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  • Author: Jose M. L. Montesclaros
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: With vaccines not expected to fully roll out until 2024, lockdowns remain a critical priority to save lives today. February 2021 marks the end of a year of COVID-19, and the opportunity to re-visit and improve the way lockdowns are implemented in the year ahead.
  • Topic: Pandemic, ASEAN, COVID-19, Health Crisis
  • Political Geography: Asia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Julius Caesar Trajano
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: The recent swarming of Chinese militia boats in Whitsun Reef may indicate that President Duterte’s appeasement strategy towards China does not really work. Asserting the Arbitral Ruling must therefore be explored by Manila.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Militias
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Vietnam, Philippines
  • Author: Wada Haruko
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: The United States, Australia, Japan, India, France, the United Kingdom, Indonesia and ASEAN have adopted the term “Indo-Pacific” as a policy symbol of regional engagement. However, less attention has been given to the change in the geographical definition of the “Indo-Pacific”. This study examines how these countries have adjusted the geographical scope of “Indo-Pacific” to understand how they conceptualise the region. It finds that the inherent core area of the “Indo-Pacific” is from India to the Southeast Asian countries and the seas from the eastern Indian Ocean to the South China Sea, and that the “Indo-Pacific” has converged eastwards and diverged westwards through the geographical adjustment process. It also found that some of the geographical definitions have an additional function of conveying diplomatic messages. These findings will help us understand how the concept of “Indo- Pacific” as conceptualised by various countries develops.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Regional Cooperation, ASEAN
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, United Kingdom, Asia, France, Australia, Indo-Pacific
  • Author: Muhammad Faizal, Bin Abdul Rahman
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: This paper examines how Singapore as a small state will have to navigate a more contested world from a policy-relevant angle. A primary driver of geopolitical contestation today stems from emergent or Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) technologies contributing to the redistribution of geopolitical power to the disadvantage of the established western-led international order. Even as Singapore embarks on numerous programmes to invest in and adopt 4IR technologies, it has to consider geopolitics besides technical specifications and budgetary issues. A small state will have to face trade-offs when it engages the competing big powers to preserve its neutrality and balance relations. It is difficult for small states to emulate each other’s strategies in balancing relations with the big powers given their varying levels of risk appetite and technological adoption, as well as their different geostrategic and geo-economic realities. Nevertheless, there are strategic steps that small states such as Singapore can take to defend its national interests better while investing in and adopting 4IR technologies.
  • Topic: National Security, Science and Technology, Global Political Economy, Trade
  • Political Geography: Asia, Singapore
  • Author: Malcolm Davis
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: This paper examines the key drivers shaping Australia’s role as a middle power in an era of intensifying US-China strategic competition. These drivers include the influence of strategic geography; its historical legacy in international affairs; the impact of its economic relationships with states in the Indo-Pacific region; the changing demands of defence policy, including the potential offered by rapid technological change; and, the impact of climate change, resource constraints and demographic factors. The paper considers three possible scenarios that will shape Australia’s middle power policy choices – a US-China strategic equilibrium; a “China crash” scenario that promotes a more nationalist and assertive Chinese foreign policy; and a third “major power conflict” scenario where competition extends into military conflict. The paper concludes that Australia cannot maintain a delicate balance between its strategic alliance with the US and trading relationship with China. It argues there is a need for Australia to adopt a deeper strategic alliance with the US while promoting closer ties with its partners in the Indo-Pacific and supporting the growth of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific region to counterbalance growing Chinese power. Australia needs to embrace an Indo-Pacific step up, and as a middle power, reduce the prospect of a Sino-centric regional order emerging.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Nationalism, Military Strategy, Conflict
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia, Australia, Indo-Pacific
  • Author: Frank Umbach
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: When Beijing threatened to restrict China’s export of rare earths (widely used in numerous important civilian and military technologies) to the United States at the end of May 2019, the world was reminded of China’s rare earths export disruption in the autumn of 2010 amid a maritime territorial conflict between China and Japan. In the past few years, the worldwide attention cast on the future supply security of rare earths and other critical raw materials has increased in the United States, the European Union, Japan and other countries owing to the global expansion of “green technologies” (including renewable energy sources, electric vehicles and batteries, and smart grids) and digitalisation as well as equipment and devices embedded with artificial intelligence. In this paper, the term “critical raw materials” (CRMs) refers to raw materials critical to industries that are also import-dependent on them, and to new technologies which often have no viable substitutes and whose supply, besides being constrained by limited recycling rates and options, is also dominated by one or a few suppliers. CRMs include rare earth elements (REEs), which comprise 17 different elements (see Figure 4). The global race for the most advanced technologies dependent on CRMs has intensified the competition for access to as well as strategic control of REEs, lithium, cobalt, copper, nickel and other CRMs. This working paper analyses the global supply and demand balance of three CRMs (REEs, lithium and cobalt, the latter two being major raw materials for batteries) in the foreseeable future and whether ASEAN countries can play a role as producers and suppliers of CRMs. It also examines potential counterstrategies for mitigating and reducing the global demand for CRMs, such as substitution, reduced use of CRMs, and recycling and re-use.
