Security Threats for Southeast Asian Nations

Real security threats for Southeast Asian Nations
Thursday, 25 September 2014

PHNOM PENH (Khmer Times) – Southeast Asia faces increasing security threats stemming from climate change, natural disasters, water-food-energy security, and international migration. Without effectively addressing these issues, ASEAN community building is just a dream. Therefore, collective leadership and partnership are needed to address these issues.

Climate change

Due to geography, poverty, and weak institutions, Southeast Asia is vulnerable to threats caused by climate change. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, climate change will impact the economies of Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam more than twice the global average.

Climate change leads to disruption of food production, extreme weather, increased frequency of natural disasters, water supply disruptions, migration, and public health problems.

Natural disasters

Southeast Asia is particularly vulnerable to natural disasters, such as typhoons, cyclones, volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, flood, and drought. The region ranks high for multiple hazards. Since 2000, the region has been hit by a series of calamities — the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the 2008 cyclone in Myanmar, the 2010 floods in Cambodia and Thailand, the 2010 eruption of Mount Merapi in Indonesia, the 2010 cyclone Giri in Myanmar, and, the 2013 Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. This seriously impacted millions of people and damaged infrastructure.

Food insecurity

Drought and floods are the clearest threats to food production. The hunger rate in Southeast Asia was 11% in 2013, down (from 31% two decades earlier.

The Mekong River Basin faces high water security risk. Population growth, increasing demand for water for farming, urbanization, hydropower dams, construction along the mainstream of the Mekong River, and climate change create new pressures on the River. About 20% of local people do not have safe drinking water.

Energy security

Energy demand has increased dramatically in the region. From 2011 to 2035, energy demand is to nearly double. Oil remains the dominant fuel, followed by gas and coal. In terms of access to electricity, 22% (134 million) of the total population of ASEAN still do not have access to electricity. Cambodia and Myanmar have the highest rates, with 66% and 51% respectively. Almost half of the region’s population rely on wood or charcoal for cooking.

International migration

Southeast Asia is both a source and destination of international migration Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam are exporting countries for migrant workers. Singapore is the receiving country. Thailand and Malaysia are both exporting and receiving countries of migrant workers. It is estimated that 35%, of workers in Singapore, or 1 million people, are foreigners. In Malaysia, there are twice as many – 2 million – or 16% of the total population. Thailand hosts more than 2 million migrant workers from Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia.

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