“Riding the Japanese Wave”, a Commentary by Malcolm Cook


Commentary 2016/39, 2 August 2016

Three decisions announced this week by three major Japanese services firms in three different Southeast Asia markets signal a new wave of Japanese corporate investment in the region that is far from cresting:


“Fast-Track Talks on the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea: An Opportunity to Move Forward”, a Commentary by Hoang Thi Ha


Commentary 2016/38, 1 August 2016

China’s proposal at the ASEAN Post-Ministerial Conference (PMC) on 26 July 2016 to complete consultations on a Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea (SCS) by July 2017 is a welcome development. The announcement came at a time of great anxiety over rising tensions in SCS and concerns over China’s response to the Arbitral Tribunal Award. Interestingly, the proposed deadline overlaps with the Philippines’ tenure as ASEAN Chair. Given that the Philippines had just recorded a resounding legal victory over China, the proposal could therefore be seen as a gesture of reconciliation, affirming China’s commitment to constructive diplomacy with ASEAN.


“More Concern than Celebration: Jokowi’s Second Cabinet Reshuffle”, a Commentary by Ulla Fionna


Commentary 2016/37, 29 July 2016
Jokowi’s announcement of his second cabinet reshuffle (27/07) calls for more caution than celebration. While the return of Sri Muyani Indrawati is a welcome selection, other appointments should be viewed with more care. Overall, it seems that the reshuffle is Jokowi’s strategic move to consolidate his position among his supporters.


“Reflections on the 49th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting”, a Commentary by Tang Siew Mun


Commentary 2016/36, 26 July 2016

Much to the surprise of the ASEAN member states, a joint communique of the 49th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) was issued on 25th July 2016, a day after the AMM. ASEAN watchers had been resigned to a déjà vu of the 2012 Phnom Penh meeting where ASEAN failed to issue the joint communique for the only time in its history. ASEAN has dodged a bullet in Vientiane, but did not come away unscathed.


“Rule of Law in the South China Sea: Where does ASEAN Stand?”, a Commentary of by Hoang Thi Ha


Commentary 2016/35, 26 July 2016

After the disappointment at ASEAN’s failure to issue its collective statement on the landmark arbitration ruling on the South China Sea (SCS), its hopes for a joint position hinged on the 49th ASEAN Foreign Minister Meeting (AMM) on 24 July in Vientiane. With the presence of the Foreign Ministers, it was hoped that the power of persuasion, peer pressure and the need to display some semblance of ASEAN unity would offer a face-saving remedy for the grouping. Such hope was not met as we read the Joint Communique (JC) of the AMM which was released today (25 July).


“The Veto: ASEAN’s Growing Liability”, a Commentary by Jason Salim


Commentary 2016/34, 26 July 2016

After three days of intense negotiations into the wee hours, Asean has finally issued its traditional joint communique following the 49th Asean Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) in Vientiane, Laos.


“Issues and Points to Look out for at the 49th ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting and Related Meetings”, a Commentary by Tang Siew Mun


Commentary 2016/33, 22 July 2016

ASEAN foreign ministers will meet in Vientiane from 23-26 July 2016 for the 49th ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting (AMM), as well as to participate in other related meetings such as the Post-Ministerial Conference (PMC) with the Dialogue Partners, East Asia Summit (EAS) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF).


“Assessing Malaysia’s Anodyne Response on the SCS Arbitral Tribunal Award”, a Commentary by Tang Siew Mun


Commentary 2016/32, 13 July 2016

The aftershocks of the arbitral tribunal’s award in the Philippines vs. China case on the South China Sea (SCS) continue to rattle the region days after its delivery. However, the intense discussions on the ruling have yet to catch on in Malaysia – a key ASEAN claimant state.


“Arbitral Award Enhances Vietnam’s Bargaining Power vis-à-vis China”, a Commentary by Le Hong Hiep


Commentary 2016/31, 13 July 2016

As one of the main parties to the South China Sea dispute, Vietnam stands to benefit significantly from the final award issued by the arbitral tribunal on the Philippines’ case against China. Indeed, in an official statement issued on 12 July 2016, the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomed the ruling, adding that Hanoi would make a separate statement on the content of the award.


“Duterte’s Aquino Legacies”, a Commentary by Malcolm Cook


Commentary 2016/30, 13 July 2016

Yesterday’s unanimous ruling by the Arbitration Tribunal comprehensively upholds the case filed by the Aquino administration in 2013. It also limits the ability of the Duterte administration to differentiate itself from its predecessor on how the Philippines manages relations with China.