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Latest News and Updates

Launch of The State of Southeast Asia: 2020 Survey Report
The State of Southeast Asia: 2020 Survey Report presents the findings of a region-wide online survey conducted among the policy, research, business, civil society, and media communities. A total of 1,308 respondents from the ten ASEAN member states participated in the 2020 edition of the survey, which seeks to understand the perceptions of Southeast Asians on regional affairs and ASEAN’s engagements with its Dialogue Partners, especially the major powers.

The full survey report can be downloaded here.

Click here for a list of press reports referencing the survey findings.
The Jakarta Post: "Can Vietnam rise to leadership challenge?" by Hoang Thi Ha
"As disruptions and uncertainties become a new norm, a “cohesive and responsive ASEAN” is a timely and relevant theme for Vietnam’s ASEAN chairmanship this year. It singles out “cohesiveness” as the most important element for ASEAN to deal with the many problems facing the region."

Click here to read more.
South China Morning Post: "China can boost Asean’s smart-city dreams but, first, it needs to earn some trust in Southeast Asia" by Melinda Martinus
"China, for its impressive achievements and willingness to share its expertise in smart urbanisation, may face challenges as anti-China sentiment in ASEAN grows."

Click here to read more.
Launch and Discussion of “the State of Southeast Asia: 2020” Survey on 16 January 2020
The geo-economic and geo-strategic spheres in Southeast Asia and the wider region are undergoing fundamental shifts. Yet, there is little understanding – and even less agreement – on their implications and the region’s response to these new dynamics. Against this backdrop, the ASEAN Studies Centre at ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute conducted the 2020 edition of the “State of Southeast Asia” survey to seek the views of Southeast Asian opinion leaders on regional affairs. The survey canvassed the views of 1,308 respondents who are regional experts and stakeholders from the policy, research, business, civil society, and media communities. Among the questions explored in the survey are the top security challenges facing Southeast Asia, the region’s views and levels of trust regarding the major powers, ASEAN’s role and relevance, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the politics of the 5G infrastructure, the Rakhine issue, and soft power. The launch event will present some of the major survey findings, which will be highlighted for discussion and analysis by a distinguished panel of speakers.

The Launch and Discussion of “the State of Southeast Asia: 2020” Survey will be held on Thursday, 16 January 2020 from 10am to 12.00pm at Tower Ballroom, Shangri-La Hotel Singapore, 22 Orange Grove Road.

Click here for more information and to register.
ISEAS Perspective: "Trump’s Absence at ASEAN Summits Undermines US Regional Strategic Engagement" by Tang Siew Mun and Glenn Ong
"The US continues to give unclear signals about its commitment to the ASEAN process despite its longstanding relations with East Asia. This position was exacerbated recently by President Donald Trump’s decision to skip the ASEAN-US Summit and the 14th East Asia Summit (EAS) in Bangkok, held on 3-4 November 2019.

This article is a rejoinder to assertions advanced by ASEAN sceptics that the regional organisation had placed exceedingly high and unreasonable expectations on the US president to attend ASEAN summits and the EAS without offering tangible payoffs to the US. In fact, understanding diplomacy as being in this transactional mode is counterproductive to the US and only serves to undermine US standing and credibility in the region at a time when the region’s suspicion of American disinterest is mounting."

Click here to read more.
"The 21st ASEAN Lecture - Viet Nam’s ASEAN Chairmanship 2020: Cohesive and Responsive" on 17 December 2019
The year 2020 marks an important milestone as Viet Nam assumes the ASEAN Chairmanship and celebrates 25 years of its admission to ASEAN. Along with the ASEAN Chair tenure in 2020, Viet Nam also serves as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in the 2020-2021 period. The 21st ASEAN Lecture by His Excellency Nguyen Quoc Dzung, Deputy Foreign Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam highlights rapid and complex changes in the regional and global landscape, and identifies key challenges that merit ASEAN’s focused attention in the community building process. Against this backdrop, the Lecture elaborates on the theme “Cohesive and Responsive” and priorities that Viet Nam will put forward under the ASEAN Chairmanship 2020.