  • Topic: Natural Resources, Digital Economy, Green Technology, Metals
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China, Asia
  • Author: Christopher Chen, Angelo Paolo L. Trias
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: Water is a fundamental element of survival and growth on Earth. As a prerequisite for life and an important economic resource, it supports all aspects of everyday activity. Ensuring that water is available, accessible and safe for current and future generations is among humanity’s greatest challenge. One of the most important Non-Traditional Security (NTS) challenges facing Southeast Asia is water security. This NTS Insight explores water security issues in Southeast Asia and examines the ways it threatens states and societies. While water security challenges are not new in the region, the nature of issues are changing, making it important to assess how such threats are defined, negotiated, and managed. The NTS governance process begins with identifying and understanding NTS challenges, and ways they are securitised. By looking at case studies at the sub-national, national and regional level, this paper seeks to present some of the major water security issues in the region, how they affect states and societies, and why they merit urgent attention and resources. This Insight explains why addressing sub-national water security challenges require consultative and participatory approaches that facilitate open democratic dialogue and local collective action. It will also lay out how deliberate planning, careful implementation, and judicious monitoring of water management policies are needed at both the national and regional levels. Further, while it is not easy to reconcile developmental goals with environmental protection, the gravity of the situation requires more preventive diplomacy and subregional collaborative mechanisms which are geared towards averting water conflicts. Overall, it aims to help formal and informal NTS actors working through various channels to gain further understanding of emerging water security challenges in Southeast Asia.
  • Topic: Security, Environment, Natural Resources, Water
  • Political Geography: Asia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Margareth Sembiring
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: Low carbon transition is an important climate change mitigation measure. It entails a switch from fossil fuels to renewable sources. The presence of cost-competitive domestic coal in coal-producing countries like Indonesia is often cited as a major stumbling block to renewable energy development. This article aims to probe the cheap domestic coal argument. It does so by examining the changing share of renewable energy sources in electricity production over a certain timeframe. The study finds mixed observations across important coal-producing countries. It thus argues that there is a need to go beyond the low-cost domestic coal axiom and examine deeper underlying factors that support or hinder renewable energy development in coal-producing countries.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Coal
  • Political Geography: Asia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: S. Nanthini
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: COVID-19 has led to stricter border control measures the world over. This has had a particularly harsh impact on irregular migrants. As COVID-19 heightens their vulnerability, even as ASEAN meets in summit this week, this is an opportunity for ASEAN member states to support all those found within their borders.
  • Topic: Migration, Borders, Pandemic, ASEAN, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: South Asia, Asia
  • Author: Mely Caballero-Anthony
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: As ASEAN economic ministers meet virtually this week to deal with, among other things, the severe impacts of COVID-19, their crucial task should be to strengthen multilateral cooperation. ASEAN should rally its dialogue partners and the private sector to make vaccines available to all. Can ASEAN centrality help push back the worrying trend of vaccine nationalism?
  • Topic: Vaccine, ASEAN, COVID-19, Health Crisis
  • Political Geography: Asia, Global Focus
  • Author: Lina Gong
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: The Chinese government formed two new bodies in 2018 that have been expected to improve China’s response to natural hazards and humanitarian emergencies in other countries. What are the implications for Southeast Asia, where the risk and threat of different types of disaster persist?
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Government, Risk, Disaster Management
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Lina Gong
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: An outpouring of international humanitarian aid to China has alleviated the severe shortage of key medical supplies in its fight against an outbreak of COVID-19. This highlights the role humanitarian aid plays in managing the risk of pandemics.
