Trouble in paradise: Three Asean nations live up to future no-go tourist list!

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Picture Credit: Video grab of CNN's report on the Philippines conflict

In November last year, three Asean nations made it to an Aussie list of future no go countries with a potential rise in terror attacks and a rise in nationalistic-cum-religious fervour barring tourists from visiting them.

With the recent spate of attacks in the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand, the three countries have lived-up to the dark predictions by the Aussie website news.com.au and reported by the Worldfuturetv.com portal.

An eruption of violence in the southern Philippines and suicide bombings in Indonesia this week highlight the growing threat posed by militant backers of the Islamic State in Southeast Asia, said the New York Times.

The paper said while the timing of the Jakarta bombings and the fighting on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao appears to be coincidental, experts on terrorism have been warning for months that the ISIS, has provided a new basis for cooperation among extremists in the Southeast Asian region.

It said the defeat of the ISIS in Iraq and near defeat in Syria has given them the momentum to attempt at enlarging the conflict in Asean region.

Needless to say that Indonesia and Thailand are two massive tourist destinations in the region, and any destabilisation of the security and peace would lead to a drop in tourist arrivals.

Why Indonesia, Thailand and Philippines may become even more dangerous places to visit in the near future?

Sidney Jones, director of the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, based in Jakarta said to NYT: “ISIS supporters around the region have been urged to join the jihad in the Philippines if they can’t get to Syria, and to wage war at home if they can’t travel at all.”

This has a deep meaning in view of the Marawi, Mindanao fight that is still ongoing in the Philippines.

The ISIS is also banking on perceived injustices and obvious corrupt practices in all three countries in order to push their agenda.

The sheer number of Malaysian fighters who have joined the fight in Marawi – they are said to be more than 30 – and the fact that they are joined by Indonesians and Singaporeans to fight along side the terror group is terrifying.

It is thus confirmed that the Asean danger zone is consisted of the three countries mentioned above, but sources warned that the ISIS might enlarge their base and attack porous regions of other member states of the Asean.

Myanmar is also within their reach after a bloody attack against the military and police last year – which led to a massive and brutal retaliation against unarmed Rohingya citizens in the province bordering Bangladesh.

There has been attempts to enlarge the conflict within Malaysia’s borders but the police said they are in control of the situation.

A rise in nationalism in the Asean is also an aspect that could bar tourists from entering Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand.

Here are some thoughts:

INDONESIA
Indonesians held a massive rally in which police clash with hard-line Muslims protesting against Jakarta’s governor.

One person was killed as Indonesian police fired tear gas and water cannon to disperse tens of thousands of protesters who rallied.

They were demanding the resignation of the Christian governor of Jakarta for allegedly insulting the Quran.

At least seven people were injured in clashes between demonstrators and police, Jakarta police spokesman Awi Setiyono said on Friday (Nov 4), said Al-Jazeera.

The protest was triggered by accusations that Purnama, better known by his nickname Ahok, insulted Islam by criticising opponents who used Quranic references to attack him ahead of an election in February.

Purnama apologised for the remarks, but his opponents have built a groundswell of support calling for his arrest and incarceration under Indonesia’s tough blasphemy laws – Al Jazeera said.

Purnama has apologised for his remarks, insisting he was not criticising the Quranic verse but those who used it to attack him but he is now jailed in a twist of fate after loosing the gubernatorial battle in Jakarta.

PHILIPPINES
On the one hand, the Philippine destination of Boracay was named the best island in the world in October, confirming the country’s popularity among tourists.

In many other parts of the country, including the ever-popular hub of Manila, the threat of terror attack and crime remains high — and the Philippines government has responded by declaring a state of lawlessness.
Simmering tension in the Philippines erupted in chaos in September when 14 people were killed and more than 70 were injured in a terror attack at a night market in Davao City.

The Philippines is breaking away from its traditional partner, the USA, to join forces with China. A paradigm shift that may change the balance of power in the Asean-Southeast Asian region.
May become source of a military conflict against China?

THAILAND
Thailand’s military junta — which seized power in a 2014 coup — is expected to strengthen its strong grip on the country until King Bhumibol’s son, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, is confirmed as the new king in December.

According to sources, Thailand will be organising elections as soon as next year, and there are hopes that it will work out this time.