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.


2022/26 “Malaysia’s Floods of December 2021: Can Future Disasters be Avoided?” by Serina Rahman


2022 No. 26

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The floods of December 2021 in Malaysia left almost 50 dead, required the evacuation of about 400,000 people, and resulted in an overall estimate of RM6.1 billion in financial losses. Unprecedented volumes of rainfall left areas on the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia under almost four meters of water and turned roads into […]



2022/25 “How to Solve the South China Sea Disputes” by Bill Hayton


2022 No. 25

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Researchers now know enough about the history of the South China Sea to resolve the competing territorial claims to the various rocks and reefs. Disaggregating claims, i.e. breaking down expansive claims to entire island groups into specific claims to named features, opens a route to compromise and the resolution of the disputes. With […]



2022/24 “Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine: Southeast Asian Responses and Why the Conflict Matters to the Region” by Ian Storey and William Choong


2022 No. 24

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Southeast Asia’s initial responses to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine varied considerably, with Singapore taking the strongest stance and Myanmar supporting the Kremlin’s actions. The other ASEAN member states expressed varying levels of concern, with some declaring their neutrality. ASEAN’s statement was the lowest common denominator of these positions. As the conflict intensified, regional […]



2022/23 “The Johor State Election: A Spiderweb of Spats, Splits and Surprises” by Francis E. Hutchinson and Kevin Zhang


2022 No. 23

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY While the opposition coalition, Pakatan Harapan (PH), no longer seems fresh or even united; certain member parties, notably the Democratic Action Party, look strong in urban seats – most of which they have held since 2013. Former Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s Perikatan Nasional coalition may net a handful of seats, leveraging off his […]



2022/22 “China and Chinese Overseas: A Softer Soft Policy Needed?” by Tan Chee-Beng


2022 No. 22

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY This paper describes China’s soft power in relation to Chinese overseas who as a whole constitute a potentially important resource for it. Major institutions involving Chinese overseas include the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the State Council, the China Public Relations Association and the China Council for the Promotion of Peaceful Reunification, as […]



2022/21 “Malaysia’s Oil and Gas Sector: Constant Expectations despite Diminishing Returns” by Pritish Bhattacharya and Francis E. Hutchinson


2022 No. 21

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Malaysia has long been dependent on the oil and gas (O&G) sector for a range of purposes. Not least, the state relies on income from the sector to provide a substantial proportion of public revenue. However, while expectations of the O&G sector have been constant, possibilities of endlessly tapping this resource to underpin […]



2022/20 “Agriculture in a State of Woe Following Myanmar’s 2021 Military Coup” by Aung Tun


2022 No. 20

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Myanmar’s agriculture sector has faced serious impacts from the February 2021 coup. Input costs have skyrocketed; border trade has been disrupted by fighting and COVID-19; and shipping is no longer reliable, whether for the import of inputs or the export of the country’s commodities. The main government subsidy to the sector, in the […]



2022/19 “The Intractable Challenges Facing Energy Trade in Southeast Asia” by Ryan Wong and Lee Poh Onn


2022 No. 19

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY A cross-border power grid offers Southeast Asian countries the potential of greater energy security, affordability and sustainability, while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions through a more efficient network for distributing energy. The benefits of the grid could be fully realised via a robust multilateral energy trade system with harmonised grid codes, ironed-out wheeling […]



2022/18 “Political Instability and Enhanced Monarchy in Malaysia” by Shad Saleem Faruqi


2022 No. 18

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY In relation to the power and functions of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (the Federal Monarch) and the nine State Rulers, the Malaysian Constitution is largely fashioned on the British model of a constitutional monarchy but with local adaptations. Save in some enumerated situations in which royal discretion is explicitly conferred, the King is […]



2022/17 “Southeast Asia Holds Mixed Perceptions of the Biden Administration” by Hoang Thi Ha


2020 No. 17

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The State of Southeast Asia 2022 indicates that Southeast Asians have put more trust in the US under the Biden administration but that the level of trust is uneven among different countries. While Southeast Asians positively acknowledge the Biden administration’s efforts to reinvigorate American leadership in global governance, they are more demanding and […]