ASEAN Lecture Series: Post-2015 Vision for the ASEAN Community




On 31 December this year, ASEAN will officially declare the formation of a community. Nevertheless, work on the ASEAN Community will continue and the ASEAN Leaders are expected to adopt the recommendations of the High Level Task Force on the Post-2015 Vision for the ASEAN Community to drive the community-building process forward. What are ASEAN’s trajectory and plans for the further deepening of the ASEAN Community? Will the Post-2015 Vision be enough to help ASEAN keep pace with the rapid global developments? How will the ASEAN Community impact the region’s relationships with the other countries that have a strong presence in the region? This lecture will feature insights and assessments of ASEAN’s strategic vision and priority areas for the next phase of community-building. Both speakers, Ambassadors Sihasak Phuangketkeow and Ong Keng Yong served on the High Level Task Force and will share with us their views on ASEAN’s vision for the immediate future.


Ambassador Sihasak Phuangketkeow is Ambassador at the Royal Thai Embassy in Tokyo, Japan. He was previously Permanent Secretary of Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He had also served at the Thai Embassies in Washington DC and Tokyo, and as Thailand’s Consul-General in Hong Kong. In 2007, he became Thailand’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations and other international organisations in Geneva. Between 2010 and 2011, he was President of the United Nations Human Rights Council. He has also been an active contributor to the work of ASEAN, serving as Thailand’s Senior Officials Meeting Leader to ASEAN in 2006-7, and again since 2011. He was also Chair of the High-Level Panel on an ASEAN Human Rights Body that drafted the Terms of Reference establishing the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights.
Ambassador Ong Keng Yong is Executive Deputy Chairman of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. He is also Ambassador-at-Large at the Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs, non-resident High Commissioner to Pakistan, and non-resident Ambassador to Iran. Mr Ong also serves as Chairman of the Singapore International Foundation. Mr Ong was High Commissioner of Singapore to Malaysia from 2011 to 2014, and served as Secretary-General of ASEAN, based in Jakarta, Indonesia, between 2003 and 2008. Mr Ong holds a LLB (Hons) from the then University of Singapore and a MA in Arab Studies from Georgetown University, USA.


For registration, please fill in this form and email to by 30 November 2015.


The 37th Singapore Lecture by H.E. Narendra Modi


We have great pleasure in inviting you and your colleagues to the 37th Singapore Lecture, to be delivered by His Excellency Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India.

The title of the Lecture will be: India’s Singapore Story.

The Lecture will be held under the distinguished Chairmanship of Deputy Prime Minister, and Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies, Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam. Registration begins at 6.30 pm.

The Singapore Lecture is one of the intellectual highlights of Singapore. It is designed to provide an opportunity for distinguished statesmen and leaders of thought and knowledge to reach a wider audience in Singapore. The presence of such eminent personalities will allow members of the civil service, business community, diplomatic corps, academic community and media, the opportunity to hear from leading world figures speak on topics of international and regional interest.

Registration for the Lecture is now closed. Thank you for your interest.


Lecture: Documenting Southeast Asia’s Pre-1500 Past: Contested Agencies in the Extended Eastern Indian Ocean, c. 500–1500




This presentation will address Southeast Asia’s evolutionary international importance c. 500–1500, when the Southeast Asia region became a major source, consumer, and intermediary in the Indian Ocean maritime trade, diplomatic, and knowledge networks prior to significant European contact. Movements of variable goods, ideas, and people through the Southeast Asia extended Indian Ocean maritime passageway, made possible by seasonal monsoon winds, had regional and wider consequence that resulted in new Southeast Asia patterns of networked urbanization, diplomacy, trade, religion, and emigration that intersected and interacted to create a Southeast Asian world that had not previously existed.

This study is focal on Southeast Asia’s initiatives in contrast to prior views that have seen early Southeast Asia societies subject to the external agencies of Chinese, South Asians, and Middle Easterners. In recent years new regional archaeological and shipwreck recoveries have allowed the re-reading of other primary sources, including contemporary epigraphic, chronicle, and fictional literary compositions as these collectively document Southeast Asia’s contributions to the pre-1500 “borderless” Indian Ocean world. In this critical era transitional Southeast Asian societies assumed entrepreneurial roles in the adoption and adaptations of Indian, Chinese, and Middle Eastern concepts and constructions to pre-existing social and economic patterns, from scripts and languages to literary genres and motifs, from religious texts and discourses to associated art and architectural forms, as these were associated with new state, commercial, religious, societal, and urban networking patterns.


Kenneth R. Hall, Professor of History at Ball State University (Indiana, USA), is a Senior Research Fellow in the Nalanda–Sriwijaya Centre at ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute, Singapore. He has published a series of monographs and journal articles that address early Southeast Asia and south Indian history, most recently A History of Early Southeast Asia: Maritime Trade and Societal Development, c. 100–1500 (2011); and Networks of Trade, Polity, and Societal Integration in Chola-Era South India, c. 875–1400 (2014); and edited and co-authored Secondary Cities and Urban Networking in the Indian Ocean Realm, c. 1400–1800 (2008); The Growth of Non-Western Cities: Primary and Secondary Urban Networking, c. 900–1900 (2011); New Perspectives in the History and Historiography of Southeast Asia (2011); and Structural Change and Societal Integration in Early South India (2001/2005).
He is on the advisory board of The Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, and was a Fulbright Senior Scholar/Professor of comparative religion at Gadjah Mada University in Indonesia (2003–2004) and Southeast Asian studies at the Royal University of Phnom Penh (2012).

