By Malcolm McKinnon (Victoria University of Wellington)
On March 23 the Centre for Strategic Studies at VUW hosted the first of a projected series of webinars with a Southeast Asia focus. The webinar, titled "Mainland Southeast Asia power, protest and participation' focused on recent developments in mainland Southeast Asia: an unprecedentedly iconoclastic wave of mass protests in Thailand; a critical National Party Congress in Vietnam; and the overthrow of the elected government in Myanmar by the country’s military. Beyond the drama of the headlines, developments in all three countries demonstrated ongoing tensions between authoritarian regimes or forces and the rights of people to participate in, to protest and to exercise political power. The three speakers were Professor Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand; Wai Wai Nu, Peace, Human Rights and Women Rights Advocate, Founder of Women's Peace Network, Myanmar; and Nguyen Khac Giang, Victoria University of Wellington. The discussant was Professor Natasha Hamilton-Hart from the University of Auckland and the webinar was chaired by Emeritus Professor Rob Rabel. A recording of the webinar can be accessed through CSS.