Philippine Studies


The Philippine Studies Programme started as a multi-year initiative known as the Philippine Studies Project under the Regional Political and Studies Programme (RSPS) to enhance ISEAS research on the Philippines. The project received funding support from the Philippine Government through the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Embassy of the Republic of the Philippines in Singapore from June 2019 to September 2023. It officially become the sixth country study programme of ISEAS on 1 April 2024.

The Philippine Studies Programme aims to support the research capabilities and coverage of Philippine studies at ISEAS through publications and events. It also offers opportunities for both established and young scholars and experts from the Philippines to share their views and perspectives on multifaceted developments in the country.

The current Coordinator of the Philippine Studies Programme is Dr Aries Arugay. Dr Malcolm Cook managed the project until June 2021.

From 2023-2024, the Philippine Studies Programmme will work on the following research topics:

  • Foreign Policy Amidst US-China Rivalry

This project investigates the series of changes instigated by the Marcos Jr administration to Philippine foreign policy within the context of a heightened US-China rivalry in the Indo-Pacific. It examines the initiatives launched by the government in facing strategic challenges within its maritime domain, the advent of foreign malign influence operations, greyzone tactics, and revitalized security alliances and new partnerships with like-minded states.

  • Domestic Politics & Social Forces

This project focuses on the domestic developments in the Philippines with particular attention to the political dynamics between major political and social forces within the country. It pays attention to the relationship between political elites, institutions, and social forces such as civil society and the Church. It also monitors the cohesion and tensions between the Marcos-Duterte dynastic alliance as the country’s ruling political coalition

  • Economic Resilience and Sustainable Development

This project tackles the economic issues faced by the Philippines as one of the regions’ fastest growing economies and an emerging middle-income country. It focuses on the government’s policies to encourage more foreign investments but at the same time ensure equitable development across socioeconomic classes and geographical regions. Lastly, this project also identifies the major economic challenges of the country related to infrastructure, energy security, and climate change.


Games, Changes, and Fears: The Philippines from Duterte to Marcos Jr.Aries A. Arugay and Jean Encinas-Franco (editors)26 April 2024
ASEAN Centrality: An Autoethnographic Account by a Philippine DiplomatElizabeth Buensuceso2021

Fulcrum Commentaries

Bound to Comply: the Philippines’ One-China Policy and Mutual Defense Treaty with the U.S.Aaron Jed Rabena17 January 2023
Digital Labour Platforms Must Provide Philippine Gig Workers a Fair DealCheryll Ruth Soriano2 February 2023
What Does Marcos 2.0 Mean for ASEAN?Julio S. Amador III1 March 2023
Posting for Profit: Social Media Influencers in Philippine PoliticsMaria Elize H. Mendoza9 March 2023
You Can’t Put the Genie Back in the Bottle: Marcos Jr.’s Defence Cooperation PolicyJustin Baquisal20 March 2023
Marcos Jr. and the Dangers of Virtual HypermasculinityMaria Tanyag4 April 2023
The Curious Case of Cagayan: Localisation of U.S.-China Rivalry in the PhilippinesAries A. Arugay6 April 2023
From Duterte’s “Pivot to China” to Marcos Jr.’s “Rebalance to the U.S.”?Aaron Jed Rabena17 April 2023
Why China Should Learn To Live With U.S.-Philippine EDCAJulio S. Amador III and Deryk Baladjay3 May 2023
President Marcos Jr.’s Disaster Policy: Is a New Disaster Agency in the Works?Cherry Ann Madriaga26 May 2023
Why Should We Care about Older Filipino Migrants?Michelle Ong12 June 2023
From Likes to Lies: Disinformation in the Philippines and ThailandAries A. Arugay & Surachanee Sriyai7 July 2023
Promoting Local Business for Marawi’s Rehabilitation and PeaceMari Katayanagi & Lee Candelaria25 July 2023
The Philippines-Japan Security Relationship: A New Golden Age?Aries A. Arugay & Mico Galang16 November 2023
The Puzzle of Rodrigo Duterte’s Popularity during the Covid-19 PandemicYuko Kasuya & Hirofumi Miwa24 November 2023
No China Backlash, So Far: The Philippines’ New Assertive Transparency Policy in the South China SeaCollin Koh6 December 2023
Marcos’s Visit to Vietnam: When Manila’s Pivot Meets Hanoi’s PragmatismHoang Thi Ha & Aries A. Arugay1 February 2024
Made in China? The Challenge of State-Sponsored Cyber Intrusions in the PhilippinesFrancis C. Domingo4 March 2024
The Philippines-Australia Strategic Partnership in an Era of Geopolitical RealignmentLowell Bautista21 March 2024
Assessing Energy Security in the PhilippinesAdoracion M. Navarro15 April 2024

ISEAS Perspectives

A Strategic Reset?: The Philippines-United States Alliance under President Marcos Jr.Aries A. Arugay and Ian Storey15 May 2023
Like, Subscribe and Vote: The Role of Political Influencers in the 2022 Philippine Elections and BeyondFatima Gaw & Aries A. Arugay13 March 2024
Something Old, Something New: The Philippines’ Transparency Initiative in the South China SeaEdcel John A. Ibarra and Aries A. Arugay12 April 2024

Events (Seminars, Webinars)

The Philippine Economy amid Disruptive TransitionsJan Carlo Punongbayan
 Karl Jandoc
 Christina Epetia
 Zy-za Nadine Suzara
15 March 2023
The Future of Fact-Checking in the PhilippinesEdson C. Tandoc Jr.
 Ma. Diosa Labiste
 Yvonne T. Chua
23 June 2023
The Philippines’ Transparency Initiative in the South China Sea: Quo Vadis?Jonathan Malaya, Charmaine Willoughby, Jaime Naval15 February 2024
Building a Defense Industry in the Philippines: Challenges and OpportunitiesHerman Kraft, Jesse Pascasio, Meneleo Carlos9 May 2024