The 21st ASEAN Lecture will be held on Tuesday, 17 December 2019 from 10am to 11.30am at ISEAS Seminar Rooms 1 & 2.

Click here for more information and to register.
ISEAS Commentary: "Korea Finds in ASEAN a Like-Minded Partner on the Indo-Pacific" by Hoang Thi Ha
"The AOIP therefore ticks all the right boxes as a multilateral platform from which the ROK could tiptoe towards the Indo-Pacific while avoiding to be caught in the US-China rivalry minefield. Apart from that, both ASEAN and Seoul share the strategic imperative to diversify partnerships so as to hedge against uncertainties and vulnerabilities in their respective relations with the two major powers, to expand the menu of choice rather than to see it be reduced to a binary choice."

Click here to read more.
"34th ASEAN Roundtable: Opportunities and Challenges in Uncertainty" on 9 December 2019
This one-day event will explore the fluid geoeconomic and geopolitical dynamics in the region as ASEAN seeks to construct a resilient and dynamic community and features panelists who will share their expert views on key topics including the South China Sea, RCEP, the US-China trade war, and ASEAN's position vis-à-vis Sino-American rivalry.

The 34th ASEAN Roundtable is supported by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS).

It will be held on Monday, 9 December 2019 from 9am to 5pm at ISEAS Seminar Rooms 1 & 2.

Click here for more information and to register.
"Facilitation of Investment for ASEAN Participation in Global Value Chains (GVCs)" on 27 November 2019
Over the last two decades, several ASEAN countries have been increasingly integrated into global production networks based on their comparative advantages. The integration into GVCs and establishment of regional production networks has contributed to economic prosperity in the subregion. How relevant is this model for the future, considering the aspirations of ASEAN Vision 2040 and achievement of the sustainable development goals for ASEAN Member States (AMS)? This talk will address the question by considering the impact of several ongoing developments for AMS, such as: (1) trajectory of traditional GVC growth; (2) technological drivers of changes in division of labour for value chains; and (3) role of policy uncertainty in short and long run. The role of facilitation of investment will be zoomed in, with a special focus on the service sector in strengthening production hubs within seemingly more predictable mega-regional trade and partnership agreements, such as CPTPP, RCEP and others. In this context, attention is drawn to facilitation of investment into strengthening intra-SME trade within the production hubs, as well as to the sustainability principles of investment for the accelerated progress towards sustainable development goals. ASEAN centrality and its role in global trade and investment governance plays an important role in ensuring a smooth and just transition of AMS into their next phase of sustainable development.

This seminar will be held on Wednesday, 27 November 2019 from 10.30am to 12pm at ISEAS Seminar Room 2.

Click here for more information and to register.
The Straits Times: "South China Sea spat a big test for Vietnam as new ASEAN chair" by Hoang Thi Ha
"In theory, as ASEAN chair, Hanoi is well positioned to assert its influence in setting the agenda and shaping the outcome of ASEAN cooperation. But in practice, it is constrained by greater scrutiny at home and abroad and competing pressures from the major powers. Above all, it has to find a way to advance national interests without jeopardising ASEAN unity."

Click here to read more.
The Jakarta Post: "Should ASEAN bid for the World Cup?" by Melinda Martinus and Anuthida Saelaow Qian
"ASEAN’s joint bid to host the World Cup will invigorate a critical momentum for ASEAN member states to shape a stronger identity. It also provides the regional bloc with an important opportunity to solidify its commitment to fostering an inclusive, people-oriented, and people-centered community."

Click here to read more.
ISEAS Commentary: “What India’s Withdrawal from RCEP Means for ASEAN, India and the Indo-Pacific Concept” by Tang Siew Mun
"With the India “question” now clear, the path is cleared for RCEP-15 to work towards a speedy conclusion of the regional trade pact. RCEP-15 changes the spirit and form of ASEAN-led regionalism, and India’s absence will be deeply felt and missed. It would be a mistake for ASEAN to treat India’s withdrawal from RCEP as a “terminal separation.” Instead both sides must redouble their efforts to build strategic bridges to ensure that the ASEAN-India Dialogue Partner relations are unaffected."

