Michael Sullivan

Myanmar's military has used live ammunition to quell ongoing protests, which are trying to restore democratic rule, killing scores of protesters in recent days.

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Police in Myanmar have officially filed charges against the country's former civilian leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. She is in detention two days after a military coup. Michael Sullivan has been following this story for us from Thailand.

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Thailand's prime minister has vowed to use all available laws to quash protests calling for his ouster, after parliament rejected key demands of the demonstrators by rejecting a motion to revamp the country's constitution and overhaul the monarchy.

Prayuth Chan-ocha, a former army chief who seized power in a bloodless coup six years ago, issued a statement on Thursday, addressing months of increasing unrest in the capital, Bangkok, led by students demanding a more freer and more open society.

Voters in Myanmar will cast their ballots Sunday in the country's second general election since the military ceded absolute power in 2011.

While the result appears predictable — analysts believe Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy will win again — the elections could further exacerbate the country's ethnic tensions due to the disenfranchisement of many minorities. The military establishment continues to wield significant political power. And COVID-19 may dampen voter turnout.

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There are protests in Thailand's capital today. Anti-government demonstrators in Bangkok are demanding the country's prime minister step down.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: (Non-English language spoken).

Thousands of Thais gathered Sunday in the capital, Bangkok, for the largest anti-government demonstration since the 2014 coup that brought the military to power.

Protesters, many dressed in black, thronged the streets around the Democracy Monument at Ratchadamnoen Avenue and Dinso Road.

Lack of testing, mixed messages from the government and a rush to reopen.

No, not the U.S., but Indonesia, which has been hit far worse by the coronavirus than any country in Southeast Asia — more than 80,000 confirmed cases with over 3,200 dead, as of Thursday.

Epidemiologists say it didn't have to be this way.

"We have a lot of big, missed opportunities," says Pandu Riono at the University of Indonesia. "If you want to protect the people, do something seriously and do something right."

Indonesia's central government, he says, hasn't done much of either.

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It's the moment international aid groups have been dreading for months — the coronavirus has reached the sprawling refugee camps in the Cox's Bazar district of southern Bangladesh, home to roughly a million Rohingya refugees.

Bangladesh officials said on Thursday that at least two people living in or adjacent to the camps have tested positive for the coronavirus and have now been quarantined amid fears of a humanitarian disaster if the virus spreads unchecked.

Vietnam has been a bright spot during the COVID-19 pandemic — and has largely reopened for business. Thanks to aggressive contact tracing, quarantines and testing, it's managed to keep its confirmed coronavirus cases to just 317, with no deaths, according to government figures.

Doctors in a hospital in Ho Chi Minh City are struggling to save a patient from becoming the country's first COVID-19 fatality.

In Indonesia, one of the countries in Southeast Asia hardest hit by the coronavirus, some residents are refusing to allow COVID-19 dead to be buried in their communities, despite government assurances that doing so is safe.

The United Nations' outgoing chief human rights monitor for Myanmar is calling for an investigation into allegations of ongoing war crimes and crimes against humanity in the southeast Asian country's Rakhine and Chin States.

"While the world is occupied with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Myanmar military continues to escalate its assault in Rakhine State, targeting the civilian population," Yanghee Lee said in a blistering farewell statement.

Vietnam shares a border with China, yet it has reported no deaths from COVID-19 and just 268 confirmed cases, when other Southeast Asian nations are reporting thousands.

Experts say experience dealing with prior pandemics, early implementation of aggressive social distancing policies, strong action from political leaders and the muscle of a one-party authoritarian state have helped Vietnam.

On a March morning at the Maetaeng Elephant Park in Thailand's northern Chiang Mai province, the elephants and their handlers, called mahouts, were entertaining visitors with tricks. Elephants painted pictures with their trunks and deftly back-kicked soccer balls into a net.

Maetaeng is one of the biggest wildlife camps in the north, with 85 elephants. They are also available for guests to ride or go trekking with in the surrounding hills.

Online child sexual abuse is rising as countries close schools and impose various levels of lockdown to contain the new coronavirus pandemic, children's rights advocates in Southeast Asia warn.

Three Southeast Asian nations — Thailand, Cambodia and Myanmar — are using fears over the coronavirus to double down on repressive measures aimed at silencing critics or opponents.

In Thailand, general-turned-prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha declared a state of emergency on March 26, granting him broad powers to protect the "safety of the people." It allows him to confine people to their homes, prohibits public assembly and includes additional powers of arrest and search and seizure.

Malaysia has the largest number of COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia with more than 2,900 and counting. This week, Malaysia's government also had a serious public relations issue after an ill-conceived plan went online.

Pepper is believed to originate from southern India. But some chefs, including the late Anthony Bourdain and the Michelin-starred French chef Olivier Roellinger, have been drawn to pepper produced in Cambodia, specifically in the province of Kampot. That's where a near-ideal combination of sea, soil and climate produces a very aromatic, nuanced — and expensive — spice.

Some 60 million people rely on Southeast Asia's Mekong River for their sustenance. But the Mekong is under threat.

While China is building dams that sharply reduce the water flow and sediment downstream, other countries along the river share some of the blame.

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So is Myanmar conducting a genocidal campaign against Rohingya Muslims?

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Southeast Asia's largest lake is under threat, and with it, an entire ecosystem. Dams, overfishing and this year, drought, have brought the Cambodian lake to what may be a breaking point. Michael Sullivan reports.

(CHEERING)

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In the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh, where the Tonle Sap and Mekong rivers meet, workers are putting the final touches on the grandstand for Bon Om Touk, the annual water festival which begins this weekend. It's a huge party—the country pretty much shuts down for the three-day holiday, with dragon boat races and plenty of drink and dance.

It's a celebration of the water's bounty. This year, though, there will be less to celebrate.

There's food that's old. There's food that has gone bad. And then there's soup that has been simmering for 45 years.

In Bangkok, customers can't get enough of the latter at Wattana Panich, a noodle soup joint in the trendy Ekkamai neighborhood, where third-generation owner Nattapong Kaweeantawong wants to clear up what he thinks is a popular misconception about his beef soup.

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