Media Engagements

南中国海主权课题料无重大突破 分析:小马可斯访华将着重经济合作 (Lianhe Zaobao)Aries A. Arugay3 January 2023
小马可斯习近平会谈 将重启南中国海油气开发谈判 (Lianhe Zaobao)Aries A. Arugay5 January 2023
须以菲利益为先避免外交陷被动 小马可斯中美平衡策略受考验 (Lianhe Zaobao)Aries A. Arugay7 January 2023
Insight: US Military Expansion in the Philippines (Channel News Asia)Aries A. Arugay6 April 2023
As US and Philippine defense ties grow, China warns over Taiwan tensions (CNN)Aries A. Arugay27 April 2023
Marcos, Back in Arms of U.S., Is Making His Own Name in Foreign Policy (New York Times)Aries A. Arugay2 May 2023
Philippines’ new military deal with US: Will it tilt power balance in South China Sea? (Channel News Asia)Aries A. Arugay14 May 2023
A year on, domestic woes offset Philippine President Marcos’ diplomatic gains (Straits Times)Aries A. Arugay26 June 2023
Changing Political Landscapes and Leadership Transitions in Southeast AsiaAries A. Arugay22 September 2023
Dogged by red flags and territorial clashes, China-funded projects in Philippines hit snag (Strait Times)Aries A. Arugay18 November 2023
Political shakedowns in the Philippines threaten Marcos-Duterte alliance (Straits Times)Aries A. Arugay30 November 2023
U.S.-China rivalry hits home in this Philippine province (Nikkei)Aries A. Arugay12 December 2023
Manila gets tough in the South China Sea as a showdown looms (Japan Times)Aries A. Arugay21 January 2024
Gutter-level’ talk: China-Philippines discord deepens over Taiwan (Financial Times)Aries A. Arugay2 February 2024
Can Manila diffuse tensions in the South China Sea? (DW)Aries A. Arugay9 February 2024
Thousands gather on anniversary of Philippine revolt to protest Marcos’ charter change plans (Straits Times)Aries A. Arugay25 February 2024
Why is the Philippines aligning itself with the US after years of close China ties under Duterte (SCMP)Aries A. Arugay25 February 2024
Dr Aries Arugay on regional security and the Philippines-Australia relationship (CNA)Aries A. Arugay29 February 2024
Fact Vs. Fiction – Philippines: Detecting Deception (CNA)Aries A. Arugay31 March 2024
Biden, Kishida and Marcos make common cause against China in first trilateral summit (Straits Times)Aries A. Arugay12 April 2024
分析:著眼印太危机热点 美日菲串联应变计划 (DW)Aries A. Arugay13 April 2024


Climate Change in Southeast Asia Programme


Photo credit: Roschetzky Photography

Southeast Asia Climate Outlook Survey Reports

The Southeast Asia Climate Outlook Survey Report is the first comprehensive report of climate change perspectives specific to the Southeast Asian region. Conducted yearly since 2020, the surveys aim to provide a general sense of the prevailing views of Southeast Asian citizens towards climate change issues. The reports contain the results and analysis of views towards questions such as climate adaptation and mitigation, climate change impacts, low-carbon transitions and climate policy, among other topics.

To access the reports, visit here.

“Accelerating the ASEAN Power Grid 2.0: Lessons from the Lao PDR-Thailand-Malaysia-Singapore Power Integration Project (LTMS-PIP)” is a comprehensive study of the political and technical process underpinning the implementation of the LTMS-PIP. Based on extensive research and fieldwork, the report identifies key policy recommendations for future power interconnection projects under the ASEAN Power Grid 2.0.

Download the report here.

“Planning Southeast Asia’s Decarbonisation Pathways – Insights for Policy-Making” draws key lessons from an in-person workshop conducted by ISEAS for ASEAN energy and climate officials in September 2022. The report reflects discussions on shared challenges faced by governments in the climate-energy nexus, as well as potential solutions and expert recommendations in renewable energy deployment, regional energy cooperation, low-carbon technologies and just transitions among other topics.

Download the report here.

Energy Transitions in ASEAN: A new report by the ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute, Energy Studies Institute of the National University of Singapore, and Newcastle University shows that there are several decarbonisation pathways that can put ASEAN member states on track for an energy transition in light of an increasingly carbon-constrained world. 

Read the report here.

Download the report here.


The Climate Change in Southeast Asia Programme (CCSEAP) was established in 2020 to examine the phenomenon of climate change, its impact, and policy responses across the region and in key Southeast Asian countries. Through Visiting Fellowships, the Programme hopes to cultivate a network of scholars at the forefront of climate change research. The Programme aims to build on ISEAS’ thought leadership to advance climate discourse and knowledge in Southeast Asia through a series of publications and seminars.

The Programme conducts an annual Climate Change in Southeast Asia Survey. Inaugurated in 2020, the survey probes the attitudes and concerns of Southeast Asian citizens towards climate change, governmental actions, and the role of different stakeholders in climate action. It aims to obtain views on climate change impacts, mitigation, adaptation, food security, agricultural production, cities’ adaptation measures, renewable energy and the transition to low-carbon economies.