For registration, please fill in this form and email to  by 17 Nov 2015.


The 36th Singapore Lecture


ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute is pleased to announce the 36th Singapore Lecture which will be delivered by His Excellency Xi Jinping, President of People’s Republic of China. The Lecture will held under the distinguished Chairmanship of Deputy Prime Minister & Coordinating Minister for National Security, Mr Teo Chee Hean. The title of the lecture is: “Forging A Strong Partnership to Enhance Prosperity of Asia”.

The Singapore Lecture is one of the intellectual highlights of Singapore. It is designed to provide an opportunity for distinguished statesmen and leaders of thought and knowledge to reach a wider audience in Singapore. The presence of such eminent personalities will allow members of the civil service, business community, diplomatic corps, academic community and media, the opportunity to hear from leading world figures speak on topics of international and regional interest.

Recent speakers include Prime Minister Tony Abbot MP, Prime Minister of Australia, His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah of Brunei Darussalam, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan, Ms Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme and former Prime Minister of New Zealand, Dr Angela Merkel, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, Prime Minister Dr Jan Peter Balkenende of the Netherlands, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd MP of Australia, and Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.


Lecture: Analyzing Cambodian Cave Art: Ecology, Social Dimensions, Networks and Supply Chains




Southeast Asia contains some of the earliest art known to the planet. Recently dated sites indicate cave/rock art was produced 35–40,000 years ago. Southeast Asia has a widespread and longstanding tradition of cave/rock art extending to the present. Nevertheless, relations among sites and the people who produced the art remain obscure and tenuous. Meanings and purposes are equally ambiguous. Many sites frequently depict animals and humans. Analyzed correctly, however, this reveals information about past cultures, practices, environment and ecology. Subsequently, this helps elucidate clues to assist a greater understanding of past industries and supply-chain networks.
The Kanam cave art site, researched in Jan 2015, depicts an abundance of elephants, humans and deer. The dates of the paintings and site use remain unknown, but it very well may relate to elephant capturing, training and deer hunting industries. The results of the research were recently presented at the IFRAO Conference held in Careres, Spain (31 Aug–4 Sep: “Symbols in the Landscape: Rock Art and its Context”). Fieldwork, methodology, results and implications will be discussed.


Dr D. Kyle Latinis, Visiting Fellow at the NSC, currently researches the Historical Ecology of Southeast Asia—an approach which combines ethnographic, historic and archaeological data to examine long term human-environment trends, inclusive of internal and external socio-economic factors and resource exploitation. He will also assist with projects and field training in Mainland Southeast Asia, having over 20 years of experience in Cambodia. Dr Latinis earned a PhD at the National University of Singapore, Department of Southeast Asian Studies (2008) and a PhD in Ecological Anthropology at the University of Hawaii, Department of Anthropology (1999). Recently, he was a Director and Senior Social Scientist with the US Department of Defense (2011–2014; including 18 months of applied research in Afghanistan), and Dean of Graduate Studies and Social Sciences at the University of Cambodia (2009–2011). Previous fieldwork and research throughout the 1990s and early 2000s focused on east Indonesia (Maluku, Papua Barat, Sulawesi) and proximate areas in the Pacific.

He has also participated in several Singapore heritage projects since 1995 where he first worked with Prof John Miksic at the Fort Canning and Empress Place archaeological sites. His most recent (2014) research publication is: “The Social and Ecological Trajectory of Prehistoric Cambodian Earthworks” Asian Perspectives, 52(2):327–346.

To register, please complete this reply form and return it by fax: 6775-6264 or email:  by 2 November 2015.


ASEAN Lecture Series: ASEAN-China Relations: Dispelling Misconceptions and Enhancing Understanding




China shares an extensive and complex relationship with Southeast Asia. It is the region’s largest trade partner and is one of ASEAN’s key Dialogue Partners. While the foundation of ASEAN-China relations remains strong, it is not immune to occasional trials and tribulations. Questions arising from China’s phenomenal rise are compounded by the uncertainty surrounding the trajectory and approach of the region’s largest economy toward ASEAN. Together, these questions form a blemish in an otherwise fruitful and mutually beneficial relationship, and inadvertently sow the seeds of misunderstanding. Nevertheless, there is a consensus that ASEAN-China relations look set to expand in both depth and scope with the development of new areas of cooperation. New initiatives such as the “One Belt and One Road,” the proposed Treaty of Good Neighbourliness, Friendship and Cooperation, and efforts to upgrade the ASEAN-China FTA, will all provide new impetuses to drive the relationship forward. Will these initiatives succeed in quelling suspicions about China strategic intentions? How does the looming conflict in the South China Sea factor in China’s approach to ASEAN? This lecture will clarify China’s strategic interests and priorities in Southeast Asia, and feature expert insights on the Chinese government’s initiatives to further promote the vibrant bilateral ties between China and the region.


