Country Studies Programme

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


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:


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)


ISEAS Library Selects: Latest News on Thailand



MARCH 2016

1. CDC reduces power of charter court ‘for crises’: THE CONSTITUTION Drafting Commission (CDC) has decided where power will lie in critical legal situations when no clauses in the constitution are applicable. It will no longer reside with the Constitutional Court alone. Instead it will be up to the court, the heads of the three power branches and independent organisations to decide jointly which measures or rules should apply, the CDC has resolved. Also, the drafters have decided to transfer the Constitutional Court’s power over the “ethical standards” of politicians and civil servants to the Supreme Court.

Nation, 9 March 2016

2. Senate ‘should not select PM’: PRIME MINISTER Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday remained firm on his call for selected senators during a five-year transitional period, although he said they should not be authorised to vote for a prime minister. Suggesting that MPs should be exclusively authorised to pick the prime minister, as has been typical in the past, Prayut said the new charter draft should empower senators to “take care of the charter so it won’t be stripped out by politicians”.

A selected Senate should also promote good governance, national strategies and the junta-led reform agenda, he said. Prayut said elected senators had led to problems due to a lack of good governance in the past, adding that the Senate could be elected when voters were ready.
Nation, 9 March 2016

3. Thailand should look hard at the changes in Myanmar: THE THAI government needs to pay more attention to political developments in Myanmar and its capital Nay Pyi Taw. It doesn’t matter whether Aung San Suu Kyi is able to assume the presidency

First and foremost: the nature of the new administration in Nay Pyi Taw is totally different from the outgoing one and notably from the current Thai regime. President Thein Sein, who will step down at the end of the month, is a former commander who heads the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP). It would be more precise to say that the USDP is the civilian political wing of the Tatmadaw (Myanmar Armed Forces).
Supalak Ganjanakhundee
Nation, 9 March 2016

4. A new order needs to rise from the ashes: Blame it on Facebook or online communities where millions of people give their opinions and make their emotions known every day, unhindered.

We can also blame it on the ongoing drought, a failure of education or problems of inequality. The result will still be the same: Thai society has arrived at a point when the old order has crumbled while a new one has not been born.

It is a society where there is a cacophony of opinions, but no ability to form an agreement.
One thing that shows Thailand is in an existential crisis is a rapid breakdown of hegemonic powers and moral leadership.
Atiya Achakulwisut
Bangkok Post, 8 March 2016

5. Big Brother’ up against rare political alliance: It’s not often the two arch political rivals, the Democrat and Pheu Thai parties, see eye-to-eye on a controversial political issue.

In recent days, core members of both parties came out spontaneously against the proposal by the National Council for Peace and Order that the entire senate be appointed and serve a five-year transitional period after the next general election.

On top of that, the NCPO appears determined to stay in control for that five years, supposedly to make sure the government formed after the elections will not stray off the reform guidelines set by the national strategic committee, which has Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha at its head and several of his brothers-in-arms in the NCPO as members.
Veera Prateepchaikul
Bangkok Post, 8 March 2016

6. Authoritarian rule and the dimming of Thailand’s star: Bangkok is no longer the regional nexus. Aspiring and career-building ambassadors now prefer alternative postings because not much can get done at high-level diplomatic engagements, as the military government in Bangkok is shunned by much of the rest of the world. There are bilateral and diplomatic accomplishments to be had with more authoritarian countries, like China and Russia, but envoys from democracies can find only crisis-management work in a holding pattern if posted to Bangkok. Only veteran ambassadors up for a last posting, as opposed to those who are younger and up-and-coming, still consider Bangkok attractive for an enjoyable last hurrah. Moreover, Bangkok is no longer the hub for diplomatic coverage of mainland South-east Asia, as a host of embassies have been set up in Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia.
Thitinan Pongsudhirak teaches international political economy and directs the Institute of Security and International Studies at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok.
Straits Times, 8 March 2016


Latest Announcements


Latest Announcements


A new issue of Trends in Southeast Asia has recently been published and is written by Porphant Ouyyanont. The issue is titled “Crown Property Bureau in Thailand and its Role in Political Economy” and is downloadable here.


Dr Achakorn Wongpredee, Associate Professor, Graduate School of Public Administration, National Institute of Development Administration, will be at ISEAS until September 2015.


