CSIS Southeast Asia SIT-REP, Nov. 5 2015

The SIT-REP gives you links to all of CSIS Southeast Asia’s (@SoutheastAsiaDC) best updates and programs in a five minute read. This issue includes a special feature on Myanmar’s upcoming elections on November 8, a preview of President Barack Obama’s visit to the Philippines later this month, analyses of recent South China Sea developments, and key issues in Indonesian president Joko Widodo’s visit to the United States in late October. Links will take you to the full publications, multimedia, or to registration for upcoming programs when available. To jump to a section, select one of the following:

Special Feature: Myanmar’s Elections

Myanmar’s national elections are a critical milestone for U.S. policy toward Myanmar. Get the best inside scoop with our analysis and programs.

The Banyan Tree Leadership Forum with Ben Rhodes, Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Adviser
Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes sits down with Chair for Southeast Asia Studies Ernest Z. Bower to discuss the impact of the upcoming elections on future U.S.-Burma engagement. Rhodes, who visited Burma from October 18 to 20, has been the White House lead overseeing the development of Burma policy. Watch/Listen >>

CogitAsia Podcast with U.S. Ambassador to Burma Derek Mitchell
U.S. Ambassador to Burma Derek Mitchell spells out the key issues that the United States will be watching as more than 30 million voters head to the polls on November 8. Listen >>

CogitAsia Blog Series on Myanmar’s 2015 Elections
CSIS scholars provide insight into the political situation in Myanmar ahead of the elections. Murray Hiebert dissects the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party’s quest to stay in power, Phuong Nguyen writes on the military’s role in the electoral process and explores the uncertainties facing the elections. Khine Thant discusses the prospect of horse trading for ethnic political parties following the elections. Stay tuned as the series gives up-to-the-minute analysis and infographics on the election outcomes. Read more >>

Special for CSIS: A Dispatch from Yangon on the Eve of Myanmar’s Election, by Aung Din
From Yangon, longtime democracy activist and former political prisoner Aung Din describes his enthusiasm as well as deep concerns for this historic election. Aung Din has travelled around Yangon, Mandalay, and northern Shan State to observe election preparations by the government and campaign activities of different political parties. “The biggest concern is: what if Aung San Suu Kyi and her supporters do not accept the outcome of the election,” he ponders. Read more >>

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Deep insight into developments that move the dial

Seizing The Moment: Preparing for Obama’s Trip to Manila,” by Ernest Z. Bower (@BowerCSIS) & Conor Cronin (@ConorCroninDC)
For the first time in anyone’s memory, foreign policy and national security are poised to figure as major issues in the Philippine presidential election, scheduled for May 2016. Recent polls show Filipinos are worried about China and its aggressive stance in the South China Sea. They also fear that economic dependence on China could be leveraged to force concessions on the Philippines’ sovereignty. These are not unreasonable views, given that Chinese vessels now occupy Scarborough Shoal, just 140 miles from the Philippines’ northern Luzon Island… Read more >>

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The CSIS Asia blog features insights on policy around the Asia Pacific

ADMM-Plus Is the Right Setting for the United States to Shape the Narrative on the South China Sea,” by Phuong Nguyen (@PNguyen_DC)
The ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus), which takes place from November 3 to 5 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, will be the first meeting between U.S., Chinese, and Southeast Asian officials since the U.S. Navy conducted a freedom of navigation operation (FONOP) on October 26 near one of China’s reclaimed islands in the South China Sea. The operation prompted an angry response from China and a flurry of mixed signals from ASEAN members… Read more >>

Time for Vietnam to Reassess its South China Sea Strategy,” by Jonathan London & Vu Quang Viet
Chinese president Xi Jinping’s visit to Hanoi this week comes at a time when Beijing’s efforts to change the status quo in the South China Sea through the construction of manmade islands has raised tensions across the region. Only Beijing sees the “nine-dash line” it uses to advance its claim to 90 percent of the entire South China Sea as legitimate. Yet, if anything, tensions in the region appear to be on the rise… Read more >>