  • Topic: Humanitarian Aid, Humanitarian Crisis, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Frank Umbach
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is officially neither a Chinese “Marshall Plan” nor a geopolitical master strategy. At present, it involves 84 countries, rising from 65 countries in 2015, and 15 Chinese provinces. Over the last year, the number of countries being concerned or ambivalent about China’s motivations and strategic objectives behind the BRI have increased. Despite officially supporting China’s BRI, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) also warned last April, that China is supporting unneeded and unsustainable projects in many countries, leading to heavy and unpayable debt burdens. In ASEAN, Chinese investments are welcomed but there are also misgivings about the BRI’s strategic objectives which may constrain ASEAN’s policy options. As China is presently and will remain the single most influential country in global energy markets in the next decades, it is not surprising that its infrastructure plans of building railways, highways and ports are often interlinked with China’s energy and raw materials projects abroad and its domestic energy policies. This paper analyses the energy dimensions of the BRI and its strategic implications for its wider economic, foreign and security policies in Southeast Asia, South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Energy Policy, Military Strategy, ASEAN, IMF
  • Political Geography: China, South Asia, Central Asia, Middle East, Asia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Tomoo Kikuchi, Takehiro Masutomo
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: Since 2011, under the Thein Sein government, Myanmar has started to build financial institutions almost from scratch. Japan has played a leading role in this effort, writing off debt, opening the Yangon Stock Exchange, vying for the entry of Japanese banks, and laying out finance-related laws. Myanmar’s weak institutions present considerable challenges. By examining common features of financial markets in Southeast Asia, this paper identifies the preconditions for financial development to be a vehicle for Myanmar’s industrialisation as well as the rationale for Japan’s public and private involvement in Myanmar.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Finance, Institutions, Private Sector, Industrialization
  • Political Geography: Japan, Asia, Myanmar
  • Author: Irman Lanti, Akim Ebih, Windy Dermawan
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: With 48 million people, West Java is Indonesia’s largest province in terms of population. Historically, it has served as the cradle of Islamic conservatism in Indonesia. Modernist Islamic parties and candidates that espouse a purist and orthodox form of Islam always won the free and fair elections in this province. It was also the centre of Indonesia’s Islamic rebellion, the Darul Islam / Tentara Islam Indonesia (DI/TII). The Islamic landscape of West Java, however, is not that much different from that of Central and East Java, which is based on Islamic traditionalism. The differences in the socio- political outlook between West Java and other major provinces in Java are due to historical reasons and set it apart from the pattern developed in the others. With the arrival of the new dakwah movements influenced by the Islamic transnational forces, Muslims in West Java are embroiled in an ambivalent position. On one hand, the new movements are considered as bringing a renewed sense of vigour for the Islamic dakwah in this region, but on the other hand, they are also seen as a threat to the common religious practices there. There are indications that conservative West Java is undergoing a further conservative turn, especially judging by the recent voting pattern in the province. However, there is also signs that the threat brought by the new dakwah movements might produce a turnaround away from the deepening of conservatism there.
  • Topic: Islam, Religion, Domestic politics, Conservatism, transnationalism
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Asia, West Java
  • Author: Adhi Priamarizki, Dedi Dinarto
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: This paper examines the Prosperous and Justice Party (PKS)’s strategy in the 2019 Indonesian general elections. Among the Islamic-based political parties, PKS gained the most significant increase in votes. We aspire to understand the breakthrough by looking at the party’s strategy. On the one hand, our findings confirm the existing studies that correctly noted the moving of Indonesian political parties towards a “catch-all” direction by which they aim to garner wider support beyond a specific type of voter base. On the other hand, our research notes that PKS has started to exploit the phenomenon of rising Islamic conservatism in Indonesia. Despite solely maintaining an inclusive electoral strategy, this research asserts that the party has adjusted its campaign strategy to fit in with the trend of rising Islamic conservatism while concurrently exploiting the anti-incumbent president (Joko Widodo) sentiment. This paper aims to enhance discussion on Indonesian politics as well as Indonesia’s political parties, particularly the PKS.
