish and made a big feast that could serve about 10 people from his lucky catch. “These days normally we have to spend nearly all day to catch the fish, but it’s been better this time of the year. There seem to be more fish in the river,” said Thongming. For him and his neighbours, natives of Koh Saray, a commune of 20,000 people on an island in the Mekong River in Stung Treng Province of north-eastern Cambodia, the river has been merciful to them this year in allowing many species of Mekong fish to swim easily into their nets. Not far from the island, however, the rumbling of cranes and tractors are constant reminders that their luck might not last long. In November 2012, the Cambodian government approved a proposal to build a hydroelectric dam in Stung Treng Province in the country’s north-eastern interior. The dam site is situated on the Sesan River, one of the three large tributary rivers in the ‘3S River Basin’ that flows into the Great Mekong: the Sesan, Srepok, and Sekong rivers. The dam is 1.5 km downstream


B E C O M I N G / 18

from the confluence of Sesan and Srepok rivers and 25 km from where they meet the Mekong. The 816 million USD project was first proposed as a joint venture between the Cambodian Royal Group and EVN International Joint Stock Company, a Vietnamese state enterprise. However, the Vietnamese counterpart later took a step back and retained 10 per cent of its share while a newcomer, China’s Hydrolancang International Energy, took up a 51 per cent share, with the Royal Group retaining 39 per cent. The dam is currently under construction and the Cambodian government prohibits people from entering the site without permissions.  According to the Cambodian government, the Lower Sesan 2 Hydroelectric Dam (LS2) project is crucial for meeting the energy demands of the country’s growing industries as well as for lighting houses in rural Cambodia where most inhabitants still depend on kerosene lamps. However, for many civil society workers, environmentalists, and locals whose livelihoods depend on the resources provided by the Sesan River, tapping the river that never goes dry even in the gravest drought could mean kissing good bye to the lives they and their ancestors have known forever.

Move or be submerged Once completed, it is estimated that the 75-metre-high LS2 Dam will create a reservoir of about 336 sq km. In other words, the storage dam will submerge an area equivalent to 47,059 football fields, most of which is a forest area in Cambodia’s northeastern hinterland. Along with the forest which will be cleared for timber by the Royal Group before the water rises, the dam will flood Srae Kor Commune on the Sesan River together with Sre Sronok, Kbal Romeas, and Krabei Chrun communes along the Srepok River, displacing nearly 5,000 people from seven villages along the two rivers. Convinced that the benefits of the dam outstrip its costs, the Cambodian government promised a resettlement plan and compensation packages for the villagers who have to be evacuated. The authorities are offering 50 USD per square meter of the villagers’ land and have built houses in four resettlement locations, two along the road to Ratanakiri Province, an eastern province bordering Vietnam known for its wilderness, and two others in the forest of Stung Treng Province. At first glance, the modern-looking concrete houses built by the government in the resettlement areas seem a decent upgrade from the thatched wooden houses that most villagers occupy. The authorities also promised to supply the resettlement houses with electricity and subsidies for basic commodities, such as rice. However, many people are still determined not to move from their traditional homes. Like many other villagers, Phavee, a 58-year-old farmer from Srae Kor Commune, has known no other life beyond her commune and the river.  She said that one of the most important things for her is to stay on her ancestral land. “I don’t care about development and will not abandon my ancestral graves no matter what.” Sarakom, from the same village, pointed out that many Srae Kor villagers were tricked by state officials into putting their fingerprints on documents in April 2015 without being fully informed that by doing so, they were giving their consent to the resettlement plan. “The government offers 1,500 USD per each family grave. However, they kept changing their mind about the offer and have reduced it. No matter what, it’s very strange to say that our ancestral graves could be sold,” said Sarakom. Fearing that they would have nowhere else to go, 207 families of Srae Kor Commune have accepted the compensation package and resettlement plan while the rest have not yet made up their minds on the matter. Nasuta, a native of Srae Kor Commune, added that the decision whether to move or to stay until the water rises as dam construction forges ahead has split many families apart in the past several months. For Tiankui and Penhna, farmers aged 37 and 21 from

B E C O M I N G / 19

Sre Sornok Commune, there is no other choice but to move. They said that most villagers in their commune have agreed to the resettlement plan because the village chiefs in their villages already put their thumbprints on the documents to approve the plan and there is simply no other choice. According to Meaeh Mean, an anti-dam activist from 3S Rivers Protection Network, the relocation plan would be detrimental to the natives upstream on the Sesan and Srepok rivers. He said that relocation sites are about 25 km from the rivers and that the farmland provided by the government at the relocation sites is far from fertile. “For the villagers whose source of protein comes mainly from fish in the rivers, being locating to a site 25 km away from the river will definitely cause a lot of hardship,” he said. Having been to the relocation sites, the anti-dam activist said that there is also no guarantee that the government will provide electricity for the villagers because the relocation areas are very isolated and no electricity lines could be seen.

Depleting fish stocks In addition to the forced relocation of thousands of villagers, the dam could also put at risk the food security of millions of people along the Mekong River and the 3S River Basin. According to many fish experts and environmentalists, the negative impacts of the LS2 Dam on many fish species of the Mekong might be even worse than any previous dam constructed on the main stem of Mekong River. The confluence of the Sesan and Srepok rivers is only 25 km upstream of where the two join the Mekong. The two rivers are not only major arteries of the Mekong River Basin, but the main migration routes for many of the region’s unique fish species. Meaeh, an advocate of a dam-free Mekong and 3S Rivers, pointed out that putting up a barrier at the confluence of the Sesan and Srepok which many species of fish have to swim past annually to spawn could significantly reduce numbers or even cause the extinction of certain fish species unique to the region. “Many fish species swim up here all the way from Tonle Sap Lake [the largest freshwater lake of Southeast Asia connected to the Mekong in central Cambodia, which supplies fish to millions of Cambodians]. With the dam, the fish and people who rely on them would both be devastated,” said Meaeh. According to International Rivers, a think tank which monitors river ecology worldwide, the latest study conducted by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences estimates that the LS2 Dam would cause a 9.3 per cent reduction of fish stocks in the 3S River Basin and might drive about 50 local species of fish to the verge of extinction. Ouch Vibol, an activist from the Culture and Environment Preservation Association of Cambodia (CEPA), said that since fish are one of the most important food staples of people along the basin, a reduction in fish species could jeopardize the main source of protein of millions of people upstream and downstream of the dam as well as local traditions of the region originating from the abundant resources the basin provides. “If we think of Tonle Sap Lake as the beating heart of Cambodia which sucks in from the Mekong and other tributary rivers and pumps out water to keep the water flowing during the dry season while nursing thousands of fish species before they swim up river, then building a dam on the confluence of the Sesan and Srepok is like cutting the main artery to the heart,” said the CEPA activist. He added that besides reductions of fish numbers, the dam would also affect the flow of sediment in the river, which in the long run could reduce the fertility of farmland along the river and also exacerbate the erosion process. Thongming, a Laotian-Cambodian fisherman who lives about 30 km downstream from the dam site, said that unlike in the past where many big fish could easily be caught within a few hours, at present he might get a single big catch after spending the whole day casting his fishing net, if he is lucky. He added that at this time of the year (June 2015), which is when many species of Mekong fish migrate into the Sesan and Srepok, more fish are caught. He suspected that the reason behind the increased catch might be because the fish could not swim up river through the confluence of Sesan and Srepok River as they used to, due to the dam construction, which has already altered the river flow.

B E C O M I N G / 20

Energy for whose benefit? Despite several ecological and socio-economic drawbacks to the LS2 Dam, the Cambodian government is adamant that the installed capacity of about 400 MW would bring more development to the region. With more energy to feed industry, the authorities claim the dam will create more jobs in the region and that more households would be able to enjoy stable incomes in the industrial sector. However, many people frown upon the government’s suggestion that native people from the area which will be flooded could become industrial workers, because they were given no other alternative in the first place. According to Premrudee Daoroung, coordinator of Towards Ecological Recovery and Regional Alliance (TERRA), aka Foundation for Ecological Recovery, an organisation based in Thailand which keeps track of environmental issues in Southeast Asia, native people along the Sesan and Srepok, most of whom are not used to the cash economy, would suffer grave social and economic consequences from the dam. “Some of the native people in the region don’t even speak Cambodian, but their native dialect. So, in comparison, imagine what would happen if people who speak no Thai came to work in factories in Bangkok,” said Premrudee. “To me, the project is totally illegitimate, since I don’t see any benefit that it would bring at all.” She added that the manner in which the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) on the project was approved is also very controversial since the communities that would be affected were never consulted and whole EIA report was never published. In fact, while the Cambodian government promised to improve the EIA process by taking transboundary impacts of the dam into consideration, dam construction is still forging ahead. Meaeh, an environmental defender of the 3S Rivers Protection Network, rejected as empty promises the Cambodian government’s claims that the dam will electrify more houses and might even lower electricity costs in Cambodia’s remote regions. “I think most of the energy produced by the LS2 Dam will be either transmitted to Phnom Penh or sold to Vietnam. The locals who bear the cost of the dam would not really benefit much from it”, said Meaeh. “Currently, only about 24 per cent of Cambodians have access to electricity and the price of electricity in the country is one of the most expensive in the world without any sign that it would go down”. Ouch, another river defender from CEPA, pointed out that the government’s decision to build the dam in a flat area that would cause massive flooding and soaring construction costs has been very dubious since the beginning. He mentioned one of the primary reasons for constructing the LS2 Dam might not in fact be the need for energy, but the lucrative profits from logging the forest areas that would be flooded. “By building the dam in a dense tropical forest area, the government would already be able to reap massive benefits from logging even before the dam could produce electricity,” said Ouch. “I have also been told by many villagers from the villages upstream that some public officials illegally cut down trees in national parks of Ratanakiri Province beyond the reservoir area and put the logs in the rivers to claim that they are from areas which need to be cleared before the water rises.” Under the blazing sun of humid June when well-to-do Cambodians were seeking shelter in air-conditioned venues, I accidentally met Saran, a native from Ratanakiri Province, Cambodia’s northeastern frontier famed for its wilderness, at a coffee shop. Speaking some Thai and fluent in English, he passionately told stories about his childhood when he enjoyed spending much of his holiday on Sesan River’s bank fishing and throwing rocks into the river. He said that his beloved home province has changed tremendously in the past decade. “Although much of the area in Ratanakiri is designated as national parks, illegal logging is still very prevalent and the Sesan River is not the same anymore. There are less and less fish in the river since the construction of O Chum 2 Hydroelectric Dam back in the 90s,” said Saran. When asked about Lower Sesan 2 Dam, the Ratanakiri’s native bursted into a sarcastic laugh and said “the government always use the same rhetoric about how our country needs more industries and energy as justification for many development projects, but besides the government themselves and Phnom Penh people, the poor in the countryside is always the one who suffer.”

B E C O M I N G / 21

Environmental Safeguards in Myanmar’s International Investment Agreements Pariwat Kanithasen1

In 1997, a private U.S. waste management firm operating in Mexico sued the Mexican government for not allowing the expansion of their toxic waste facility, which would harm the local environment. The firm used the investment chapter of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which allowed private investors to sue their host governments in an international arbitral tribunal. Mexico lost the case and had to compensate 2 $16 million to the U.S. investor. This landmark case exemplifies how international investment agreements (IIAs) can infringe on a host country’s rights to carry out welfare objectives, which includes environmental measures and policies. There have been numerous cases involving foreign private investors suing their host governments for actions affecting these inventors though they were necessary to protect the environment. Realizing this, most countries are now trying to embed environmental safeguard provisions into such agreements. This article survey IIAs that are signed by Myanmar to see how many of them include such safeguards and will draw implications from these results. This is particularly important at a time when Myanmar is receiving large inflows of foreign direct investments that has surged over 34-fold in the past decade.3

What are International Investment Agreements (IIAs)? IIAs are treaties between governments intended to attract foreign investment by providing protection for them in the host country. This includes providing fair, equitable and non-discriminatory treatment to investors. It also includes protection from arbitrary expropriation. If these obligations are breached, the investor may use the “Investor-State Dispute Settlement” (ISDS) provision in the agreement challenge the host country in an international arbitral tribunal, as opposed to a local court. Should the state lose, it usually has to provide compensation to the investor. The ISDS system only allows investors to sue host governments, and not vice versa. Currently, there are over 3,300 IIAs signed by countries globally. This includes around 3,000 bilateral investment treaties or BITs and over 300 investment provisions which are part of Free Trade Agreements or FTAs. In essence, the investment protection provisions are similar for BITs and investment chapters FTAs. 1

Head, ASEAN Team, Monetary Policy Group, Bank of Thailand. Views expressed herein are of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Bank of Thailand.


Metalclad Corporation v. Mexico (1997): ICSID Case No. ARB (AF)/97/1


Sources: World Bank, Ministry of National Planning and Economic Development of Myanmar

B E C O M I N G / 22

How do IIAs affect environmental policy-making? Many obligations in IIAs have impacts on a country’s environmental policy-making. A key example is the protection from arbitrary expropriation. This not only covers typical cases of governments lawfully expropriating assets, such as to build roads, but covers measures that have an equivalent effect as well, called “indirect expropriation”. As shown earlier, this includes measures like revoking licenses, even if the purpose behind this is for a public welfare objective such as safeguarding the environment.4 Without any safeguard provisions, governmental measures to protect the environment breaching obligations can be challenged in an international arbitral tribunal. Once a case is brought to such a tribunal, it is always costly for the government to defend it (trial costs average at $8 million), and even more if the government loses the case and has to pay compensation (average compensation ranges from hundreds of millions to billions of dollars), which can significantly impact the host country’s public finances.5

How do modern IIAs include environmental safeguards? Countries which have faced ISDS cases for public welfare objectives like the environment have not abandoned the system altogether (which may be actually the optimal thing to do), but have included provisions safeguarding such objectives. Some of the key elements to look for as highlighted in an OECD study6 are the following: Reserving policy space in environmental regulation for the entire agreement. This represents the strongest environmental safeguard. A typical language would look like the following: Nothing in this Agreement shall be construed to prevent a Contracting Party from adopting, maintaining or enforcing any measure otherwise consistent with this Agreement that it considers appropriate to ensure that investment activity in its territory is undertaken in a manner sensitive to environmental concerns.7 Specifying that environmental measures are not indirect expropriation. This safeguard only covers the expropriation provision and is thus not as encompassing as the previous one. A typical language for this is: …non-discriminatory regulatory actions by a Party that are designed and applied to protect legitimate public welfare objectives, such as…the environment, do not constitute indirect expropriation8 Not lowering environmental standards. This is not an exception, but only states that the host country should not relax environmental standards to attract investments. Contracting Parties recognize that it is inappropriate to encourage investment by investors of the other Contracting Party by relaxing environmental measures.9

To what extent do Myanmar’s IIAs include environmental safeguards? Compared to other ASEAN countries, Myanmar does not have many IIAs to-date, given that it has only recently propelled itself out of economic isolation. Currently, Myanmar has 5 BITs and 5 FTAs with investment provisions in force, the latter as part of ASEAN (of which Myanmar is also a signatory).10 Myanmar does not currently have any bilateral FTA in force. Its neighbor, Thailand, as a comparison, has over 38 BITs and 12 FTAs, several of them are on a bilateral basis. The following table is a result of survey of Myanmar’s ten IIAs currently in force. It clearly shows that there is a considerable difference among BITs and FTAs, even though the investment protection provisions are practically the same for both types of agreements. There is only one BIT which includes environmental safeguards, which is the one with Japan. In fact, these elements are present in most of Japan’s BITs with other countries. It is also evident that ASEAN-based FTAs show a common trend of incorporating environmental safeguards as general exceptions into the agreements. Another progress of recent ASEANbased FTAs is to explicitly state that non-discriminatory environmental measures are not indirect expropriation. However, earlier agreements such as those between ASEAN with China or Korea, do not have this, as there is no special language to clarify what is meant by indirect expropriation. 4

The public welfare objectives do not need to deal with the environment alone. A prominent, ongoing case concerns the claims brought by a U.S. cigarette manufacturer against Australia for, inter alia, indirect expropriation of its intellectual property rights after the Australian government’s cigarette plain packaging measures. See Philip Morris v. Australia UNCITRAL, PCA Case No. 2012-12


Gaukrodger, D. and K. Gordon (2012), “Investor-State Dispute Settlement: A Scoping Paper for the Investment Policy Community”, OECD Working Papers on International Investment, 2012/03


Gordon, K. and Pohl, J. (2011), “Environmental Concerns in International Investment Agreements”. OECD Working Papers on International Investment, 2011/01. There are other environmental policy space provisions surveyed in the study, but the three important ones are singled out here for the sake of simplicity.