Click here to read more.
Channel NewsAsia: "Commentary: Trump skips ASEAN-related summits again. It’s déjà vu for Asia" by Hoang Thi Ha
"The downgrade of representation of the US delegation this year drives home the fact that when it comes to the attention and time of the US president, ASEAN, as a representation of multilateralism, and Southeast Asia, as a region, traditionally take a back seat to more pressing domestic preoccupations or external priorities."

Click here to read more.
ISEAS Commentary: "US Downgrading of Summit Representations Sets Worrying Precedent for ASEAN" by Tang Siew Mun and Glenn Ong
"The White House’s announcement on 29 October 2019 of newly-minted National Security Advisor, Robert O’Brien, as the Special Envoy to the upcoming EAS and US-ASEAN Summit is likely to be met with deep disappointment by Southeast Asian officials, who have already been unimpressed by America’s lacklustre engagement with ASEAN in past two years."

Click here to read more.
The Straits Times: "ASEAN outlook on the Indo-Pacific - time for action" by Hoang Thi Ha
"In essence, the AOIP should not be dismissed as just another Asean aspirational document, nor should Asean rush to fix an institutional home for its Indo-Pacific discourse.
Instead, Asean and its member states should bolster the AOIP's normative ballast for a rules-based regional order by harnessing the collective courage to call out transgressions against international law while staying nimble and innovative in all cooperative avenues that advance their national interest and regional autonomy at the same time."

Click here to read more.
"The Jeju Forum – ISEAS Conference: Partnership for Peace and Prosperity" on 30 October 2019
ASEAN and the Republic of Korea will celebrate 30 years of dialogue partnership with a Commemorative Summit in Busan in November 2019. Both partners have cultivated warm, robust, and mutually beneficial ties over the preceding decades. Indeed, regional cooperation between the two has been crucial for peaceful and prosperous development in East and Southeast Asia. The occasion presents a timely opportunity to take stock of ties between the two partners, as well as consider new avenues for cooperation. Changing strategic dynamics and intensifying major-power competition, moreover, complicate attempts to forge regional cooperation and build resilience. What role does resilience play in sustaining peace and prosperity in the region? How can regional stakeholders make sense of competing narratives of regionalisation and interconnectedness? What does President Moon Jae-in’s New Southern Policy herald for the future of ASEAN-ROK relations, and indeed, for ASEAN’s ties with other external partners?

To address these probing questions, the ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute and the Jeju Peace Institute is privileged to organise The Jeju Forum – ISEAS Conference: Partnership for Peace and Prosperity. The event will feature seasoned practitioners and eminent scholars from within and beyond the region as they offer insights into the most pressing questions of contemporary East and Southeast Asian relations from policymaking and academic perspectives. Given the contested but vibrant environment that ASEAN and Korea inhabit, these questions will hold enduring importance in the years to come.

This conference is co-organised by the Jeju Peace Institute and ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute. It will be held on Wednesday, 30 October 2019 from 10.00am to 5pm at ISEAS Seminar Rooms 1 & 2.

Click here for more information and to register.
ISEAS Commentary: "Takeaways from the Inaugural ASEAN-US Maritime Exercise (AUMX)" by Tang Siew Mun and Glenn Ong
"Along with other past and future multilateral exercises, the AUMX illustrates the desire of external powers to cooperate with ASEAN, and is a testament that external powers recognise, both ASEAN’s relevance and its claims to centrality in the region."