  • Topic: Islam, Religion, Elections, Domestic politics, Conservatism
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Asia
  • Author: Pradumna B. Rana, Chai Wai-Mun, Ji Xianbai
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), officially unveiled in 2013, is China’s landmark foreign and economic policy initiative to achieve improved connectivity, regional cooperation, and economic development on a trans-continental scale. China has promoted the BRI as a cooperative initiative that will lead to a win- win situation for both China and BRI partner countries. However, there are many different views and pushbacks against the BRI and suspicions of China’s underlying intentions. Impacts of the BRI can be assessed either through a model-based quantitative study or through a broadly representative survey. Our paper used the latter approach as we were not aware of any such study in the past. We implemented an online survey from 20 June to 19 July 2019 which over 1,200 Asian opinion leaders responded to. Asian opinion leaders were defined as policy makers, academics, businesses, and media practitioners from 26 Asian countries that have signed a BRI agreement with China. Stakeholders’ perspectives on the following issues were solicited: (i) why China might have been interested in launching the BRI; (ii) perceived benefits and risks to countries participating in the BRI; and (iii) policies that the stakeholders would like to recommend both to China and their own governments. Though mixed views on the specifics of the BRI emerged, respondents generally felt that the BRI was a positive development facilitating international economic cooperation and development. The recommendations of this survey should be of some use in making the BRI a truly win-win initiative for all.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Imperialism, Economic Policy, Economic Cooperation
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Global Focus
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: Human activities, technology and climate change drive changes to our environmental landscape and societal order. Marine microplastics arising from woeful human use of plastics threaten marine ecology. Excessive consumption of fossil fuels disrupts weather systems and consequently undermines food security. Unequal access between the “haves and have nots” aggravates food insecurity. Without meaningful intervention, annual deaths from food-borne diseases (FBDs) caused by anti-microbial resistant (AMR) bacteria will reach 10 million in 2050. Human displacement continues unabated across state lines as humanitarian crises require fresh responses. Ubiquitous use of information and communications technologies (ICTs) has created a new landscape where cyber-threats target both hardware and software and where truth has become its latest victim. Moreover, social media has been weaponized to breed intolerance. The Annual Conference of the Consortium of Non-Traditional Security (NTS) in Asia held in Singapore recently examined responses to these uncertainties, if not threats to humanity, arising from key disruptions. This report captures the responses and hopes touted by experts at the Conference with the view of providing policy makers and invested scholars interested in such developments with some recommendations towards building resilience within and across states.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Asia
  • Author: Pradumna B. Rana, Xianbai Ji, Wai-Mun Chia, Chang Tai Li
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: The withdrawal of the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Trump’s “America First” agenda have ignited a second round of interest in mega-free trade agreements in the Asia Pacific region. Countries have been motivated to explore alternative trade policy options. Using national real gross domestic output gains estimated by the GTAP model to construct “preference ordering” for 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members and their six regional dialogue partners, this paper comes up with several findings. First, when multilateral agreements are not possible, countries are better off with a narrower regional trading agreement than without one. Second, in the region, Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) has higher beneficial impacts than the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). Third, for dual-track countries, that is countries that are negotiating both the CPTPP and the RCEP, implementing both agreements is better than each separately. Fourth, as expected, economic impacts of the CPPTP are lower than those of the original TPP12, but all CPPTP members will benefit although to different degrees. Fifth, economic impacts of open regionalism are higher than those of a closed and reciprocal one. Going forward, the paper argues that ASEAN countries and their regional dialogue partners need to adopt a “multi-track, multi- stage” approach to trade policy.
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, Trans-Pacific Partnership, Free Trade, Economic Cooperation
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia, Asia-Pacific
  • Author: Eugene Eg Tan
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: As a small state, Singapore’s ability to create deterrence against cyberattacks is very limited. There is limited value in pursuing classic deterrence through denial and punishment because: (i) technology is relatively cheap and widely available; (ii) there is difficulty in accurately attributing blame; and (iii) there is difficulty in identifying and punishing attackers. If there is no detection or ability to punish, Singapore’s credibility suffers. The report suggests six ways that Singapore can improve its cyberattack deterrence: 1. Develop a response mechanism to guide deterrence 2. Create resilient systems 3. Share collective responsibility in cybersecurity 4. Increase capabilities through the improvement of penetration detection 5. Create norms with enforcement capabilities 6. Strengthen international law enforcement, cooperation, and legislation It is also not feasible to measure deterrence in cyberspace the same way as nuclear deterrence, where a no-attack scenario denotes that deterrence is successful. Rather, deterrence should be seen as a mitigating effort that leads potential attackers to believe it is not in their best interest to attack. These efforts at deterrence can be further enhanced by improving the accuracy of attribution, the detection of cyber incidents regardless of size, and ensuring that timely action is taken against cyberattackers.