Canada-Thailand BIT (1997) and numerous other BITs signed by Canada


United States Model BIT (2004). A similar language has been adopted in, for instance, the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand FTA (2010)


Japan-Lao PDR BIT (2008)

10 Source: UNCTAD Investment Policy Hub Website,; accessed 18 June 2015. Myanmar’s BIT with Israel is not yet in force and has not been included. The ASEAN-Japan FTA’s investment chapter is currently being negotiated. The Investment Chapter of the ASEAN-India FTA will come into force on 1 July 2015.

B E C O M I N G / 23

Myanmar’s International Investment Agreements (Date of entry into force)

1. Environmental Policy Space for entire agreement

2. Environmental Measures are not Indirect Expropriation

3. Not lowering environmental standards

Myanmar -China BIT (2002) Myanmar-India BIT (2009) Myanmar-Japan BIT (2014)

Myanmar-Philippines BIT (1998) Myanmar-Thailand BIT (2012) ASEAN-India FTA (2015)

ASEAN-China FTA (2010)

ASEAN-Korea FTA (2009)

ASEAN Comprehensive Inv. Agreement (2012)

ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand FTA (2012)

Comparing this result with work done by the OECD covering a sample of 1,623 IIAs by 49 countries in 201111,the status of Myanmar’s IIAs reflects a trend that is going on worldwide. That is, environmental safeguards language is rare among (older) BITs but common in FTAs. This is not a surprising development, as countries are incorporating these elements when they negotiate their IIAs. UNCTAD, the UN Agency dealing with investment issues, has championed the inclusion of such safeguards. It has subsumed this under “sustainable development provisions”, which also includes other provisions aimed at preserving regulatory space and minimizing exposure to investment arbitration.12

What are the implications for Myanmar’s environmental policy? Myanmar is at a pivotal point to balance the fast-growing flows of investment with environmental concerns. On one hand, Myanmar is currently enjoying record FDI inflows of around $8 billion investing in various industries and services.13 On the other hand, Myanmar has also made advances in addressing environmental concerns through its environmental conservation law and its foreign investment law, which requires environmental impact assessments be undertaken. In light of Myanmar’s signed IIAs, this means that environmental measures that it imposes could be constrained by Myanmar’s current investment agreements. Myanmar is fortunate not to have any current ISDS cases. However, there are risks of being challenged in an arbitration tribunal, in particular, for those IIAs without any environmental safeguards. A case in point here is the government’s suspension of a foreign-financed dam spanning across the Irrawaddy River in 2011 due to its potentially large environmental impact. The foreign investor could have sued the government for suspending the work under one of the IIAs without sufficient environmental safeguards. With numerous large-scale developments going on in Myanmar, the risks stemming from investor litigation would need to be addressed. As mentioned earlier, any investment litigation would be very costly, the more so for developing countries such as Myanmar. Much costlier, however, would be the effect on the environment, when governments erode their policy autonomy under threat of litigation, the so-called “regulatory chill”.14 In view of a more sustainable investment rule-making regime, Myanmar should consider focusing on the important welfare objectives in its investment agreements. The environmental safeguards that are standard in ASEAN-based FTAs should be a good starting point when Myanmar reviews current and negotiates future agreements.

11 Gordon, K. and Pohl, J. (2011) op. cit. 12 UNCTAD (2012), Investment Policy Framework for Sustainable Development, Geneva 13 Ministry of National Planning and Economic Development, Myanmar (2015) 14 For a discussion of “regulatory chill” see Julia G. Brown, “International Investment Agreements: Regulatory Chill in the Face of Litigious Heat?”, Western Journal of Legal Studies (2013) 3:1

B E C O M I N G / 24

Border Development, Resettlement and Adaptation in a Special Economic Zone Souksamone Sengchanh ‘Border Development, Resettlement and Adaptation in a Special Economic Zone’ is an article written from research and investigation reports in Tonpheung district, Laos in the area known as ‘Special Economic Zone’ or ‘SEZ’ in order to investigate and understand the way in which SEZ has shaped and changed the border landscape in Tonpheung district areas and also explore the impacts causes by new economic enterprises on the livelihoods of the locals. The research explores the different backgrounds of the locals and how they adapt themselves to the changes that has been brought upon them by SEZ and causes the locals to transfer their lands to investors and the negotiating processes which lead to land transferring.

B E C O M I N G / 25

The current neo-liberalist policies of the Laos government have recently promoted investment and deregulation in Tonpheung district and established ‘Special Economic Zone’ or ‘SEZ’ which turned rural border subsistence farming areas into a trading zone next to Mekong River and tourism space. Such change has been done by the inflows of Chinese capital through SEZ policies. The local landscape has been changed and adapted to serve tourism and enterprises established by Chinese investors, who has become the main influence in the new border zone. All the changes and adaptions has made the farmer in the area to turn themselves into labors to work for the establishments in the SEZ and eventually caused the impacts on the livelihood of the locals. The aim of the provincial authorities has been to expand the rubber growing area to cover 3,000 ha, as the main SEZ activity in the area. However, this move has adversely affected some of the farmers in my study area, who have lost their land and their ability to produce for their incomes. Therefore, the locals have switched from being farmers to labors for the companies and establishments brought in by Chinese investors. This is a tremendous change of the income and earning patterns of the villagers in the SEZ, hence the changes of their social lives in the process. Nevertheless, the result of the study shows that those who are able to adapt themselves to all the changes well are those who have decent amount of capital since the beginning of the SEZ, including land and social capital which has always been held by the elite group in the community due to the fact that they have good connections with the Chinese casino company, therefore the convenience to gain their places and jobs in the area and eventually causes them better economic and financial status than other groups. The groups in the SEZ can be divided into 3 main groups; (1) Elite families, the first group who settle in the SEZ and received higher compensation compared to others. (2) Middle-income families, who received less compensation in accordance with the amount of land they had, and tend to work both in the establishments and continue farming practices. (3) Poor families, who do not possess any capital, neither money nor social status and have a hard time adapting themselves the transformation. The differences between the three groups has caused the post-transformation differences in many ways. The families with more capital and better financial status would receive higher level of compensation and able to adapt by using the money they earn to by new land to settle in, or even start their own business. While the other two groups have harder time to adapt themselves and have to face with all the challenges poses by the SEZ; they have to deal with lower compensation and have to turn themselves from being farmers into enterprise labors. The farmers who lost farmland now have to rent farmland from others who still have land available, reducing their ability to adapt and meaning they have less power to negotiate. In addition, their current incomes do not match their previous levels and their current needs, and this is linked to the idea that development is now associated closely with ‘groups’, to the extent that for a village to successfully enter competition, it is mandatory that a group is set up to represent the developed state of that village, as farmers often suffer from a lack of bargaining power, plus fall prey to money lenders, traders and the state. Despite the fact that

B E C O M I N G / 26

the villager did try to negotiate with the central government to cancel their relocation and more compensation, the propose have been denied and there was no attempt to help them by the legal framework in terms of the provision of compensation. This situation left them facing many difficulties after the move. However, the reasons for introducing the SEZ in Tonpheung district were to improve the living conditions of local people, but as their new livelihoods have begun to rely so much on the new business enterprises, so their resource base has declined, meaning their daily lives have changed. As a consequence, the new, livelihood strategies of the farmers in Khuan village are not only based on working at the casino in order to overcome poverty, but have also included using an adaptive approach to the new forms of business that have been set up, such as working as middlemen, business owners, traders, drivers and, wage laborers, in order to sustain their daily incomes and adapt their resources to what has happened in the local area. In general, the establishing of ‘Special Economic Zone’ or ‘SEZ’ in Tonpheung, Laos, causes immensely impact on the livelihood of the villagers who live in the area by changing from one based predominantly on traditional agriculture, to one in which half the people work for the Chinese casino company and the others continue to work as farmers. The transformation also divines and separates the people in the community into groups; elite families, middle-income families and poor families. Other than just the transformation changes the ways of life of the community, it also causes the Laos government to force the villagers to relocate their houses with low provision of compensation, despite the negotiation between the locals and the authorities in order to provide space and rights for Chinese investor to invest and conduct business in the area. Only the minority of the populace who have good connection with the investors are able to appropriately adapt themselves to all the changes and has the opportunity to get hand on jobs with high compensation and have. This causes the discrimination among the people in the community, despite the initial reasons for introducing the SEZ in Tonpheung district were to improve the living conditions of local people, and working for the companies was meant to have brought higher incomes at the household, village, district and provincial levels, improvements are still required if it is to sustain people’s new rural livelihoods, because numerous problems have already emerged within the communities.

B E C O M I N G / 27

A S E AN R esearch

Supporting the Aged and Identities of Overseas Teochew in Chiang Mai Ph.D. candidate, XiaoXiao Ma Anthropology Department, Sun Yat-sen University

After years of planning for the initiation of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015, there have been movements of the governments and private organizations both inside and outside the region to invest in Southeast Asia. Thailand is one of the most important strategic point due to its geographical advantage. Many investors has endeavored to establish their presence in the area, and both the Chinese government and Chinese investors are one of the major and most successful players in this event due to the advantage of their cultural connection with the oversea Chinese who has lived in many counties around the world for several decades. In order to learn interesting perspectives regarding the cultural connections and relationships of the oversea Chinese and China, Center for ASEAN Studies, Chiang Mai University asked fellow Chinese academic, XiaoXiao Ma from Anthropology department, Sun Yat-Sen University, about her research on the history of the oversea Chinese and their unique relationship with China.

B E C O M I N G / 28

Chinese emigration has a very long history which can be traced back to Ming or Qing dynasty, and there are many oversea Chinese population reside all over the country of Thailand such as Bangkok, Phuket and Chiang Mai. Considering all the options, why do you choose Chiang Mai for your research area? XM: Many people know that there are a lot of oversea Chinese living in Bangkok. Nevertheless, compared to Bangkok, Chiang Mai actually have a lot of oversea Chinese residing here after a second migration from Bangkok to ChiangMai. The vitality of Chinese culture there is evident, just as what you can see at Kad Luang, Talad Lumyai. And there have gradually formed a Chinese society as far as I conduct my fieldwork. The second reason is that Chiang Mai is the largest city in northern Thailand and it can be considered as the hub which connects the southern Thailand and the mountain area in the north where several ethnic groups reside. Hence the ethnic population usually trade and purchase products from the south here in Chiang Mai. Overseas Chinese who are mostly merchants play an important role in the process of the flow of products. We can see that the overseas Chinese migration history connects with the development of the city Chiang Mai as well. Aside from that, there are not many monograph about the oversea Chinese and their history in Chiang Mai as I know. How long have you been conducting your research in Chiang Mai province? XM: Before I came to Thailand, I have conducted a research in Hainan, China for one to two months 2 years ago about “Gui Guo Hua Qiao (归国华侨)” , which means “the returned oversea Chinese”. Since then I have taken more interest in the oversea Chinese regardless of where they live. So I came here in Chiang Mai since July 2015, and have been conducting my research since then. Aside of Chiang Mai, have you any plan to further your research in other parts of Thailand where the oversea Chinese live such as Bangkok and Phuket? XM: Certainly. Bangkok is my target area for my further research on the topic. But right now I consider Chiang Mai as my research base, and in case that I find out a certain connection which traces to the other parts of Thailand such as Bangkok or Phuket, I would prefer to follow the connection trace there. But I would not want to start a new research topic or any fieldwork elsewhere at the moment. From your perspective, what do you think is the general difference of the characteristics of the oversea Chinese and the Chinese back in China such as cultural aspect? XM: It is quite hard to differentiate “Chinese” due to the variety of the ethnic groups in China. Therefore, it is hard and can be confused to define the term of “general Chinese”. However, I can say that in term of cultural aspect, there is an interesting phenomenon. That is, many cultural and traditional practices have gradually receded and disappeared back in China while the oversea Chinese may still conserve those traditions. Especially in many countries such as the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia, due to some reasons, they may keep stronger identity of being overseas Chinese and try to preserve their traditions and cultural practices to show their identity. This is why you can sometimes see something that is more traditional outside China.