Dr Thongchai Winichakul, Professor, Department of History, University of Wisconsin-Madison, will be at ISEAS until January 2016.


Dr Tanet Charoenmuang, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Political Science and International Relations, Chiang Mai University, will be at ISEAS until August 2015.


Dr Porphant Ouyyanont, Associate Professor, School of Economics, Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University, will be at ISEAS until January 2015.

Return to Thailand Studies Programme Main Page


Thailand Studies


The Thailand Studies Programme at ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute promotes analysis of and scholarship on contemporary Thailand. Its goal is to develop an understanding of the country among the full range of parties concerned with its mid-term and long-term future: governments, the media, journalists, international organizations, civil society, the private sector and scholars.

The foci of the programme are three-fold — on political dynamics, social change, and cultural trends. In its attention to politics, the concerns of the programme include party and electoral politics, Thailand’s place in regional politics and geopolitics, regionalism and decentralization, the state of Thai institutions, constitutionalism and royalism, and the impact of politics on economic competitiveness and the investment climate. Social issues that fall within the programme’s purview are migration and demographic change, religion, ethnicity, the Thai education system, the relationship between urban and rural Thailand, the middle classes, and sectorial industries like tourism. In the area of cultural trends, the arts and literature, the media and mass consumption patterns number among topics of interest. The programme seeks to build institutional links to scholars, analysts and centres involved in the study of modern Thailand, not least those in Thailand itself.

Programme Coordinator

The Coordinator of the Thailand Studies Programme is Dr Termsak Chalermpalanupap. Please contact the coordinator for further information on the Thailand Studies Programme.

Current Researchers

Dr Termsak Chalermpalanupap

Dr Napon Jatusripitak

Dr Michael J Montesano

Mr Kyi Sin

Dr Paul Wesley Chambers

Dr Antonio Postigo

Past Affiliates

ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute has a long history of hosting scholars from Thailand. Among those previously affiliated with the Institute are the following:

Tanet Charonenmaung Porphant Ouyyanont Thongchai Winichakul
Achakorn Wongpreedee Pasuk Phongpaichit Sukhumbhand Paribatra
Anek Laothamatas Pavin Chachavalpongpun Sunya Sunyavivat
Chaiwat Satha-Anand Phiphat Tangsubkul Surichai Wun’Gaeo
Charnvit Kasetsiri Pranee Chitkornkijsil Surin Maisrikrod
Khien Theeravit Prudhisan Jumbala Suthiphand Chiravithvat
Kusuma Snitwongse Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Thamsook Numnonda
Medhi Krongkaew Puangthong R. Pawakapan Thitinan Pongsudhirak
Narongchai Akrasanee Suchit Bunbongkarn Aekapol Chongvilaivan
Prajak Kongkirati Nipit Wongpunya Micah Francis Morton
Pongphisoot Busbarat Yos Santasombat Punchada Sirivunnabood
Supalak Ganjanakhundee Nursyazwani bte Jamaludin Sihasak Phuangketkeow
Paul Wesley Chambers Anusorn Unno Alexandra Dalferro
Vongthep Arthakaivalvatee

Thailand Forum, 2015

The Thailand Studies Programme hosted a Thailand Forum conference in Singapore from 27–28 July 2015. The conference convened a small number of scholars and other analysts from Thailand and elsewhere to present research on political dynamics, social change and cultural trends in Thailand. It will result in the publication of an edited volume.


For upcoming seminars, please see the events page of the main ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute website.

Seminars over the past years:

  • “Rising Religious and Ethnic Politics in the Upper Mekong Region”, 7 August 2017
  • “The Thai Military’s Civil Affairs Projects: From Counter-Insurgency to Counter-Democracy”, 3 July 2017
  • “A 500 Years ‘Cosmic Ritual’: The Cremation of a Royal Corpse in Thailand”, 21 March 2017
  • “Is Thailand Ripe for Liberalism?”, 2 March 2017
  • “Thailand’s Constitutional Referendum Results: Political Meanings and Implications”, 15 August 2016
  • “Bamboo Swirling in the Wind”: Thailand’s Foreign Policy in the Regional Power Competition”, 7 March 2016
  • “Royalist Guided Democracy in Thailand: How It Operates”, 8 January 2016
  • “The Perils of Power: Thailand’s Anti-Democratic Elites and the Challenge of Replacing Dictatorship with a Constitutional Regime”, 30 October 2015
  • “Spirits of Power in 21st Century Thailand: Magic and the Supernatural at the Centre of Political Authority in Thailand”, 10 September 2015
  • “Thailand: A Post-May Assessment”, 19 May 2015
  • “The Crown Property Bureau in Thailand”, 13 March 2015
  • “Is Myanmar a Model for the Thai Political Order?”, 28 October 2014
  • “What Went Wrong with the Thai Democracy?”, 11 July 2014
  • “Thailand: The Return of Bureaucratic Polity”, 23 September 2014
  •  “Thai Politics – a State of Suspended Animation”, 30 July 2013


ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute has published research and analysis on Thailand in wide range of formats. Each edition of the bimonthly ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute Monitor and the annual Southeast Asian Affairs covers Thailand. Scholarship and research on Thailand regularly appears in the ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute journals Contemporary Southeast AsiaThe Journal of Southeast Asian Economies and SOJOURN: Social Issues in Southeast Asia.

ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute Perspective Issues

Titles include the following:

Pongphisoot Busbarat China’s “Shame Offensive”: The Omission of Thailand’s Prime Minister from the Belt and Road Initiative Summit 2017 (19 July 2017)
Peter A Jackson Royal Warrants of Appointment Grant Prestige and Goodwill in Thai Business Culture (4 May 2017)
Peter A Jackson A Grateful Son, a Military King: Thai Media Accounts of the Accession of Rama X to the Throne (26 April 2017)
Micah F Morton The Indigenous People’s Movement in Thailand Expands (16 December 2016)
Daljit Singh, Le Hong Hiep, Malcolm Cook, Mustafa Izzudin, Michael J Montesano, Ulla Fionna, and Ye Htut Special Issue: How Southeast Asia is Sizing Up Trump’s Election Victory (8 December 2016)
Nipit Wongpunya What Thailand Needs to Do to Become a High-Income Country (11 October 2016)
Prajak Kongkirati Thailand’s Political Future Remains Uncertain (26 July 2016)
National Institute of Development Administration (NIDA) Survey Findings in Thailand on Public Attitudes towards Local Administration, and towards Politicians and Conflicts of Interest (26 May 2016)
Li Renliang Dancing with the Dragon: The Trans-Asia Railway and its Impact on Thailand (4 March 2016)
National Institute of Development Administration (NIDA) Survey Findings on Public Familiarity and Confidence in Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) Members, and Public Opinion over Posting Images of Alcohol on Social Media (24 December 2015)
Puangthong Pawakapan Protracted Period in Power Can Prove Perilous for Thailand’s Military Government (19 November 2015)
National Institute of Development Administration (NIDA) Thailand Surveys: On Priorities in Domestic Issues and On Reactions to International Criticism on Human Rights (15 October 2015)
Thongchai Winichakul The Hazing Scandals in Thailand Reflect Deeper Problems in Social Relations (9 October 2015)
Puangthong Pawakapan Thai Junta Militarizes the Management of Natural Resources (3 September 2015)
National Institute of Development Administration (NIDA) Findings from Latest Surveys from Thailand on the “Proposal to Establish Casinos for Government Revenue” and “Comparing NCPO 2014 Coup with CNS 2006 Coup” (21 August 2015)
National Institute of Development Administration (NIDA) Findings from Latest Surveys on The Thai Prime Minister and the Media and The Draft of Constitution (2015) (3 June 2015)
National Institute of Development Administration (NIDA) Survey Findings on Freedom and Democracy under the Prayuth Government and Buddhism Reforms in Thailand (16 April 2015)
Puangthong Pawakapan Multiple Targets of Thailand’s Martial Law (12 March 2015)
Puangthong Pawakapan Will Thailand’s New Constitution Be a Return to Authoritarianism? (27 January 2015)
Porphant Ouyyanont Thailand: A New Polity in the Making? (7 November 2014)
Patrick Jory Thailand Has Entered the Interregnum (21 October 2014)
Puangthong Pawakapan The Thai Junta’s Interim Constitution: Towards an Anti-Electoral Democracy (12 August 2014)
Cassey Lee Whither Thailand’s Juntanomics? (8 July 2014)
Su-Ann Oh Burmese Refugees in Thailand — Should they stay or should they go? (24 March 2014)
Pavin Chachavalpongpun Japan Pursues a ‘Thailand-Plus-One’ Strategy (13 March 2014)
Michael J. Montesano What is to come in Thailand? (10 February 2014)
Puangthong Pawakapan Can the ICJ ruling end the dispute between Thailand and Cambodia? (26 September 2013)
John Lee China’s Economic Influence in Thailand: Perception or Reality? (11 July 2013)
Michael J. Montesano The Struggle to Amend Thailand’s Constitution (1 July 2013)
Kornphanat Tungkeunkunt China’s Soft Power in Thailand (3 Jun 2013)
Su-Ann Oh Rohingya Boat Arrivals in Thailand: From the frying paninto the fire? (4 March 2013)

