“Transboundary Haze Pollution in ASEAN is a Shared Responsibility at all Levels”, by Moe Thuzar


Commentary 2016/9, 25 April 2016.


The ongoing haze issues in Southeast Asia highlight the importance of national follow-through for regional commitments.  Indonesia was the last ASEAN member to ratify the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution in 2014 under Jokowi’s administration.  Even though the agreement had entered into force since November 2003 (a year after its adoption), Indonesia’s non-ratification status hindered the effectiveness of tackling the recurring haze problem, and led ASEAN members like Singapore and Malaysia to take the lead in pushing for bilateral and regional projects to address the issue at source.  



“Cooperation Necessary to Eradicate the Haze”, by Lee Poh Onn


Commentary 2016/8, 25 April 2016.


The recent statement by Indonesia’s Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar that Singapore should focus on its own role on the haze issue, and not concern itself with Indonesia, is out of sorts. Ms Siti was referring to comments made by Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, at the 3rd Singapore Dialogue on Sustainable World Resources held on 15 April 2016. 



“Revolutionising ASEAN Defence Cooperation?”, by Jason Salim


Commentaries 2016/7, 22 April 2016.


The ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) should establish a set of principles to define its parameters in order to further regional security cooperation. Singapore Defence Minister Dr Ng Eng Hen made this proposal in a speech at the 4th Putrajaya Forum in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on 19 April 2016. 



“The 20th ASEAN Finance Ministers’ Meeting (AFMM) and the 12th ASEAN Central Bank Governors’ Meeting (ACGM)”, by Sanchita Basu Das


Commentary 2016/6, 6 April 2016.

The 20th ASEAN Finance Ministers’ Meeting (AFMM) and the 12th ASEAN Central Bank Governors’ Meeting (ACGM) concluded on 4 April in Vientiane, Laos PDR. The two meetings covered various topics, including the ASEAN Infrastructure Fund, insurance cooperation, customs cooperation, efforts to combating the financing of terrorism, capital market development, capital account liberation and financial services. ASEAN countries have concluded the seventh package of their negotiations for the liberalisation of the regional financial sector, and are set to launch the eighth round later this year. The subsequent rounds will focus on liberalizing the insurance sector.



“Three Realities Facing Myanmar’s New Dawn”, by Moe Thuzar


Commentary 2016/5, 5 April 2016.1. Five years ago, on 30 March 2011, Mr Thein Sein took off his general’s uniform and became the first head of a “civilianized” government. Since then, Myanmar has continuously opened up. Following the 2015 elections, Thein Sein has been succeeded by Mr Htin Kyaw, the first civilian president with no military background since 1961.  In his inaugural speech, President Htin Kyaw listed the following priorities for the NLD government:   peace (the end of internal conflicts), national reconciliation, and a federal democracy, for the betterment of peoples’ lives, under a new Constitution with “democratic standards”.



“ASEAN Needs to Have a Regional Nuclear Accident Plan of Action”, by Termsak Chalermpalanupap


Commentary 2016/4, 4 April 2016.
Six ASEAN leaders, Jusuf Kalla of Indonesia, Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi of Malaysia, Mr Mario G Montejo of the Philippines, Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore, General (R) Prayuth Chan-o-cha of Thailand and Pham Binh Minh of Viet Nam attended the Fourth Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) hosted by President Barack Obama in Washington, D.C., 31 March – 1 April 2016.  (See the Communique of the NSS 2016 and the Action Plan at



“The Inaugural Lancang-Mekong Summit: The Beginning of Charm Diplomacy Part 2?”, by Termsak Chalermpalanupap


Commentary 2016/3, 28 March 2016.


Chinese Premier Li Keqiang hosted the First Lancang-Mekong Summit in Sanya, Hainan Island, on 23 March 2016. It was attended by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Lao Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong, Myanmar Vice President Sai Mauk Kham, Thai Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-o-cha, and Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh, representing all the countries who stand to benefit from any action on this mainland Southeast Asia lifeblood. 



“Myanmar’s Presidential Elections”, by ISEAS Fellow, Moe Thuzar


Commentary 2016/2, 16 March 2016.

On 15 March 2016, Myanmar’s newly elected parliament convened to choose the president from among three vice-presidential nominees. The candidate with the most votes would become the President-elect. Apart from a member of parliament who had earlier applied for a leave of absence, all members of Myanmar’s newly elected parliament were in attendance. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi cast the first of 652 votes for the country’s political leader. 



“Malaysia Pushes Back on the South China Sea?”, by Tang Siew Mun


Commentary 2016/1, 15 March 2016.

In his speech at the Malaysian Armed Forces Staff College yesterday, Malaysia’s Defence Minister Hishammudddin Hussein offered some interesting insights on Malaysia’s evolving policy on the South China Sea disputes.