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.


2021/150 “The Melaka State Election: Unwanted, Unwieldy, and Unpredictable” by Francis E. Hutchinson and Kevin Zhang


2021 No. 150

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The upcoming Melaka state election due on November 20 will be a useful barometer of the electoral fortunes of Malaysia’s shifting alliances and overlapping coalitions, particularly on the Peninsula. Melaka state’s socio-economic characteristics broadly mirror the nation’s, and it has been governed by coalitions comprised of all the large parties in the past. […]


2021/149 “Jokowi’s Moderasi Beragama: Challenge and Opportunity” by Syafiq Hasyim


2020 No. 149

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY In 2019, the Ministry of Religious Affairs (MORA) introduced Moderasi Beragama (Moderation of Religiosity) as a new national policy for addressing the threat of religious extremism and intolerance in Indonesia which has become more active over the past two decades. This might also have been a move to curb the political exploitation of […]


2021/148 “Maritime Capacity-building Cooperation between Japan and Vietnam: A Confluence of Strategic Interests” by Hanh Nguyen


2021 No. 148

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Japan’s maritime capacity-building assistance for Vietnam, which includes training seminars, joint exercises and equipment transfer, has become a prominent feature in bilateral cooperation. The cooperation is driven by their increasingly convergent strategic interests, including preserving the safety of maritime trade routes and countering China’s increasing assertiveness in territorial and maritime disputes. Capacity-building assistance […]


2021/147 “Digital Trade in Southeast Asia: Measurements and Policy Directions” by Cassey Lee


2021 No. 147

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Digital trade has become increasingly important and will contribute towards the post-pandemic economic recovery. Policy-making to enhance digital trade is taking place amidst limited data on the digital economy. The resulting knowledge-gap on digital trade is being rectified by recent efforts to better conceptualise and measure digital trade. Efforts are also being made […]


2021/146 ““Thalu Gas”: The Other Version of the “Thai Youth Movement”” by Anusorn Unno


2021 No. 146

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY While the protests in Thailand which started in 2020 mark students’ return to the political arena, they differ from the student movements of the mid-1970s in that one of their demands is for the reform of the country’s monarchy.  The protests reached their peak between July and October 2020 and were in decline […]


2021/145 “Chinese Vaccine Diplomacy in The Philippines and Its Impacts” by Lucio Blanco Pitlo III


2020 No. 145

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Improved bilateral relations paved the way for China’s vaccine diplomacy in The Philippines. Manila gained early access to critical jabs while Beijing received another endorsement for its global dose drive. President Duterte taking a Sinopharm shot and huge orders of Sinovac doses were votes of confidence for China. But reliance on Chinese jabs […]


2021/144 “Recurring Themes in the Politics of Parti Keadilan Rakyat” by Khoo Boo Teik


2021 No. 144

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The origin and evolution of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR, or People’s Justice Party) were tied to crises that befell successive regimes from 1998 to 2018. The present crisis is qualitatively different because the Covid-19 pandemic pre-empted former modes of political mobilization. Today, PKR will have to negotiate between inhibited activism and profitless quietude […]


2021/143 “Debunking Five Myths on Energy Transition in Southeast Asia” by Ryan Wong


2021 No. 143

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The Southeast Asia Climate Outlook Survey 2021 has provided novel data on professional positions on reducing coal reliance, enduring short economic pain, and investing in renewables. These observations, some of which debunk myths on the issues, include the following: Young people lose their enthusiasm for climate advocacy and rapid energy transition as they […]


2021/142 “Uncertainties Surrounding the 2024 Indonesian Presidential Election” by Max Lane


2021 No. 142

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Even though the next presidential and parliamentary elections are three years away, open discussion and manoeuvring have already begun, including calls for a date to be set immediately. This is partly motivated by the uncertainty arising from the requirement for presidential candidates to be nominated by political parties or coalitions having 20% of […]


2021/141 “Indonesia’s Budget Stretched to Control a Pandemic and to Revive a Struggling Economy” by Manggi Habir and Siwage Dharma Negara


2021 No. 141

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The second major Covid-19 surge driven by the Delta variant in the second half of 2021 has led to another round of social restrictions, thereby slowing down the economy’s fragile recovery. This complicates budget implementation for the remaining part of the year as well as the planning for 2022. This year’s improved budget […]