B E C O M I N G / 29

Throughout the years of rapid development of China and regards the efforts of the Chinese government to play a bigger role in both regional and international stage. China could be able to learn and gain advantages from the oversea Chinese around the globe. Does the Chinese government have the policy to invite the oversea Chinese to come back in live in China? XM: Up until this point, I think the answer is no. After the 1950s, the Chinese government has the policy that every Chinese can have only one nationality. At that time, many oversea Chinese made a declaration of changing their Chinese nationality to the nationality of the countries they live in. Although the Chinese government would not invite them to come back and resettle in China, the government still readily invites them to have more connections with China, such as investing or visiting in China. What’s more, Chinese have started to do business around the world. They hope the unique connection could do some help and realize win-win situation for both the Chinese and the oversea Chines. I think that is how the Chinese government treats the oversea Chinese now. Other than just invite the oversea Chinese to invest in China and promoting the relationship to establish their connection outside country. Does the Chinese government also promote and facilitate help in educational aspect? XM: I believe the Chinese government hopes to create a good bound between China and the oversea Chinese through education. For example, there are Confucius Institutes in many countries to introduce Chinese culture and teach Chinese. But it is not only for overseas Chinese. It opens for everyone who is interested in Chinese culture. In your personal opinion, what do you think is the most interesting part of your research? XM: For me it is about a term called “声望 (Sheng Wang)” in Chinese, which can be translated as “prestige”. I think it is quite a core concept of the social structure in Overseas Chinese society. It can be considered as one of your social capital. If you have high level of “Sheng Wang”, you would possess authority and can have great impact in the society. In Chinese society, people always try to accumulate their prestige in order to gain a higher position in the society. And usually older you get, the more prestige you tend to have and the more important you will become. And I think it can be a breakthrough point for me to do study the aging issues of overseas Chinese. I have been always interested in such matters: how do they obtain their prestige or how do they use their prestige in the society. Are there other scholars in China who take interest in the oversea Chinese? XM: There are many scholars who take interest in the oversea Chinese, especially the economic aspect due to the fact that the oversea Chinese around the globe tend to be in good position in the local society. Chinese scholars are interested in how overseas Chinese work their ways to be in potent positions through their social networks both international and local, such as clans, religional temples or Chinese merchant unions. For example, there are over 44 oversea Chinese organizations in Chiang Mai alone. Another subject is about identity. Many Chinese scholars are interested in the topic of the identity of the oversea Chinese. They want explore how the identity of different generations change and the cultural connection of the oversea

B E C O M I N G / 30

Ecological Child Rights in ASEAN? Mekong Youth Assembly Ecological Child Rights Concept The last few decades have seen a huge rise in public awareness regarding the causes and effects of human-induced environmental degradation. Worldwide, people are experiencing the negative impact of water and food shortages, soil, air and water pollution or natural disasters. Environmental pollution frequently crosses borders and is even felt at the global level, as in the case of climate change. The costs are borne, above all, by those who can least protect themselves: the children of today and tomorrow! Already many children, particularly in developing countries, are prevented from growing up in a healthy environment: every year three million under-five-year-olds die of environment related ill-nesses. That is more than one in three deaths among children. At the same time the ruthless exploitation of natural resources, the loss of biodiversity and other irrevocable ecological damage darken children’s future prospects. Young people are doubly punished since, today and as adults, they have to live with the consequences of environmental degradation. It is amazing that – although future generations will have to pay for the unscrupulous handling of nature – their interests, rights and voices usually go completely unheard in the world of politics and business. Children’s rights direct the focus of environmental and sustainability policy to the unequal power relations that exist between children and adults, between industrialized and developing countries, between rich and poor. Yet, in many areas, we observe the lack of legal and institutional preconditions required for meeting the human rights challenges arising from ecological damage in the 21th century. The voices of children must be heard because policy-making on climate or biodiversity is about their future. They will also inherit the responsibility of looking after the earth: in the worst case they will encounter an environment offering them extremely limited opportunities for their life and development. Children are in a very similar position to still unborn future generations. They will have to cope with the earth that we have left them, without themselves having an effective means of control. When taking normative and institutional protective measures, decision-makers must give urgent consideration to how strongly future generations will depend on decisions of generations alive now.1

Ecological Child Rights in International Law First Earth Summit in Rio (1992), states emphasized the significance of procedural rights for the protection of the environment, that is, the involvement in environmental decision-making as well as access to information and remedies (Principle 10) in environmental affairs. To make effective environmental protection through procedural human and child rights, it is necessary to mobilize the youth and children that means to consider the creativity and ideas, then encourage them to force global partnership in order to achieve sustainable development and ensure the better for all (principle 21). The UNCRC does not explicitly mention Ecological Children’s Rights, however they can be deduced from a number of articles (articles 3, 6 and 24). Article 3 mentions that all procedures and actions concerning children are to consider ‘the best interests of the child’. Article 6 manifests the right of each child to survival and development, and article 24 emphasizes the right of each child to achieve the highest possible level of health (paragraph c states that when fighting illnesses or malnutrition, environmental factors have to be considered; paragraph e constitutes that in education the children are to be taught respect towards their natural environment).

Environmental issues are explicitely dealt with in the specific context of child health and 2 education as mentioned in UNCRC : Art.24 I (c): (…)To combat disease and malnutrition (…), taking into consideration the dangers and risks of environmental pollution. Art.29: The right to (environmental) education plays a vital role in the realization of child rights. Art. 29 I (e): States Parties agree that the education of the child shall be directed to (…) the development of respect for the natural environment. 1

Terre des homes “Environmental Child rights”, Last modified June 16,2015.


Ecological Child Rights- a concept ,“Environmental Protection and the CRC” , Terre des homes

B E C O M I N G / 31

Fulfilment requires a certain quality of the environment and the preservation of natural resources. As the general principles of the CRC should guarantee that environmental decision-making takes into account of children and their rights (participation, nondiscrimination, best interest- principle, rights to life, survival and development).

Issues of specific concern in relation to children:3 Vulnerability, dependence and marginalization of children require both protection through minimum substantive environmental standards (e.g. safe limits) and tailored procedural rights (e.g. right to be heard). Distinct needs of children, including playing in natural environments and experience the animal world. Photo: 3SPN

As many violations of the rights of future generations have taken on global dimensions (e.g. climate change) or are deeply rooted in the international political or economic system (e.g. resource exploitation), so that solutions can only be found at the international level. At the same time it is important to create Ombudsperson offices that are accessible for those concerned, particularly children, where they live and have expertise – i.e. at the regional, national and local level.

Realizing Ecological Rights for All Children: Extraterritorial obligations4 The realization of children’s rights is primarily a domestic obligation, but at the same time states also have an international duty to give effect to children’s rights. There are two important reasons for this, ecologically speaking: first, environmental degradation frequently crosses borders (e.g. air or water pollution); its consequences are thus also felt by people in other countries. In this context climate change poses a special challenge: It is primarily caused by industrialized nations – and meanwhile also by many emerging economies – but its consequences mostly hit poor people in developing countries. The relevance of international human rights obligations can be shown in another respect as well. Economic globalization has led to transnational activities of more and more private companies. This also raises the risk of their causing considerable environmental pollution abroad. Unfortunately economic globalization is being supplemented only gradually by legal globalization. In many developing countries human rights violations by foreign companies are not pursued because there are only weak structures for the rule of law or there is a lack of political will to prosecute offenders.

Shortcomings and the need for a Concept of Ecological Child Rights5 • The interrelation between environment, development and child rights has not yet been duly explored or recognized at the international level, while existing obliagations have not been fully implemented. • The concept of ecological child rights sheds light on the interdependence of environmental and child rights protection and points to increasing human-induced environmental harm 3

Ecological Child Rights- a concept

4 Terre des homes “Environmental Child rights”, Last modified June 16,2015. 5

Ecological Child Rights- a concept, terre des homes

B E C O M I N G / 32

Aims of Concept of Ecological Child Rights6 • Call upon the international community to explicitly recognize the right to a safe, healthy and ecologically sound environment, thereby acknowledging the relevance of environmental destruction in the context of child rights protection. • Demand that national, regional and international decision-making in the field of environment be based on child rights norms and principles. In many areas of environmental politics (such as climate politics) there is no clear commitment.

A case of Lower Sesan 2 Dam “The benefit for whom?” The Lower Sesan2 Dam is currently under construction at the 1.5 km far from the confluencebetween the Srepok and Sesan rivers in Stung Treng province, northeastern Cambodia. The Sesanriver is a major Cambodia tributary of the Mekong, the two rivers joining in Stung Treng province where the provincial capital of the same name is located. In 2012, he project is carried out by Hydropower Lower Sesan2 Co. Ltd., a joint company of the Royal Group of Cambodia (owning 49%) and China’s Hydrolangang International Energy Co.Ltd (owing 51%). Hydropower Lower Sesan2 Co. Ltd owns 90% of the project, and EVN International Joint Stock Company (EVNI) owns the remaining 10%7. The dam is built up 400 MW with 800 million US dollars and 75 meter high. Tens of thousands of people who are expected to be negatively impacted by the project, and options for dam developers and the government of Cambodia to uphold the rights of local people. As the dam would be built just downstream from the confluence of the Srepok River, thus blocking two of the largest rivers in the Mekong River Basin, and causing serious negative environmental impacts.8

The Sesan2 dam, if built, can be expected to cause the following impacts:9 • Thousands of people would have to be relocated as a direct result of being inundated by the dam’s reservoir, although the exact number remains unclear. Local people would also lose access to fisheries, as well as forest and wildlife resources. • At least 38,675 people, including a large number of indigenous peoples, included in at least 86 villages located along the Sesan and Srepok Rivers and in the reservoir area would lose access to the vast majority of their fisheries resources due to the dam blocking fish migrations from the Mekong and Sekong Rivers up the Sesan and Srepok Rivers. In addition, at least 87 villages in Cambodia located along tributaries of these two rivers would also lose access to migratory fish. In total, at least 78,000 people living above the Sesan 2 dam site are expected to lose access to migratory fish. • Tens of thousands of people living downstream from the proposed dam site along the Sesan, Sekong and Mekong Rivers in Stung Treng Province would be negatively impacted as a result of dramatic changes in hydrology and water quality, causing a whole range of serious impacts ranging from fisheries losses to impacts on domestic water sources. This includes at least 22,277 people living in 19 villages adjacent to the Sesan and Sekong Rivers downstream from the dam site in Stung Treng Province. And also other 78,000 villagers along the Sesan and Srepok Rivers upstream of the project, as well as 87 villages along tributaries of the two rivers will also be impacted.10 • Hundreds of thousands of people living as far away as the Tonle Sap Lake in Central Cambodia, the Mekong Delta in Viet Nam, and the middle Mekong River in Laos and Thailand would be negatively impacted by the Sesan2 dam as a result of severe impacts to important fisheries, sedimentation, nutrition and agriculture.11


Ecological Child Rights- a concept, terre des homes


Li Miao Miao “Gaps in the Environmental regulation of Transnational Corporations: a case Study of Cambodia’s Lower Sesan2 Dam, Land and river grabbing, 2015.


Baird_2009_Best_Practices_Lower_Sesan2_Report_English_Libre_pdf, see more


Ibid, see more in International Rivers’ report Starving the Mekong: A Report on the Impacts of Cambodia’s Lower Sesan 2 Dam

10 11 See more

B E C O M I N G / 33

Impact of Lower Sesan2 Dam to Children “The development for whom?” Villagers said that the project will affect to their culture and customs, disturb the ancestors’ graves, and destroy the river and forests they rely on daily for their livelihoods.12 As many cases, the children is the most vulnerable group that will be affected by the Lower Sesan2 project Due to thousands have been displaced, it could not deny that a lot of children also forced to resettle together with their families. The dam could also put in risk the food security of millions people along river and children are potential of this impact. For example, in Stung Treng province, an area of Cambodia where Don Sahong Dam will have a severe impact, 45% of children are already malnourished. A native from Ratanakiri Province passionately told stories about his childhood when he enjoyed spending much of his holiday on Sesan River’s bank fishing and throwing rock into the river. But, it will change if the dam completes.13 The problem is particularly difficult considering recent reports that the percentage of children classified as acutely malnourished in Cambodia—the number of which had fallen by half between 2000 and 2005—increased from 8.4% in 2005 to 8.9% in 2008, representing a considerable setback (Corey-Boulet 2008). Certainly, if the Sesan2 dam is built, it can be expected that nutritional statistics in northeastern Cambodia would decline even more, thus making it difficult for the Cambodian government to achieve poverty alleviation targets14. As the project missed to mention or provide any special service for children, means the dam developer are violating not just fish, women, local people, but also children. When the families are about forcing to move the children they have to move with their family, which there was reported that the relocation was inadequate for the land to doing farming, whether they provide medical care or school for children. According the Convention on the Right of Child (CRC) article 27 (1) stimulates that the right of every child to a standard of living adequate for the child’s physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development. Similarly, article 32 (1) states that the state parties recognize the right of the child to be protect from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child’s education, or to be harmful to the child’s health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development. In fact, there is not clear whether the dam developer have done all of these? Because the villagers who forced to move said that the resettlement the resettlement sites on offer unsuitable for farming. In addition, conflict over land and other resources between resettles and neighboring villages will be big problem. In villages that have been resettled far outside the reservoir, traditional social capital and interpersonal relationships have dwindled which will affect children’s atmosphere too. As children is the vulnerable group in social change. When their parents lose their income, children usually force to leave school to work and even go to other places to find job as child labor in order to support family. The fact that future generations still lack a proper representation of their interests is due both to the lack of legal authority of existing commitments and also the lack of effective implementation and accountability mechanisms. The goal must be to finally end discrimination against future generations and their needs in the form of legally guaranteed rights and other institutional safeguards. After protection measures or other forms of disaster prevention lead to displacements and forced evictions. Families thereby often lose their access to natural resources. Displacements have particularly serious consequences for children; because family stability, their livelihoods and their rights to education and health are threatened. Severe environmental problems such as climate change, but also the loss of biological diversity, persistent pollutants and the ruthless exploitation of resources are largely due to a global development model that is primarily based on economic growth and subordinates all other social and ecological interests to it. It is a big question for ASEAN and its members to consider how to prevent and protect their future generation from the destruction coming from the rapid promotion of economic regionalization and how ASEAN could strengthen its social and environmental safeguard and mechanism to ensure the sustainability of the community. The answer shall not be blowing in the wind.

12, last modified 23 August 2015 13, last modified 23 August 2015 14 Baird_2009_Best_Practices_Lower_Sesan2_Report_English_Libre_pdf

B E C O M I N G / 34

A S E AN Is sue

Actions in the Age of Limited Freedom of Expression: Social Media and New Forms of Movement in Thailand Pongkwan Sawasdipakdi

There are now many questions concerning the role of students in social activism due to the fact that students has been playing diminishing roles in such event. On the other hand, these question also echo public expectations of consistent student involvement in the fight against political corruption and social injustice. The need of the explanations is the result from the success of students leading roles in demanding and for th political and social changes in the late 1960s and 1970s, especially the students movement on October 14 , 1973, which marked as the grand victory of the student activism when they led the movement to overthrow Thailand’s military government with ultimate success.

B E C O M I N G / 35

The military crackdown against the redshirt in May 2010 stoked students’ broader interest in national politics. Several student groups were formed in this subsequent period. Despite the differences of organizational structure, strategy, and activity of each individual group, all of them worked toward the same goal: raising awareness of democracy and human right among university students and urging the government to take responsible for the loss of lives during the crackdown incident, and most of all, asking the government to return democracy to the people. Although the activities remained primarily on campuses, they were able to create a certain impacts on the society though non-mainstream media and social media. However, while student activities were broadly acknowledged and discussed, the student movement was still perceived as only an ideological adopter of broader political movements, and gradually declined after the general election took place in 2011. Nevertheless, since the coup d’etat on June 22nd, 2014, the students movement became more and more active and created more organized student groups along with those established in 2010. In this period, the forms of student movement (2) have shifted from holding content-based activities such as movie discussions and academic talks to organizing action-based activities that require fewer participants, shorter activity time, and more extensive use of social media, included flash mobs and iconic symbols protests; eating sandwiches, showing three-fingers salute in public. All of which were perceived as a threat to national stability by the military government. The result were several student activists were arrested on several occasions. However, the arrests of the student activists had indirectly empowered the actions and discredited the military government in the process.

