In this webinar, Dr Chang-Yau Hoon examined the dynamics between new and old Chinese communities in Brunei.
REGIONAL SOCIAL AND CULTURAL STUDIES PROGRAMME WEBINAR
Thursday, 27 April 2023 – The ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute held a webinar titled “Negotiating China’s Economic Presence in Brunei Darussalam: The Dynamics between New and Old Chinese Community” The webinar was the second session of a four-part series on “Rising China and Chinese Communities in Southeast Asia.” The webinar saw 39 participants attending online.
Moderated by Senior Visiting Fellow, Professor Leo Suryadinata (ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute), Professor Chang-Yau Hoon, presented his views on the interactions, conflicts and disputes between the old and new Chinese migrants. He hopes “to give a human face” to the Belt-and-Road Initiative (BRI) projects in Brunei Darussalam.
This webinar focused on the dynamics between the old Chinese Bruneian business elites and the more recent business migrants from Malaysia and mainland China. It examined the relevance of traditional Chinese associations and the emergence of new Chinese organisations to cater for different economic and social needs. It argues that the heterogenous responses of Chinese Bruneians towards China and the BRI attest to the multiplicity and contestations of ‘Chineseness’.
From his research, Professor Hoon finds that the old Chinese elites in Brunei have largely not benefitted from the presence of new Chinese investments. The nature of these new Chinese investments – having “government to government” arrangements, forces traditional Chinese associations to be in the twilights of existence. With that, the internal politics of the Chinese community appears to be less of clan or dialect groups, but instead hinges on the different national origins, economic power and business priorities that forms a new site of contestation among Chinese associations in Brunei.
In the Question and Answer segment, the moderator and audience engaged with Professor Hoon with a host of questions. Many questions explored the tensions or collaborations between the old Chinese Bruneians and new Chinese “temporary immigrants”. They also discussed the differences in the cultures and beliefs of these two distinct groups. Professor Hoon also further elaborated on the tensions and perceptions against the BRI projects as well as the strategies in which the Bruneian government has thus far successfully suppressed them. Professor Hoon ended the segment by discovering a new possible line of research which could look into the affiliations of a possible pan-Borneo Chinese sentiment among the Chinese organisations there. Professor Leo closed the webinar by urging the audience to attend the upcoming RSCS webinar that will be held on May 31, 2023, at 10 am.