  • Topic: Non State Actors, Law Enforcement, Cybersecurity, Deterrence
  • Political Geography: Asia, Singapore
  • Author: Naoko Kumada
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: This paper offers an understanding of the scope, nature, and context of constitutional change being proposed in Japan today, in internal terms rather than through external reconstruction. Rather than being a mere reaction to “external circumstances”, as portrayed by its apologists and by “realist/rational-reconstructionist” analysis, the movement to amend and replace the Constitution is a project with a history, underpinned by a worldview and driven by an ideology that provide it with its own momentum. The most overlooked aspect of the movement is religion. From the Meiji Restoration until the end of the War, Japan was governed through a religio-political system based on a newly invented State Shintoism. The scope and intent of today’s movement to amend/replace the Constitution cannot be understood without this background in mind. Failure to account for the ideological, cultural, historical, and indeed the constitutional dimensions of the issue seriously underplays the stakes for Japan and its neighbours. The constitutional movement is part of a multi-generational project to restore what its leaders declare to be the “true shape of Japan”, with the pre-war religious ideology and constitutional form that they deem to have been unjustly replaced by the US occupation administration after Japan’s defeat.
  • Topic: Imperialism, Reform, Constitution, Domestic politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, Asia, Asia-Pacific
  • Author: Martin van Bruinessen
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: In the two decades since the fall of the Suharto regime, one of the most conspicuous developments has been the rapidly increasing influence of religious interpretations and practices emanating from the Middle East and more specifically the Gulf states, leading observers to speak of the “Arabisation” of Indonesian Islam. In the preceding decades, the state had strongly endorsed liberal and development-oriented Muslim discourses widely perceived as “Westernised” and associated with secularism and Western education. Indonesia’s unique Muslim traditions have in fact been shaped by many centuries of global flows of people and ideas, connecting the region not just with the Arab heartlands of Islam and Europe but South Asia and China. What is relatively new, however, is the presence of transnational Islamist and fundamentalist movements, which weakened the established nation-wide Muslim organisations (Muhammadiyah, NU) that had been providing religious guidance for most of the 20th century. The perceived threat of transnational radical Islam has led to renewed reflection on, and efforts to rejuvenate, indigenous Muslim traditions.
  • Topic: Islam, Religion, transnationalism, Secularism
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Indonesia, Asia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Martin van Bruinessen
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: In spite of their overwhelmingly Muslim populations, Indonesia and Turkey are formally secular states though of different kind. However, both allocate a surprisingly high proportion of the state budget to the administration of Islam, considerably higher than most countries where Islam is the state religion. In Turkey during the years 1950-2000 and in Indonesia during the New Order period (1966-1998), the state invested heavily in the education of “enlightened” religious personnel and the dissemination of religious views that were compatible with the drive for modernisation and development. Turkey’s Directorate for Religious Affairs (Diyanet) controls a huge bureaucracy through which the state interacts with the pious conservative part of the population. Schools for the training of prayer leaders addressed the needs of the same segment of the population and were intended to facilitate the integration of these conservatives into the project of secular modernisation. However, these institutions had the unforeseen effect of enabling the social mobility of once marginalised conservatives, allowing them to gradually gain control of part of the state apparatus. Mutatis mutandis, very similar developments can be observed in Indonesia, where the Ministry of Religious Affairs (MORA) and the Council of Islamic Scholars (MUI) were expected to provide development-friendly religious guidance and prevent undesirable expressions of religiosity. After the fall of the Suharto regime, the MUI made itself independent of the government and instead became a vehicle through which various conservative religious groups strove to influence government policies, with various degrees of success.
  • Topic: Islam, Religion, Social Movement, Secularism, Modernization
  • Political Geography: Europe, Indonesia, Turkey, Asia
  • Author: You Ji
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: China’s five-year plan of PLA reform marked a new page in the history of PLA transformation. This article will analyse two major aspects of this round of unprecedented PLA reforms: (i) the politics of the military reform; and (ii) the PLA’s efforts to reshape its force establishments, organisational structure, and command chains. The first concerns Xi’s political leadership and the second draws a roadmap to remould the PLA by 2020. By now the reform has yielded substantial achievements: (i) the overhaul of the apex of power; (ii) the reshaping of the mid-level command chains of the war zone and service; and (iii) the restructuring of the overall force establishments. It has also created some transitional uncertainties as well.
