Stories written by Marwaan Macan-Markar
Marwaan Macan-Markar is a Sri Lankan journalist who covered the South Asian nation's ethnic conflict for local newspapers before joining IPS in 1999. He was first posted as a correspondent at the agency's world desk in Mexico City and has since been based in Bangkok, covering Southeast Asia. He has reported from over 15 countries, writing from the frontlines of insurgencies, political upheavals, human rights violations, peace talks, natural disasters, climate change, economic development, new diseases such as bird flu and emerging trends in Islam, among other current issues.

Harsh Internet Laws Silence Thai Netizens

When Thai police raided the headquarters of the popular alternative news portal ‘Prachatai’ and arrested its executive director, Chiranuch Premchaiporn, back in 2009, the 46-year-old media worker was completely in the dark about her crime.

A mourner holds a picture of Ampol "Akong" Tangnoppakul at a protest outside the Thai criminal court. Credit: Marwaan Macan-Markar/IPS

Thai Criminal Court in Line of Fire

From its imposing 14-storey building, Thailand’s criminal court hands down verdicts that rarely trigger a backlash. Those condemned to long imprisonment include Thais who supposedly violated the draconian lese majeste censorship law that protects this Southeast Asian country's monarchy.

Malaria Adds to Myanmar’s Woes

Political reforms unfolding in Myanmar (or Burma) are giving health workers a chance to address a resurgence of drug-resistant falciparum malaria in the war-torn ethnic minority enclaves along the country’s eastern borders.

Vietnam Clamps Down on Bloggers

A pioneer of citizens’ journalism in Vietnam is risking 20 years in jail for defending Internet freedom and exposing the draconian censorship laws in this communist party-ruled country.

Sea Level Rise Threatens Mekong Rice

With Vietnam’s fertile Mekong delta threatened by rising sea levels and salt water ingress, the country’s future as a major rice exporter depends critically on research underway in the Philippines.

Myanmar Turns ASEAN’s Democracy Beacon

Long Southeast Asia’s black sheep, Myanmar is enjoying an image change following its landmark Apr. 1 by-elections. Tongues are now wagging about the region’s new beacon of hope for democratic change.

Will Climate Refugees Get Promised Aid?

With extreme weather pounding countries across a wide arc in the Asia-Pacific region, questions hover over entitlements for millions of people displaced by climate change, pledged under the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and other sources.

Suu Kyi as Lawmaker

Following her historic victory in Sunday’s by-elections Aung San Suu Kyi takes on a new role as opposition lawmaker, after a 22-year existence as Myanmar’s most famous political prisoner.

Myanmar ‘Reforms’ Elude Kachin Refugees

For thousands of ethnic Kachins who fled fighting between government troops and rebels and survived a bitter winter in the refugee camps that dot northern Myanmar (or Burma), another test of survival looms – gale force winds.

Myanmar Ethnic Groups Resist Forced Labour

In a move expected to deepen political reform, the quasi-civilian government in Myanmar (also known as Burma) is permitting the distribution of leaflets that will help thousands of people in the country’s ethnic enclaves learn to resist forced labour.

Aung Zaw, editor, 'The Irrawaddy' Credit: 'The Irrawaddy'

Q&A: ‘Returning to Burma is OK, Not for Journalism’

When he returned home after over two decades as a political exile, Aung Zaw, a prominent figure among Burma’s exiled media community, was served a slice of truth by the country’s notorious censorship board.

Thai Province Shows the Green Way

As fingers of morning light slip through the mango and banana orchards of his village, Suchin Utanarat heads out in a boat to net a fresh catch from the nearby canals teeming with shrimp.

Q&A: ‘Malaysians Must Vote Out Corruption, Racism’

Malaysia’s charismatic opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim is tapping the spirit of the Arab Spring to end the 55-year unbroken rule of the United Malay National Organsiation (UMNO) and its allies in the Southeast Asian nation.

Keshav Sharma Credit:World Bank

Q&A: ‘World Bank in Tiger Territory – No Greenwashing’

BANGKOK, Feb 20, 2012 (IPS) - When World Bank president Robert Zoellick steps down in June, the tiger will lose an ally who worked to prevent the decimation of Asia’s iconic animal by a voracious demand for its bones and parts in newly affluent China.

Philippines Seeking U.S. Help Against China’s Bullying

The government of Philippines President Benigno Aquino may be wading into choppy diplomatic waters by turning to the United States to counter China’s aggressiveness in the South China Sea, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.

Mekong Unquiet Over Contain China Moves

Six countries that share the Mekong River are being drawn into a development turf war, exposing initiatives by the United States government and its Asian allies – Japan and South Korea – to contain China’s growing influence in the region.

BURMA: Dismantling a Dictatorship – Peacefully

As he dismantles a 50-year military dictatorship without a shot being fired, Burmese President Thein Sein is resorting to the political art of compromise.

THAILAND: Malay-Muslim Insurgency – Lessons Learnt

Teachers’ Day on Jan. 16 was a sombre affair in Thailand’s troubled southern provinces where memories are strong of 155 educators killed over the past eight years in an insurgency led by Malay-Muslim separatists.

THAILAND: Land of Smiles – and Grimaces

The ‘Land of Smiles’ attracts some 14 million tourists annually to its tranquil beaches and glistening temples. But to many Thais, their country is becoming one of grimaces, thanks to its draconian lese-majeste (LM) law.

BURMA: Kachin Refugees Get UN Relief, Finally

Six months after fighting erupted between Burmese troops and ethnic Kachin separatists, international relief is finally trickling in for over 30,000 people who fled their homes near the snow-capped mountains north of the country.

BOOK-BURMA: On the New Road to Mandalay

Condemned for decades as an international pariah, Burma is enjoying a diplomatic spring with droves of former critics heading towards the Southeast Asian nation.

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