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A Look Back at Southeast Asia in 2010

  • Les Carpenter

As we came to the end of 2010, we thought it would be informative to talk with some of our colleagues at VOA about the biggest stories of the year and a look forward to 2011. For a look at the year in Southeast Asia, we welcomed Nittya Maphungphong, Chief of VOA's Thai Service, Than Lwin Htun, Chief of the Burmese Service and Kimseng Men, Editor of Khmer Service to our roundtable discussion on the top stories in Southeast Asia in 2010.

Than Lwin Htun, Chief of VOA's Burmese Service

Htun noted the top stories in Burma were the elections and the release of Aung San Suu Kyi. He also noted the problems in Burma that have led to illegal immigrants in Thailand and Cambodia.

Burma's Aung San Suu Kyi Released from House Arrest - Burma's military government released democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest Saturday after her current term of detention expired. Her release comes days after a military-backed party claimed to win Burma's first elections in two decades.

Pro-Military Party Claims Almost 80 Percent of Votes in Burma Election - A party allied with Burma's military appears to have captured most of the seats in national elections. But the largest pro-democracy parties and rights groups accused the military government of openly manipulating the vote.

For 2011, he questioned how long Aung San Suu Kyi will remain free in Burma.

Nittya Maphungphong, Chief of VOA's Thai Service

Maphungphong said the horrific demonstrations in April and May in Thailand were the top story of the year. She also noted that tensions between Thailand and Cambodia in a border dispute were an important development for 2010.

Protests Testing Thailand's Democracy, Government - Thai protesters are stepping up their campaign to force the government to call new elections. Despite declaring a state of emergency, deploying thousands more security personnel, and using tear gas against some demonstrators. Thai authorities say they will not use force to end the protests. Political analysts urge the two sides to return to negotiations.

Thailand Threatens to Pull Out of UN World Heritage Committee Over Border Dispute - Thailand is threatening to withdraw support from the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization if the U.N. World Heritage Committee backs a Cambodian plan to manage a 900-year-old Hindu temple site bordering the two countries.

For 2011, Maphungphong concentrated on the upcoming elections in Thailand and the improving economic situation.

Kimseng Men, Editor of VOA's Khmer Service

He said the top story in Cambodia was the trial of former Khmer rouge leaders accused of mass murders 30 years ago. He also discussed the deaths of nearly 400 people when a bridge collapsed during the Water Festival in Phnom Penh.

Convicted Khmer Rouge Leader Appeals Prison Sentence - A former Khmer Rouge prison chief will appeal a sentence for war crimes that some Cambodians have already denounced as too lenient.

Hundreds Die in Tragic End to Cambodia's Water Festival
- At least 347 people have been killed and hundreds injured in a stampede at a major festival in Cambodia's capital Phnom Penh.

For 2011, he worried about China's growing influence in southeast Asia and its damming up the Mekong River and the impact that will have in the region.

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