While King Bhumibol has clearly been the defining figure in post-war Thai history, the men behind him, such as Prem Tinsulanonda, have also been immensely important in themselves. Coming from a relatively humble background (his father was a prison warden) Prem joined the army and would eventually rise to prominence as King Bhumibol's most trusted advisor and aide.
For much of Asia, August the month for flag-waving, patriotic songs and emotive nationalist videos. But what is a nation? If it’s just a random grouping of people – what brings and then keeps them together? Is it a shared history, religion, geography, culture or language? Almost everyone resides in one of 186 nation-states that exist. But as they have strengthened, life for those who are excluded has become infinitely more difficult.
Vietnam is the world’s second-largest coffee producer—exporting an estimated USD3.5 billion of the commodity in 2018. They are second only to Brazilians, who exported USD5.2 billion worth of coffee in the same year. However, just over thirty years ago (back in 1986), the republic only managed to grow some 300,000 60kg bags of coffee beans. In 2018, volumes had sky-rocketed to over 30 million bags: a hundredfold increase. What changed?
Mawlamyine (or Moulmein) is one of those Southeast Asian cities like Sandakan, Bacolod and Songkhla; where the past looms large but the present seems faded and unpromising. The kinds of places that young people yearn to leave in search of jobs and money.