A fortnightly snapshot of what’s making headlines in South East Asia.
Malaysia to hold election post-pandemic
Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced last Saturday that Malaysia will hold a general election post-pandemic. The Muhyiddin administration is just eight months old and has managed to hold on to a two-seat majority in parliament and fend off a leadership challenge from opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. After what has been an eventful year for Malaysian politics, a general election is regarded as somewhat urgent given the current administration’s weak parliamentary support. Formally, the next general election is scheduled to be held 16 September 2023.
Cambodia holds mass trial of opposition members
The Phnom Penh Municipal Court has begun hearings for the first batch of more than 120 people mostly connected with the now dissolved opposition group, The Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP). Charges of conspiracy and “incitement to sow chaos in society” related to political activities which have taken place since the opposition group was banned and disbanded in November 2017. International observers, including the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Cambodia, have expressed serious concern over the mass trial and its implications for the country’s already fragile rule of law.
Singapore-Hong Kong travel bubble on hold
The launch of quarantine-free travel between Singapore and Hong Kong is on hold until 2021, following a rise of COVID-19 community infections in Hong Kong. The highly anticipated air travel bubble would have enabled leisure travel between the hard-hit economies. Singapore remains keen to negotiate ‘Air Travel Bubbles’ with countries that have managed the COVID-19 pandemic well. If the bubble had gone ahead, it would have been the first quarantine-free travel bubble in Asia.
Dr Lucy West is a Senior Research Assistant at the Griffith Asia Institute.