The Height of Thailand’s Student Movements (1960s-1970s) Thai students first involved in national politics in the post-war period of 1950s. The event caused by the abolition of AntiCommunist Act in 1946, and permitted organizations, students, labors and other mass movements to rise up. These existing student organizations include the Chulalongkorn Community for the People (CCP) and the League of Liberal Thammasat for Democracy (LLTD). Further information on these student organizations could be found under the section of student activism after the crackdown in 2010. The abolishment of the Anti-Communist Act in 1941 allowed the Communist Party of Thailand (CPT) to spread out the ideas of Marxism and socialist and caused tremendous impacts on student perspective, and followed by organized demonstrations against the government on several issues. There were many topics of discussions, among them was the topic of the roles of students. A belief that students had to “study to serve people” performed as a function to frame student’s collective identity, and

B E C O M I N G / 36

...the forms of student move activities such as movie disc action-based activities that r and more extensive use of so idea had become basis for later activism and participation. However, the discussion was put to an end by the coup d’etat on October 19th, 1958 and then came the strict authoritarian regime. Under the strict regime, all form of mobilizations and organization were banned. Student activism was halt and the radical ideas in 1950s could not be carried on. During this period, student created their own collective identity as a social contributor, giving meaning to the word “student”. Such identity was effected by the idea that there were more to life of students than getting a degree and their education was supported by the public taxes. This idea and perspective created the feeling of “social debts” and that they had to replay to the society, thus the change of the idea of “serve” the people in 1950s to “repay” to the people in 1960s. This included the responsibility to speak out for the people under the strict regime when all political movements were banned. However, the idea of opposing the military government in this period were not unified. Instead, they were mixed with different and sometimes contesting discourse. The most influential group during period was the National Student Center of Thailand (NSCT) that was formed in 1968 and became a coordinating center of student activism. As the military government became more and more strict and brutal, the public looked to the students as the silver-line hop for change. Flattered and supported by the public, the student movements changed from indirectly to directly challenge the government. Nevertheless, the movements and activities came with coasts, several students were expelled with many kind of charges an accusations such as publishing a magazine criticizing university administration and the government. The issue escalated to students calling for new constitution and the restoration of democracy and later on October 14th, 1973 the incident involved more than half a million of students and supporters. However, the movements became more confrontational and violent and led to the incident on October 6th, 1976 which numerous student and citizens were injured and killed, the incident is known as the October 6th massacre. After the incident, the NSCT disbanded.

Thailand’s Student Activism from 1970s – 2000s Since the start of the post-coup civilian authoritarian regime, Thailand’s student activism was disrupted. Several activist student went into jungles to join up with the Communist Party of Thailand (CPT) and some of them had to establish their movements underground. The students started to criticize the characteristic of the CPT and left the party, the event is known as ‘crisis of faith.’ It is believed that the reason of the collapsing of student activism was due to the wrong strategies – too radical and separated from the rest of the population. In 1984, the Student Federation of Thailand (SFT) was established as a coordinating center for student activism by using the NSCT as the model and led to the coup d’etat on January 23th, 1991. The difference of the mobilization in this time was that the students were not at the front line of the movements against the military government. Student movements in Thailand were completely silenced during the Thaksin’s regime. This was not because there were no opportunities for student movements, but it was because the well-functioning populist policies of the Thaksin government that halted the urgent need to discuss political, social and economic issues. However, it was in 2005 that political activism came into the political landscape with the establishment of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) or the ‘yellow shirts’ who fought to question the corruptions and to overthrow the Thaksin government, and the movement led to the dissolving of the parliament in February 20006. The formation of the group has drastically changed the profile of Thailand’s politics and the impacts still last today. Student organizations and the SFT were also parts of the PAD. However, the roles of these students were limited to only supporters. Until now, students played only minor roles hardly recognized or mentioned by the general public or the media. From 2006 – 2010, Thailand’s politics was marked with great instability. Street politics had become a norm in this period with the redshirts; the organization formed in 2006 in response to the yellow shirts movements. The SFT supported the redshirts movements and regularly attended the rallies, however, the students remained as supporters.

Student Movement After the 2010 Crackdown In 2010, the redshirts protests started, demanding the Democrat government to dissolve the parliament and set up a new round of election. The tension escalated when the government issued the Emergency Act on April 7th, 2010, and ended with the

B E C O M I N G / 37

ovement have shifted from holding content-based discussions and academic talks to organizing at require fewer participants, shorter activity time, f social media,... military crackdown in April and May 2010 caused more than 90 dead and several thousands injured. During this period, three student organizations was actively engaged in Thailand’s national politics; the Student Federation of Thailand (SFT), Chulalongkorn Community for the People (CCP), and Community against Dictatorship (TCAD), which later transformed in to the League of Liberal Thammasat for Democracy (LLTD). These groups work independently, but would also collaborate if needed. Despite coordination on certain issues, student activism in this period also witnessed disagreements among the three organizations, especially between CCP and TCAD. This was due to differences in organizational structures and strategies. However, the conflict remained internal and had only marginal effects on the movement. Each organization insisted on their strategies and activities, but agreed to collaborate in special circumstances, for example, activities on the anniversary of October 6 massacre and the 2006 coup d’etat. Interestingly, these diverse activities complimented each other. Although these student organizations played diminishing roles and remained relatively inactive under Yingluck government, it is undeniable that patterns of activities in this period were a foundation from student activism in the subsequent period, especially after the coup d’etat on May 22, 2014.

Thailand’s Student Activism after the 2014 Coup Student activism after the coup d’etat on May 22, 2014 witnesses an extensive use of social media and symbolic actions. After six months of massive political protests of both red and yellow shirts, the military decided to intervene in the politics to prevent further political turmoil. On May 20, 2014, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), composed of a group of generals, announced martial law, which banned the gathering of more than 5 people. Aside from limited freedom of the press, freedom of expressions was also restricted. The action-based activities were, in fact, encouraged by government’s response to student’s reaction to the coup d’etat. Only three days following the coup d’etat, the Thai Student Center for Democracy (TSCD) was established as a coordinating center for student activism. On May 29, the TSCD launched its first activity at Thammasat University — the place with a collective memory of the October 6 Massacre in 1976. The activity included peaceful talks on advantages and disadvantages of the coup d’etat given by students. The event ended with a statement from the TSCD urging the military to return power to civilians and resume the use of the 2007 constitution. It could be argued that the characteristics of this initial activity of the TSCD and other student groups against the military coup was still not a new form of protests. It was, in fact, considered a traditional form — small gathering and public talk — used by student movements in 1960s and 1970s. On May 27, four young people stood in front of the Bangkok Art and Culture Center reading books in silence. These books included George Orwell’s 1984 which became an iconic symbol of the protest against the military government in Thailand. His action became viral and inspired protesters to continue the protest by silently reading their books at Taksin Square. The student movements adopted this idea of iconic symbols very fast. This was partially because the group such as LLTD has done this form of protests in the past and also because government’s response to protests forced students and other groups of protesters to be more innovative. Due to the fact that student activities has turned into more and more symbolic methods and the inability of the students to contact media, they instead use social media to update the development of their activities like releasing their statements regarding the government on their social media pages. This is contrast with the past where students had to submit their statements to the press in order to get published. From all the development of student activism in Thailand from its birth, its peak, its purge, and its rebirth. Despite differences in organizational structures and repertoires of each era. Since the fall of student activism in 1970s, students have played the role of followers and supporters in broader political movements. In this new era, although students still act as a leading role as in the previous eras, they act as a reminder of social abnormality. Under the limited freedom of expression, the shrinking mobilizing spaces forces students to change their activities to be more mobile as large-scale political and academic gatherings are not allowed. The response of the military government encourages students to become increasingly involved in protests using iconic symbols. Although they might face a risk of being arrested, they are ready for it in exchange with the credibility of the military government.

B E C O M I N G / 38

A S E AN Is sue

Becoming Shan: New Voices of Shan Migrant Workers In Chiang Mai Pisith Nasee1 I have attended Tai (Shan) language and literature class at Wat Pa Pao in Chiang Mai city since 2013. I am the only Thai student among the Shan youths who are both migrants and children of migrants working in Chiang Mai. They should have been in school or college but only a few can pursue Thai education, and from non-formal education center. Most of them are workers in several businesses from all corners of Chiang Mai. The class opens at 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. every Sunday and is taught by two or three volunteers who are also from Shan state. The number of students in the class is inconsistent depending on individual’s reason, their transient life, such as moving to work in other places or going back home; Shan state or other villages along the Thai-Myanmar borderline. 1

PhD student program in Social Science (international program), faculty of Social Sciences, CMU

B E C O M I N G / 39

During two years as a student in this class, I have talked to many Shan friends and shared some experiences as nonregistered population who moved to live and work in the big city. I myself spent childhood for many years in a small village 17 km north from Chiang Rai city. Life in the big city is quite challenging and I knew at the very first moment that it would not be easy, this particular reason makes me and them to have many things in common. Not only learned in the class room, but my Shan teachers also took me and my friends to many places and joined many ceremonies and events of Shan people in Chiang Mai. For instance, New Year celebrations, wedding ceremonies, funerals, Poy Sang Long or the festival of Buddhist novice ordination, including religious ceremonies on Buddhist religious days. This made me realized that there are many Shan people living in Chiang Mai. They are all around and are working in every place I am familiar with but I have not even noticed them such as in universities, restaurants, department stores, cinemas, hospitals, my friends’ houses and etc. Some people say because they are unskilled, immigrated both legally and illegally, from a troublesome and less developed country, all they can do is low-wage workers in dirty, dangerous, demeaning jobs (3D jobs), such as security guards, labors in construction sites, housekeepers, janitors, etc. In other words, they do the jobs that Thai people do not want to do. They have been treated by Thai people as if they did not exist or they were lifeless working machines. Even if they are living all around, most Thai would prefer to overlook them. Though some people say that to some extent Shan migrant workers do enjoy their invisible status especially, from the police and living without notice provides them some freedom to live in their own ways. Nevertheless, they do not want to stay hidden forever. No one wants to be treated like an invisible person, and they have realized that they cannot live alone in new and unfamiliar society. They have to step forward and achieve something in order to affirm their existence at least as a vital workforce for the city’s economy development. I have learned from many occasions that Shan youth both men and women are now active in social activities, and more importantly they are the majority of migrant workers in Chiang Mai. It is true that their movement in cultural dimension such as enthusiastically attending the Tai class at Wat Pa Pao and at other places to learn their language as well as their history, joining Shan cultural performance clubs or constantly joining the religious festivals and ceremonies at temples that could be interpreted as a movement for Shan cultural revitalization/conservation. It seems that they do these things in order to create and feel their home outside their country. This could also help to build up the sense of nationalism among them. Hence, this seems like they are drawing an ethnic boundary separate them from others ethnic groups.

B E C O M I N G / 40

However, I would like to interpret this phenomenon as a movement to create mutual understanding between Thai and Shan migrants, and at least to make them to be recognized and visible. The Shan youth become new major driving force; their desire is to make the flat ground where Shan and Thai people reconnected again. They are kind, active, energetic, and brave. And in fact, their activities are not confined to the cultural sphere as mentioned above; Shan youths are actively participating in other activities. They have built networks and connections with other organizations which are mostly NGOs in order to tackle several issues and make people to recognize of them. Sometimes the organizations give them the financial support to run the activities. These networks have strengthen the Shan movement and at the same time bind them together as an expanding working network for migrant workers in a big picture. For instance, they have a ‘new voice of Shan youth group’ and a volunteer group ‘Clean, Bright, and Distant Drug’ to conduct voluntary activities at Buddhist temples around Chiang Mai city on Sunday. Both groups have just celebrated their anniversary on 25th of April this year; the former for 8 years and the latter for 5 years of establishment. Another example is the MAP foundation, the foundation for the health and knowledge of ethnic labor, whose radio station MAP radio fm 99 MHz has just celebrated the 11th anniversary on 12 June this year. These activities are powered by the Shan youth. Shan youths are looking for every opportunity to create mutual understanding between Shan migrant workers and Thai people. They know so well that their image and status in Thailand are not well received. Some Thai people perceive them as dangerous drug addicts, dirty and dull. This is the great wall that obstructs mutual understanding, and their desire is to dismantle this wall. The activities mentioned above indicate that they are not only concerned about working hard to gain much money and send it back home, but they are also concerned about the society they are living in. They have tried to build a good image of Shan migrants as volunteers for the community and stay away from drugs and crimes via volunteer activities. They do not learn only about the human rights, the rights to stay and work in Thailand, how to help out their home country to fight against the oppressive, brutal Burmese government, or how to preserve their beloved Tai culture, but also learn about how to live in harmony with Thai people and Thai culture. Additionally, these activities are not restricted for only Shan people but always open for outsiders, or anyone who wants to make friend with them and learn from each other. Because they do not want to create a stand-alone community, they want to share our one community.

A S E AN Is sue

B E C O M I N G / 41

Local farmers suffer as Thai junta pleases big companies Kongpob Areerat

*This article was first published on Prachatai English:

Local people are to be evicted in the name of development, as the Thai junta invokes its absolute power to clear land for the benefit of big businesses. The rain drops began pounding old tin roofs, making a drumming sound that many villagers have been waiting for. At last, after months of drought, the monsoon rains finally arrive and it is time to begin planting. However, Pen Wongkat, a 72-year-old farmer, will not buy seeds this year. “I don’t know if I will be able to harvest them or not after I sow the seeds,” Pen said while staring into the rain aimlessly. The fate of at least 97 families in Wang Takhian Village of Mae Sot District in the northern province of Tak are now, like Pen’s future, as opaque as the mist of rain upon their village.

B E C O M I N G / 42

In an attempt to drive the state of Thai economy out of the doldrums, the junta’s National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) in May 2015 issued NCPO Order No. 17/2015, turning large areas along the country’s borders into Special Economic Zones (SEZs) where deregulation of industries and tax cuts are offered to lure investors. Located right on the crossroads between Thailand and Myanmar, nearly 100 families in the small agrarian village of Wang Takhian will be evicted to pave the way for the junta’s ambitious development plan.  

Development turned nightmare When Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, the junta leader and Prime Minister, in May 2015 invoked his absolute authority under Section 44 of the Interim Charter to declare the area an SEZ, villagers of Wang Takhian in Tha Sai Luat Subdistrict of Mae Sot were hoping that their lives would get better. However, after they realised the devil in the details, their hopes were quickly shattered. “We were glad to hear that we would get better running water and roads, along with a bridge across the Moei River into Myanmar and that there will be more jobs for us and our children,” said Sunthon Sribunma, a leader of Khon Mae Sot Rakthin (KMSR), a local activist group of villagers who are affected by the SEZ plan. “We of course welcome all these changes, but no one wants to be evicted and have their farmland taken away.” Under the current plan to transform nearly 2,200 rai of land of Tha Sai Luat into an SEZ, Sunthon will lose his house together with about 15 rai of farmland in Wang Takhian, where he has been living for decades. Not far from his house, Pen Wongkat has been living off 36 rai of land inherited from her parents with three other members of her family. She also faces an eviction order from the authorities in the name of the SEZ. Without the land where her family has been growing beans, corns, and cassava, Pen said that she does not know where to go to if she really has to move. “I have been living and working on this piece of land since I was born and don’t know how to live otherwise. I don’t want to talk about this anymore. It just gives me a headache,” said Pen. Like most of the villagers of Wang Takhian, Sunthon and Pen possess PTB5 Certificates for most of the plots they occupy, which are given to those who have been paying local tax for the land they use, and have Land Utilisation Certificates (NS3) and Land Claim Certificates (SK1) for other plots. Therefore the authorities can in practice reclaim the land, despite the fact that most of the villagers settled in the area in 1927.