If any researcher is interested in contributing to the work areas above, please contact us at

The Programme will focus on 5 key research areas:

1. Regional Climate Change Outlook

• ASEAN Member States’ climate change agendas, laws, policies, and institutional bodies, including the examination of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and Low Emission Development Strategies (LEDS), among other issues.
• ASEAN’s institutional governance and initiatives on environmental and climate issues.
• Effectiveness of Southeast Asian countries’ current and planned mitigation and adaptation measures.

2. Agriculture, Forestry, and Food Security

• Regional inter-dependencies of agricultural production and food supply chains, including comparative advantages of Southeast Asian countries.
• Land-use, land-use change and forestry issues

3. Cities and Urban Development

• Climate vulnerability, resiliency and climate finance governance in the context of Southeast Asian cities.

4. Energy and Decarbonisation

• Trends in renewable energy deployment, energy efficiency improvement, as well as the successes and failures of government policies including energy subsidies, grants and incentives in Southeast Asia.

5. Finance

• Voluntary corporate climate-related disclosures in Southeast Asian countries.


•  Ms Sharon Li-Lian SEAH
Programme Coordinator

•  Ms Melinda MARTINUS
Lead Researcher, ASEAN Studies Centre

Dr Mirza Sadaqat Huda
Lead Researcher, Climate Change in Southeast Programme

•  Dr LEE Poh Onn
Senior Fellow, Regional Economic Studies Programme and Malaysia Studies Programme

Ms QIU Jiahui
Research Officer, Climate Change in Southeast Programme

Ms Elyssa Kaur Ludher
Visiting Fellow, Climate Change in Southeast Programme

Dr Vinod Thomas
Associate Senior Fellow, Regional Economic Studies Programme and Climate Change in Southeast Programme

•  Prof Paul TENG Piang Siong
Associate Senior Fellow, Climate Change in Southeast Programme

Dr Prapimphan Chiengkul
Associate Fellow, Climate Change in Southeast Programme

If you are interested in upcoming activities and events by the Programme, including our annual Southeast Asia Climate Outlook Survey, please sign up for updates here.


Vietnam Forum 2016


“Vietnam: Thirty Years of Doi Moi and Beyond”
7-8 April 2016
ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute



Please click here for the List of Selected Abstracts.

The Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) adopted the Doi Moi (Renovation) policy at its sixth National Congress in 1986, opening up a new chapter in the country’s modern history. Under Doi Moi, Vietnam has undergone significant socio-economic reforms that transformed the country from a backward centrally-planned, autarkic economy into a dynamic market-based and highly internationally integrated one, and one of the most successful stories in terms of poverty reduction in Asia’s contemporary history. The country’s political system has also adopted various reforms to facilitate economic development and good governance. At the same time, Vietnam’s foreign policy has also been renovated under Doi Moi as Hanoi abandoned the ideology-based foreign policy making to pursue the “diversification and multilateralisation” of its international relations. As such, Vietnam has transformed itself into a well respected international partner with increasing influence over regional affairs.

Next year will witness another milestone in the country’s development as the CPV will convene its 12thNational Congress to review the past 30 years of Doi Moi and to introduce new policies to guide the country’s future development. In particular, there have been calls for a second Doi Moi (Doi Moi 2.0) to lift Vietnam out of prolonged economic difficulties since 2008 and to establish a new growth model for the country. Therefore, economic reforms, if any, introduced by the Party at the Congress will have important implications for Vietnam’s future economic performance. Moreover, official documents adopted by the Congress may also shed light on how the CPV will deal with mounting pressures for further political reforms as well as foreign policy challenges brought about by China’s increasing assertiveness in the South China Sea.
Theme and Topics

Against this backdrop, ISEAS will organize the Vietnam Forum 2016 on “Vietnam: Thirty years of Doi Moi and beyond”. The Forum will provide a timely opportunity for Vietnam watchers to review and examine the various socio-economic, political and foreign policy transformations that Doi Moi has produced over the past 30 years as well as their national and regional implications. Held at a critical juncture of the country’s development, the Forum will also be an appropriate platform for scholars and policy makers to share their views on Vietnam’s contemporary challenges and its future trajectories.

The Forum is multidisciplinary, and we welcome papers on a broad range of topics as long as they address the general theme of the Forum. Papers with comparative approaches (especially between Vietnam and China) are also welcome.

Possible topics include but are not limited to:

  • Vietnam’s current economic restructuring; SOE reforms; the role of private and foreign-invested sectors; the role of foreign aid and foreign actors in Vietnam’s economic development; Vietnam’s outward FDI; the role of overseas Vietnamese in Vietnam’s economic development; the development of Vietnam’s financial sector.
  • Vietnam’s political reforms under Doi Moi; the CPV’s legitimacy and political challenges; politics within the CPV; administrative and judicial reforms; corruption and the fight against corruption; constitutional reform.
  • Vietnam’s social and cultural changes under Doi Moi; immigration and demographic changes; urbanization process; inequality; middle class; Vietnam’s education reform.
  • Vietnam’s foreign policy evolution under Doi Moi; Vietnam’s contemporary foreign policy challenges; Vietnam’s relations with major countries and ASEAN; Vietnam and the South China Sea disputes; Vietnam’s international economic integration.

Forum’s Format

The Forum will be divided into eight consecutive panels, focusing on four research areas: economics; politics; social and cultural issues; and foreign policy. Each panel will address the overall theme of the Forum with a focus on their specific area.

Each panel will be composed of 4-5 participants, each participant has 15 minutes to present their paper and 10 minutes for Q&A. Depending on the quality of the papers submitted, however, the number of participants in each panel may be increased or decreased so that the best participants/papers will be selected.

It is expected that an edited book based on a number of selected papers will be published within 12-18 months after the Forum concludes.

