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.


2023/21 “From Laissez Faire to Restriction to Cooperation: A History of Thai Responses to China’s Influence on Thai Chinese Education” by Sivarin Lertpusit


2023 No. 21

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Education was employed as an effective soft power[1] tool in developing ‘Chinese nationalism’ among overseas Chinese in Thailand from the early 1900s through to the 1940s. Some schools had ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the Kuomintang (KMT). Political ideologies, communism and Sun Yat Sen’s Three Great Principles were taught secretly […]


2023/20 “Malaysia’s 15th General Election: Ethnicity Remains the Key Factor in Voter Preferences” by Marzuki Mohamad and Ibrahim Suffian


2023 No. 20

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY In Malaysia’s 15th General Election, no single coalition achieved a majority in the Dewan Rakyat. This paved the way for Pakatan Harapan (PH) to form a government with the other major coalitions, except the Perikatan Nasional (PN). This election reaffirmed that change of government in Malaysia is possible. The emergence of post-election political […]


2023/19 “Financing the Green Economy: Options for Indonesia” by Reza Siregar and Maria Monica Wihardja


2023 No. 19

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Indonesia needs to invest approximately US$150–200 billion per year, or about 14% of its GDP, between 2021 and 2030 to meet its 2050 net-zero carbon emissions target. Financing a transition to renewable energy is a daunting task. Without significant fiscal reforms, Indonesia has very limited fiscal space for climate-related discretionary spending while its […]


2023/18 “Forging Anwar’s Cabinet: Fervent Followers, Forbidden Friends, and Former Foes” by Francis E. Hutchinson


2023 No. 18

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim rolled out his cabinet quickly, naming 28 ministers from his sprawling coalition eight days after being sworn in. This was no mean feat. In today’s Malaysia, securing parliamentary majorities requires cobbling together amorphous multi-coalition groupings, with ‘equitable’ apportioning of cabinet positions as the glue. Pragmatism ruled the day, as […]


2023/17 “What to Expect from Indonesia’s ASEAN Chairmanship 2023” by Melinda Martinus


2023 No. 17

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY There are high expectations that Indonesia’s ASEAN chairmanship this year will bolster the regional grouping’s relevance, given Indonesia’s success in convening the G20 Summit last year, and its excellent track record in providing transformational leadership in the region. Indonesia’s chairmanship will face multiple challenges, including the Myanmar crisis. How the ASEAN Chair responds […]


2023/16 “Minilateral Cooperation in ASEAN May Help it Overcome Challenges in Multilateralism” by Joanne Lin and Laura Lee


2023 No. 16

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY ASEAN regionalism is increasingly seen as being slow and ineffective, casting doubts on its leadership role in the region. Minilateral cooperation in ASEAN will allow a smaller group of like-minded ASEAN countries to work together in a targeted manner to deliver results where it matters. Such cooperation is not meant to replace multilateralism […]


2023/15 “Towards More Sustainable Agro-Food Systems in Indonesia” by Maria Monica Wihardja, Bustanul Arifin and Mukhammad Faisol Amir


2023 No. 15

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Indonesia needs to focus on developing sustainable agro-food systems if it is to achieve its three major goals: eradicating extreme poverty, maintaining food and nutrition security and attaining net-zero carbon emissions. This paper lays out major hurdles Indonesia has to clear in order to achieve that ambition: The agricultural sector’s heavy reliance on […]


2023/14 “An End to the Three Generals Era and a New Beginning for Thai Democracy” by Termsak Chalermpalanupap


2023 No. 14

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The “Three ‘Por’ Group” of three former army chiefs, which seized power in the 2014 coup, is falling apart. Two of the three, Palang Pracharat party leader General Prawit Wongsuwan and Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha, are vying for the premiership in a cut-throat competition. The rivalry between the two generals is intensifying, […]


2023/13 “Impact of GE 15 in Sarawak: Preliminary Observations and a Look Ahead” by Lee Poh Onn


2023 No. 13

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The 15th General Election (GE 15) on 19 November 2022 followed eleven months after the Sarawak state election (SSE), which took place on 18 December 2021. Concerns over the costs of living, education, endemicity of Covid-19, and employment were among the uppermost thoughts of Sarawakians when GE 15 was announced. What resulted from […]


2023/12 “The Vaccine R&D System and Production Network in Thailand: Possibilities for Strengthening Domestic and International Partnerships” by Antonio Postigo


2023 No. 12

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY While Thailand enjoys self-sufficiency in many of the vaccines it needs, when COVID-19 hit, the country’s R&D preparedness and response were not strong enough to develop vaccines in a timely manner. And amid supply shortages after COVID-19 vaccines were developed, Thailand, like the rest of ASEAN, initially relied on vaccines produced elsewhere. Thailand […]