Intimidation by the authorities Shortly after the junta enacted an order in May 2015 to reclaim the land for the Treasury Department in preparation for the construction of the Special Economic Zone in Mae Sot, public officials together with police and soldiers both in plainclothes and uniform regularly visited Wang Takhian Village to mark the land plots and urge the villagers to move. According to Sunthon, many armed soldiers regularly visited the village to talk to the villagers, especially members of KMSR, and the villagers felt intimidated by the authorities. He added that these visits from the authorities occurred often when Somchai Hatayatanti, former Governor of Tak, was still in office. Jutharat Unruang, a 38-year-old single mother now fighting an eviction order, told Prachatai that armed soldiers usually accompanied officials from the Land and Treasury Departments when they came to mark the land plots where her house and a garage are located. “Although the authorities might think that it is normal, I could not help but feel intimidated by the sight of armed soldiers,” said Jutharat. Like Sunthon, Jutharat will lose both her house and her garage located on about 10 rai of land under the SEZ plan. “At first, when I heard the news about the SEZ, I planned to open a grocery shop and thought that we would have more customers at the garage. But now with the death of my husband and the fact that we might be evicted soon, I’m lost,” Jutharat told Prachatai. In the article about the SEZ in Tak Province published on the website of the Heinrich Böll Foundation Southeast Asia, Pranee Muangsook, a local activist, reported that she was summoned by the military and threatened with the notorious Computer Crime Act for criticising the provincial governor’s handling of land conflicts over the SEZ in Mae Sot. During the public forums on the SEZ, Sunthon told Prachatai that there were always security officers around and the villagers felt restricted about expressing their opinions. When the junta leader visited the area last year, the authorities blocked them from submitting a letter to him, citing the Public Assembly Act, and confiscated banners which the villagers were carrying. For the authorities, however, it is normal for them to enact such measures as the villagers do not possess title deeds for the land they occupy and are considered to be encroaching on public land. This is the view of Somchai Hatayatanti, former Governor of Tak. “If the government goes easy on them, in the future the others will encroach on public land as well. These are public plots

B E C O M I N G / 43

and they do not have ownership documents,” Somchai told Prachatai. He added that in the long run people in Mae Sot will benefit from the Special Economic Zone because it will create jobs and business opportunities in the area.

Putting up a struggle Although the villagers have not as yet conceded to the eviction order, many of Thailand’s leading conglomerates have already expressed interest in the SEZ in Mae Sot as it is right on the Thai-Myanmar border and the list of industries that might be located in the area includes chemical, logistic and agricultural firms. Chanta Kanomkiew, a 64-year-old farmer who has a small pig farm on four rai of land in Wang Takhian, told Prachatai that he and his neighbours are not only fighting eviction, but they do not want polluting industries to be located in the area. “We welcome the SEZ and infrastructure that will come along with it, but not heavy industries which could cause a lot of pollution in the area,” said Chanta. Asked if he thinks that the SEZ could create jobs for local people as the authorities have promised, Chanta said “I like to believe so as well, but people here are already happy with the land they have been farming on for generations. Besides, most of us are not youngsters, but middle-aged people, since most of the young ones have already gone to work in the city and other provinces.” He added that one of main reasons for setting up the SEZ at the border is to exploit cheap migrant labourers from the neighbouring Myanmar as the cabinet has approved the labour law [Article 14 of the 2008 Migrant Workers Act] to ease regulations on migrant workers, allowing them to come to work on daily or seasonal basis in SEZ areas without having to formally registered. Therefore, it is less likely that the industries in the SEZ will employ local Thais. According to Taweesak Maneewan, a coordinator with the Northern Development Foundation (NDF), a civil society group promoting land rights in northern Thailand, the looming eviction reflects a prolonged problem in Thailand since the enactment of the 1941 Forest Act. “The Forest Act when it was enacted designated large areas of land as public forest despite the fact that there were already communities and villagers on those lands,” said Taweesak. With the absolute power of the junta under Section 44 [of the Interim Charter] and other orders, such as the controversial NCPO Order No. 64/2014 issued to increase the nation’s forest and NCPO Order No. 3/2016 which exempts the construction of buildings in Special Economic Zones from the regulatory framework of the Town and City Planning Act, it is much easier now for the authorities to go ahead with plans for SEZs which had been postponed for many years under civilian governments, Taweesak pointed out. “The state agencies who proposed the area to the Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand (IEAT) as suitable for an SEZ thought that there were only five families in Wang Takhian, which could be easily compensated if they were to be evicted, but this is far from the reality,” - said the NDF coordinator. Since May last year, as the leader of KMSR, Sunthon and other villagers have submitted petitions to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), the Department of Land and the Damrongtham Centre of the Interior Ministry in an attempt to halt the eviction. But so far there has not been any promise or decision from the authorities on solutions to the land disputes over the SEZ. Sunthon said that there have been proposals to compensate the villagers at 7,000-12,000 baht per rai of land and provide a resettlement area for the villagers in another district of Tak. However, he said that most of the villagers do not want to move and that the current market price of a rai of land in Mae Sot is almost one million baht, so to most villagers the compensation package is a joke. Wiraj Keatnuam, head of the Tak Provincial Treasury Office, told Prachatai that so far the authorities are trying to compromise with the villagers and have formed a special committee to solve the land disputes over the SEZ, but no concrete solution has yet been reached. He still firmly maintains that the disputed land belongs to the public, adding that only 9-10 land plots in Wang Takhian village are privately owned. “The public land belongs to every citizen. The occupation of these land plots by the villagers is causing damage to the state,” said Wiraj. The dark clouds began to form above a small farm house on a hilly slope. Suwin Changtham, a 54-year-old farmer, turned his head towards the rumbling noise of trucks transporting limestone mined from the mountains in Tha Sai Luat in preparation for the construction of the SEZ. “I have been a farmer since I was young. Perhaps it will bring about development in the area, but it’s not for us,” said Suwin, staring towards the looming dark clouds above.

B E C O M I N G / 44

A S E AN Is sue

Socio-economic Development in Southeast Asia: A Case Study of the Marginality of Burmese Labourers in the Chang Klan Community in Chiang Mai Samak Kosem ** This article was submitted to the Socio-Economic Development and Cooperation in Southeast Asia Symposium, Faculty of Economics, Oita University. August 6-7, 2008 Ōita, Japan

Thailand has adopted an open economic system since the early 1960s, whereas the neighboring countries to the north and east adopted a much more ‘closed’ economic system in the 1960s and 1970s. Open foreign investment in Thailand resulted in rapid industrialization and urbanization. Not only Bangkok, but many regional towns, such as Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai in the north, have benefited from economic development, especially within tourism and construction. On the other hand, a neighboring country, Burma, in the same period, had adopted a rather careful policy towards foreign investment. Hence, economic expansion in Burma did not take place as fast as what happened in Thailand. This unequal economic development has resulted in a number of workers from Burma crossing the border to come to seek employment in Thailand. It has been estimated that the number of Burmese workers in all parts of Thailand could be nearly one million. In the following paper, I used an anthropological method of observation and informal interviews to talk to a number of Burmese Muslim workers working in Chiang Mai, especially in Chang Klan Muslim Community, then I collected all of information in cultural analyzing to find out about their livelihood and problems with adjustment and the exclusion of these migrant workers in a foreign environment.

The Issue: Muslim Burmese Muslims are a minority group in Buddhist Burma. They are one of the poorest groups who are scattered all over unnoticed. A number of them had moved across the border to work in Thailand in Mae Sot district in Tak province. Most were engaged in heavy labor. However, after two generations of migration, a number of them began to make ‘a fortune,’ though they did not have to pay tax. Some could manage to save as much as a ten baht weight of gold (equivalent to about 100,000 Baht in money). Children who were born in Thailand could gain Thai nationality. Some had even been able to buy land in Thailand. Therefore, the success stories attracted more people to want to come to seek their fortune in Thailand.

B E C O M I N G / 45

The case of Husen

The Chang Klan community in Chiang Mai Chang Klan community is quite close to the center of the city of Chiang Mai (see map). It has been the community center of Thai Muslims for many generations with their own Masjid (Mosque) at the center of the community. As such, it is a place where Muslims from Burma feel attracted to settle down when they migrate into Chiang Mai to find a job. It is estimated that there could be as high as 2,000 Burmese Muslims in Chang Klan. They could be divided into two sub groups: one who moved from Mae Sot to find jobs in Chiang Mai; the other moved from Shan state. These people work in all sorts of occupations, ranging from cleaning, serving food in restaurants, manual work, and even begging. Their daily wage is about 70-150 baht. Despite the fact that apart from “Thais”, there are other Muslims such as Muslims from Bangladesh, the Burmese Muslims seem to be the poorest ethnic group living in the Chang Klan community. Most of their employers are also (Thai) Muslims within the same community.

Double Marginality Despite the fact that the community can be considered a Muslim community, the Muslims from Burma seem to occupy the lowest rank of social status in the community. According to a Thai employer, these people would be willing to work hard at low wages. Though they are ‘members’ of the community, they are not so much included in the community; they are not greeted when other Muslims meet them in the street, tea shop, or even in the Mosque. Some of the poor ones had become beggars. While some may sit at the gate to the Mosque, others might beg from home to home; their presence in neither place was welcomed.

Husen worked in a shop selling rice and lived in a rented room with his wife near the work place. He has an alien card (the ‘pink card’) and ‘health-insurance card’ for non-Thai citizens (the ‘orange card’). Husen migrated from Mae Sot, but he could not return there because “There are too many police. Living here is already quite OK. I am also now well acquainted with the police here. Even in Mae Sot the Burmese community may be much more friendly, but living here in Chang Klan I can find a better-paid job. I get 5,000 Baht a month. My room rent and electricity and water bill is only 1,750 Baht. Though I had to pay for food and other expenditures I still have some small savings. …. I pay about 3,000 baht for the alien card and health insurance card” So life is considered better than in Mae Sot. However, not everybody can come to live in Chang Klan because it would cost some money to make oneself ‘legal’. Apart from the 3,000 Baht fee, they have to pay an extra 1,000 Baht to people whom they rent room from.

Hard labour, cheap wages, and “We are all Muslims” Despite being Muslim like their Thai employers, the Burmese ‘Muslims’ were not treated on equal terms. While Thai employers can spare time to go to pray in the Mosque, the Burmese Muslim workers had to work very hard all day. One Thai employer said that “The wage rate for a worker is around 70-100 baht per day. One employer pays 100 Baht plus free board, but the worker has to wake up at 4 o’clock in the morning to prepare things (for sale) and sometimes cannot sleep until 10 o’clock the next day. Though they have to work very hard, they still do it because they have nowhere else to go. Though I never look down on them because I think they are also human beings, they dare not treat themselves as my equal. When I call them to a meal, they will come to take the meal to eat elsewhere.”

“Burmese are taking over our town,” Freedom that has never been accepted Some local people perceive the Burmese workers as a threat to the community. They are afraid that the Burmese Muslims will cause trouble as happened in the southern part of Thailand.

B E C O M I N G / 46

This attitude occurred because the Burmese Muslims, because of their poverty, may appear dirty and poorly dressed. Some of them chew betel nut and spit out the red paste after the chewing all over the street. This was considered uncivilized and bad-mannered behavior in the eyes of the local community. For their dress, if they live in a Muslim community in Burma, they cannot wear shorts because that will reveal the knees, but here in Thailand, they can enjoy the ‘freedom’ of dressing how they like. However, this ‘freedom’ has been considered by the local community as unacceptable and impolite.

The “Eid” Day: Reflection of Marginality One woman I met in the community, Fatimah, sells betel nut to Burmese workers. She told me “I miss Mae Sot a lot. During the ‘Eid’ festival it was so much fun there, so friendly. It is very different from Chang Klan where people are so unfriendly. I don’t know where or who to visit as I don’t know very many people.” The “Eid” day is supposed to be a joyous day for Muslims. However, I call it a “reflection of marginality” because Muslims from Burma felt especially isolated and lonely in the community because, as a group of poor new comers, they had no place to visit.

“Burmese putting a bomb at the Mosque in Chang Klan” A local newspaper “Chiang Mai News” dated 1 January 2007 had a column of news that reported that “There had been a bomb explosion in the Mosque in Chang Klan. Mr. Asiz, a Burmese labourer who is a cleaner of the mosque received an injury from the incident. The police are now investigating if the incident is in anyway related to terrorists in The South……” Such an incident caused alarm in the local community and Burmese Muslims became a target of suspicion. An old Thai man who regularly came to pray in the Mosque said “I don’t allow them

(Burmese) to remain too long in the mosque after praying. I try to get rid of them out of the mosque as fast as I can”.

Making a new home? According to Gupta and Ferguson’s ideas on the consideration of “place” as product of local and social relations, place making is part of a process of historical discourse. As the product of such discourse, place making is inevitably an unstable process; there are changes, modifications in the boundaries of place—the meaning of place is subject to contestation that occurs in various forms in the interactions between different powers and authorities tied to or that have some claim to that “place.” This play of boundaries and powers is clearly evident in the study of Burmese Muslims in the Chang Klan area of Chiang Mai. There are differences between this community and Muslim communities in Mae Sot, Tak, owing to differing historical contexts. The Burmese Muslim community of Chang Klan are latecomers to the area. Burmese Muslims coming into the Chang Klan community are the “last in line” entering a community already established by previous Muslim immigrant groups (Pakistanis, “Jeen Haw” Muslim Chinese, Bangaldeshis, etc.), and are therefore without the influence necessary to lay claim to land for residence, conducting business, and so on. Burmese Muslims coming into Mae Sot, in contrast, have been able to obtain land and build homes and business along the Thai-Burmese border, after years of going back and forth between the two countries along this border line. The Chang Klan community, having passed many generations since the first Pakistani and other immigrant groups have arrived, and having mixed considerably with other groups in Chiang Mai, has grown to identify themselves more as “muang” people, or local Northern Thais. This makes the contrast between them and the newly arrived Burmese Muslims even starker, highlighting the “temporary worker” and “immigrant” status of the Burmese, who, unlike those in Mae Sot, are only in the community to find work and save money, rather than to settle permanently. Despite this, the Burmese Muslims of Chang Klan still actively try to take part and have a place in their community, and rely on their shared Muslim culture and identity as a bridge to interact with other nationalities and races.

B E C O M I N G / 47

edging existing stereotypes and prejudices and to use this as an “image-building” starting point to wipe out misconceptions and offer people a truer picture of themselves.

Marginality and Poverty

The Contexts of Marginal Burmese Labourers The marginalization of Burmese Muslims is rooted in 3 contextual issues. The first is the political context of the nation state, both in Thailand and Burma. Political tension, general fear of terrorism and insecurity towards the Muslim community ends up directed within that community to the members on its lowest rung—the Burmese Muslims. Thus, they are seen as troublemakers and the scapegoat for problems and issues between the larger Muslim community and Thai society. The Burmese Muslims are newcomers, still not fully trusted within the Muslim community. This lack of trust was clearly evident in the Chang Klan mosque “bombing” incident of 2006; misunderstanding and suspicion turned a foolish teenage prank into the ostracizing of Burmese Muslims from the larger Muslim community of Chang Klan, by closing opportunities for Burmese Muslims to use land and space. Capitalism is the second contextual backdrop to the situation of Burmese Muslims in Chiang Mai. Burmese labor is cheap, and the market forces of capitalism bring Burmese laborers into Thailand to perform a variety of functions. Some types of work that Burmese Muslims are drawn into—especially sex work—clash with societal and Islamic mores and teachings. The result is the larger, established Muslim community passing judgment on Burmese Muslims as a whole as “immoral” or “low class.” This, coupled with the general status of low-wage laborers, reduces even further the social status of Burmese Muslims. Ethnicity is the final context in which the Burmese Muslim community of Chiang Mai must struggle to find “place.” Within the Muslim community, the Burmese “newcomers” stand out the most as being ethnically different, and carry the baggage of stereotypes and general suspicions: dangerous, untrustworthy, threatening. The Burmese Muslim community needs to engage in open and honest discourse with members of the larger Chang Klan and Chiang Mai Muslim communities, acknowl-

Burmese Muslims moved into Thailand in order to “make their fortune” and earn a better life. They moved to Chiang Mai because they hoped to get jobs with better wages. While 70-150 Baht a day may not be too high for Thai citizens, for these migrants, these have been much better than the wages they could make if they remained in Burma. They choose to live in Chang Klan because they think they can be ‘at home’ in a Muslim community. However, because of their poverty, cultural misunderstandings and discrimination, they cannot become fully integrated. They are only needed because of “cheap” and “hard-working” labour. The political factor, such as the events that have taken place in the south of Thailand, has made their presence even more “suspicious”. As a newcomer, they will always been considered as “other”.