Professor Zhu Feng is the Executive Director of the China Center for Collaborative Studies of the South China Sea, and Professor of International Relations at Nanjing University. He was formerly Deputy Director of the Center for International & Strategic Studies and Professor in the School of International Studies at Peking University. Professor Zhu specialises in East Asian regional security, power relations, and maritime security in the Asia-Pacific, and North Korea’s nuclear proliferation issue. His most recent book is America, China, and the Struggle for World Order: Ideas, Traditions, Historical Legacies, and Global Visions (co-edited with G. John Ikenberry and Wang Jisi, Palgrave Macmillan, July 2015). Professor Zhu began his undergraduate studies at the Department of International Politics at Peking University in 1981, and received his PhD from Peking University in 1991.


To register, please complete this reply form and return it by fax: 6775-6264 or email: by 3 November 2015.

Please note: The event has been changed to 3.00 pm – 4.30 pm. 


ASEAN Lecture Series: Japan’s “New” Approaches to Southeast Asia





Japan has a long-standing presence in Southeast Asia and is a key ASEAN Dialogue Partner.  It is the region’s largest provider of foreign direct investment, second only to the EU28 states.  Nevertheless, Japan labours under a perception playing catch up to China in the wake of the latter’s charm diplomacy and Beijing’s economic ascendancy.  In response, the Abe Administration has given increased priority to Southeast Asia in an effort to booster Japan’s regional economic, political-security and diplomatic presence.  What are these new initiatives designed to cultivate new strategic relations and strengthen existing bonds?  What is the impetus driving Japan’s increased profile in the Mekong 5 countries? What security role could Japan realistically expect to undertake in the region given its domestic legal and cultural constrains?


Hitoshi Tanaka is the Chairman of the Institute for International Strategy at the Japan Research Institute, Ltd. He has also been a Senior Fellow at the Japan Center for International Exchange and a Visiting Professor at the Graduate School of Public Policy, University of Tokyo after retiring from Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan in 2005 as Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs. In the Foreign Ministry Mr. Tanaka held various posts which include Director-General of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau (2001–02) and the Economic Affairs Bureau (2000–01); Consul-General in San Francisco (1998–2000); and Deputy Director-General of the North American Affairs Bureau (1996–98). Mr. Tanaka holds a B.A. in law from Kyoto University and B.A./M.A. in PPE from Oxford University. He writes various articles both in Japanese and English including East Asia Insights.


To register, please complete this reply form and return it by fax: 6775-6264 or email: by 22 September 2015.


ASEAN Roundtable 2015 – ASEAN Community 2015: Expectations and Realities





ASEAN will announce an integrated community by the end of 2015.  This announcement is the culmination of regional integration efforts since the elaboration of the ASEAN Vision 2020 statement in 1997.  The success of the ASEAN Community is premised upon how regional collaboration will link together the different aspirations in the political, economic and social spheres, which ASEAN has named the ASEAN Political Security Community (APSC), the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), and the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC).

With the date for announcing this integrated community imminently approaching, it is timely to “look back to look forward” by seeking the views and suggestions of persons and entities deeply involved in the ASEAN community-building process through its successive stages.

  • ASEAN’s push for expansion of ASEAN membership, and the enunciation of the ASEAN Vision 2020 for a seamless and connected community of nations in Southeast Asia;
  • The measures undertaken by ASEAN in the financial and economic sectors to remain relevant and recover from the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis that swept through the region;
  • The decision to move for a more rules-based and coherent organization, by revisiting a long-standing proposal for the ASEAN Charter, and the subsequent moves to address human rights issues relevant to regional cooperation, and engage in a more meaningful way with civil society in the region;
  • The different challenges posed to ASEAN’s central role and the tensions of maintaining ASEAN’s unity of purpose at the regional level with individual (national) interests of each ASEAN member state; and
  • The emerging cross-cutting priorities that require ASEAN integration – especially regional economic integration – to be contextualized and communicated as a coordinated exercise.

The ASEAN Roundtable 2015 will 1) provide an update on the issues surrounding ASEAN’s community-building goals beyond 2015; and 2) bring together different perspectives on, and discuss ways and means of addressing these cross-cutting priorities as well as the implications of pursuing these priorities.

Key discussions and recommendations from the Roundtable will be synthesized into a policy-relevant monograph.

Panelists and participants envisaged for this year’s Roundtable include past and present Secretaries-General of ASEAN[1], and a representative mix of policy, business and research expertise dealing with different aspects of ASEAN cooperation.

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

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[1] These are the Secretaries-General who have been accorded the rank of minister and the expanded role and responsibilities to represent and coordinate ASEAN cooperation, as determined in 1992. 

Registration has closed.