ISEAS Perspective 2023

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.


2023/11 “Why Is China’s Global Security Initiative Cautiously Perceived in Southeast Asia?” by Hoang Thi Ha


2023 No. 11

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The Global Security Initiative (GSI) – launched by President Xi Jinping in April 2022 – contains broad general principles that reiterate China’s previous foreign policy and security statements. The GSI is the latest expression of China’s international discourse that seeks to challenge the Western-led global governance system, and especially to de-legitimise the US […]


2023/10 “Rising Hajj Fees and Investment Opportunities in Saudi Arabia: The Impact on ASEAN Countries” by Anggito Abimanyu


2023 No. 10

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The hajj ritual (pilgrimage to Mecca) is mandatory for Muslims who are physically and financially able. But the number of hajj pilgrims is capped at about 2.5 million yearly, and Muslims worldwide thus have to wait their turn to perform Islam’s fifth pillar. The Saudi Arabia government is committed through Saudi Vision 2030 […]


2023/9 “Why Is China’s Global Development Initiative Well Received in Southeast Asia?” by Hoang Thi Ha


2023 No. 9

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The Global Development Initiative (GDI) consolidates China’s international development cooperation agenda and seeks to bolster its role as a development partner for the Global South. Following the Belt and Road Initiative pattern in furthering the domestic-global nexus in China’s economic statecraft, the GDI seeks to synergise with its domestic pivot towards sustainable and […]


2023/8 “Lessons to Learn from the North Morowali Smelter Riot” by Leo Suryadinata and Siwage Dharma Negara


2023 No. 8

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY A recent conflict between Indonesian workers and Chinese workers in North Morowali Regency brings into focus several issues concerning Chinese investments in Indonesia, poor working environments, and bad treatment of local workers. Three factors underlie the escalation of labour discontent into violent conflict: Ethnic and cultural differences, poor governance in labour relations and […]


2023/7 “The Era of Coalitions: The Shifting Nature of Alignments in Asia” by Zack Cooper


2023 No. 7

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Three major shifts are underway in the international order today: from unipolarity to multipolarity, from alliances to alignments, and from multilateralism to minilateralism. As the world becomes more multipolar, many countries are likely to prefer flexible alignments over fixed alliances, creating a far more complex web of relationships. This rise of more flexible […]


2023/6 “Going Beyond Religious Explanations for Indonesia’s Natural Disasters” by Ahmad Muhajir


2022 No. 6

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The Cianjur earthquake in November 2022 sparked a debate among religious elites in Indonesia regarding its cause. A similar process has occurred after almost every natural disaster in the country. This article examines sermons and writings by popular Islamic preachers widely available on social media, particularly YouTube, which provides a range of Islamic […]


2023/5 “Indonesia’s ‘Social Opposition’ Remains Weak but Hopeful” by Max Lane


2023 No. 5

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Over a period of 40 years, NGOs and other activist organisations have emerged as social opposition to a political establishment largely embodied in parliamentary political parties. This social opposition, often still referred to as “civil society”, has developed around opposition to policies in different sectors. This has created the impression that such opposition […]


2023/4 “What to Expect from the Vietnam–South Korea Comprehensive Strategic Partnership” by Huynh Tam Sang


2023 No. 4

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Strengthened mutual trust, growing people-to-people ties, and robust economic cooperation are principal assets guiding Vietnam – South Korea relations today. While bilateral economic cooperation has achieved significant milestones, defence ties remain relatively modest. Vietnam and South Korea have the leverage to strengthen ties further thanks to the comprehensive strategic partnership inked in December […]


2023/3 “The ‘Future-Ready Youth’ of Brunei Darussalam: Meeting National Aspirations through Digital Civic Engagement” by Siti Mazidah Mohamad


2023 No. 3

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Since the 1960s, the youth in Brunei Darussalam has been regarded as significant stakeholders in the country’s national development. In recent years, they have been lauded as “agents of change” and “future-ready”; the “future-ready youth” narrative anchors Brunei’s national aspirations and development under the Wawasan 2035 (Brunei Vision 2035). This article examines the […]


2023/2 “Will Perikatan Nasional’s Electoral Dominance in Kedah Persist in the Upcoming State Election?” by Azmil Tayeb


2023 No. 2

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The recently concluded 15th General Election in Malaysia saw a better-than-expected performance for the Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition, which managed to win 74 seats, making it the second strongest after the Pakatan Harapan (PH) which gained 81 seats. PN’s strong performance came at the expense of Barisan Nasional (BN), especially UMNO, particularly in […]