Trends in Southeast Asia

The Trends in Southeast Asia series on Thailand includes:


ISEAS Publications has also published a wide range of influential monographs and edited volumes on Thailand. These include the following titles.


Myanmar Studies


Among the first of its kind to be established in Southeast Asia (and in Singapore), the Myanmar Studies Programme’s ambit is on policy-oriented research pertaining to the reforms taking place in Myanmar, and the emerging issues and trends in the country’s transition to democracy. Through research, seminars, conferences, consultations and publications – undertaken individually or in partnership with other like-minded entities – the Myanmar Studies Programme (MmSP) seeks to give a critical analysis (and policy-relevant recommendations) on issues and events in Myanmar.

In support of ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute’s mission, the Myanmar Studies Programme studies the socio-political, security and economic trends and developments in Myanmar. The Myanmar Studies Programme seeks to be an intellectual resource for scholars and policy-makers interested in Myanmar. To this end, the MmSP devotes its research primarily to analysing recent developments and events in Myanmar, so that views, perspectives and recommendations generated from this research can be readily used by all those interested in and following #WhatsHappeningInMyanmar. The programme also seeks to build and maintain collaborative links with academics, analysts, researchers and centres studying Myanmar.

The Myanmar Studies Programme team’s current research projects include:

Developments Following the 1 February 2021 Coup

1. The programme has an ongoing webinar series analysing the impact of the coup:

2. Scholars and researchers have contributed their analyses of different aspects of the coup:

3. Commentaries by MmSP researchers on the coup have appeared on the ISEAS Fulcrum blog since 2 February 2021:

The State Administration Council Regime

A research paper series by Htet Myet Min Tun, Moe Thuzar and Michael Montesano assesses:

Aid to and Investment in Myanmar after the 1 February Coup

  • A research paper series is forthcoming.

Myanmar’s Foreign Relations

  • Webinars and research papers will be forthcoming.


Programme Coordinators

Ms Moe Thuzar is the Coordinator of the Myanmar Studies Programme.

Current Researchers and Affiliates

Past Affiliates

ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute also hosts researchers and scholars who work on Myanmar. Among those previously affiliated with the Institute are the following:

  • Professor Robert H. Taylor
  • Associate Professor Sean Turnell
  • Associate Professor Fan Hongwei
  • Mr Lex Reiffel
  • Dr Renaud Egreteau
  • Mr Thaung Tun
  • Mr Myint Soe
  • Mr Stuart Larkin
  • Dr Jurgen Haacke
  • Dr Maung Aung Myoe
  • Dr Amporn Jirattikorn
  • Dr Micah Francis Morton
  • Dr Lin Htet Aung
  • U Ye Htut
  • Dr Nyi Nyi Kyaw
  • Dr Ong Wai Hoong Andrew
  • Dr Michael J. Montesano
  • Mr Wai Moe
  • Mr Aung Tun

Webinars and Conferences

For upcoming MmSP events, please check the events section of the ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute website.

Past conferences and key events organised by the programme include the following:

Myanmar Forum 2016

ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute partnered with University of Michigan’s Center for Southeast Asian Studies for the Myanmar Forum which was held on Friday, 20 May 2016. Myanmar country specialists, business and government practitioners and an international audience of public and private sector actors interested in Myanmar’s development, participated in the Forum.


The highlight of the Forum was a dialogue session with U Ko Ko Gyi, General Secretary of the 88 Generation (Peace and Open Society) which is a highly respected political organization born out of the student-led democracy protests of 1988. U Ko Ko Gyi is a Burmese politician, democracy activist and former prisoner of conscience.

