Like in many countries, the pandemic has caused a surge in rates of mental health issues in Malaysia. But the country has struggled to recognize the seriousness of mental health disorders or address them on a national scale.
Cambodia has expanded government monitoring of social media to include apps like TikTok, WhatsApp and Telegram in a bid to target fake news. Though intended in part to combat misinformation about COVID-19, the announcement has raised concerns about a new wave of censorship of independent media and political opposition in the country.
The Thai government is using the controversial lese majeste law to target critics of the monarchy after they demanded clarity about the role of a company owned by the king in the country’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout. The situation is not likely to help save the palace’s reputation or silence its critics.
China has found major buyers for its COVID-19 vaccines in Southeast Asia, even after studies of its Sinovac vaccine have reported wildly divergent efficacy results. The growing acceptance of Beijing’s vaccine without globally-recognized clinical trial results may end up undermining China’s image as a credible vaccine supplier.
Thailand has ordered millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccines from AstraZeneca and Sinovac Biotech. However, misinformation about safety concerns may hinder the country’s planned mass immunization campaign.
An indigenous Karen community in Thailand has returned to their land in a national park years after being forcibly evicted and seeing their homes burned by authorities. The move has prompted heightened tensions in the saga of Kaeng Krachan National Park as the Thai government threatens to remove the villagers once again and prosecute them.
China’s restrictions on overland trade and security concerns in Shan State have created challenges for Myanmar’s seafood industry, raising costs and threatening to make business unsustainable.
Amid global and regional crises sparked by COVID-19, natural disasters and geopolitical changes, Vietnam has continued to show marked success in the fight against the pandemic and in economic growth, mainly due to strong political will and drastic measures by government and citizens.
It is unclear if Cambodia’s apparent criticism of Chinese coronavirus vaccines is meant to refute the country’s reputation as China’s proxy. If that is the case, then Cambodia needs to do far more to introduce balance to its foreign policy.
Thailand’s large migrant population is facing racist backlash as the country works to contain a new outbreak of COVID-19 tied to a seafood market in Samut Sakhon province, near Bangkok, where a significant portion of the country’s migrants from Myanmar live.