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Asean Affairs    23  August  2011

Security moves in Asean

By  David Swartzemtruber

AseanAffairs     23  August 2011

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Two Asean countries, Cambodia and Vietnam, made military purchases to bolster their military capabilities.

On Saturday, Cambodia agreed to acquire Chinese-made Z-9 helicopters for US$195 million in one of 26 memorandums of understanding agreed by the two countries.

Helicopters are a nice thing to have provided a country has technicians trained to keep them in order. Next door in Thailand, all military helicopters have been grounded following three recent fatal helicopter crashes during one week. The accidents were later tied to a lack of appropriate maintenance for the helicopters.

On Cambodia’s eastern border, Vietnam has received a second Russian-made guided missile warship as tensions over disputed islands in the South China Sea continue, state media reported Tuesday. The Gepard class frigate, Vietnam's most modern warship, was delivered Monday at the Cam Ranh naval port in central Vietnam, the Thanh Nien newspaper said.

Vietnam took the delivery of the first warship of this kind in March.

The Southeast Asian nation has also ordered six diesel-electric "Project 636" Varshavyanka submarines for purchase for a total of $2 billion. The submarines are also known by their NATO nickname, "Kilos." The delivery of the first submarine was expected in three years.

Vietnam's naval build-up comes amid tensions between Vietnam and China over disputed islands in the South China Sea.

The Vietnamese recently accused China of interfering with its oil exploration activities.

The two sides, along with other Asean member states, Brunei, Malaysia and Philippines claim all or part of two disputed island chains believed to be rich in natural resources in a sea that is among the world’s most heavily traveled shipping lanes.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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