ISEAS Perspective 2021

ISEAS Perspective provides analysis of specific current events and their significance for the Southeast Asian region. This will be published occasionally, and is aimed at keeping decision-makers in both the public and private sectors informed; as well as scholars, laymen and the interested public. This series undergoes a peer-review process.


2021/120 “The ASEAN-China Partnership: Balancing Merits and Demerits” by Farah Nadine Seth and Sharon Seah


2021 No. 120

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY An ASEAN-China Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (AC-CSP) may be on the cards, but ASEAN fears that adopting it may be construed as taking sides. While a pragmatic analysis of what an AC-CSP would bring to the table across its three pillars of cooperation is needed, ASEAN should also consider the implications for the bloc’s […]


2021/119 “Buttressing the Anti-NLD Project: Data on the Civilian Members of Myanmar’s State Administration Council Junta” by Htet Myet Min Tun, Moe Thuzar and Michael Montesano


2021 No. 119

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY In a break with precedents set following military coups in the country in 1962 and 1988, Myanmar’s State Administration Council (SAC) junta has had civilians among its members since the time of its inception. Ten of the 19 members of the SAC are civilians, and among them, only two or three are ethnic […]


2021/118 “Malaysia’s Democratic Action Party (DAP): Background and Inner Workings” by Francis E. Hutchinson and Kevin Zhang


2021 No. 118

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Long regarded as the opposition grouping par excellence, the Democratic Action Party (DAP) is now an important player in the forming of governments in Malaysia. Its members have helmed state administrations and held key cabinet positions, and the DAP currently has 42 Members of Parliament – more than any other party. Despite its […]


2021/117 “The Russia-China Strategic Partnership and Southeast Asia: Alignments and Divergences” by Ian Storey


2021 No. 117

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Russia-China relations are at an historic high due to mutual concerns over US primacy, economic synergies and strong interpersonal ties between their national leaders. Despite deepening military cooperation and closer diplomatic coordination, a formal alliance between Russia and China is not in prospect as this would constrain their strategic autonomy and undercut key […]


2021/116 “The COVID-19 Recession: Rough Times for Young Malaysians” by Lee Hwok Aun and Kevin Zhang


2021 No. 116

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The COVID-19 recession has exacerbated the already challenging labour market conditions for Malaysia’s youth (aged 15-24). Unemployment rose across all age groups in 2020. However, Malaysian youths have continually registered higher levels of unemployment, and also withdrew from the labour force at a rate substantially higher than for other age groups. Job losses […]


2021/115 “Understanding the Selective Hesitancy towards Chinese Vaccines in Southeast Asia” by Khairulanwar Zaini and Hoang Thi Ha


2021 No. 115

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY China has supplied 190 million doses of its homegrown vaccines to Southeast Asia. However, perceptions of Chinese vaccines among the regional public largely trend negatively, suggesting a non-linear relationship between China’s vaccine diplomacy and its soft power in the region – especially at the popular level. An examination of six countries (Indonesia, Malaysia, […]


2021/114 “Vietnam Continues Efforts to Reduce Trade Dependence on China” by Bich T. Tran


2021 No. 114

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Vietnam’s trade deficit with China has grown rapidly since 2001. Its heavy dependence on Chinese intermediate and capital goods creates vulnerabilities in its entire production chain. China has a history of using trade as a weapon to punish countries with which it has disputes. Escalating tensions in the South China Sea have served […]


2021/113 “Grave Failures in Policy and Communication in Indonesia during the COVID-19 Pandemic” by Yanuar Nugroho and Sofie Shinta Syarief


2021 No. 113

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY More than a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, the Indonesian government’s weak handling of the crisis has led to a catastrophic second wave. The magnitude of Indonesia’s current crisis seems to have stemmed from the government’s lack of political  resolve to curb the pandemic and prioritise public health and safety over economic considerations, […]


2021/112 “Financial Inclusion and Consumer Finance in Vietnam: Challenges and Approaches to Credit Scoring” by Nicolas Lainez, Bui Thi Thu Doai, Trinh Phan Khanh, Le To Linh, To Thu Phuong, and Emmanuel Pannier


2021 No. 112

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Consumer finance has grown rapidly in Vietnam despite millions of its citizens being unbanked. A key prerequisite for boosting consumer finance and financial inclusion is the application of credit scoring technologies in the lending process. Credit scoring technologies have expanded considerably in Vietnam, owing to the production of credit data, technological improvements, and […]


2021/111 “The Role of Export Diversification in ASEAN’s Trade with China” by Phi Minh Hong


2021 No. 111

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The participation of China and its suppliers in the Global Value Chains has shaped a new North-South model of trade where exports from a developing economy (China) to advanced economies are affected by the trade it has with other developing countries. Due to this pattern of trade, a real appreciation in the Renminbi […]