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.


2021/140 “The ESG Practices of Chinese State-owned Enterprises in Cambodia” by Chheang Vannarith


2021 No. 140

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY  Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) reporting has gained policy traction over the years, and some Chinese companies have started implementing ESG procedures following their government’s announcement to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. Although there are attempts to improve sustainability and responsible business, Chinese state-owned enterprises in Cambodia, however, do not have ESG policy […]


2021/139 “How Much Longer can Thailand’s Prime Minister Rule Before Reaching the Eight-year Limit?” by Termsak Chalermpalanupap


2021 No. 139

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY A dispute has emerged over when Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-ocha’s premiership will reach the constitutional limit. Thailand’s 2017 Constitution limits to eight years the total duration of time that a person can hold the premiership, whether those years are consecutive or not. Opposition parties contend that General Prayut’s premiership will reach the […]


2021/138 “Why US Rivalry with China Will Endure: Implications for Southeast Asia” by Robert Sutter


2021 No. 138

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Remarkably close cooperation begun in 2018 between the Executive Branch and the bipartisan majorities in Congress continues to drive strong American counter-measures against key Chinese challenges, including in Asia. Though preoccupied with domestic priorities, notably ambitious infrastructure legislation and wide-ranging legislation on economic equity, climate change, education, and immigration, President Biden has put […]


2021/137 “An Attempt to Lead Myanmar Back to the Future? Data on the State Administration Council Regime’s Union Ministers” by Htet Myet Min Tun, Moe Thuzar and Michael Montesano


2021 No. 137

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY                                                                      Constituted as a “provisional” government on 1 August, 28 Union ministers, holding a total of 29 portfolios, now serve Myanmar’s State Administration Council (SAC) regime. Observers believe that the SAC’s ministerial appointments reflect an aspiration to achieve performance legitimacy for the regime that seized power in the 1 February coup. Five Union ministers […]


2021/136 “Climate Change: Can We Fix The Future Through Franchising?” by Michael T Schaper and Jason Gehrke


2021 No. 136

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Significantly reducing business-related greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) in Southeast Asia will require governments to work with the small-and medium-sized enterprise (SME) sector, many of which trade as franchisees of major chains. There are now at least 4,300 franchise systems operating in the ASEAN region, with more than 150,000 franchisee SME firms. The real […]


2021/135 “Indonesia’s Economic Recovery Programmes: Progress and Challenges” by Siwage Dharma Negara and Muhammad Oktovan Tito


2021 No. 135

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Indonesia is struggling to deal with the economic and social impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has reversed its development achievements over the last two decades. In response to the current pandemic wave, the government has introduced new restrictions on public activities (Emergency PPKM) and added US$3 billion into its National Economic Recovery […]


2021/134 “Southeast Asian Responses to AUKUS: Arms Racing, Non-Proliferation and Regional Stability” by William Choong and Ian Storey


2021 No. 134

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Southeast Asian responses to the Australia-UK-US (AUKUS) technology-sharing agreement, which aims to provide Australia with nuclear-powered submarines, have varied considerably. Malaysia and Indonesia have warned the agreement could trigger an arms race, undermine regional stability and weaken nuclear non-proliferation regimes. The Philippines’ national-security establishment has welcomed AUKUS though President Duterte shares the concerns […]


2021/133 “Peril or Opportunity? The Case of Malaysia’s First Non-party Leader Prime Minister” by Ooi Kok Hin


2021 No. 133

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Ismail Sabri Yaakob, Malaysia’s ninth Prime Minister, is the first who is not a party leader. He is only the third highest-ranked leader in UMNO. He is Malaysia’s third premier in 39 months. In his first Prime Ministerial address, Ismail Sabri articulated a new vision called “Keluarga Malaysia” (Malaysian Family), affirming inclusiveness and […]


2021/132 “Reform of Parliament: Lessons from 2020-2021” by Shad Saleem Faruqi


2021 No. 132

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY An elected and representative legislature is the central pillar of a democratic polity. One third of the Articles of the Constitution of Malaysia require Parliament to perform a number of essential functions, such as the making of laws, scrutiny of executive policy, supervision of national finance, and control of emergency powers. The House […]


2021/131 “Getting On Board with Climate Change: A New Challenge for Company Directors in Southeast Asia” by Michael T Schaper


2021 No. 131

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Legal, regulatory, strategic and external pressure is growing on company directors and boards to address climate change, reduce emissions and adapt to a warmer world. However, the level of activity and focus in Southeast Asia on this matter is lower than in many other jurisdictions. Only one country in ASEAN – Malaysia – […]