Click here to read more.
"European Business Sentiments and Viewpoints on Regional Trade, Investment Opportunities and EU-ASEAN Relations" on 17 September 2019
With ASEAN developing its economic integration programme further, increasing discussions of Industry 4.0 and digitisation, and the growth of economic headwinds driven by the ongoing US-China trade war, this Seminar will look at the perspective that European industry has towards Southeast Asia. Covering attitudes towards trade and investment in the region, viewpoints on the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), and developments with various trade deals, as well as the EU-ASEAN relationship, the Seminar will provide further insight into the EU-ASEAN Business Sentiment Study, concerns that industry has on the AEC’s progress, and how the EU-ASEAN relations could be improved going forward. How do European businesses see the prospects for ASEAN? Can Southeast Asia maintain its attractiveness as the investment destination of choice? What is the sense from European industry on how the AEC is developing? Can and should Europe do more with ASEAN? And what is holding the relations back?

This seminar will be held on Tuesday, 17 September 2019 from 3.00pm to 4.30pm at ISEAS Seminar Room 2.

Click here for more information and to register.
ISEAS Commentary: "Prospects for ASEAN after New US Defence Secretary’s Maiden Pacific Tour" by Glenn Ong and Hoang Thi Ha
"As ASEAN recovers from the high of its 52nd anniversary celebrations and while Mark Esper warms up to the hot seat, both parties have much work ahead as they brace themselves for the potential eruption of flashpoints on the Korean peninsula and in the South China Sea. The US could risk being exposed on both fronts if it fails to strike a balance between the two. Indeed, the very definition of a “networked region” that the US seeks to promote through its Indo-Pacific strategy necessarily entails an interconnected space. ASEAN, on its part, will need to muster more than just repeated exhortations of ASEAN centrality."

Click here to read more.
"Non-Tariff Measures in ASEAN: Is Protectionism on the Rise?" on 27 August 2019
The 21st century suggests a somewhat vexing scenario of ‘new protectionism’, especially with the rise of restrictive non-tariff measures or NTMs. This largely refers to standard-like NTMs with a dual purpose of non-trade policy objectives and (hidden/concealed) protectionism. Since ASEAN is a high user of standard-like NTMs relative to other measures, this raises the question if there is an intentional shift towards murky protectionism in the region. Grounded on a few criteria to establish potential protectionism, the research presented in this seminar discusses the plausibility of “hidden” barriers in the standard-like NTMs based on related secondary data, and specific illustrative cases of harmful and burdensome NTMs in the individual ASEAN countries. From the narrative experiences of ASEAN, it is inferred that procedural obstacles directly associated with reported standard-like NTMs, instead of the NTMs themselves, account for the “hidden” barriers in ASEAN. The research concludes that regardless of the motivation for the barriers, whether unintentional or intentional with a protectionist agenda, procedural obstacles deserve attention in their own right as potential barriers to trade in ASEAN.

This seminar will be held on Tuesday, 27 August 2019 from 10.00am to 11.30am at ISEAS Seminar Room 2.

Click here for more information and to register.
"The 20th ASEAN Lecture: How to Think about the Indo-Pacific?" on 16 August 2019
The Indo-Pacific is a concept that holds multiple meanings. These uncertainties have not prevented Indo-Pacific from progressively becoming part of the regional discourse. ASEAN has also proclaimed its Outlook on Indo-Pacific at the 34th ASEAN Summit, a document which is read by many as differentiating the regional organisation's position from those of the major Indo-Pacific proponents. Mr. Bilahari Kausikan will share his perspective on why this new concept developed, how ASEAN ought to view the Indo-Pacific, and how ASEAN should position itself in this nascent strategic concept.

This seminar will be held on Friday, 16 August 2019 from 10.00am to 11.30am at ISEAS Seminar Rooms 1 & 2.

Click here for more information and to register.
The East-West Center: “ASEAN Matters for America/America Matters for ASEAN”
The East-West Center (EWC), in collaboration with the US-ASEAN Business Council (USABC) and the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, released the 4th edition of the ASEAN Matters for America/America Matters for ASEAN publication on 23 July 2019. The latest ASEAN Matters publication highlights the increasing ties between the United States and ASEAN.

Click here to access the press release.