References (as cited in full report; but not cited in this paper due to limitation of space) Anan Ganjanaphan. (2005). “Authority,” in The Fundamental Concept in Social and Culture. Sociology and Anthropology Dept., Social Sciences Fact., Chiang Mai University. Apinya Feungfoosakul. (2005). “Religion,” in The Fundamental Concept in Social and Culture. Sociology and Anthropology Dept., Social Sciences Fact., Chiang Mai University. Choosak Wittayaphak (eds). (1998). “Social Sciences and the study of margin people,” in Social Sciences. (Chiang Mai: Faculty of Social Sciences, Chiang Mai University ) 11 (1). Gupta, A. and J. Ferguson. Beyond ‘culture’ : Space, identity, and the politics of difference. in Gupta, A. and J. Ferguson (eds.), Culture, Power, Place : Explorations in Critical Anthropology (pp.33-51), Durham : Duke University Press. Pinkaew Luangaramsri (eds). (2003). Identity, Ethnicity and Marginality. Bangkok: Sirinthorn Anthropology Center (Public Organization). Surichai Wankaew. (2007). The Marginal Man: From Though toward Truth. Bangkok: Chulalongkorn University. Tsing, A. (1993). In the Realm of the Diamond Queen : Marginality in an Out-of-the-Way Place. New Jersey : Princeton University Press. Wassana Laaongplew (2545). “Marginality and The Place Making of Parted Region People: The case study in Daraung at Chiang Dao District,” in 2nd The Graduated Student Network Symposium in Sociology and Anthropology. Sociology and Anthropology Dept., Social Sciences Fact., Chiang Mai University.

B E C O M I N G / 48

CM U -A S E AN Seminar

China in ASEAN’s Imagination The seminar China in ASEAN’s imagination was organized by Center for ASEAN Studies (CAS), Chiang Mai University under the cooperation and collaboration with Faculty of Social Science and the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Chiang Mai University. The event was held on October 29th 2015 at the meeting room of Operational Building, Faculty of Social Science participated by experts, academics, university lecturers alike, including students from various fields who take interest in international affairs, international economic and geopolitical studies. The presentations and discussions were separated into two sessions; morning and afternoon session. The morning session was presented by Prof. Dr. Yos Suntasombat, Faculty of Social Science, Chiang Mai University and his research team; Assoc. Prof. Dr. Pinkaew Laungaramsri and Asst. Prof. Dr. Aranya Siriphon on the topic of ‘Impact of China’s Rise in the Mekong Region’ The topic presented brief history of China, political elements, its roles and influence on the region in the past to present. It also showed the influence, economic and political power of modern China on Southeast Asia, especially on the Mekong region. It is said that the relationship between China and the nations in the Mekong region has more and more developed into the form of the nations in the Mekong region has to rely on China which in return leads to the disadvantages in trades and investments, and most importantly, the nations in the Mekong region are inevitably forced to become China’s political allies due to the relationship of trade, investment and development reliance with China. Prof. Dr. Yos Suntasombat also pointed out the idea of China’s ‘Soft Power’ which China has been using with the counties in the Mekong region. ‘Soft Power’ is the way of how the Chinese government uses to approaches their target nations in form of helps, promising and compromising and not promote any

pressure and offensive political acts towards the target nations, which makes the Chinese government to be seen as friendly and partner rather than just the new uprising super power country that trying to abuse and make profits out of smaller nations. With this tactic, China has begun to slowly dominate the Southeast Asia economic. Furthermore, the topic also presented the notion of the ‘New Chinese’ its characteristics and differences compared to the ‘Old Chinese’ It was stated that the ‘New Chinese’ have become more “Neoliberalism” than in the past, their method and motivation for doing business have become more aggressive which can be called as “chasing profits” and consequently causes turbulence in Asia economic system. Many Chinese have moved into the Mekong region for investment in various scales. With the increasing of the number of Chinese investor, Chinese started to dominate the resources and the markets throughout the region. However, despite the disadvantage of the reliance between the Mekong nations and China and the disparity of power, the political relationship between the Mekong nations and China is still continue to develop through both bilateral and multilateral systems.

B E C O M I N G / 49

Assoc. Dr. Pinkaew Laungaramsri and Asst. Prof. Dr. Aranya Siriphon also presented their findings from the research fieldworks and surveys regarding the impacts of Chinese rising in the Mekong region countries such as in Tonpheung district, Laos. The findings showed the impacts of the ‘Special Economic Zone (SEZ)’ on the villages in Tonpheung district and surrounding areas. The SEZ is the area where provided by the Laos government to foreign investors to establish the special economic area in order to invite foreign investors and help to promote Laos’s economy, however most of the investors are Chinese and most of the biggest establishments in the area are entertainment businesses and casinos. The establishment of the SEZ causes a huge impact on the locals as they are forced to move out from the area and resettle somewhere else. Although the Laos government provides compensation to the villagers for their relocation, the amount of the compensation is considerably less than it should be, and many villagers still insist to live in the area. However, there are also the villagers who took the compensation and are still not willing to move out and work in the establishments instead of moving out. Asides from the compensation and relocation issue, the SEZ also causes racial and population concerns caused by the project due to the fact that there are numerous Burmese workers who have moved to work in the special zone and also have bought their households along with them to live in the area. Although the forming of the SEZ has caused impacts on the locals in many ways including their livelihood, both the Chinese government and Chinese investors strongly believe that their investments are to help improve the living standard of the local population and insist to continue conducting their investments and business with determination. There are several interesting topics and discussions in the afternoon session. Asst. Prof. Dr. Wasana Wongsurawat, Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University presented the topic of ‘The Production of the New Power of China in Southeast Asia’ which discussed the transformation of China, its power and influence since the period of the Qing dynasty until 1980s in Southeast Asia region. It stated that China had since the Qing dynasty period begun to dominated and colonized other nations, however the pattern and form of colonization is different from western colonization; it had done in the form of the relationship between states and tributes rather than conquering and annexing. China has become more stable and stronger since the time China has become Communist country. The stability created bigger and stronger army for China, yet China did not possess economic power as much as nowadays. However, China nowadays has become more open and has pushed itself into world state and take up potent role in world economy, this causes Chinese and oversea Chinese to try to present themselves and take up their roles in the world society more than in the past. There is also the discussion regarding the relationships and conflicts between China and ASEAN nations. Dr. Sitthiphon Kruarattikan, College of Interdisciplinary Studies, Thammasat University discussed the history and conflict between China

and Vietnam in the book called ‘Deng Xiao Ping’s Long War’ which presents the conflict of Chinese Communist Party and Vietnam in 1979. It was stated that there were 3 main reasons for such aggressive act towards Vietnam; 1. China wanted to oppose the Soviet Union, 2. China wanted to guarantee the stability for its economic reform, 3. China wanted to restore the glory of its military and to show the world its military capability at the time. Although the war between China and Vietnam had ended for decades, the enigma of the conflict between the two nations still endures through time and still exists in the present day. Ms. Morakot Phomplub, Faculty of Liberal Arts, Thammasat University also presented and discussed the history and characteristic of the relationship between China and Vietnam since the end of the war in 1979 to present date. It was stated that despite the war and dispute between China and Vietnam, the two nations has ended their political relationship, nevertheless, the relationship had been lowered to minimum level since the end of the conflict and was restored on November 10th 1991. There were also the presentations regarding the characteristic of political relationship of China and Vietnam nowadays and the dispute over the Paracel and Spratly islands in South China Sea of the Chinese and Vietnamese government, which both nations claim to be theirs and later led to the drastic incident in Vietnam when Vietnamese rose up and destroyed the properties of Chinese firms in Vietnam. The incident caused hatred toward Chinese among Vietnamese population until now, and causes instability of the political relationship between China and Vietnam. Furthermore, the seminar also discussed Chinese role and the disputes between Chinese and the local population in other countries such as Indonesia. Mr. Chonthida Uikul, Faculty of Liberal Arts, Thammasat University presented the topic of ‘China – Indonesia’s relationship: The Impacts on Oversea Chinese after Suharto’s Regime’ which talked about the establishing of diplomatic relationship of China – Indonesia in 1950-1966 and the cease of the relationship in 1967-1990, and the restoration of the diplomatic and political relationship from 1990 to present. The discussion also talked about the status and dynamic role of the oversea Chinese in Indonesia. It presented the struggling of the oversea Chinese in Indonesia where they are look at with hatred and disdain. It have been very difficult for the oversea Chinese to gain their place in Indonesian society during before and after the Suharto’s regime, the oversea Chinese have been oppressed for many decades due to the fact that they are deemed to be the cause of problems rather than the member of the society. The discussion also pointed out the interesting fact that Indonesians do not look at the oversea Chinese who live in Indonesia and the Chinese from China Mainland as the same Chinese; the Chinese from mainland are deemed as investors and the one who has brought prosperity and development to the country, while the most of the oversea Chinese in the country are always deemed as problematic and minority population throughout the time and history.

B E C O M I N G / 50

CM U -A S E AN Seminar

Rohingya Proto-nation: A collective Identity in the Making? The conference hosted by the Regional Center for Social Science and Sustainable Development (RCSD), Faculty of Social Science, Chiang Mai University, Thailand and presented by Koko Thett, a Burmese researcher. The conference Rohingya Proto-nation: A Collective Identity in the Making on September 30th, 2015 at Chiang Mai University provided research findings of a Burmese researcher, Koko Thett regarding the state of Rohingya population in Rohingya camp in Rakhine state, Myanmar. The research findings presented curious fact that there are more than half of the population in Rakhine state who are Muslim yet more than 1.5 million of them has left the state since 1962. The history of the Rohingya people regarding their rights within Myanmar also presented and was emphasized by the evidences both in pictures and hard copy materials such as the three-folds paper since before and after 1988 era, white card for Rohingya people, and etc. all findings came from the research efforts conducted in IDP (Internally Displaced Person) refugee camp in Rakhine state.

It is very interesting to learn about the origin of the Rohingya people who are seemed to be neglected by most of the Myanmar population and the rest of the neighbor countries. Despite the fact that they are living in Myanmar, they never see or call themselves as Burmese but Rohingya and some of them even prefer to see themselves not as Rohingya nor Bengalis but Rakhine Muslim. It is curious that there are disagreements regarding the ethnic among the Rohinjas. Therefore, it is unclear and even more confusing to state what ethnic they really are, hence, the confusing and negligence of their existence. The present of the findings showed that Rohingyas are discriminated by the Burmese populace due to the factor of their appearance and religion. The discrimination is emphasized in many way; citizenship for elections, vaccination mark on different arms, and etc. Despite the fact that

B E C O M I N G / 51

the Rohingyas are discriminated and are not considered to be a part various ethnics society of Myanmar nation, they have always been repeatedly politically exploited due to their numbers. By compromising and promising of the rights for their citizenship in Myanmar, the Myanmar government granted them various documents to be able to vote in elections, but never offers authentic citizenship. Many of the Rohingyas in Rakhine state have been waiting for their promised rights to have a citizenship more than 10 years, and many of them has concluded that there is no hope for their unrecognized ethnic and have left Myanmar to find places to live and start anew such as Indonesia and other Muslim countries. However, despite the recently news of the Rohingyas refugees, the Rohingyas with in the area of IDP camp have never heard of and do not see the need of such refuge. The conference presented the findings regarding the state and the facts of the ethnic origin of Rohingya people in Rakhine state and asked a vital question of who the Rohingyas are and their place in Myanmar society. Despite the pact of their needs for their rights and their place in the Myanmar society, there is still wide-ranged confusion among their own regarding the notion of who they really are. The presentation also paved the way and expanded to discuss other areas such as Myanmar political situation and the possible outcomes and effects of the Myanmar political transition on the construction of the identity of the Rohinjas.

B E C O M I N G / 52

CM U -A S E AN Seminar

ASEAN Introduction Seminar at Ma Kham Luang Sub-district Administration Center The Centre for ASEAN Studies (CAS) Chiang Mai University was invited to be an honored guest and lecturer in the ASEAN Below seminar for the administrative staff, villagers and students at Ma Kham Luang subdistrict administration center in San Pha Tong district, Chiang Mai on September 11st 2015. The event was organized and held by the Ma- Kham Luang sub-district administration center with a lecturer from CAS, Mr. Samak Kosem, journalists from Prachatham news agency, Mr. Theeramol Buangam and Mr. Anon Thanthiwiwat, along with a guest speaker from The College of Local Administration, Khon Kaen University (COLA), Mr.Suriyanon Polsim. The purpose of the seminar was to provide fundamental information on ASEAN community to the people in the sub-district and also provided suggestions and advice regarding methods for the sub-district communities to adapt and gain benefits during and after the ASEAN community transition. The topics of the seminar were divided into 3 major topics: ASEAN Introduction, The Importance of Media to Nation and Community After ASEAN, Community Fund Management For Development In Early ASEAN Era. The community was shown the information about forming of the ASEAN community and both advantages and disadvantages posed by the ASEAN community. The people in the community were also told of the effects caused by the forming of ASEAN, especially in economic terms such as capital disparity and opportunities, the movement of labor and possible benefits and harms after ASEAN. The seminar also provided information on communication development and the importance of media and communications in major and minor scopes after the forming of ASEAN to the people in communities. The media and communications will be critical assets for gaining information and development in the future. The most important and crucial part of the seminar was the topic of Community Fund Management For Development In Early ASEAN Era. The Center for ASEAN Studies at Chiang Mai University along with The College of Local Administration offered the information on the challenges posed by the ASEAN community in both large and small scale; economic, cultural, state security, cross border problems and labor movement aspects. The center also provided information and suggestions on how to manage the resources in the communities and use them for development in the ASEAN era. Moreover, the center also supported the notion of creating local networks in the communities as a crucial and effective strategy for developing the communities. The ASEAN Below seminar was received with great enthusiasm from the people in Ma Kham Luang sub-district. The attendees of the seminar consisted of more than 80 people who were the sub-district administrative staff, villagers and students in the communities. The attendees showed much enthusiasm and interest, and also supported the ideas and suggestions regarding the 3 major topics during the final part of seminar. The participation surely encourages us and is a positive sign of the possibility of ASEAN development in the area and further collaboration in the future.

