About

Maximillian is a researcher specializing in political and human rights issues across Asia.He currently works for a humanitarian organisation in Bangkok. 

Maximillian has worked for organisations including the Karen Human Rights Group, Progressive Voice Myanmar, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners & the Border Consortium.

His research has focused on a wide range of issues including labour camps and judicial reform in Myanmar, the legal status of Tibetan refugees, migrant workers in Thailand and identity and citizenship in Nepal. Maximillian studied at the University of Stirling, Tribhuvan University & SOAS. He has worked in Nepal, Thailand and Myanmar since 2014.

On this website is a small selection of Maximillian’s published writing, find him on Twitter at @max_morch.

Book Review “The Struggle for India’s Soul: Nationalism and the Fate of Democracy” by Shashi Tharoor

Since the 2014 election of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Hindu nationalists have dominated India’s political arena. What does this mean for those, like Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, who have a different idea of India? Tharoor’s vision of India as a pluralistic, secular society contrasts vividly with the ethno-religious nationalist state promulgated by the BJP. The clash between these two competing visions of India is the topic for his latest book. The first part of the book outlines nationali

Book Review “Until the World Shatters: Truth, Lies, and the Looting of Myanmar” by Daniel Combs

Resource extraction has been integral to the economy of Myanmar’s borderlands for decades. One of the most valuable of these is jade, mined in northern Kachin state and then smuggled over the border into China. In Until the world shatters: truth lies and the looting of Myanmar, Daniel Combs depicts this extraction, the cost it imposes on civilians and the myriad of uneasy business relationships between parties nominally at war with each other.

Book Review “Hisila: From Revolutionary to First Lady” by Hisila Yami

While in the mid 1990s, with China rapidly embracing capitalism, a Maoist insurgency may have seemed an incongruous throwback to the numerous proxy conflicts that had raged throughout the Cold War. Yet in Nepal, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) had never been more relevant. In 1996, Hisila Yami, daughter of a former government minister, went underground to take part in Nepal’s People’s War, as Maoists battled the Nepali state, fighting against a repressive monarchy. 11 years later, Hisilia

Book Review “All Roads Lead North: Nepal’s Turn to China” by Amish Raj Mulmi

Never in Nepal’s recent history has talk of China been so heated, or controversial, than in recent years. Since India’s 2015 border blockade, which crippled a Nepal still struggling to rebuild from a devasting earthquake, talk in Kathmandu has ramped up about the benefits of a stronger relationship with the nascent superpower to its north. Such a relationship would reset Nepal’s over-reliance on India and bring in a new era of trade and connectivity. This talk is often full of excited chatter of

Can India and Nepal Find a Path to Peaceful Coexistence?

When Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla arrived in Kathmandu in late November, he did something that would have seemed impossible just a few months earlier. After landing at Tribhuvan International Airport, instead of continuing to inflame rhetoric over the bitter territorial dispute that had engulfed the two neighbors, he spoke in Nepali about cooperation and connectivity between the two nations. His visit, and the manner of his address, was in sharp contrast to the acidic barbs th

Closing the border isn’t an option

Due to hostile environments in India and Bangladesh, Rohingyas fleeing genocide in Myanmar may look to Nepal for refugee, and in order to protect Nepal’s sovereignty and national security, they should be barred from entry into Nepal, argued Prasanna Mahat in her article entitled The Rohingya in Nepal published on January 1 in this newspaper. While the situation is undoubtedly complex, the idea that Nepal should deny entry to new arrivals is a problematic argument for several reasons. First of

Citizenship, Identity and Nepal’s Contested 2015 Constitution

Four years ago, celebrations erupted across the Nepali capital after President Ram Baran Yadav stood in front of the Constituent Assembly and promulgated a new constitution. The constitution formally declared Nepal a federal democratic republic and was the product of the second Constituent Assembly which had been in session since 2013. The final proceedings of the constitution were fast tracked in an ephemeral moment of political unity as the country still reeled from the devastating April earth

Api Nampa Conservation Area has been a colossal failure

Nepal suffers from an extraordinarily wide variety of environmental threats. One method of alleviating such threats has been the establishment of Conservation Areas. Yet despite this well-intentioned and relatively successful environmental policy, Api Nampa Conservation Area in Darchula district has not been successful at all. The Api Nampa Conservation Area (ANCA) is Nepal’s latest Conservation Area (CA) and was established in 2010 in an attempt to conserve the ecosystem of far western Nepal.