Submission of Abstracts and Full Papers

Interested scholars should submit author information, paper title and an abstract (maximum 250 words) before 17 July 2015. Selected authors will be notified via email on 24 July 2015.

The deadline for full papers to be submitted is 29 January 2016. Please note that authors who do not submit completed papers by due date may be asked to give up their place in the Forum.

The papers must be original research that have not been published or are not being considered for publication anywhere else.

The papers should be between 6000-8000 words, using endnotes and following the rules set out in Chapter 15 of the Chicago Manual Style, 12th edition, 1969.

Conference Grants

ISEAS will cover economy class round-trip airfare and accommodation (2 to 3 nights) for selected participants, plus per diems during the Forum.

Key dates

•Abstract submission: 17 July 2015
•Selected participants announced: 24 July 2015
•Full paper submission: 29 January 2016
•Forum organized: 7-8 April 2016

Further Information and Contact Details

Further information about the Forum is available at the Forum’s website: All queries should be directed to:

Dr. Le Hong Hiep
Visiting Fellow, ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute
30 Heng Mui Keng Terrace, Singapore 119614
Tel: +65 6870 4545



Vietnam Forum 2016: List of Selected Abstracts


“Vietnam: Thirty Years of Doi Moi and Beyond”
7-8 April 2016
ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute



Session 1: The Political Economy of Doi Moi
1. Vietnam: Economic Strategy and Economic Reality

Prof. Adam Fforde, Professorial Fellow, Victorian Institute for Strategic Economic Studies, Victoria University, Australia

2. The Political Economy of Industrial Development in Vietnam (1986-2012)

Dr. Tu Anh Vu Thanh, Director of Research, Fulbright Economics Teaching Program, Ho Chi Minh City

3. SOE Restructuring in Vietnam: Where Do We Stand and What Are the Challenges Ahead?

Dr. Konstantin Wacker, Assistant Professor, University of Mainz, Germany

4. Does Fiscal Decentralisation Help Improve Socio-Economic Outcomes? Evidence from Vietnam’s Poverty Reduction and Health Outcomes

Mr. Tai Dang Nguyen, PhD Scholar, Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University

Session 2: The Sectoral Dynamics of Doi Moi

1. Impacts of Foreign Investment on Vietnam’s Economy under Doi Moi

Dr. Tuan Ho, Lecturer in Finance and Accounting, University of Bristol, UK
Trang Thi Ngoc Nguyen, School of Finance University of Economics of Ho Chi Minh City
Tho Ngoc Tran, School of Finance University of Economics of Ho Chi Minh City

2. Industrial Spatial Localization and the Involvement Of MNEs– Comparison between the Red River Delta and the Southeast in Vietnam

Prof. Javier Revilla Diez, Chair, Institute of Geography, University of Cologne, Germany

3. Changes in Ownership, Employment, and Wages in Vietnamese Firms

Dr. Eric D. Ramstetter, Research Professor, Asian Growth Research Institute, Japan
Dr. Nguyen Trung Kien, Lecturer, School of Economics, University of Danang, Vietnam

4. The China Factor in Vietnam’s Energy Industry

Mr. Min Pham, PhD Student, University of South Australia, Australia
Ms. Cecilia Han Springer, PhD Student, University of California, Berkeley, USA


Session 3: Urban and Rural Transformations under Doi Moi

1. Rural Vietnam: Transformational Dynamics and Regional Variation

Dr. Hy Luong, Professor of Anthropology, University of Toronto, Canada

2. Vietnam’s Land Reforms and the Implications on Insecure and Unequal Access to Land in Practice: A Case Study In a Rural Community in Central Vietnam

Dr. Phuong Huynh, Chair Department of Social Work, Hue University of Sciences (HUSC), Vietnam

3. Driving Doi Moi: Cars, Class and Capitalism in Contemporary Vietnam

Mr. Arve Hansen, Research Fellow, Centre for Development and the Environment, University of Oslo, Norway

Session 4: Doi Moi’s Impacts Revisited: Education, Health, Labour and Religion

1. Reform Process and Productive Efficiency in Vietnamese Higher Education: A Case Study of Public Universities

Dr. Dung Tran Thi Thanh, Academic staff, The University of New England, Australia

2. Vietnam’s Religion Policy under Doi Moi: The Case of Mariamman Temple

Dr. Chi Pham, Researcher, Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences, Ha Noi

3. Affective Expertise: Social Work and the Management of Femininity and Class in Ho Chi Minh City

Dr. Ann Marie Leshkowich, Professor of Anthropology, College of the Holy Cross, USA


Session 5: Vietnam’s Transforming Political Landscape under Doi Moi

1. The Struggle for a Constitutional Moment in Vietnam

Dr. Ngoc Son Bui, Postdoctoral Fellow, Centre for Asian Legal Studies, NUS Law Faculty

2. The Influence of Social Media in Vietnam’s Elite Politics

Dr. Hai Thiem Bui, Senior Fellow, Institute for Legislative Studies, Ha Noi

3. Autonomy of Public Service Delivery Agencies in Vietnam and OECD: A Comparative Institutional Perspective

Ms. Thi Hai Minh Vo PhD candidate, School of Government, Victoria University of Wellington
Dr. Karl Löfgren, Associate Professor, School of Government Victoria University of Wellington

Session 6: Doi Moi, Political Legitimacy and Implications for the CPV

1. The Communist Party of Vietnam’s Resilient Authoritarianism: Adaption Strategies since Doi Moi

Dr. Hai Nguyen, Research Fellow Asia-Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, the University of Queensland

