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.


2023/41 “Vietnam’s Anti-corruption Campaign: Economic and Political Impacts” by Nguyen Khac Giang


2023 No. 41

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Vietnam’s current anti-corruption campaign, which led to the forced resignations of the state president and two deputy prime ministers in early 2023, is the most comprehensive anti-corruption effort in the history of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV). The campaign has had some positive impacts on the economy, including reducing the informal costs […]


2023/40 “A Strategic Reset?: The Philippines-United States Alliance under President Marcos Jr.” by Aries A. Arugay and Ian Storey


2023 No. 40

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The Philippines-United States alliance has been reinvigorated since Ferdinand Marcos Jr. was elected president in May 2022. Marcos Jr’s US policy radically departs from his predecessor given his appreciation of the Philippines’ security vulnerabilities in the South China Sea and intensified US-China rivalry in the Indo-Pacific region. Since Marcos took office, the two […]


2023/39 “Perak and Islamic Education: PAS’ Gateway to the West Coast” by Mohd Faizal Musa and Afra Alatas


2023 No. 39

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The Islamic Party of Malaysia (PAS) baffled many when it claimed the highest number of parliamentary seats after the 15th General Election (GE) in November 2022. The numbers indicate that their influence is no longer restricted to the east coast, but that they are gradually making inroads into the west coast, as evident […]


2023/38 “Jokowi’s High Approval Ratings Make Him Potential Kingmaker” by Burhanuddin Muhtadi


2023 No. 38

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Jokowi has maintained high public approval, with a 73.1% approval rating in March 2023. The economy, perceived to be improving post-pandemic, is the primary source for his public satisfaction. President Jokowi’s approval rating reflects the public’s opinion of his administration and affects the electoral fortunes of certain political parties and candidates. However, the […]


2023/37 “Is the US a Serious Competitor to China in the Lower Mekong?” by Hoang Thi Ha


2023 No. 37

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY After decades of benign neglect, the US has increased its engagement in the Lower Mekong in the last decade, partly driven by the US-China competition. The US’ strategic intent is to enhance the Lower Mekong states’ resilience to Chinese influence by supporting their “autonomy, economic independence, good governance and sustainable growth”. Whereas China […]


2023/36 “Why Malaysia’s Unity Government Will (Probably) Survive” by Kai Ostwald


2023 No. 36

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Malaysia’s 15th general election (GE15) resulted in a grand-coalition government comprised of former arch rivals. Can the new government survive in the face of the opposition’s attempts to topple it? This Perspective argues that several stabilizing factors give the new government a strong chance of remaining in power for the foreseeable future. An […]


2023/35 “Myanmar’s “Sham” Election Threatens the 2025 Goals of the Arakan Rebels” by Kyaw Hsan Hlaing


2023 No. 35

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY After fighting the Myanmar military fiercely for two years, the Arakan Army had, by the end of 2020, established a parallel administration and military bases in Rakhine State. It seemed that “Arakan Dream 2020” was thus accomplished. While the relationship between the Rakhine political parties and the United League of Arakan/Arakan Army (ULA/AA) […]


2023/34 “Diversity in Malaysia’s Civil Service: From Venting Old Grouses to Seeking New Grounds” by Lee Hwok Aun


2023 No. 34

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY A call for increased minority representation in Malaysia’s civil service recently sparked another fierce public debate. Ethnic Malays, comprising 57 per cent of Malaysian citizens, account for 78 per cent of federal government staff — and 80 per cent of top decision-making positions. The lack of diversity, and minority groups’ sense of exclusion, […]


2023/33 “Forgiving Without Forgetting: Vietnam’s Peace Diplomacy over South Korean Atrocities in the Vietnam War” by Phan Xuan Dung


2023 No. 33

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY South Korea’s participation in the Vietnam War was marked by various atrocities, including massacres and sexual violence against thousands of Vietnamese civilians. Despite South Korea’s refusal to acknowledge these atrocities, Vietnam’s peace diplomacy — which involves shelving historical issues to promote cooperative and peaceful interactions with former foes — allowed for bilateral relations […]


2023/32 “Expressions of Religiosity on Social Media among Muslim Youths in Brunei” by Siti Mazidah Mohamad


2023 No. 32

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Digital platforms, new media, and popular culture have diversified Muslims’ production and consumption of religious content, their forms of religious expression, and even their religiosity. Tech-savvy and proactive young Muslims who seek and reproduce religious knowledge outside traditional and institutional structures are at the core of this socio-religious transformation. This article examines young […]