Book highlights: reading ISEAS seminar speakers

As part of its role to analyse and inform target audiences about key global and regional developments, the ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute organises conferences, workshops, lectures and seminars to encourage debate and deepen stakeholders’ and our own understanding of Southeast Asia.

The Institute has had the pleasure of hosting many speakers at these events, where these subject matter experts from industry, government, and academia have generously imparted their knowledge. In some cases, their research and experiences may be understood and appreciated in greater depth through their books and essays.

The ISEAS Library presents a selection of books written, edited and compiled by external speakers at ISEAS seminars in the past year. We hope this list will pique further interest in and facilitate the further exploration of topics discussed by these speakers.

On Indonesia and Malaysia

Islamic Education in Indonesia and Malaysia: Shaping Minds, Saving Souls / Azmil Tayeb.
Call no: LC910 I5A993

“Despite their close geographic and cultural ties, Indonesia and Malaysia have dramatically different Islamic education, with that in Indonesia being relatively decentralized and discursively diverse, while that in Malaysia is centralized and discursively restricted.
The book explores the nature of the Islamic education systems in Indonesia and Malaysia and the different approaches taken by these states in managing these systems.” – Publisher.

On Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam

Fiery dragons: banks, moneylenders and microfinance in Burma / Sean Turnell.
Call no: HG3270.7 A6T94

“This book tells the story of Burma’s financial system – of its banks, moneylenders and ‘microfinanciers’ – from colonial times to the present day. It argues that Burma’s financial system matters, and that the careful study of this system can tell us something about Burma – not least about how the richest country in Southeast Asia at the dawn of the twentieth century, became the poorest at the dawn of the twenty-first.” – Publisher.

On foreign policy and security

Ambivalent Engagement: The United States and Regional Security in Southeast Asia after the Cold War / Joseph Chinyong Liow.
Call no: DS525.9 U6L76

“Ambivalent Engagement highlights a paradox that is becoming increasingly conspicuous and problematic. Southeast Asia continues to rely on the United States playing an active role despite it being an external power. But the states in the region have very different views about precisely what role the United States should play. The consequences of this paradox will grow in importance with the expanding role of yet another outside power, China.” – Publisher.


ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute, Understanding the drivers of change in a disrupted world: annual report 2022/2023 (Singapore: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute, 2023).

Best effort has been made to ensure the external links provided are valid as of collation. We welcome your suggestions to help us improve this service. Please take a moment to give us your feedback via our feedback form.

In making materials available online, the ISEAS Library always does its best to meet the requirements of copyright and other laws. If you have concerns about any material that ISEAS Library has placed online and want to suggest that it be taken down, please contact us at