2. Vietnamese Civic Organizations: Supporters of or Obstacles to Further Democratization? Results from an Empirical Survey

Dr. Joerg Wischermann, Senior Research Fellow , Institute of Asian Studies/GIGA Hamburg
Prof. Dr. Bui The Cuong, Senior Researcher, Southern Institute of Social Sciences, Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences, Ho Chi Minh City.
Dang Thi Viet Phuong, Researcher, Institute of Sociology, Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences, Hanoi

3. The Making of National Ancestry: The Worship of Hung Kings and Vietnamese Struggle with the Post-War Political Culture

Mr. Liem Vu Duc, PhD candidate, Hamburg University


Session 7: Vietnam’s relations with major powers under Doi Moi

1. Ideology vs. Realpolitik: Another New Shift in Vietnam’s Foreign Policy?

Dr. Loc Doan, Research Fellow, Global Policy Institute, UK

2. The Evolution of Strategic Trust in Vietnam’s Foreign Policy: A Case Study of Relations with The United States through the Doi Moi Years

Ms. Phuong Nguyen, Research Associate, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), USA

3. China-Vietnam Relations after the Oil Rig HYSY-981: The Politics of “Struggling Co-Evolution“

Dr. Truong-Minh Vu, Director of Center for International Studies (SCIS), University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Ho Chi Minh City
Mr. Nguyen Thanh Trung, PhD Student, Hong Kong Baptist University

Session 8: Beyond “Diversification and Multilateralization”: New Opportunities & Challenges for Vietnam’s Diplomacy

1. India-Vietnam Partnership: The Maritime Imperatives

Mr. Rajeev Ranjan Chaturvedy, Research Associate, Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore

2. Vietnam’s Foreign Policy towards Its Smaller Neighbours

Dr. Vannarith Chheang, Senior Fellow, Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace, Cambodia

3. The EU’s Norm Diffusion through Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Negotiations and Vietnam’s Reaction

Dr. Ha Hai Hoang, Lecturer, Hanoi National University of Education, Ha Noi


Country Studies Programme


ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute has five Country Studies Programmes, namely, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam (including Indochina). Aside from the evident country focus, country programmes are best suited to complement the Institute’s three basic disciplinary programmes. Most importantly, cross-affiliation of researchers between the two sets of programmes is encouraging research projects which are more comparative in nature and that are conceptually bolder.

Please click the links below for more information on each Programme:


Regional Strategic & Political Studies


The Regional Strategic and Political Studies (RSPS) programme focuses on the dynamics of political change within the regional states and strategic issues in the Southeast Asian region and the wider Indo-Pacific. In particular, RSPS examines topics relating to the security and stability of the region as well as the region’s relationships with major powers. The programme organises workshops, conferences and seminars/webinars as well as produces books, articles and working papers.

The programme has two major publications. Published since 1974, Southeast Asian Affairs is regarded as a flagship publication of the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute. It provides an annual review of the politics, economies, and international relations of contemporary Southeast Asia as a region and its individual states. The collection of Southeast Asian Affairs volumes constitutes a valuable resource documenting the evolution of Southeast Asian developments from the 1970s.

RSPS also publishes the internationally-refereed peer-reviewed journal Contemporary Southeast Asia three times a year. The journal covers topics on regionalism, security and strategic affairs, domestic political developments, and international relations relevant to Southeast Asia. CSEA is listed in the most important bibliographic databases, including the prestigious Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI).

As part of above, the RSPS team are currently working on the following research topics:


China, the United States and Southeast Asia

Strategic competition has become the new paradigm of US-China relations, with consequential implications for Southeast Asia’s relations with both great powers and the security and economic well-being of regional countries. The stakes are high for Southeast Asia since both the US and China have and will continue to step up their engagement with the region as a critical component of their geopolitical contest. This project will monitor (i) US policy under the Biden administration towards China and its key allies/partners in Asia and their impact on Southeast Asia; US policy on the regional architecture, including established ASEAN-led mechanisms as well as emergent minilateral coalitions such as the Quad and AUKUS; America’s relations with Southeast Asian states; (ii) China’s engagement with Southeast Asia through various diplomatic, economic, security and military, and people-to-people channels, including the BRI, the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation and its competition with other Mekong-related initiatives, and efforts to influence ethnic Chinese communities in Southeast Asia; (iii) The opportunities and challenges for Southeast Asia in light of the US-China strategic rivalry, especially the pressure to take sides, and how regional states have responded to the changing power dynamics.

Middle Powers’ Engagement with Southeast Asia

The role of middle powers in affecting the regional balance of power and shaping regional governance is well regarded in Southeast Asia. Japan, India, the ROK and Australia are important middle powers that maintain a strong focus on Southeast Asia in their Indo-Pacific strategies and longstanding engagements with Southeast Asia. Amid the US-China rivalry, these countries’ relations with America and China are changing with important implications for their approaches to Southeast Asia. From the bilateral perspective, these countries have continued to engage Southeast Asian states on their own merits as well, although there could be differences in terms of emphasis and priorities. This project examines how the unfolding geopolitical dynamics affect these middle powers’ engagement with Southeast Asia and what are the opportunities and constraints in their efforts to strengthen ties with the region.

Maritime Security in Southeast Asia

Security in Southeast Asia’s maritime domain will increase in importance in the coming years as great power competition intensifies and non-traditional security threats such as piracy and illegal fishing persist. Competing territorial and jurisdictional claims in the South China Sea, complicated by US-China rivalry, will be the primary focus as tensions continue to rise and the parties concerned harden their positions. Major European players such as France, the United Kingdom and Germany have also stepped up their military presence in the area. The project will monitor and assess developments in the maritime space, especially in the South China Sea, including incidents at sea, power projection and legal warfare, and negotiations between ASEAN and China for a Code of Conduct. The piracy situation in the Straits of Malacca and Sulu/Celebes Sea will also be tracked.