To download the publication, click here.
ISEAS Perspective: “Pitfalls for ASEAN in Negotiating a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea” by Hoang Thi Ha
"Over the past two decades, developing a code of conduct (COC) for the parties in the South China Sea (SCS) appears to be the end-goal of the longstanding ASEAN-China discourse on the SCS. It was the original objective of ASEAN’s engagement with China on the SCS in the late 1990s, which led to the signing of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in 2002.

This article examines some potential pitfalls for ASEAN in the COC negotiations, and argues that the diplomatic progress in the COC process should not distract and divert ASEAN’s attention from the continuing problems at sea.”

Click here to read more.
ISEAS Perspective: “ASEAN Trade in Services Agreement (ATISA): Advancing Services Liberalization for ASEAN?” by Tham Siew Yean
"The arrival of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015 and numerous assessments on the achievements of the AEC Blueprint that was used to guide the development of the AEC, led to negotiations to upgrade the services agreement from a framework agreement to a full-fledged agreement, namely the ASEAN Trade in Services Agreement (ATISA). Negotiations on the ATISA were concluded in November 2018. This article examines the potential of the ATISA to accelerate services liberalization in the region, and the key challenges involved.”

Click here to read more.
The Straits Times: "ASEAN has spoken on the Indo-Pacific - now it must act on it" by Tang Siew Mun
"The Outlook is a declaration that ASEAN will be the master of its own destiny. While it is not resistant to working with external parties, it will always privilege ASEAN's interests above others.

ASEAN has found its voice. Now it must work harder on delivering a clear and consistent message. ASEAN should be working towards "taking positions", not sides."

Click here to read more.
ISEAS Commentary: "Revised Title ‘ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific’ Hints at Ambivalence" by Hoang Thi Ha and Glenn Ong
"The original title of ASEAN’s official response on the Indo-Pacific was reportedly the “ASEAN Indo-Pacific Outlook”, which was revised at the eleventh hour to the “ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific” (AOIP). This modification appears ordinary at first glance, but a closer look at the wording reveals the underlying ambivalence that ASEAN and some of its member states might still have with embracing the concept."

Click here to read more.
ISEAS Commentary: "ASEAN, Myanmar, and the Rohingya Issue" by Moe Thuzar
"Myanmar continues to shoulder the main responsibility for implementing the repatriation and ensuring safe and conducive conditions for lives and livelihoods of the Rohingya. But ASEAN’s long experience in dealing with Myanmar caution that no aspect of this issue can be satisfactorily resolved in the short-term."

Click here to read more.
ISEAS Perspective: “ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific: Old Wine in New Bottle?” by Hoang Thi Ha
"At the initiative and urging of Indonesia, ASEAN had held internal discussions to formulate a common ASEAN position on this issue. As a result, the 34th ASEAN Summit in Bangkok in June 2019 adopted the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP). This article examines the content of the AOIP and analyses what it may mean for ASEAN and its member states.”

Click here to read more.
South China Morning Post: "ASEAN found its voice with the Indo-Pacific concept. Now it has to use it or risk losing out" by Tang Siew Mun
"ASEAN has to rethink its game plan to maintain and solidify its centrality. It will require members to be proactive about creating and managing a new order, rather than fixate on their sole preoccupation of “regional cooperation”. Still, it is doubtful if members have the political will and drive to move away from the safe familiarity of ASEAN-led processes that centre almost exclusively on functional cooperation."

Click here to read more.
"'Indo-Pacific': Opportunities and Challenges for ASEAN" on 1 July 2019
The ASEAN Leaders are expected to issue the “ASEAN Indo-Pacific Outlook” at the conclusion of the 34th ASEAN Summit in Bangkok, Thailand on 23 June 2019. Heretofore, ASEAN has neither endorsed nor rejected the “Indo-Pacific” while its member states have held rounds of consultation towards forging a regional consensus on this new concept. The concern over ASEAN being bypassed and its centrality undermined was at the forefront of ASEAN’s deliberations, as the proponents of the concept – Australia, India, Japan and most recently, the US – aspire towards a broader regional order, combining the vast expanse of diverse political entities from the Pacific to the Indian oceans. What should ASEAN do to avoid being sidelined in this new construct? Conversely, could the “Indo-Pacific” provide added impetus – and urgency – for ASEAN to live up to its potential as the bedrock of the new broader regional order? This seminar brings together three prominent Track 1.5 experts from Cambodia, Indonesia, and Vietnam to discuss ASEAN’s views and responses to the Indo-Pacific concept.