B E C O M I N G / 53


Outsider’s View of “Inside the Fence.” Film name : Inside the Fence (2015) Director : Phil Thorthorn

Producer : Karen News Genre : Documentary

Review by: Jaewon Shin Prem Tinsulanonda International School Internship Program, Center for ASEAN Studies, Chiang Mai University “Inside the Fence,” launched in May 2015, acquainted me with the issues that Karens have. The documentary does not have any well-known actors or actress from Thailand nor gorgeous Computer Graphics. However, the documentary highlights the actual sceneries of the Karen refugee camp and their lives on the screen. Karen refugees, who fled into the mountain areas between the border of Thailand and Myanmar, are trapped in the refugee camp in Thailand. In 1948, when the British colonial era was terminated in Myanmar, a large number of Karen people migrated to the Thai - Karen state border to avoid the violence of the Burmese military regime. The refugees were settled in Thailand territory, but it was problematic. Their main concerns are their legal position. They are not Thai nor Burmese citizens. The Thai government treats Karen people as illegal migrants. In Thailand, there are around 120,000 refugees in 9 refugee camps. The documentary shows us the life of the refugees in the Umpiem camp, the Northwestern camp in the Tak province. The refugees in the camp, are under the special treatments of the Thai government. They are not allowed to go outside of the fence. Even with this strict condition, they still state that they like the place where they now live in more than Myanmar. The life of the refugees is mostly reliant on rations from the Thai government. However, the hygienic products are not supplied by them. Karen people in the camps are trying to use substitutes, but they are still exposed to health issues. Some ingredients, need to be collected secretly. Recently, the rations for them got better than the past. However, this is not by the Thai or Burmese government, but from the international donations. Saluak Bruso is a Karen refugee who was born and raised in the camp. He has no clear identity of himself. He doesn’t think he is Thai, nor Burmese. Because he has never experienced the “outside of the fence,” it is hard for him to know about the world, further than what he can learn from a textbook. But, he argues because he was born in the camp, he does not want to go back to Myanmar, where their ancestors originated. The Burmese government calls them “Rebel Families” and there are no lands for the refugees to build their houses when they go back to the Karen state. Without solutions and better treatments, the Karen refugees minds will not be changed.

“Living here in the refugee camp, we are not recognized as citizens with the right to free speech, the right to travel or the right to work.” - Saluak Bruso The horrendous memories from Myanmar made them settled on the Thai - Burma border. Even though with the limited rights guaranteed, they still want to stay in the camp, rather than going back to Myanmar. When the rumor was spreading in the refugee camp that there would be a forced repatriation by the Thai government, hence caused he panic and anxiety among the refugees.

B E C O M I N G / 54

“Since there is discrimination, how can we go back? Instead of going back, I will die here.” - Karen woman in Umpiem camp Yet, I do not know much about the Karen refugees. My only chance to know and learn about them was when I visited the refugee camp in Mae Hong Son province for five days. The quality of life was not as bad as what I expected, maybe because of the external support, but it was still impoverished. Wooden houses were too fragile to protect them from fickle weather, and its slash-and-burn fields were too barren to produce crops. I believe the major problem with the Karen refugees is the lack of global awareness of the issue. Most of the people, outside of the South East Asian community, would not know much about the conditions in Burma, the Karen people, and their issues. In such aspect, “Inside the Fence” is a valuable documentary for the people who have no basic knowledge about the Karen refugees. The reality and the issues of the Karen refugees displayed in the film can appeal to the ‘outsiders’ to be more aware of them. Honest thoughts and attitudes of the Karen refugees revealed in the film might tug at the audiences’ heartstrings. The case of the Karen refugees is becoming permanent. Before they completely lose their rights to stay safe in Thai territory, a clear solution has to be suggested for them through negotiations between the Karen, Thailand, and Myanmar. Karen refugees should not live in the refugee camp forever with only limited freedom. More active concerns of the international community will be the key to settle the Karen refugee issue.

Michael’s Review by: Wasutha Thongnual Faculty of Education, Chiang Mai University

By producing Michael’s, the creator aimed to explore the livelihood of the Rohingyas living along Thailand-Myanmar border in relations with their socio-economic and religious conditions. These aspects are largely ignored in the mainstream representations of the Rohingyas, hence, the production is to provide a tool for the Rohingya community in Mae Sot to voice out their hope, desires and concerns. Moreover, we wanted to challenge the old and mainstream representations of the Rohingyas are either victim or violent actors causing conflicts in Myanmar, and to broaden knowledge in the refugee studies by exploring the process of identity construction among the two different groups of the Rohingyas in Mae Sot, namely the new arrivals and the long-term residents. To start with, the title was the most recognizable area for the audience. Regarding the title of the documentary, it has been intended to add “ ’s” instead of plural “s” as expected because there are two Michael in it. The team wanted to tell stories of Michael which we believe that stories of someone else like Michael are also presented in the society. We would like relate these stories to other refugee or stateless person to a certain extent even though we are fully aware that each person has unique stories. However, there must be some connection which can be felt among them. We have also received a comment mentioning about the dynamic of subjects. The lack of women voice in the documentary was questioned. However, the storyline was designed to mainly put focus on two Michael. From experiences of working with the community, one characteristic that is quite common among women is inexpressiveness. Most women in the community we worked with were bashful to speak in front of the camera but they were friendly in person.

B E C O M I N G / 55

A number of groups of audiences have commented about the language and pointed out the several languages used by the Rohingyas in the documentary. However, it is of the nature of them to use more than one language to communicate within and among communities. To communicate within the family, they tend to use Rohingya language or Burmese. However, in this specific family they use Rohingya and Shan where the wife is from. For the successful communication with outside world, they use Burmese, Thai or even English. Consequently, they are not limited to one specific language but they are ready to embrace several languages to send message across to different groups. It is apparent in the documentary that the use of each language reflects the living of the Rohingyas. Because they live in a diverse society, they feel the need to learn and excel in speaking more than just their mother tongue. However, they are known for using English when trying to communicate with Rohingya and a wider audience like on their website. They tend to use English as they focus on spreading their stories and words with the rest of the world. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder as someone once said which I strongly agreed. Each of one hold different opinion personally because of the different experiences we encountered.

Beyond Home: Uncertainty of the Future of Burmese Refugees in “Nothing about Us Without Us” Film name: “Nothing about Us Without Us” (2012) Genre: Documentary

Director: Timothy Syrota

Review by: Ei Ei Lin International Program, Faculty of Social Sciences, Chiang Mai University Internship Program, Center for ASEAN Studies, Chiang Mai University

This paper is a review of Timothy Syrota’s documentary titled, “Nothing about us without us”. The documentary explains about issues of Burmese refugees’ growing concerns of the closure of refugee camps along the Thai-Myanmar border. Since the mid-1980s, Thailand has hosted hundreds of thousands of Burmese refugees along its borders. Most refugees are ethnic minorities such as Karen and Karenni, who live in nine camps in four provinces on the Thai-Myanmar border. These refugees have lived in the camps for more than 30 years and thousands have been born in the camps and never left. They are born and grew up in these refugee camps and they mostly cannot remember their homeland anymore. Recently, there have been changes in the political situation in Myanmar, transferring power from the military to a nominally civilian leadership. There have also been a series of ceasefire agreements among various ethnic groups and the government. This has led to the discussion about potentially closing refugee camps along the border. Thus, Thai authorities announced its objective to repatriate all refugees by 2015. The documentary elaborates the current situation in the camps as well as highlighting the uncertainty individuals face in the future. Many people do not feel safe to return to their homelands due to long term persecution by the Myanmar military government, ongoing human rights violations in ethnic border areas, as well as widespread land-mine contamination that is still not well known. Inside the camps, information about the repatriation through rumors and the media fill up an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty among the refugees. Moreover, there seems to be no public information planning on where the refugees would go and the refugees themselves are also unaware of anything related to repatriation planning. It can be seen that in the documentary, the UNHCR’s lack of information and consultation with the refugees about the repatriation processes, creates fears in returning to Myanmar.

B E C O M I N G / 56

What interested me is that the documentary highlights the voices of the refugees on their repatriation from camps, featuring interviews with representatives from civil society organizations and the UNHCR to give details on the case of repatriation processes. On the other hand, the documentary demonstrates the lack of cooperation from the UNHCR for informing the process of repatriation to community-based organizations. The Community based organizations (CBOs) such as the Women’s League of Burma, Karen Women’s organization and Karen Refugee Committee who work closely with the refugees are also worried about the next step in the repatriation process as they have not received any official documents from the UNHCR. In addition, the director interviewed the General Secretary of Karen Women’s Organization to give further information about the obstacles for safe repatriation, as the processes have been carried out without their concerns of going back to the homeland addressed. The meeting with the UNHCR about the relocation of sites to Myanmar was not conducive enough for staying. These consequences were presented in the documentary to understand the situation of refugee camps as well as the anxiety amongst the camp communities of closing the camps. From this documentary, I have learned that there are several issues which have to be encountered for safe repatriation. First of all, according to the UNHCR definition of voluntary repatriation “it has to be in safety and dignity which require for the full commitment of the country of origin to help reintegrate its own people.”(UNHCR). In addition, it also mentioned that “the continuing support of the international community through the crucial post-conflict phase to ensure that those who make the brave decision to go home can rebuild their lives in a stable environment.” 1(UNHCR). For this case, when the Thai military government seized power on May 2014, they pressed for refugee repatriation along the border and the emerging nominally civilian of Myanmar government, has talked about the smooth return by cooperating with the Thai military. However, the conditions for refugees to rebuild their lives in Myanmar is not easy for them as sporadic fighting is still occurring in there. As for the Thai Army, they appeared to be serious about its repatriation push. Moreover, inside the camp, they reduced rations for refugees and imposed tighter restrictions. The residents are forbidden to leave the camp. Despite these actions, the lack of communication between the authorities and residents has fuelled rumors about the intention of the census which leaving the refugees in a heightened state of anxiety for their future. Thai authority started a headcount in every camps whether it is registered as refugee status or not. It is also a concern for those involved in how the unregistered refugees will be treated. Another point of concern is about the repatriation from the side of the Myanmar government. Even though the Myanmar government presented a map of 13 relocation sites in Myanmar for refugees, and there have already been 40 houses ready to send refugees back there, it is still under process in which most refugees are fearful of returning back to Myanmar. Last, but not least, although the Thai government has assured the voluntary, safe and dignified nature of any refugee to Myanmar, it is important for the humanitarian community to further support the monitoring of the situation closely and ensure the refugees are not pressured to return prematurely. On the other hand, it is also responsible for the Myanmar government to provide for these refugees who choose to go back to Myanmar in order for them to rebuild their lives there. Transparency is needed between the Thai authorities and the camp populations before their resettlement.


Voluntary repatriation. (n.d.). Retrieved from UNHCR The UN refugee agency: http://

B E C O M I N G / 57

A S E AN book reviews

Impact of China’s Rise on The Mekong Region Prof. Dr. Yos Santasombat Impact of Chin’s Rise on The Mekong Region is a book that comprises the results of Prof. Dr. Yos Santasombat’s research projects funded by The Thailand Research Fund. The book presents an analysis of the impact of China’s rise on the Mekong region, a critical period of Southeast Asian history. The book details the history of China’s economy from the past to present days and how China has become one of the most influential countries in the world in economic respects, and also explains the complex cultural and political relationships between China and Mekong region nations. China has complex socio-cultural and political relationships with Southeast Asian nations, especially the nations in the area of Mekong region. The rapid growth of China’s economic footprint and the modernization of China’s military created a wide range of new challenges that both encourage and limit the cooperation between China and the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). The book focuses on the challenges posed by this situation and presents the impact of Chinese investment, trade, foreign aid and migration, and some other consequences that affect the Mekong region. The details in the book explain China’s geo-economic strategies toward the riparian states of the Mekong region, dividing them according to the area, nation, and project. Examples include the idea of ‘Comrade Money’ and the social-political dimensions in Vietnam, the changing of landscape and ethnoscape in Lao PDR which shows China’s participation in the Greater Mekong Sub-region Development project, and the impacts of the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Lao’s frontier where the locals are being forced to turn themselves from farmers into working laborers for Chinese establishments and sell their property to investors (which is relocating the populace of Laos). Moreover, the book presents and explains the influence and relationship of the PRC China and Taiwan along the northern Thai border in forms of investment and tourism. The book only explains economic strategies, political and economic relationship between the PRC China and Thailand and Laos, it also describes the notions of the development, conflicts and impacts of the cooperation between China and Myanmar for ‘More balance and better neighborhood’, including the patterns and impacts of Chinese assistance in Cambodia’s development as well. All of these examples outline the stance China is taking toward the countries in the Mekong region, both generally and specifically. The book also captures the idea of the internationalization of the Rinminbi policy of the Chinese government, its impacts and the responses of the nations in Mekong region. The Impact of Chin’s Rise on Mekong Region is a book that contains research analysis and reports on China’s economic strategy, policy, political relationships and the impacts of these onMekong region countries. The reports in the book describe the story of a rising China in terms of economic and political influence, and the associated changes in international relationships. The analysis is divided into topics according to the area and nation. Although the book presents histories and facts, it also contains the interesting personal perspectives and recommendations of the author and the research team that are worth considering.

B E C O M I N G / 58

A S E AN book reviews

Spaces of Exception and Shifting Strategies of the Kokang Chinese Along the Myanmar/Chinese Border Myint Myint Kyu The book ‘Spaces of Exception and Shifting Strategies of the Kokang Chinese Along the Myanmar/Chinese Border’ by Myint Myint Kyu is a result of the research fund by the Heinrich Böll Foundation conducted in the ‘special region’ or semi-autonomous region along Myanmar’s northern border with China in the area of the Shan state called ‘Kokang Chinese’ or ‘Kokang Special Region’ In this region, complications and conflics consistently occur. The book studies the root of the region and the identity of one of the least studied ethic groups in Myanmar called the Kokang Chinese. They are among the least studied groups, despite the fact that they have been living in the mountainous areas along the border of Myanmar and China for several centuries in the conflic-ridden region of the Shan state. The contents of ‘Spaces of Exception and Shifting Strategies of the Kokang Chinese Along the Myanmar/Chinese Border’ can be divided into 2 main themes; the identity of the Kokang Chinese and the shifting strategies applied by the people in the study areas when adapting to lifestyle changes. The book tells the history of Myanmar since the country gained back its independence, and the conflicts and other problems that arose after the colonization period in the big picture and also concerning the Kokang region. The book also describes the origin of the people who live in the Kokang region and the details and characteristics of the region itself, as well as the military forces that are organized and trained and their role in the region’s security. Moreover, the book also outlines the infamous aspects of the region regarding the Kokang drug lords, opium production and illicit drugs within part of the region (‘The Golden Triangle’). Other than that, the book explores Chinese influence over the region due to its remote geographical location, the language of the region and its proximity to China. The ethnic majority in the region is Chinese and more than 90% of the population speak Chinese, hence it proves difficult for the Myanmar government to promote communication and development within the region. By having Chinese heritage, Kokang Chinese prove to be quite resilient and successful by making use of guanxi networks and flexible identities rather than accepting the difficulties such as conflict, poverty and marginalization from the central state like some other ethnic groups. The unique administrative nature of the region and the relaxed sovereignty structures have allowed the Kokang Chinese to develop and maintain outstanding economic, social status are an exceptional case study compared to the other ethnic groups in Myanmar. By describing and outlining the history of Myanmar, the Shan state and the Kokang region where is considered to be ‘a special region,’ the author tells readers about Myanmar history and the stories behind the infamous conflicts in Myanmar’s northern region. Moreover, the reader can also learn about the relationship between Myanmar and the Chinese government and study the uniqueness of the Kokang Chinese minority ethnic including their ‘networks’ for development in economic and social status respects and the administration of the area they inhabit through the research reports and real life experiences of the Kokang Chinese people.

