Straight Talk Southeast Asia is a weekly podcast series that covers politics in Southeast Asia, analysing elections, conflict, political risk, governance and human rights. Along with dissecting the political muck, Bridget Welsh engages with those shaping politics and political narratives in the region.

This show is produced by Renegade Radio.


Published: 24 August 2023

Episode 17 - Cambodia's Transition

This episode looks at the ongoing political and economic transition taking place in Cambodia. Bradley Murg shares his insights on the challenges ahead for Cambodia’s political economy, while Bridget shares her thoughts on facets ahead for the political change in leadership.

Published: 17 July 2023

Episode 16 - Democratic Betrayal in Thailand?

This episode looks at developments in Thai politics surrounding the first vote for the prime minister and the blocking of Move Forward’s Pita Limjaroenrat as prime minister. In a continued conversation with University of Michigan scholar Ken Mathis Lohatepanont.

Published: 4 July 2023

Episode 15 - Towards a Thai Government and Malaysia’s State Election Primer

This episode features a primer on Malaysia’s upcoming state elections by Bridget Welsh and a discussion of political developments in Thailand with political analyst Ken Lohatepanont as its parliament meets after the historic May 2023 elections.

Published: 29 June 2023

Episode 14 - Perspective of LGBTIQ+ Rights in Southeast Asia

It’s Pride month. This episode looks at the unique challenges the LGBTIQ+ communities in Southeast Asia face and how the debates over rights and forms of activism have changed. We discuss these issues with academic Anthony Langlois who has written widely on gender and sexuality rights in the region and human rights activist Thi Laga who leads JusticeforSisters. 

Additional info:

Southeast Asia: An ongoing duel with conservative forces

Sexuality and Gender Diversity Rights in Southeast Asia

Journal of Human Rights, Volume 20, Issue 2 (2021)

Published: 16 June 2023

Episode 13 - Singapore Presidency Election with Gillian Koh

Singapore will decide on its next president this year. Join me with Dr. Gillian Koh to discuss recent entrants into the race, the role of the Singapore presidency and issues tied to a possible election.

Additional info:

Singapore Presidential Election 2023

Published: 8 June 2023

Episode 12 - Discussing the Shangri-La Dialogue with Aaron Connelly

Every year defence ministers meet in Singapore as part of the annual Shangri-La Dialogue organized by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). In this episode with IISS Senior Fellow Aaron Connelly we discuss the geopolitical issues raised, with special attention to Southeast Asia.

Published: 2 June 2023

Episode 11 - Rohingya at Risk

One of the most targeted populations in the world, Rohingya continue to be at risk. After victimization from human trafficking, genocide, refugees lacking mobility, right to work and education, this month they were in path of Cyclone Mocha, facing reduction of humanitarian support and renewed calls for repatriation. Join me in conversation of risks and responses with experts and advocates Tun Khin and Lilianne Fan.

Published: 27 May 2023

Episode 10 - Timor Leste's Polls and Challenges with Michael Leach

In this episode, Dr. Bridget Welsh is joined by Dr. Michael Leach, Professor of Politics from Swinburne University of Technology, Australia, in an analysis of Timor Leste’s May elections – the results and factors shaping the polls and the challenges ahead for this young country that stands out for being the most democratic in Southeast Asia.

Published: 22 May 2023

Episode 9 - Thailand's 'Revolutionary' Election With Chris Baker

On May 14 Thais overwhelmingly rejected conservative/military rule at the polls. Join me for a conversation about how this election reflects broader changes in Thai society, the emergence of new political forces, and compares to its past with historian Dr. Chris Baker.

Published: 18 May 2023

Episode 8 - Zahid's Vision? Where to UMNO?

UMNO is one of Southeast Asia’s oldest parties. For decades it failed to reform from within. Now new political conditions are forcing change, making the party address hard issues of its narrative and its place in Malaysia’s politics. Join a conversation with on-the-ground journalist Amirul Ruslan and Dr Bridget Welsh on the challenges the party faces, Zahid’s vision and the primacy of survival.