More than 150 participants attended the Myanmar Forum 2016.

For more information, please click here.


International Burma Studies Conference 2014

ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute, together with the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and the Centre for Asian Legal Studies of the National University of Singapore organised the International Burma Studies Conference 2014 on “Envisioning Myanmar: Issues, Images, Identities” from the 1st to the 3rd August 2014. This theme has attracted a diverse collection of panels and papers from across the humanities and social sciences, as well as from the fields of law, policy, development, media, civil society and other professional fields.

Our ongoing collaboration with international partners, especially the Center for Burma Studies (based at Northern Illinois University, USA) and the Burma Studies Group of the Association of Asian Studies has enabled us to bring together scholars from Asia, Europe, Australia and North America. Most importantly, we were able to host a number of special guests from Myanmar who spoke at the Plenary and Closing Sessions.

To find out more about IBSC 2014 or access the panel abstracts, click here. To view photos of IBSC 2014, click here.


Malaysia Studies


Malaysia Studies Programme banner
Photos courtesy of Francis Hutchinson, Lee Hwok-Aun, Lee Poh Onn, Serina Abdul Rahman and Kevin Zhang.

The Malaysia Studies Programme (MSP) focusses on issues pertaining to the country’s domestic political, economic, and social context, including: major political realignments and intra-coalition and inter-party dynamics; the working of the country’s federal system; structural change in Malaysia’s economy; changing trends in investment into the country, as well as the general business climate; and important developments in key states and regions.

The programme also collaborates and works closely with external researchers, scholars and centres involved in the study of Malaysia.

As part of the above, the Malaysia Studies Programme team has been working on the following projects:

Inter and Intra-Coalition Dynamics

Following the 14th General Elections, MSP has sought to trace and analyse key developments in the country’s ongoing political transition. This has involved producing research products and organizing events on: the COVID-19 situation facing the country; the declaration of Emergency and suspension of parliament; the national budget; the Sabah state elections; and the emergence of new political movements and parties.

MSP regularly organizes events with opinion- and decision-makers to share their perspectives on the evolving political situation in the country. Among those invited during the past fiscal year were: Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir; Muar MP Syed Saddiq; Senator Wan Ahmad Faysal; Bangi MP Ong Kian Ming; Selangau MP Baru Bian; Lembah Panti MP Fahmi Fadzil; Professor Khoo Boo Teik; and Professor Tim Bunnell, Asia Research Institute-NUS.

The Future of Malay Politics in Post GE14 Malaysia

This project looked at evolving dynamics among Malay voters and Malay-majority political parties following the 14th General Election. It sought to identify and explore existing as well as emerging cleavages in Malay society, such as the struggle for votes between Malay nationalist parties like UMNO and Bersatu; the competition between conservative Islam, often exemplified by PAS, and moderate Islam, put forward by Parti Amanah Negara; and the consolidation of different class identities in different parts of the country.

The BRI in the Infrastructure Sector in Malaysia.

The project focussed on Belt and Road-linked infrastructure projects in Malaysia, with the aim of providing a grounded analysis of how and under what circumstances BRI projects materialize and are successfully completed, and how Chinese capital interacts with local state and private sector actors. Infrastructure projects studied include: the Melaka Gateway, Kuantan Port, Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park and East Coast Rail Link.

Federalism in Malaysia

Given its two-levelled structure and elected state leaders, the central and state governments can be ruled by different political parties in Malaysia’s federal system. Focussing on 2018-2020, this project looked at the performance of state administrations of different coalitions under the Pakatan Harapan federal administration, and drew out the potential stresspoints between Pakatan Harapan state governments and the Perikatan Nasional federal administration going forward.

Doing Business in Malaysia under Pakatan Harapan

This project sought to establish how and whether the environment for doing business in the country changed under the Pakatan Harapan government, particularly in areas such as transparency, anti-corruption and business regulations. To this end, this project involved key informant interviews with Chambers of Commerce at the central and state levels in Malaysia, as well as content analysis of periodical articles from 2018-2020.

Youth Unemployment and Wages in Malaysia

This research examined the state of the labour market for young Malaysians, particularly in light of the impact of COVID and the ensuing policy response. This age group constitutes a large and growing share of the population, whose socioeconomic well-being is crucial for the country’s development, and whose political voice will grow stronger.