Philippine Studies Project

Running from June 2019 to December 2023, the Philippine Studies Project receives funding support from the Philippine Government through the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Embassy of the Republic of the Philippines in Singapore. It aims to support the research capabilities and coverage of Philippine studies at ISEAS through publications and events. It also offers opportunities for both established and young scholars and experts from the Philippines to share their views and perspectives on multifaceted developments in the country. From October 2021 to June 2022, the overall theme of the Philippine Studies Project is Electoral Politics and Foreign Policy in the Philippines. The Project will also track developments related to the elections to understand the continuity and change in Philippine politics. Another area of focus would be the Philippines’ foreign policy under the new administration, especially towards the United States, China and ASEAN.


Programme Coordinators
Lee Sue-Ann (Coordinator)
Hoang Thi Ha (Co-coordinator)

Current Researchers
Ian Storey
William Choong
Aries Ayuson Arugay
Lye Liang Fook
Daljit Singh
Cha Hae Won
Eugene R.L. Tan

Image Source: Wikimedia


Regional Social & Cultural Studies


Photos by (clockwise from top left): Norshahril Saat, Robertus Pudyanto (Getty Images via AFP), Anton Raharjo and Garry Lotulung (Anadolu Agency via AFP)

The RSCS programme examines the history, sociology and anthropology of national and transnational processes within Southeast Asia. RSCS is concerned with ethnographic practices in contemporary histories, nation-building, civil society and religion, cultural globalisation and identity-making, transnational movements, democratisation and multiculturalism, and contemporary politics in Southeast Asia. The programme adopts qualitative and quantitative methods and comparative approaches in its studies.

The programme publishes the internationally-refereed SOJOURN thrice a year. The journal is an interdisciplinary journal devoted to the study of social and cultural issues in Southeast Asia. Areas of special concern include ethnicity, religion, tourism, urbanisation, migration, popular culture, social and cultural change, and development.


Religion in Southeast Asia

The projects under this theme examine the impact of religious growth and revival on multicultural and multi-religious societies and their role in shaping politics and public debates. They analyse, among others, the role of religious elites, religious movements, religious education, and new modes of religious transmission. Currently, it is building its focus on Islamic trends in the region and expanding its interest in Christianity and Buddhism.

For more information, please contact the Coordinators, Dr Norshahril Saat and Dr Terence Chong.

China and Southeast Asian Society

This project seeks to monitor and understand the extent to which China’s political and cultural influence is impacting Southeast Asia, overseas Chinese and new Chinese migrants in the region. Some themes include the growth of Chinese popular culture, the impact of Chinese tourists on local economies, Chinese migrant workers in Southeast Asia, and the transformation of Chinese religions in mainland Southeast Asia.   

For more information, please contact the Coordinator, Professor Leo Suryadinata.

Youth and Civic Engagement

The project critically analyses the religious and political behaviour of youths in Southeast Asia. Covering several countries in the region, this project examines how youths articulate their interests and aspirations, negotiate religion, politics and emerging digital trends, and explores cross-state engagements and interactions. The project also hopes to survey the extent to which Islam, Christianity, and Buddhism shape the social, political and cultural lives of those between the ages 15 to 35.

For more information, please contact the Coordinators, Dr Iim Halimatusa’diyah and Dr Norshahril Saat.

Social Inequality and the Urban Poor in Southeast Asia

This project adopts a sociological and anthropological approach to better understand the social behaviour of the underclass in Southeast Asia’s urban centres. In the post-COVID-19 pandemic era, new forms of economic and social struggles have been observed among the urban poor. This project traces how they grapple with the social assistance provided by states, their jobs, housing needs, educational attainment, as well as access to healthcare services and other basic needs.

For more information, please contact the Coordinator, Dr Norshahril Saat


For matters relating to SOJOURN, please contact the Managing Editor, Professor Hui Yew-Foong.


Programme Coordinator

Dr Norshahril Saat

Current Researchers

Dr Terence Chong [DCE]

Professor Leo Suryadinata (Project Coordinator)

Dr Iim Halimatusa’diyah (Project Coordinator)

Professor Hui Yew-Foong (SOJOURN Managing Editor)

Dr Panarat Anamwathana

Dr Syaza Shukri

Research Officers

Ms Afra Alatas

Ms Dorcas Gan

Ms Gwendolyn Yap

Mr Hasyir Hamid

Ms Rebecca Neo

Visiting Fellows [Between 2020 – 2023]

Dr A’an Suryana

Dr Andrew Ong

Dr Aranya Siriphon

Professor Chang-Yau Hoon

Dr Daungyewa Utarasint

Dr Mohd Faizal Musa

Dr Kevin S.Y Tan

Professor Kuah Khun Eng

Dr Ahmad Muhajir

Dr Oliver Tappe

Dr Sivarin Lertpusit

Dr Siti Mazidah Mohamad

Dr Vannarith Chheang

Current Associate Fellows

Dr Jason Lim

Dr Ross Tapsell

Dr Veronica L. Gregorio

Wang Gungwu Fellows [Between 2020 – 2023]

Dr Courtney T. Wittekind

Mr Jackie Wong Siu Hei


Regional Economic Studies


The Regional Economic Studies Programme focuses on a range of economic issues in Southeast Asia. Emphasis is on timely, policy-related research that is relevant to decision-makers as well as researchers.