Published: 17 May 2023

Episode 7 - Imperfect Partners: US-Southeast Asia with Scot Marciel

In this episode, Dr. Bridget Welsh talks with seasoned US diplomat Scot Marciel, who shares insights from his latest book Imperfect Partners on US-Southeast Asia relations. Marciel is based at the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center in Standford and served over 37 years across the region.

Published: 15 March 2023

Episode 6 - Killing Politicians for Hire in the Philippines

In this episode, Bridget discusses more on the recent political violence in the Philippines, from political assassinations to guns for hire. She speaks with Peter Kreuzer from the Peace Research Institute in Frankfurt as well as with Ross Tugade from Ateneo de Manila University, to share different perspectives on these issues.

Additional info:

Courtesy resignations won’t solve the Philippine National Police’s problems

Killing Politicians in the Philippines: Who, Where, When, and Why, PRIF Report 2/2022 

If You Can’t Beat Them, Kill Them. Fatal Violence Against Politicians in the Philippines, PRIF Report 2/2021

Published: 8 March 2023

Episode 5 - Ukraine War and Southeast Asia: Reluctance or Realism?

This episode looks at why Southeast governments have been reluctant to criticise Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Bridget Welsh is joined by regional scholars Ian Chong and Hoo Chiew Ping who offer different perspectives of responses and Russia’s influence in Southeast Asia.


Ian Chong is associate professor of political science at NUS and a non-resident fellow of Carnegie China.

Hoo Chiew Ping is a Senior Lecturer at Strategic Studies and International Relations at National University Malaysia (UKM).

Published: 1 March 2023

Episode 4 - Closing Down Democracy in Cambodia?

Cambodia has shut down its last independent media organization, VOD. Episode 4 discusses what this means for national politics and the impact on media with scholar Sophal Ear and human rights activist Sopheap Chak.


Sophal Ear is an associate professor and associate dean at Thunderbird School for Global Management, specializing on Cambodia and political economy of the region.

Sopheap Chak is the Executive Director for Cambodian Center for Human Rights.

Published: 22 February 2023

Episode 3 - Turning the Page in Southern Thailand Conflict?

With a new peace talk facilitator from Malaysia and Thailand’s national elections coming in May, there are new opportunities to address the protracted conflict in southern Thailand. Join Bridget Welsh and security expert Don Pathan discussing the conflict and obstacles ahead.


Don Pathan is an independent security and conflict analyst based in Thailand.

Published: 15 February 2023

Episode 2 - Working Inside-Outside Human Rights Southeast Asia

In the wake of annual reports on human rights, for this episode Bridget Welsh speaks to human rights activists, Phil Robertson and AICHR Chair Yuyun Wahyuningrum on the region’s human rights challenges and evolving strategies.


HE Yuyun Wahyuningrum is a human rights activist, chair of ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission of Human Rights (AICHR) and the representative from Indonesia.

Phil Robertson is the deputy director of Human Rights Watch.

Published: 8 February 2023

Episode 1 - Way Out of Crisis in Myanmar?

Three years on, Myanmar’s crisis is far from over. This episode discussed different dimensions of the crisis, and speaks with seasoned Myanmar journalist Thin Lei Win and Malaysia’s former Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah on what steps need to be taken to respond to the crisis.


YB Saifuddin Abdullah is the MP for Indera Mahkota and Malaysia’s former Foreign Minister from 2018-2020, 2021-2022.

Thin Lei Win is a Myanmar journalist who founded Kite Tales and Thin Ink, analysing food security and food systems globally.

Published: 7 February 2023

Introducing Straight Talk Southeast Asia

In this trailer episode, host Dr. Bridget Welsh introduces the premise of this show and what we will discuss every episode. It can range from news and current affairs within the Southeast Asian region, to issues on politics, governance, inequality, and more that we believe to be of the upmost importance if you want to be informed about Southeast Asia.

Keep up to date with the latest episode to be informed of the latest news, so we can understand this region, its nature, politics, and each other in the process as well. See you in the next episode!

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