Founder/editor of the Reporting ASEAN series
Johanna Son is founder/editor of the Reporting ASEAN series.
An ousted legislator from Myanmar, doing kitchen work in a restaurant in the United States, sends half of his salary to the forces battling the military that seized power in his country. From "home" in a Southeast Asian country, a Myanmar national says nightly prayers for his country at a makeshift altar.
An example of a resilient business model in hard times? Indeed, except that this describes how the synthetic drug industry has been expanding in East and Southeast Asia, home to the Mekong region which is the manufacturing and trafficking hub that supplies illicit drugs that reach not just the wider Asia but the globe.
'So which wave of Covid-19 are you in?" is a question Southeast Asians ask of one another these days. A year after the lockdowns that their countries went into, many of them are, well, back in them again, even as vaccinations are underway in all countries in the region.
Thailand finds itself in a pressure cooker these days, dealing with pre-Covid-19 economic weaknesses, the lack of longer-term responses to the economic and social crises from the pandemic, and uncertainty about how much longer people can hold on before falling into poverty, losing jobs or closing small businesses.
'A global reset", "a sick planet", "health security" are huge, heavy phrases that have been swirling in the global psyche for most of this Covid-19-marked year. They speak of the "must-do-something" type of issues that weigh on the minds of people everywhere, including in Southeast Asia, as they hope for a post-pandemic period to come.