This seminar will be held on Monday, 1 July 2019 from 10.00am to 11.30am.

Click here for more information and to register.
The Straits Times: "The economics-security disconnect in America's Indo-Pacific strategy" by Hoang Thi Ha
"Despite US heightened awareness of the economics-security nexus, the economic component remains the strategy’s weakest link, especially in juxtaposition with the development-based narrative that China is promoting far and wide . . . US economic relations with Southeast Asia, although still having a strong foundation, have shown signs of saturation or slowing growth in contrast to a consistently upward trend in ASEAN-China economic engagement."

Click here to read more.
Soha.vn: "Đối đầu Trung - Mỹ: "Cuộc đối thoại của người điếc" tiết lộ sóng ngầm dữ dội ở Biển Đông" by Hoang Thi Ha
"ASEAN’s traditional bridging role is under great pressure as the US and China are marching far down the road towards parting ways. It is uncertain whether its usual talking points – building an open and inclusive regional order, making no binary choice and being a friend to all – would be able to arrest the headwinds facing the region, especially the reallocation of the global supply chains as the world economy and technology are on the cusp of bifurcating into two separate systems. "

Click here to read the article (in Vietnamese).

English translation available here.
South China Morning Post: "In South China Sea, Asean has a choice: ‘Asian values’ or rule of law?" by Dr Tang Siew Mun and Hoang Thi Ha
"In negotiating the code of conduct, Asean must not become overly ambitious. The code is not meant to create a new body of law. Rather, it is a confidence-building mechanism to codify a set of dos and don’ts to minimise and prevent escalation of conflict. Asean should be vigilant against efforts to prejudice the legitimate interests of the international community on freedom of navigation at sea and overflight."

Click here to read more.
In Memoriam: Ambassador Rodolfo C. Severino

I and the staff of ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute are deeply saddened by the news of Mr Rodolfo C. Severino Jr.’s passing. We express our heartfelt sympathy and condolences to the bereaved family. As the inaugural head of the ASEAN Studies Centre at ISEAS from 2008 to 2015, Mr Severino held a special place in the hearts and minds of researchers and staff at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute. His leadership and stellar contributions to ASEAN will be long remembered and sorely missed.

Choi Shing Kwok
Director, ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute

Channel NewsAsia: "Commentary: Myanmar on the cusp of opening up to mediation on Rakhine crisis" by Moe Thuzar
"With violent extremism, climate change, humanitarian emergencies and mass displacement now emerging as drivers of conflict, and posing a challenge to regional integration, the current political moment impels greater ASEAN-led efforts in preventive diplomacy, promotion of conflict resolution and peacebuilding, and recovery in member states still afflicted by conflict and tensions."

Click here to read more.
The State of Southeast Asia: 2019 Survey Report
The ASEAN Studies Centre published “The State of Southeast Asia: 2019 Survey Report" on 29 January 2019, presenting the findings of a regionwide online survey conducted among policy, business, research, media and civil society communities in Southeast Asian countries on their views towards the state of the region amidst regional and global changes and uncertainties.

A summary of the survey findings was first published in ASEANFocus Issue 1/2019, accessible at this link.

The full survey report can be downloaded here.

Click here for a list of press reports referencing the survey findings.
Channel NewsAsia: "Commentary: The rebirth of the ASEAN miracle growth model" by Dr Sanchita Basu Das
”ASEAN’s efforts at strengthening cooperation both across the traditional and digital economies can help boost ASEAN’s competitiveness and growth in a way that is sustainable. And this new vision of enhanced connectivity will support greater trade, investment and innovation needed to ensure the region remains a vibrant and resilient region going forward.”

