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.


2021/100 “The Pandemic’s Benefits for Indonesia’s Fintech Sector” by Manggi Taruna Habir


2021 No. 100

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The Covid-19 pandemic has benefited the fintech sector in Indonesia, with more people going online to socialize, work, study and do their shopping. E-payment fintechs have therefore seen their transaction volume rise dramatically, especially among those collaborating with major e-commerce outlets. While bank loan growth has been flat, fintech loan growth has been […]


2021/99 “BRI Projects in Cambodia and Laos Roll On Despite Covid-19” by Vannarith Chheang


2021 No. 99

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY   The Covid-19 pandemic has affected the implementation of BRI projects. However,  China has swiftly taken measures to keep BRI projects going by ensuring financial flow and supply of materials.  This has moderated the impact and made the situation manageable. The key BRI projects in Cambodia (the Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville expressway, new international airports […]


2021/98 “Climate-induced Disasters and Indonesian Politics” by Aninda Dewayanti and Neo Hui Yun Rebecca


2021 No. 98

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Natural disasters in Indonesia have multiplied significantly over the past decade, with tropical storms, landslides and flooding being the top three events that occurred in 2019-2020. Global warming has resulted in heavier rainstorms, increased flooding in low-lying coastal areas and more forest fires. Human activities have contributed to an increased frequency and intensity […]


2021/97 “Min Aung Hlaing and His Generals: Data on the Military Members of Myanmar’s State Administration Council Junta” by Htet Myet Min Tun, Moe Thuzar and Michael Montesano


2021 No. 97

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Following his 1 February seizure of power in Naypyitaw, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing formed an 11-member junta called the State Administration Council (SAC). Eight of the original members of the junta were military officers and the remaining three civilians. While six more civilians were later added to its membership, the line-up of […]


2021/96 “Why is Vietnam’s Military Modernisation Slowing?” by Nguyen The Phuong


2021 No. 96

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Security challenges presented by the South China Sea dispute led to Vietnam’s efforts to modernise its armed forces over the past two decades. However, after the fall of Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung in 2016, the procurement of major military assets has virtually ground to a halt. Apart from budget constraints, another important […]


2021/95 “The Hashtag Battle over Indonesia’s Omnibus Law: From Digital Resistance to Cyber-Control” by Yatun Sastramidjaja and Pradipa P. Rasidi


2021 No. 95

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Since its announcement in February 2020, the controversy over the Omnibus Law on Job Creation has polarized the digital public sphere, as proponents and opponents exploit social media to propagate their stances, often with the use of “pro” and “contra” hashtags. The issue quickly turned into a proxy for pro- and anti-government positions. […]


2021/94 “Feminism and the Pro-Democracy Cause in Thailand” by Wichuta Teeratanabodee


2021 No. 94

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The pro-democracy protests in Thailand, while often characterised by observers as a youth movement, draw in actual fact on participation from many social groups. One of the most prominent of these groups has been young women calling not only for democracy but also for gender equality. Ruptures have occurred between feminist and non-feminist […]


2021/93 “Unpacking China’s Merchandise Trade with ASEAN during the Global Pandemic” by Xiaojun Li


2021 No. 93

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY While the global merchandise trade shrank by 5.3% as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, bilateral trade between China and ASEAN increased in the meantime by 6.7%, thanks not only to a steady increase in bilateral trade but also to the relative decline of trade between China with its other major trading partners. […]


2021/92 “ASEAN’s COVID-19 Recovery Measures: Missing Opportunities for a Green Future” by Melinda Martinus and Sharon Seah


2021 No. 92

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY As of 28 May 2021, ASEAN countries had authorised a total of US$ 730 billion, equivalent to 7.8% of its total GDP in stimulus dollars. This amount is nearly double from July 2020 when lockdowns started to ease. Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, The Philippines and Thailand have borrowed and received a total […]


2021/91 “Biden’s ‘China Challenge’ and Domestic Politics: Implications for Southeast Asia” by Shaun Narine


2021 No. 91

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY There is bipartisan support under the Biden administration to compete with and confront China, reflecting the American desire to maintain its dominant position in the international system. The US’s ability to act as a reliable security partner is heavily constrained by its domestic political paralysis caused by ideological divisions as well as social […]