Key research areas are: macroeconomic developments in Southeast Asia; international trade and finance; country-level studies on themes relating to socio-economic development; sub-national economic dynamics; ASEAN regionalism and its linkages with Asian neighbours. 

The programme organises workshops, conferences and seminars; produces books, articles and working papers; and publishes the tri-annual Journal of Southeast Asian Economies (JSEAE) – formerly the ASEAN Economic Bulletin (AEB) – a leading journal on the region’s economies.  

RES also hosts the Singapore APEC Study Centre, which analyses developments in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) process. Besides regular publications, the Centre manages seminars and symposia on issues related to APEC.

For researchers, please click here.


Global Economic Uncertainties
For further information, please contact Dr Francis Hutchinson

Regional Economic Issues

For more information, please contact Dr Francis Hutchinson and Dr Cassey Lee

Small and Medium Sized Enterprises
For more information, please contact Dr Cassey Lee

Social Protection

For more information on this research project, please contact Dr Lee Poh Onn

Sub-national Economies
For more information, please contact Dr Francis Hutchinson


Vietnam Studies


Vietnam is a major Southeast Asian country of considerable strategic, political, and economic importance. It has a population of about 90 million and is a significant factor in the geopolitics of both continental and maritime Southeast Asia, the latter because of its claims in the South China Sea. It is an important and active member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The Vietnam Study Group works on critical issues relating to Vietnam’s internal situation: political economy; internal political and leadership dynamics which affect domestic and foreign policies; mass organisations and social change; and socio-cultural issues, including Vietnamese ground sentiments on, and perceptions of, China and Vietnam-China relations. The Group also works on Vietnam’s relations with the major powers, and its role in ASEAN.

Programme Coordinator

The Coordinator of the Vietnam Studies Programme is Dr Le Hong Hiep. Please contact him for further information on the Vietnam Studies Programme.

Current Researchers

Past Affiliates

ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute has a long history of hosting researchers and scholars who work on Vietnam. Among those previously affiliated with the Institute are the following:

Dr Russell Heng Hiang Khng Mrs Nguyen Kim Anh
Dr David Koh Wee Hock Mr Le Xuan Sang
Mr Nguyen Nam Duong Dr Yul Kwon
Dr Nick Freeman Dr Carolyn L. Gates
Mr Phan Le Minh Dr Nguyen Hong Thach
Dr Hoang Anh Tuan Dr Jason Morris-Jung
Dr Huong Le Thu Dr Ngo Vinh Long
Dr Hun Kee Kim Mr Daljit Singh
Dr Hoang Thi Tuan Oanh Dr Teo Ee Leong Victor
Mr Lye Liang Fook Dr Ivan Victor Small
Mr Chong Zhi Quan Joel Dr Joseph Buckley
Dr Ha Hoang Hop Ms Tran Thi Bich


For upcoming seminars, please refer to the events section of the main ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute website. Our past seminars include:

  • Dr Le Dang Doanh, “Vietnam Joining the TPP and FTA with the EU: Benefits and Challenges,” 11th June 2015.
  • Dr Thomas Jandl, “What Developing Countries Can Learn from Vietnam, and What Vietnam Needs to Learn from its Own Development Path?” 29th April 2015.
  • Dr Le Hong Hiep, “Vietnam’s Alliance Politics in the South China Sea,” 27th March 2015.
  • Dr Thaveeporn Vasavakul, “Recrafting the State: Public Administration Reform and Anti-Corruption in Vietnam,” 13th February 2015.
  • Dr Tran Thi Lien, “Catholics in Vietnam: National Identity and the Making of a Religious Minority,” 22nd August 2014.
  • Dr Ian Storey, Dr Jason Morris-Jung, Dr Huong Le Thu, Dr Zhao Hong, “The Implications of the Vietnam-China Crisis on the South China Sea,” 3rd June 2014.
  • Professor Peter Zinoman, “Vietnamese Colonial Republican: The Political Vision of Vu Trong Phung,” 23rd May 2014.
  • Dr Huong Le Thu, “Trafficking in Persons in Vietnam: Responding to the Human Security Threat,” 22nd January 2014.
  • Professor Sorn Samnang, “The Preah Vihear Temple Case – What Happens Now?” 4th December 2013.
  • Professor Ngo Vinh Long, “The (Existential) Challenges Facing the Party-State of Vietnam: How will it cope?” 14th Aug 2013.
  • Mr. Le Hong Hiep, “The economic determinants of Vietnam’s South China Sea Dispute with China,” 2nd Aug 2013.
  • Mr. Le Hong Hiep, “The Political Economy of Vietnam’s Economic Relations with China,” 31st July 2013.
  • Dr Nolwen Henaff, “Education and Poverty in Vietnam,” 17 April 2012.
  • Mr Mathieu Tromme, “Corruption in Vietnam,” 27 February 2012.
  • Professor Hermann Waibel, “Urban Migration and Income Improvement in Thailand and Vietnam,” 16 February 2012.


ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute has published research and analyses on Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. Each edition of the annual Southeast Asian Affairs covers Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, and the bimonthly ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute Monitor surveys Vietnam and Cambodia. Scholarship and research on Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos appear in the ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute journals: Contemporary Southeast Asia, Journal of Southeast Asian Economies and SOJOURN: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia. Other recent publications include:

ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute Perspective Issues

Jason Morris-Jung Online Petitions: Promoting a Public Voice in Vietnamese Politics (20 July 2015)
Jason Morris-Jung An Ethnographic Glimpse: On the Trail of Chinese-Vietnamese Mining Cooperation (25 May 2015)
Le Hong Hiep Vietnam’s Leadership Transition in 2016: A Preliminary Analysis (18 May 2015)
Huong Le Thu The Middle Class in Hanoi: Vulnerability and Concerns (11 February 2015)
Ha Hoang Hop The Oil Rig Incident: A Line Has Been Crossed in Vietnam’s Relations with China (18 November 2014)
Ian Storey The Sino-Vietnamese Oil Rig Crisis: Implications for the South China Sea Dispute (15 October 2014)
Nguyen Van Chinh Chinese Labour Migration into Vietnam’s Engineering, Procurement, and Construction Sectors (19 August 2014)
Jason Morris-Jung Reflections on the Oil Rig Crisis: Vietnam’s Domestic Opposition Grows (30 July 2014)
John Lee Reforms Will Decide Vietnam’s Ability To Resist Economic Dominance By China (2 June 2014)
Jason Morris-Jung Reflections on the Oil Rig Crisis: Vietnam’s Domestic Opposition Grows (30 July 2014)
John Lee Reforms Will Decide Vietnam’s Ability To Resist Economic Dominance By China (2 June 2014)
Huong Le Thu The Anti-Chinese Riots in Vietnam: Responses from the Ground (27 May 2014)
Danielle Tan China in Laos: Is There Cause For Worry? (16 May 2014)
Le Hong Hiep Will Development Lead to Democratisation in Vietnam and China? (15 April 2014)
Huong Le Thu Bumper Harvest in 2013 for Vietnamese Diplomacy (23 January 2014)
Le Hong Hiep The One Party-State and Prospects for Democratization in Vietnam (9 Dec 2013)
Terence Chong Chinese Capital and Immigration into CLMV: Trends and Impact” (29 August 2013)
Ha Hoang Hop The Seventh Plenum of the Communist Party of Vietnam: The Gains of the Central Committee (12 July 2013)
Le Hong Hiep South China Sea Disputes Keep Vietnam – China Relations Cold (15 April 2013)
David Koh Vietnamese Reactions over the South China Sea: Divergence between Society and Government (21 January 2013)
David Koh The Sixth Plenum in Vietnam: Thunder Without Rain (29 October 2012)

Trends in Southeast Asia

Danielle Tan Chinese Engagement in Laos: Past, Present, and Uncertain Future (6 May 2015)
Le Hong Hiep Vietnam’s Alliance Politics in the South China Sea (5 May 2015)
Huong Le Thu Vietnam: Straddling Southeast Asia’s Divide (22 September 2014)
John Lee Reforms will Determine Degree of Vietnam’s Dependence on China (2 September 2014)
Ha Hoang Hop More Change Awaits Vietnam’s Political Economy (31 December 2013)

Working Papers

Vu Quoc Ngu The State-Owned Enterprise Reform in Vietnam: Process and Achievements Visiting Researchers Series No. 4 (2002)


  • Le Hong Hiep, Anton Tsvetov (eds.), Vietnam’s Foreign Policy under Doi Moi (2018)
  • Daljit Singh and Malcolm Cook (ed.) Southeast Asian Affairs 2018 (2018)
  • Le Hong Hiep (ed.) Living Next to the Giant: The Political Economy of Vietnam’s Relations with China under Doi Moi (2017)
  • Setsuko Shibuya, Living with Uncertainty: Social Change and the Vietnamese Family in the Rural Mekong Delta (2015)
  • Hossein Jalilian, Sothorn Kem, Glenda Reyes, Kimsun Tong, Surviving the Global Financial and Economic Downturn: The Cambodian Experience (2014)
  • Nathalie Fau, Sirivanh Khonthapone, Christian Taillard (eds.), Transnational Dynamics in Southeast Asia: The Greater Mekong Subregion and Malacca Straits Economic Corridors (2013)
  • Omkar Lal Shrestha, Aekapol Chongvilaivan (eds.), Greater Mekong Subregion: From Geographical to Socio-economic Integration (2013)
  • Hossein Jalilian (ed.), Assessing China’s Impact on Poverty in the Greater Mekong Subregion (2013)
  • Nola Cooke, Li Tana, James A Anderson (eds.), The Tongking Gulf Through History (2013)
  • Hossein Jalilian (ed.), Costs and Benefits of Cross-Country Labour Migration in the GMS (2012
  • Kerstin Priwitzer, The Vietnamese Health Care System in Change: A Policy Network Analysis of a Southeast Asian Welfare Regime (2012)
  • Pou Sothirak, Geoff Wade, Mark Hong (eds.), Cambodia: Progress and Challenges since 1991 (2012)
  • Hang Chuon Naron, Cambodian Economy: Charting the Course of a Brighter Future – A Survey of Progress, Problems and Prospects (2012)
  • Jonathan D London (ed.), Education in Vietnam (2011)
  • Anita Chan (ed.), Labour in Vietnam (2011)
  • Philip Taylor, (ed.), Minorities at Large: New Approaches to Minority Ethnicity in Vietnam (2011)
  • The Cambodia Forum (2011)
  • Hossein Jalilian, Vicheth Sen (eds.), Improving Health Sector Performance: Institutions, Motivations and Incentives – the Cambodia Dialogue (2011)
  • Patrick Gubry, Franck Castiglioni, Jean-Michel Cusset, Nguyen Thi Thieng, Pham Thuy Huong (eds.), The Vietnamese City in Transition (2010)
  • Francois Molle, Tira Foran, Mira Kakonen (eds.), Contested Waterscapes in the Mekong Region: Hydropower, Livelihoods and Governance (2010)
  • Touch Visalsok, Ker Monthivuth, Southeast Asian Agriculture and Development Primer Series: Cambodia (2010)