Pakatan Harapan and Perikatan Nasional’s policies towards East Malaysia

Drawing on site visits and interviews with voters and political leaders in Sabah and Sarawak, this research gathered perspectives on the positions of Pakatan Harapan and Perikatan Nasional towards East Malaysia on issues such as autonomy and states’ rights.

Structural Transformation of the Malaysian Economy

This project examines medium to long-term structural changes in the Malaysian economy.  This includes topics such as de-industrialization; agglomeration, human capital and foreign labour; urbanization in Peninsular Malaysia; manufacturing performance and services inputs; and globalisation and economic development.

Programme Coordinators

Francis E. Hutchinson (coordinator)

Lee Hwok Aun (co-coordinator)

Current Researchers and Affiliates

Norshahril Saat

Lee Poh Onn

James Chai

Serina Abdul Rahman

Azmil Tayeb

Loo Qile Sara

Kevin Zhang 

Kai Ostwald

Khairy Jamaluddin

Ong Kian Ming

Visiting Researchers

The MSP usually issues calls in September-October each year for visiting researchers to spend 3-6 months with the Institute to work on specified topics. In FY 2020-2021, the following researchers were based at ISEAS:

Tricia Yeoh

Khoo Boo Teik

Michael Schaper

Anand Govindasamy

Wan Saiful Wan Jan

Clarissa Ai Ling Lee


The MSP produces a range of publications of varying lengths to share the results of work undertaken by team members as well as visiting researchers. An indicative list of outputs produced over the 2020-2021 Fiscal Year includes the following:


Affirmative Action in Malaysia and South Africa: Preference for Parity (Routledge, Research in Public Policy and Administration Series, 2021), by Hwok-Aun Lee, presents a systematic framework of preferential measures that promote the representation of the disadvantaged majority race in higher education, high-level employment, enterprise and wealth ownership, in the two most extensive policy regimes worldwide. This book empirically evaluates affirmative action contexts, programmes and outcomes of each country individually, distils similarities and differences in cross-country comparison, and discusses policy implications for both countries moving forward.

Johor: Abode of Development? (ISEAS 2020)

Building on earlier work by the ISEAS on the SIJORI Cross-border Region, this manuscript centres on how the state of Johor negotiates its place within Malaysia, whilst also being shaped by its ties to neighbouring territories. Bringing together contributions by seven ISEAS researchers and a number of Malaysia-based collaborators, this multi-disciplinary book includes more than 25 specially-commissioned maps. This tome brings together textual and visual analysis in a new way that will deepen readers’ understanding of the economic, political, and social dynamics underway in Johor and their physical manifestations. Edited by Francis E. Hutchinson and Serina Rahman, the book was published by ISEAS in September 2020.

As Empires Fell: the life and times of Lee Hau-Shik, the first Finance Minister of Malaysia (ISEAS 2020)

Having written potent biographies about Malaysian and Singapore leaders such as Ismail Abdul Rahman, Goh Keng Swee, and Lim Kit Siang, Ooi Kee Beng now tells the story of Lee Hau-Shik, based on the latter’s extensive private papers housed at ISEAS Library, Singapore. Born in Hong Kong to a highly prominent family at a time when the Qing Dynasty was falling, Hau-Shik received degrees in Law and Economics in Cambridge and became a successful tin miner in British Malaya and an influential member of Kuala Lumpur’s colonial society. After the Second World War, his influence in elite circles in China, Britain and Malaya allowed him to play a key role in the gaining of independence for Malaysia. He was one of the founders of the Malayan Chinese Association and served as the country’s first Minister of Finance. 

Trends in Southeast Asia

Tricia YeohWill Pakatan Harapan’s Hold on Selangor Continue? (2020)
Khoo Boo TeikThe Making of Anwar Ibrahim’s “Humane Economy” (2020)
Khoo Boo TeikMalay Politics: Parlous Condition, Continuing Problems (2020)
Wan Saiful Wan JanParti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS): Unifier of the Ummah? (2020)
Tricia YeohFederal-State Relations under the Pakatan Harapan Government (2020)
Serina RahmanRenewable Energy: Malaysia’s Climate Change Solution or Placebo? (2020)
Wan Saiful Wan JanWhy Did BERSATU Leave Pakatan Harapan? (2020)
Michael T. SchaperAdvocacy in a Time of Change: Business Associations and the Pakatan Harapan Government in Malaysia, 2018–20 (2020)
Wan Saiful Wan JanMalaysia’s Student Loan Company: Tackling the PTPTN Time Bomb (2020)

ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute Perspective

Francis E. Hutchinson and Pritish BhattacharyaMalaysia’s Rubber Glove Industry – A Silver Lining Amidst Dark Clouds, 4 December 2020, 2020/138
Mohd Faizal Musa and Siti Syazwani Zainal Abidin“Longer-term External Conditions Behind Legal Conservatism in Malaysian Islam”, 4 March 2021, 2021/23
Francis E. Hutchinson and Pritish BhattacharyaMalaysia’s Rubber Glove Industry – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, 23 March 2021, 2021/35
Kai Ostwald“Malaysia 2020: The Impasse of Two-Coalition Politics”, 6 April 2020, 2020/25
Norshahril Saat“Malaysia’s Bersatu Remains Split and Faces Uncertain Future”, 2 June 2020, 2020/57
Arnold Puyok“The Fall of Warisan in Sabah’s Election: Telltale Signs, Causes and Salient Issues”, 29 January 2021, 2021/8
Lee Hwok-Aun“Work and Wages of Malaysia’s Youth: Structural Trends and Current Challenge”, 4 September 2020, 2020/98
Tricia Yeoh“The Rise and Fall of State Governments in Malaysia: Institutions, Constitutions and Political Alignment”, 11 September 2020, 2020/103  
Lee Hwok-AunUnemployment among Malaysia’s Youth: Structural Trends and Current Challenges, 18 June 2020, 2020/65
Mohd Faizal Musa“Social Media Preachers: Unlicenced and Unbounded in Spreading Their Ideas”, 22 December 2020, 2020/146

Opinion Pieces

In addition to contributions to ISEAS’s Fulcrum, MSP team members contributed opinion pieces to the following outlets among others:

The Straits Times, ChannelNews Asia, Today, Berita Harian, South China Morning Post, NewMandala, the Jakarta Post, and the Edge Malaysia.

Click here for more Op-Ed pieces.

Lee Hwok-Aun“After Covid-19, Malaysia must offer migrant workers a fairer deal”, 26 May 2021
Norshahril Saat“It’s time Malaysia had a law against party-hopping”, 2 March 2021
Francis Hutchinson“Singapore and Malaysia backtrack on high-speed rail”, 12 February 2021
Francis Hutchinson and Kevin Zhang“In Malaysia, is Shafie Apdal vs Anwar Ibrahim a contest for opposition leadership?”, 22 December 2020
Lee Hwok-Aun“Let’s debate better Budget 2021 allocations for Bumis”, 25 November 2020

External Publications

Malaysia Studies team members have also published in the following outlets:

Academic Journals:

Journal of Contemporary Asia, Journal of Asian Political Science, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Asian Journal of Social Science, Journal of the Asia Pacific Economy, Journal of Asian Economics, the Singapore Economic Review, Malaysian Journal of Economic Studies, Contemporary Islam, Studia Islamika, Review of Indonesian and Malaysian Affairs, The Round Table, Sojourn: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia, Journal of Islamic Studies, Journal of Asian and African Studies

Publishing Houses:

ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute, Routledge, World Scientific, United Nations Development Programme

Straits Times, Today, Berita Harian, Berita Minggu, Berita Mediacorp, and The Edge Malaysia.

Collaboration and Past Visiting Researchers

The programme also collaborates and works closely with external researchers, scholars and centres involved in the study of Malaysia. In addition, ISEAS has a long history of hosting researchers and scholars studying Malaysia. Among those previously affiliated with the Institute are the following:

Ramlah Adam, Geoffrey Benjamin, Cheah Boon Kheng, Hans-Dieter Evers, John Funston, T.N. Harper, James Jesudason, Gordon Means, Ungku Mainmunah Mohd. Tahir, Chandra Muzaffar, Farish Ahmad Noor, Johan Saravanamuttu; A.B. Shamsul, Dan Slater, Wang Gungwu, and Meredith Weiss.

Furthermore, in carrying out research in Malaysia, team-members have collaborated with the following organizations, among others: Institute of Democracy and Economic Affairs; the Penang Institute; Konrad Adenauer Foundation.


For upcoming ISEAS seminars/webinars, see the events section of the main ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute website here.