B E C O M I N G / 59

A S E AN book reviews

Land and River Grabbing: The Mekong’s Greatest Challenge Edited by Chayan Vaddhanaphuti and Sabrina Gyorvary Land and River Grabbing: The Maekong’s Greatest Challenge consists of various perspectives and detailed reports concerning the development and the changes of the Maekong river due to large-scale development projects such as hydropower dams, mines, conventional power plants and mono-crop plantations established by the 6 nations that stand along the river bank. The development as the consequesnces, displacing communities and limiting access to natural resources of the local communities within the region. The book also outlines the endeavours of EarthRight International’s Maekong School in advocating for stronger human rights and environmental protection in the region. The book presents the research reports and first-hand experience of 11 individual researchers, students and scholars concerning the changes and the state of the Maekong region caused by the rapid developing projects of sSoutheast Asian nations who profit from the great river, including China in detail. The book also aims to point out the increasing problems caused by the gaps in enviromental regulations of each nation and also asks questions on the viloation of environmental rights, corruption, and the government’s negligence on development in the area. The authors aim to promote transparency and offer interesting recommendations. The emerging Mekong regional civil society and youth movement provides a crucial check-and-balance system that draws attention to corrupt and unsustainable practices in the region by starting to investigate the lack of access to information of the local communities on the development projects. The reports in the book also mention and display the desperate need for help of the local communities that suffer the negative effects caused by the large-scale development, and the authors urge the government to realize the situation and reconsider the principles of good governance. Overrall, Land and River Grabbing: The Mekong’s Greatest Challenge is an interesting book which offers the details of the rapid development projects of 6 nations that affect the livelihoods of the local communities along the Mekong river. Reports within the book offer and display the results from the investigation on the developments in the region and also point out the critical impacts from the construction projects, and asks questions about the benefits from the projects and the true motivation behind all the so-called “improvements” for the lives of the majority.

B E C O M I N G / 60

A S E AN book reviews

Adolescents in Contemporary Indonesia Lyn Parker and Pam Nilan ‘Adolescents In contemporary Indonesia’ is a fascinating book comprised of comprehensive studies details regarding new generations of Indonesian population. The youth demographic is a large and growing cohort in Indonesian society and they also embody the currents of social change in vibrant and newly democratic and largest Muslim-majority nation. The book is outstanding in term of presenting the place of young people who played significant roles in protests which gradually led to social and political transformation in contemporary Indonesia and growing youth culture consumption. It in traduces and discusses the general ideas and the transformation of young Indonesians and also points out the relationship between Indonesian young people and the idea of conservatism. Due to the fact that Indonesian adolescents were significant agents in the movement for social and political transformation, the book also present the patterns of youth activism among young people. The book explores both inner worlds and social lives of Indonesian adolescents and also offers the analysis from decades of fieldwork information regarding young people’s local ethnic and religion. In the aspect of youth culture consumption, the book addresses gender relation and youth specializing the importance of education for Indonesian adolescents, youth engagement with popular culture and moral panic surrounding the sexual propriety of young people, and the perspectives toward the nation, world and future of Indonesian young bloods. It is very interesting and not every often to see such detailed and comprehensive book such as this. The content of the book is very detailed and presents various interesting respects of young generation in vibrant and transforming Indonesia. ‘Adolescents in Contemporary Indonesia’ is an outstanding collection of decades of research analysis and is perfect for all audiences, academics, students and general public who interested in vibrant, dynamic and contemporary Indonesia and its young generation.

B E C O M I N G / 61

SEA Junction (or fully “Southeast Asia Junction”) aims to foster understanding and appreciation of Southeast Asia in all its realities and socio-cultural dimensions –from arts and craft to the economy and development– by enhancing public access to knowledge resources and by promoting exchanges among students, specialists and Southeast Asia lovers. Located at the Bangkok Arts and Culture Centre (BACC) in Bangkok, Thailand, SEA Junction will start functioning as a cultural center on 15 May 2016. Its mission is to: •  Provide a venue for exchanges among people of Southeast Asia and beyond. • Provide public access to books and other resources on Southeast Asia. • Gather and share information on conferences, courses, fellowships, exhibits and other events happening about Southeast Asia in the region. • Organize series of events on Southeast Asia and ASEAN processes, employing BACC facilities. • Profile emerging artists, intellectuals, practitioners from the region. Collaborate with BACC and other relevant Thai, regional and international organizations in promoting knowledge of Southeast Asia and ASEAN through customized programs for a variety of audiences.


SEA Junction provides an informal place of exchanges on Southeast East where people with interest in SEA arts, cultures and societies can meet, share information, consult available resources, and read related literature at their leisure. The setting is that of an open library where a collection of books on Southeast Asia will be hosted on a wide range of socio-cultural themes for public consultation and reading in locus. At the work-stations, visitors can also access electronic resources. SEA Junction hosts and organizes events on Southeast Asia and acts as a learning center for students and young people. In its venue, visiting regional specialists and practitioners share experiences, dialogue, and give speeches and small

encounters are held for diverse constituencies. Making use of BACC’s meeting facilities more formal programs are proposed, which includes meetings, seminars, lectures, exhibitions and workshops. Selected crafts and arts of Southeast Asia are also displayed to give a glimpse of the cultural richness of the region, and emerging artists, intellectuals and practitioners are profiled. Through the website SEA-Junction promotes its activities as well as serving as an electronic knowledge platform on  “what is happening” in Southeast Asia. To enrich these and other activities, linkages with centers, museums and programs with a focus on Southeast Asia are cultivated and opportunities of collaboration welcomed.


SEA Junction BACC Suite 408 939 Rama 1 Rd, Pathum Wan Bangkok 10330, Thailand Email: Website: Facebook Page & Group: SEA-Junction

B E C O M I N G / 62

“Globalized Thailand?” Connectivity, Conflict, and Conundrums of Thai Studies 15-18 July 2017, Chiang Mai, Thailand The 13th International Conference on Thai Studies aims to encourage Thai and international scholars to reflect upon Thai society, politics, economics, culture, and environment in the context of globalization that concerns relationships between Thai and other Taispeaking groups residing in and outside of Thailand. The conference will review and analyse issues in Thai society, including problems and conflicts arising from processes of development. At the same time, the conference will allow scholars to explore the state of knowledge in Thai Studies and identify gaps in the knowledge base that should be filled in order to keep pace with societal change.

Call for papers 13th International Conference on Thai Studies Thai Studies and Global Connection For many decades, the academic field of Thai studies has served as a platform offering many forms of challenging, conceptual, and critical knowledge to scholars working in different academic disciplines, yet who share the same interest in unveiling the complexity of Thai society. The field has allowed many scholars whose works are related to Thai society to engage in debate, to learn and exchange from

one another, and, on many occasions, to produce ground-breaking conceptual and theoretical understandings about Thailand. Moreover, the intellectual output produced through this kind of cross-disciplinary engagement often benefits the production of new knowledge in disciplinary-based studies. As Thailand changes, Thai studies also strives and takes on new angles, subjects, and intellectual paradigms that are crucial to the development of the country. The 12th International Conference on Thai Studies in 2014 was held at The University of Sydney under the theme “Thailand in the World.” The 2014 conference marked the situation of Thailand in globalized economic and cultural transactions, called for a paradigm change in Thai studies that needs re-envisioning from the perspective of global connections, and advanced the quest for new conceptual insights into the relationships between Thailand and the world. Thailand no longer exists as a self-contained and autonomous social and cultural entity, especially so from the economic and technological development perspectives. Many new ideas and inventions emerging within Thai society in fact derive from complex interactions, negotiations, and integrations among various ethnic, social, and cultural beliefs and practices. The increasing liberalization of the economy of Southeast Asian nations also has the potential to drive Thailand to the crossroads

B E C O M I N G / 63

of social, economic, and cultural transformation in the near future. As the world spins faster, this complex formation of the knowledge of “Thailand” will only keep changing.

Connectivity, Conflict and Conundrums of Thai Studies The development of Thailand in connection with the Southeast Asian region and the world has continued not without conflicts and conundrums. Many forms of transformation that take place in the different geo-cultural spaces popularly thought of as “Thai” involve agents, organizations, and forms of power that, in fact, originally belong to various indigenous ethnic, cultural, or national groups, or even to the “global

communities.” The Thai-self has been founded upon and thrived on the forces and dynamics within these various complex dimensions of connectivity. Most essentially, this complex “connected Thailand” posits critical questions to the traditional paradigmatic thinking about Thai society, particularly thinking that frames Thailand as a separate entity, unnecessary to require intellectual engagement with the rest of the world. The 13th International Conference on Thai Studies aims to resolve this conflict between the hegemonic view of self-contained Thailand and global socio-cultural transactions by first, reviewing and evaluating the existing landscape of knowledge in Thai studies. This stage will provide an opportunity for participants to take a step back to reconsider the problems of development of the field of Thai Studies. Second, the conference will encourage participants to explore the unprecedented dimension of the intellectual inquiry of Thai studies, especially the connectivity, and conflicts and conundrums within that connection, between Thai society, the Southeast Asian region, and the world. Through these two processes, we hope the conference becomes a space where new forms of critical knowledge on Thailand emerge. Not only the theme of the conference—representing the attempt to connect the field of Thai studies with the world—but also the urge within the field is to connect and support contributions by the “new generation” of scholars working on Thailand: “new” of age, approach, culture or nationality. In the past decade, the expansion of research programs in higher education focusing on Asian and Southeast Asian studies has produced many talented academics in many various disciplines from around the world. Coming from different geo-political and cultural backgrounds, these scholars have helped transform Thai studies into an increasingly interdisciplinary field of inquiry. Within Thailand, more postgraduates programs have emerged nationwide, also producing a new generation of local-origin but internationallyminded scholars. Many of the works of these talented new local and international scholars have great potential in contributing to new and exciting forms of knowledge on Thai society in a global context. The 13th International Conference on Thai Studies recognizes and values this potential and aims to use the conference as a platform for these scholars to voice their new ideas and to (re)connect them with the already established scholars of Thai studies, and vice versa. Hosted by Chiang Mai University, the conference aims to bring up to 600 Thai, regional, and international senior and junior scholars together to present their research works and works-in-progress in the form of academic papers, and to get high-quality feedback during conference sessions engaged in discussions on Thailand in a globalized context. Thematic focuses of the conference include:

• • • • • • • • • • • • •

Thailand and Its Connectivity in ASEAN Thai Economy and the Global Market Religion and Modernity in Thai Society Crisis of Democracy and Politics of Governance Border Studies, Border Trade, SEZs, and Border Conflicts Gender, Sexuality, and Social Equity Urbanization, Spatial Politics, and Public SpaceN Lanna Studies History and Public Memory Literature, Media, and Popular Culture Crafts, Artisans and Cultural Heritage Migrants, Stateless People and Refugees Health and Health Care Systems

Despite these suggested themes, the conference is by no means disregarding other issues related to socio-cultural or technological connectivity between Thailand and the region/world as unimportant. Participants can submit panels and papers with titles that may not exactly match these suggested themes, yet represent current or critical issues which Thailand, in connection with the region and world, is undergoing. The format of the conference will include 1) plenary sessions by keynote speakers who are leading scholars in Thai studies; 2) parallel sessions consisting of panels and groups of individual papers on various topics relating to Thailand; and 3) roundtable discussion sessions.

Submission We open for two types of submission; 1) individual abstracts and 2) panel proposals. The submission of individual abstract and panel proposal can be made online on the conference website. Individual abstracts should not exceed 250 words. Deadline for individual abstract submission is 30st November 2016 and panel proposals is 31st August 2016. Notification of acceptance of proposals will be made by 31st January 2017.

Registration Registration for participation will begin on 1st October 2016. Please refer to the conference website for registration and other information about the conference (i.e. fees and travel guide).

Publication of papers All papers presented will be included in the E-proceedings and will be available on the conference website. A selected number of papers will be chosen for publication in international-level academic journals which are in partnership with the conference.

Contact Conference organizer 13th International Conference on Thai Studies (13th ICTS) Faculty of Social Sciences, Chiang Mai University Chiang Mai, Thailand URL: E-mail: Tel: + 66-(0) 53-943595/6

B E C O M I N G / 64

ICAS 10 will be held at the Chiang Mai International Exhibition and Convention Centre (CMECC) from 20-23 July 2017. It will be organized by the Regional Center for Social Change and Sustainable Development (RSCD), with support from the Faculty of Social Sciences of Chiang Mai University (CMU), one of the best universities in Southeast Asia. 1250-2000 Asia specialists and representatives of civil society are expected to attend. Call for Proposals

The International Convention of Asia Scholars (ICAS) is the largest international gathering in the field of Asian Studies. ICAS attracts participants from over 60 countries to engage in global dialogues on Asia that transcend boundaries between academic disciplines and geographic areas. Since 1997, ICAS has brought more than 20,000 academics together at nine conventions. Join us in Chiang Mai, famous for its rich cultural heritage; conveniently located within a five-hour flight from all major Asian cities and easily accessible from all other continents. Thailand offers visa-free entry for nationals from 52 countries. Deadline ICAS 10 proposals: 10 October 2016 Deadlines ICAS Book Prize (IBP) English language edition: 15 October 2016 Chinese, Korean, French, and German language editions: 15 December 2016 Convention Dates: 20-23 July 2017 Convention Location: Chiang Mai, Thailand The submission deadline for proposals of Individual Abstracts, Panels, Roundtables, Book presentations and PhD Dissertation presentations is 10 October 2016. Proposals for ICAS 10 may involve topics from all Asian Studies disciplines in the broadest possible sense. Proposals could range

from (but are not limited to) Land grabbing issues in Southeast Asia to Urbanization in East Asia; from Post-colonial Elites in Southeast Asia to Transnational Marriage; from Chinese poetry to Security Challenges in the Asia Pacific; from Nature Conservation to The Impact of Christianity on East Asia; from The Influence of (New) Media on Society to ASEAN Trade and Investment; from Reassessing the Impact of the Cold War on Asia to Cross-border Education; and from the Politics of Heritage to Financial Regimes in Asia. When submitting a proposal you will be asked to specify the region and theme of your proposal. Please note that all abstracts and presentations should be in English. Submission of proposals can be made using ICAS 10 registration forms, available via the Application Forms menu on the right.

About ICAS

ICAS is the premier international gathering in the field of Asian Studies. The International Convention of Asia Scholars (ICAS, founded in 1997) is a platform for representatives of academia and civil society to focus on issues critical to Asia and by implication to the rest of the world. ICAS is an active accelerator of research. ICAS is organised by local hosts (universities, organisations and cities) in cooperation with the ICAS Secretariat. ICAS offers the university a unique opportunity to profile itself in the world of Asian Studies and ICAS also connects in a dynamic way to the host city. ICAS meetings have been held in Adelaide (2015), Macao (2013), Honolulu (2011), Daejeon (2009), Kuala Lumpur (2007), Shanghai (2005), Singapore (2003), Berlin (2001) and Leiden (1998). ICAS 10 will take place in Chiang Mai from 20-23 July 2017. ICAS attracts participants from over 60 countries to engage in global dialogues on Asia that transcend boundaries between academic disciplines and geographic areas. Since 1998, ICAS has brought more than 17,000 academics together eigth conventions. At these, publishers and organisations in the field of Asian studies display their products in the ICAS Exhibition Hall which is open to the public.

Becoming 04 ASEAN-China