Click here to read more.
ISEAS Perspective: "ASEAN-India Economic Relations: Low Base, Large Potential" by Dr Sanchita Basu Das
”ASEAN-India’s economic relations have significant room to grow in light of the global trade turmoil, services sector potential and people-to-people contacts. The domestic reforms undertaken by India in recent years reflect the country’s wish to build a modern and competitive economy that has the capacity to integrate better with regional and global economies going forward.”

Click here to read more.
Associated Press: "Southeast Asian navies to hold drills with China next week"
“Strategically, it signals ASEAN’s current and future advances in security cooperation with China will not come at the expense of its good and long-standing ties with the U.S.” - Dr Tang Siew Mun

Click here to read more.
Asian Correspondent: "Trump's lack of attention"
“US supremacy is a thing of the past... America is a big factor in the region, but it is far from the only factor. China is gaining traction, pouring money into ASEAN and supplying the majority of tourists to the region. And the largest investor of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is the European Union... There are many other players in the region. There’s no one single actor... You see multiple leaderships in multiple different areas. There’s no one single party that stands out.” - Dr Tang Siew Mun

Click here to read more.
Free Malaysia Today: "Expert calls for code of conduct in South China Sea"
“I am not singling out anybody. But the moment you balance against someone, for instance China, ASEAN would have lost its rationale... ASEAN is about inclusiveness and being open. It should be a safe platform for powers, big and small, to trade, engage and be friends. It should not be a great power kind of politics.” - Dr Tang Siew Mun

Click here to read more.
Channel NewsAsia: "A piece of Southeast Asia in a Singapore dish" by Cheryl Teh
"When it comes to food, ASEAN is ever present in our home as much as we have always been right at home in the ASEAN region. These culinary connections highlight the intimate ties that bind Singapore to and with ASEAN."

Click here to read more.
The Business Times: "ASEAN Economic Community: Looking back to move forward" by Dr Sanchita Basu Das
"AEC will remain the main vehicle to entrench the regional supply-chains and to ensure countries' growth prospects. While there could be phases of uncertainty in the global economy, a more integrated ASEAN is inevitable to address vulnerabilities going into the future."

Click here to read more.
ISEAS Perspective: 2018/32 "Do the Economic Ties between ASEAN and China Affect Their Strategic Partnership?" by Dr Sanchita Basu Das
"There are trust issues between the two. ASEAN countries worry that the growing trade deficit and the excessive dependence on China in trade and infrastructure financing will affect their domestic economy and foreign policy autonomy."

Click here to read more.
ISEAS Commentary: "How ASEAN Supports the Korean Peninsula Peace Process" by Dr Tang Siew Mun
"Although ASEAN had consistently stood with the United Nations against DPRK’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, it also kept the channel of communication and dialogue with Pyongyang open through the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), which DPRK joined in 2000. Pyongyang’s participation in the ARF is even more important in the wake of the Trump-Kim Summit as it seeks to normalise ties with the region."

Click here to read more
ISEAS Commentary: "Consensus by Accommodation" by Hoang Thi Ha
"The alternative to consultation and consensus which is voting will end up with “winners” and “losers” within ASEAN. This will engender unhappiness and distrust among members. Certainty of outcome of voting can be counter-productive, ending with a divided ASEAN. Where the SCS issue is concerned, there is no quick fix or a perfect formula for ASEAN. ASEAN common position on the SCS must be attained by diligently bridging the gap and building consensus among its member states time and again."

Click here to read more.
ISEAS Commentary: "Strategic Imperatives for India and Australia to Conclude RCEP Negotiation in 2018" by Dr Sanchita Basu Das
"So while ASEAN wants to have an all-inclusive 16 party RCEP, under the circumstances, it might have to explore other alternatives, including a smaller grouping. Prime Minister Lee hinted at this when he stated that there is no guarantee that ‘if there is no RCEP, no smaller groupings will emerge’."