  • Topic: Military Affairs, Reform, Political structure, transnationalism
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Kai He, Huiyun Feng
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: The establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has signified a “charm offensive” by China towards multilateral institutions and existing global financial governance. If the rise of China is inevitable, what will the future world look like and what should other countries be prepared for? Borrowing insights from institutional balancing theory and role theory in foreign policy analysis, this project introduces a “leadership transition” framework to explain policy dynamics in global governance with the AIIB as a case study. It suggests that China, the US, and other countries have employed different types of institutional balancing strategies, i.e., inclusive institutional balancing, exclusive institutional balancing, and inter-institutional balancing to compete for influence and interest in the process of establishing the AIIB. A state’s role identity as a “leader,” a “challenger,” or a “follower” will shape its policy choices regarding different institutional balancing strategies in the process of leadership transition in global governance. Institutional balancing is a new form of balancing among states in the future of global governance. China’s institutional rise in global governance might be more peaceful than widely predicted.
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, Infrastructure, Governance, Economic Cooperation
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia
  • Author: Frank Umbach
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: As ASEAN’s energy demand is likely to increase by almost two-thirds in the period up to 2040, the regional oil and gas resources in the offshore zones of the ASEAN member states will become even more important for enhancing the energy supply security of both the individual member states as well as for ASEAN as a whole. Accordingly, access to and political as well as physical control and security of these offshore energy resources will receive even more governmental attention. In context of China’s Belt and Road Initiative as well as South China Sea policies and its energy dimensions, they can fuel already existing maritime competition and conflicts in the South China Sea, the Bay of Bengal, the Indian Ocean and the interconnecting sea lanes and regional choke points. This paper analyses the question to what extent are energy security concepts and challenges are interlinked with maritime policies, particularly in regard to the unresolved overlapping claims in the South China Sea and the perceived intensifying naval competition in the Indian Ocean. It also highlights the strategic implications of ASEAN's rising energy demand and growing exploitation of its offshore maritime energy resources for future regional cooperation, enhanced competition and potential strategic rivalries as well as conflicts.
  • Topic: Security, Energy Policy, Oil, Gas, Maritime, ASEAN
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Indian Ocean, South China Sea
  • Author: Arunajeet Kaur
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: The Hindu Rights Action Force (HINDRAF) came out from a series of controversial actions perceived by the Malaysian Indian community as discriminatory. The issues were topical occurrences such as the errant destruction of Hindu temples and the body-snatching cases of Tamil Hindus, thought to have been converted to Islam, as well as the state of poverty confronted by the Tamil Hindu community in Malaysia. From a protest rally in November 2007, led by mainly Malaysian Tamil lawyers, the Malaysian Indian community framed its demands in legal terms and questioned the position of not only the Malaysian Malay-Muslim majoritarian government but also the decolonising decisions of the departing British colonial authorities at the point of Independence in 1957. The 2007 event become known as the HINDRAF rally. It had an overwhelming impact internationally, in drawing attention to the plight of Malaysian Tamil Hindus. Inside Malaysia, by garnering the support of non- Malays, mainly the Chinese, to unite with the Indians, it affected the Malaysian general election in 2008, as the ruling Barisan Nasional government lost its two-thirds majority in Parliament. There was also an unprecedented number of Malaysian Indians who were elected into Parliament in 2008. However, this paper will demonstrate that by the subsequent two Malaysian general elections of 2013 and 2018, the Tamil Hindus, as represented by HINDRAF, had not achieved their goals. Enduring heavy-handed treatment by the Malaysian authorities previously and troubled by internal strife and leadership issues within HINDRAF, this movement of Tamil Hindus in Malaysia stands diluted and divided. After the 14th general election of 2018, it seems that the leadership has also accepted a compromised position. Malay-Muslim majoritarianism remains dominant and the “New Malaysia” appears less than that heralded in the early days of the new Pakatan Harapan government.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Religion, Governance, Discrimination, Decolonization
  • Political Geography: Malaysia, Asia
  • Author: Foo Yen Ne
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: Almost two decades since the adoption of the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime, and specifically the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, the debates on addressing human trafficking have not veered far beyond questions of law enforcement efficacy. What makes law enforcement against human trafficking so challenging in the East Asia region? This NTS Insight examines the nature of international legal frameworks that address human trafficking and the way they influence regional and domestic anti-trafficking legislation in East Asia. It argues that human trafficking as a crime is often “hidden” from the one-size-fits-all anti-trafficking legal regime adopted in domestic or national settings. The report argues that drawing the crime of human trafficking out of the shadows is made difficult by (i) the ambiguous definition of human trafficking in international law; (ii) the disjuncture between human trafficking contexts in East Asia and what international anti-trafficking legal regimes seek to address.