Infographic: Indonesia’s Forest Fires, by Hunter Marston
In this infographic, the CSIS Sumitro Chair provides a brief overview of Indonesia’s devastating forest fires which are affecting the health and safety of the island country and its neighbors… Read more >>

Myanmar’s Path to Electrification: The Role of Distributed Energy Systems,” by Rachel Posner Ross
With Myanmar’s historic elections around the corner, the international community has focused its attention on this former military regime’s transformation toward democracy. But in every political scenario following the November 2015 elections, Myanmar has immense needs for investments to mitigate problems with energy access, capacity, and reliability that hinder the country’s prospects for economic development. Today, Myanmar has one of the lowest electrification rates in Asia… Read more >>

Prospects for Political Dialogue Wither in Cambodia,” by Abby Seiff (@instupor)
After promising a “culture of dialogue” and political reconciliation, Cambodia’s ruling party has moved from carrots to sticks. On Facebook, an image has been floating around in Cambodian circles over the past few days. It is a photograph of a tombstone with words pasted on it. Above, it says R.I.P.; below, in Khmer, “culture of dialogue.” It has a short life listed, just May – Oct 2015. On October 30, deputy opposition leader Kem Sokha was ordered to step down… Read more >>

Indonesian President Jokowi’s Washington Summit: Announces Plans to Join Trans-Pacific Partnership,” by Murray Hiebert (@MurrayHiebert1) & Conor Cronin (@ConorCroninDC)
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo of Indonesia made his first official visit to the United States on October 26 and 27. Jokowi, who was elected in 2014 in an atmosphere of optimism, has struggled to live up to high expectations in the midst of an economic downturn and tanking rupiah currency. Much of his attention has necessarily been focused on domestic and economic issues rather than regional and international relations… Read more >>

Indonesia Under Jokowi: Nationalism & Pluralism Shape Policy Calculus,” by Jonathan Bogais
Indonesia’s president, Joko Widodo, Jokowi, for short, is in Washington for high-level talks with President Barack Obama, U.S. officials, and business leaders. Indonesia is the largest Muslim country in the world, the third biggest democracy, and the world’s largest archipelago. Departing from his predecessor Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s principle of a “thousand friends, zero enemies” — reflected by the government’s involvements in international issues — Jokowi’s wants to de-provincialize Indonesia and concentrate on “national interests”… Read more >>

Tackling Indonesia’s Devastating Forest Fires,” by Murray Hiebert (@MurrayHiebert1)
When President Joko (Jokowi) Widodo departed Jakarta for a summit in Washington on October 24, he left behind devastating forest fires that are choking Indonesia and its neighborhood under a dense cloud of smoke. His aides say Jokowi considered postponing his trip to stay home to deal with the fires that are threatening to turn into a full-blown regional security crisis, but in the end decided to leave behind his coordinating minister for politics, law, and security, Luhut Panjaitan, to tackle the fires… Read more >>

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The Leaderboard

Two-minute read on the real people that are making news

Thomas Dougherty, U.S. cybersecurity adviser for Southeast Asia
On October 16, the Justice Department announced the appointment of Dougherty to the newly-created post of regional legal adviser for cybercrime in Asia. In an attempt to combat transnational cybercrime without involving the difficulties of extradition, the Justice Department has committed to help establish new computer crime laws in the Southeast Asian countries where many of those criminals operate. Dougherty’s position is a test-run for the program… Read more >>

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CogitAsia Podcast

An engaging mix of news, analysis, and predictions from around the region

CogitAsia Podcast: October 30, 2015
This week Bonnie Glaser, Director of the CSIS China Power Project, joins to analyze the U.S. Navy’s recent freedom of navigation operation in the South China Sea and to assess China’s reaction. Then Sumitro Chair for Southeast Asia Studies Ernie Bower discusses Indonesian president Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo’s summit meeting with President Obama in Washington, D.C. and what the outcomes mean for U.S.-Indonesia relations… Listen >>

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For more the Sumitro Chair for Southeast Asia Studies, check out our website, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, visit our blog CogitAsia, and listen to our podcast at CogitAsia and iTunes. Thank you for your interest in U.S. policy in Southeast Asia and CSIS


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