Click here to read more.
ISEAS Commentary: "The ASEAN Way on the South China Sea Speaks Volumes" by Dr Tang Siew Mun
"Far from being a weakness, the consensus approach to define ASEAN’s position which has stood the test of time ensures that all views are taken into account to serve the regional and collective interest while affirming ASEAN’s resilience. The consolidated South China Sea paragraph in the final outcome document exemplifies the true sense of ASEAN-ness in respecting each other’s views and upholding the spirit of compromise, while holding on to ASEAN’s principled position. "

Click here to read more.
ISEAS Commentary: "ASEAN Smart Cities Network: Preparing For the Future" by Moe Thuzar
"ASEAN’s smart city network should thus be viewed beyond its encapsulation of the 2018 ASEAN theme: “Resilient and Innovative” It is one of the first steps by ASEAN to prepare for the future of regional cooperation in a global environment where digital technology informs and influences in the way people live, work, and conduct their daily transactions socially, economically, and professionally."

Click here to read more.
ISEAS Commentary: "ASEAN Resilience: Continuity and Change" by Hoang Thi Ha
"More than ever before, ASEAN resilience is grounded in the cohesion among its member states, especially “vis-à-vis external divisive forces” as noted in the Vision – a very blunt statement by ASEAN standards. It is by no coincidence that ASEAN unity and centrality is the first principle in the Vision, a reminder that as the member states link their fates together through ASEAN, they should get their act together for a resilient ASEAN."

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ISEAS Commentary: "Seamless ASEAN Sky: Policymakers need to look beyond Obstacles" by Dr Sanchita Basu Das
"An integrated ASEAN airspace will enhance growth in many economic sectors. But ASEAN policymakers need to look beyond existing obstacles and undertake reforms. A Seamless ASEAN Sky can then contribute to overall economic integration and strengthen infrastructure, institutional and people-to-people connectivity in the region. "

Click here to read more.
The Straits Times: "ASEAN businesses will do better without barriers to cross-border data flow" by Dr Sanchita Basu Das
"Indeed, if ASEAN members work together, there is much to be gained - a US$88 billion e-commerce market by 2025, according to one estimate by Google and Temasek Holdings. The embrace of opportunities offered by new technology - rather than erecting new barriers - will help ASEAN become more resilient against potential disruptive effects."

Click here to read more.
ISEAS Perspective: "ASEAN in Australia's Indo-Pacific Outlook” by Hoang Thi Ha
"The ASEAN-Australia Special Summit on 17-18 March 2018 demonstrates Australia's support of ASEAN centrality in the defense of the region's rules-based order, and open and free trade... Australia's embrace of the Indo-Pacific and ASEAN's reluctance to do the same should not be a barrier to the strengthening of ASEAN-Australia ties, which are based on aligned interests and shared vulnerabilities in the face of shifting power balances and transnational challenges in the region."

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The Straits Times: "ASEAN 2018: More work to be done on labour migration" by Moe Thuzar
"The sheer fact that labour-sending and labour-receiving countries in ASEAN have managed to reach a compromise on a divisive issue after nearly eight years of negotiation is something of a relief."

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The Straits Times: ASEAN 2018: Reconciling consensus with new realities by Hoang Thi Ha
"A hallmark of the ASEAN Way, consensus guarantees that all member states, big or small, are equal in ASEAN's decision-making. It is credited for bringing ASEAN members together and keeping them united."

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ISEAS Commentary: "Australia in ASEAN: Vision or Fantasy?" by Hoang Thi Ha
To be an ASEAN member, one must agree to respect and abide by the ASEAN Charter, including the non-interference principle and decision-making by consensus. As a champion for liberal and democratic values, will Australia refrain from expressing its views on domestic politics of other ASEAN member states as it is doing today? Will Australia be comfortable with the ASEAN Way which Canberra and many Australian commentators have often lamented as “slow and ineffective”?

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