ISEAS Perspective 2022

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.


2022/48 “Enhancing Regulatory Cooperation for Agricultural Trade in the Greater Mekong Subregion” by Sithanonxay Suvannaphakdy


2022 No. 48

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The intra-regional trade in agricultural products among six countries in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), namely China, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, recorded a robust growth of 10.3 percent per annum before the pandemic and 9.2 percent during the pandemic in 2020. Thailand is the largest exporter, and China is the largest […]



2022/47 “The Russia-Ukraine War and its Potential Impact on Russia’s Arms Sales to Southeast Asia” by Ian Storey


2022 No. 47

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Russia has been the largest exporter of arms to Southeast Asia over the past two decades but since 2014 the value of its defence sales to the region has fallen sharply. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will not only make it difficult for the country’s defence industry to revive sales but will likely lead […]



2022/46 “Vietnam’s Peacekeeping Contributions: Drivers and Prospects” by Phan Xuan Dung and Nguyen Cao Viet Hung


2022 No. 46

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Despite being a newcomer, Vietnam has emerged as an active contributor to United Nations Peacekeeping Operations (UN PKO). In the past, Vietnam was sceptical of such peacekeeping operations, but its quest for international integration under the Đổi Mới (Renovation) policy gradually socialised Vietnam into these peacekeeping norms. Vietnam’s growing peacekeeping commitments are also […]



2022/45 “Hydropower Development in Sarawak: Sensitivities over Sustainability and China’s Involvement” by Tham Siew Yean


2020 No. 45

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY China has become the most significant foreign partner in Sarawak’s hydropower development, as its extensive knowledge and experience in this domain dovetails with Sarawak’s ambitious programme to develop hydropower for its own needs and for export to the region. The construction of large dams has inevitably attracted controversy and protests over its negative […]



2022/44 “The Russia-Ukraine War: Unpacking Online Pro-Russia Narratives in Vietnam” by Hoang Thi Ha and Dien Nguyen An Luong


2022 No. 44

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The Russia-Ukraine war’s ramifications for Vietnam are felt beyond the economic and diplomatic realms. It has in fact become an online hotbed of conflicting and confounding narratives that demonstrate different worldviews and political leanings among Vietnamese netizens. An examination of 28 Facebook pages/groups active in trending pro-Russia narratives finds an ‘echo chamber’ that […]



2022/43 “More Political Implications Than Meet the Eye in Upcoming Election for Bangkok Governor” by Termsak Chalermpalanupap


2022 No. 43

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Bangkok’s voters will go to the polls to elect a new governor on 22 May 2022. A record number of 31 candidates have entered the race for the post, though one has since been disqualified. The clear front-runner is Dr Chadchart Sittipunt, a former transport minister, and the Phuea Thai Party’s No. 2 […]



2022/42 “Cambodian Perception of the New Chinese” by Vannarith Chheang*


2022 No. 42

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY  The New Chinese of Cambodia—Chinese migrants who arrived in the country after the 1990s—reinforce the existing politico-economic order characterized by the dominant economic role of the ethnic Chinese.  A preliminary online survey of 100 respondents was conducted in February 2022 to understand public perception of the New Chinese in Cambodia. The findings show […]



2022/41 “Social Media Discourse in Malaysia on the Russia-Ukraine Conflict: Rationales for Pro-Russia Sentiments” by Benjamin Y.H. Loh and Munira Mustaffa


2022 No. 41

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY In late February 2022, Russian forces launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine which sent shockwaves around the world. As the world responded with sanctions against Russia, Moscow increased its public relations campaign to justify its invasion and recast the narrative in the media and on the internet. The Malaysian government’s initial responses were […]



2022/40 “Cambodia’s Post-Pandemic Recovery and Future Growth: Key Challenges” by David Freedman and Jayant Menon


2022 No. 40

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Almost two years after the pandemic, Cambodia is moving ahead with re-opening. An impressive vaccination campaign and pragmatic economic policies have helped position the country for economic recovery. However, risks remain and three key challenges must be addressed to support recovery and long-term growth. The first challenge relates to maintaining health security and […]



2022/39 ““Ukraine Today, Taiwan Tomorrow”: Should Southeast Asia Worry?” by Drew Thompson


2022 No. 39

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a stark reminder of the possibility that the fate of Taiwan may be eventually decided by military force. Japan and Australia have recently taken steps, especially through strengthened security ties with the US, to contribute to efforts to deter Beijing from using force, indicating their changed assessment of […]