Nepali Diaspora in Thailand struggles to get citizenship

Most of the Nepalis in Thailand are recent arrivals, coming to work, to study or simply to visit the beach. Yet there are some who have much longer ties to the region. These people of Nepali origin migrated to Burma long ago, but were then pushed out of Burma and have landed in Thailand. The Thai-Nepali Association states there are 80,000 Thais of Nepali descent living in Thailand and some have claimed that over 90 per cent of all Nepalese living in Thailand are refugees from Burma. Today they a

Land Seizures, Protests, and Arrests in Myanmar

Land confiscation is rife in Myanmar. Confiscation of land for plantations, Special Economic Zones, development projects or for use by the military or other armed groups has affected Myanmar for decades. Today, following the 2015 Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement and the easing of sanctions on the country, bringing an increase in foreign capital for development projects, the pace of land confiscation shows no signs of slowing down. The scale of the seizures is not accurately known but in 2016 the F

The British Empire Is Not Dead – It Lives On In Colonial-Era Legislation

The British Empire started to fall apart after the Second World War. Over the new few years, at the culmination of long, hard-fought independence struggles, countries all over the world gained independence and were free, more or less, to pursue their own goals and self-rule. However, an unhelpful inheritance of colonial legislation designed to repress, control, and curtail freedom of expression was bestowed upon these nations.

Monsoon in Mae La

Maximillian Morch writes about how local community organizations in refugee camps mitigate natural disasters but face cuts. A few months ago, widespread flooding from the start of this year’s monsoon caused havoc in refugee camps on Thailand’s western border with Myanmar. The flooding destroyed homes, community buildings and schools. Now the disaster response is almost complete, with civil society and donors providing resources for emergency relief. Yet now, as the waters have subsided, a new q

Easy money

Prime Minister KP Oli’s five-day visit to Beijing in June 2018 resulted in fruitful developments such as the signing of a memorandum of understanding on several items, most notably a Lhasa-Kathmandu railway. India did not see this trip, which will bring significant developmental benefits to Nepal and geopolitical benefits to China, from a positive point of view. For some in New Delhi, such agreements threaten well-established mutual cooperation between India and Nepal. They do not see this devel

Why is Nepal not respected as a sovereign state

The dynamics between Nepal and regional superpowers, China and India point to a much bigger issue that questions the sovereignty of small states. How China and India engages with Nepal, and how Nepal responds provides great insight into the dynamic relationship between two emerging powers. Researchers should always be on the lookout for ways that could shed light on the nature of relations between these big powers.

The Slow Burning Insurgency in Thailand’s Deep South

Thailand’s deep south is far different from the islands that put Thailand on the tourist map. Here, the muezzin is heard more frequently than music from bars. The insurgency which has been ongoing in earnest since 2004 has played out mostly in the three southernmost districts of the country — Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat — and occasionally the southern provinces of Songkhla. The insurgency’s roots in the deep south date back to Thailand’s annexation and conquest of the Malay Sultanate of Patani

The quandary of repatriating refugees along the Thailand–Myanmar border

Ever since political and ethnic conflict erupted in Myanmar in 1948, hundreds of thousands of civilians have been forcibly displaced and left to flee to and settle along the border with Thailand. These refugees are predominantly from Myanmar’s ethnic minorities and as conflict between ethnic armed organisations (EAOs) and the Tatmadaw (Myanmar’s military) continues, many are stuck between the two countries in limbo.

Nepal and the Rohingya Refugees

Images of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya fleeing all manner of atrocities in northern Rakhine state in western Myanmar have flooded television screens and newspapers over the last few months. Over 500,000 Rohingya are believed to have fled in order to escape persecution by the Tatmadaw, Myanmar’s military. Stories of rape, murder, and torture have now become commonplace. While the overwhelming majority of refugees are currently in Bangladesh, several hundred Rohingya have sought refuge in Nep

Forgotten Resources

If, the state of a nations libraries can tell us anything about a society, then Nepal is in trouble. Nepal’s libraries which have long suffered from a lack of attention and chronic under-funding suffered a devastating blow last April and has yet to bounce back. The earthquake caused huge destruction to the physical structure of libraries and now almost 2 years of neglect has damaged the interior and the truly important part of any library, the books themselves. The majority of Kathmandu’s libraries were

Trekking to the Rolwaling Valley and Tso Rolpa Lake

The first Western exploration of the Rolwaling Valley was undertaken by Eric Shipton and his team at the end of the 1951 British Mount Everest Reconnaissance Expedition. After extensive exploration of the Solukhumbu for potential routes to tackle an Everest summit attempt, the team decided on their return to cross over the Tashi Lapsek Pass and return to Kathmandu via the as-yet-unexplored Rolwaling Valley. It was here that Shipton took the iconic and original yeti footprint photographs, startin
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