  • Topic: Security, International Law, Women, Human Trafficking
  • Political Geography: Asia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Julius Caesar Trajano
  • Publication Date: 07-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: Despite the ratification of global and regional anti-trafficking frameworks and enactment of relevant national laws, human trafficking remains an endemic security problem in East Asia, threatening states and societies. Two-thirds or 25 million of global trafficking victims were identified to be in the region. This NTS Insight briefly reviews the current regional trends and patterns of human trafficking in East Asia. It demonstrates that robust legal frameworks, while absolutely important, are not sufficient to eradicate and prevent human trafficking. It primarily analyses three fundamental issues that impede effective law enforcement and the eradication of human trafficking in East Asia: (1) weak law enforcement capacity of states; (2) the persistent corruption-trafficking nexus; and (3) limited support services and protection assistance for victims. It highlights the importance of developing and adopting a victim-centered approach in order to make anti-trafficking efforts more holistic and effective.
  • Topic: Crime, Human Trafficking
  • Political Geography: East Asia, Asia
  • Author: Jose Montesclaros
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: Since the Sulawesi quake and tsunami, ASEAN member states have agreed to increase financial contributions to Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations. However, an alternative framing of HADR is needed to draw enterprises in bridging gaps.
  • Topic: Natural Disasters, Private Sector, ASEAN, Value Chains
  • Political Geography: Asia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Tamara Nair
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: The recent launch of the ASEAN Women for Peace Registry (AWPR) in Cebu, Philippines is a timely move and is a reflection of a strong sense of readiness to adopt UN Security Council Resolution 1325: Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda in the region. But what should be the registry’s starting role?
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Women, Peace, UN Security Council
  • Political Geography: Asia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Parkash Chander
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: his paper studies the political economy of the Southeast Asian haze and discusses the obstacles that, unless overcome, could prevent a permanent and effective solution to this transboundary pollution problem, which originates in Indonesia. Following a cost-benefit analysis of the problem, the paper takes note of the weaknesses in Indonesia’s governance structure, which make it difficult to enforce national policies aimed at curbing the haze problem. It also puts forward a number of suggestions for strengthening the current policy regime for tackling the problem.
  • Topic: Political Economy, Regional Cooperation, Governance, Domestic politics
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Asia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Graham Ong-Webb, Collin Koh, Bernard Miranda
  • Publication Date: 08-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: This paper explores the possibility of South China Sea claimants and regional countries playing an active role in developing measures to prevent untoward incidents involving government (including naval and maritime law enforcement) and non-government vessels while political negotiations take place with respect to the proposed Code of Conduct between ASEAN and China. It argues that such a comprehensive incident prevention and mitigation plan must be multidimensional and multilevel in its approach, cascading from the political, strategic, operational, to tactical levels. This study breaks down into three main sections. The first examines the framing of the existing Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES) and its expansion as well as any new prevention and mitigation initiatives. The center of gravity and theory of success for CUES must be at operational and tactical levels, this paper highlights, while also proposing that CUES should be expanded to include sub- surface and aerial- based actions as other potential triggers for unplanned encounters and unintended escalations at sea. The end-state calls for a comprehensive CUES in light of the multidimensional nature of the SCS maritime landscape. The second section of this paper assesses the prospects for an expanded CUES, focusing on maritime law enforcement and irregular forces. It examines the viability of expanding this mechanism through what this paper terms as “Phased” and “Blanket” Approaches, which is dependent on the regional political climate. The third, final section raises two proposals at the strategic level, and six proposals pegged at the operational and tactical levels of planning and activity to build on and enhance the existing slate of such mechanisms as CUES to promote navigational safety and risk reduction in regional waters.
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy, Non State Actors, Maritime, Conflict, ASEAN
  • Political Geography: China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Asia, Vietnam, Philippines, Cambodia, Singapore, Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, South China, Brunei
  • Author: Mohammad Alami Musa
  • Publication Date: 08-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: The Singapore state’s relationship with religion has been one of pragmatism, rooted in the realities of the country’s multi-racial and multi-religious society. This was clearly evident in the 1980s when Singapore was confronted with many challenging issues of morality and the practice of religion. On the one hand, the secular state viewed religion as a positive force in society and adopted a policy of neutrality and non-interference in matters of religion. On the other hand, it did not hesitate to intervene in the realm of religion when public order, security and economic survival were threatened. This is consistent with the view that to survive against the odds Singapore needs a strong, centralised government that subordinates all institutions, spiritual and temporal. The state’s intervention in the religious domain in the 1980s should be understood in the context of the government’s primary interest to ensure that society possessed the values that were necessary for economic progress and development. When increased religiosity and religious activism threatened social stability and encroached into the political space to challenge state sovereignty, the state moved to assert its authority to ensure that the practice of religion did not jeopardise the permanent interests of society (i.e. public order and long-term economic prosperity). The state’s exercise of authority could be justified by the social contract that citizens had presumably entered. The state’s assertion of authority was manifested in the late 1980s, which witnessed decisive action by the government to clarify the parameters of religion’s role in society. It led to the institutionalisation of principles of governance in managing religious life within a plural, secular Singapore. The state’s pragmatic approach in managing its relations with religion persists till today, giving space to religion generally but asserting its authority when the need to preserve social peace arises.
  • Topic: Race, Religion, Multiculturalism, Institutionalism, Decentralization , Secularism
  • Political Geography: Asia, Singapore
  • Author: Alessandro Arduino
  • Publication Date: 08-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: The unprecedented amount of Chinese funds funnelled into the Belt and Road Initiative and Beijing’s vision of global connectivity will face a harsh reality that encompasses a wide spectrum of threats. Chinese corporations have just started to acknowledge that the risks associated with outbound foreign direct investments carry higher failure rates due to intertwined factors such as economic crisis, conflict, civil unrest, nationalisation, and currency devaluation, to name a few. In several cases, the Chinese state-owned enterprises’ infrastructural projects add stress to the already unstable socio-political environments because of their size and speed of implementation. Understanding and managing this stress is a challenge that cannot be ignored if benefits of these projects are to be realised. The solution to political and criminal violence requests a broader participation that encompasses the insurance and private security sectors.
  • Topic: Globalization, Nationalism, Conflict, Violence, Private Sector
  • Political Geography: China, Beijing, Asia
  • Author: Christopher Roberts
  • Publication Date: 08-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: This Working Paper examines the South China Sea disputes and primarily focuses on developments since 2013 when the Philippines filed for international arbitration. The first part of the paper examines how the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China reacted to the arbitral process and the potential for the Association to undertake an effective and unified position in the future. The second part of the article builds on the analysis by assessing the prospects for, and likely impact of, the long-sought Code of Conduct. In the process, it examines the continued viability of ASEAN’s consensus-based decision-making approach, whether and how it could be reformed, and the potential benefits and viability of a new institutional arrangement with membership based on shared values and interests (rather than geography). The paper also argues that to enhance the possibility of redress on the issue, other key stakeholder states (such as Japan, Australia, India, and the United States) will need to be more strongly engaged and support claimant countries through a diverse array of activities. Such activities range from investments in capacity building to the provision of coastguards (if invited) to police and protect resources within the Exclusive Economic Zones of claimant states, as clarified by the July 2016 Arbitral Ruling.
  • Topic: Development, Regional Cooperation, Police, ASEAN
  • Political Geography: Japan, India, Asia, Australia, South China Sea
  • Author: James M Dorsey
  • Publication Date: 03-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: China’s increasingly significant economic and security interests in the Middle East have several impacts. It affects not only its energy security but also its regional posture, relations with regional powers as well as the United States, and efforts to pacify nationalist and Islamist Uighurs in its north-western province of Xinjiang. Those interests are considerably enhanced by China’s One Belt, One Road initiative that seeks to patch together a Eurasian land mass through inter-linked infrastructure, investment and expanded trade relations. Protecting its mushrooming interests is forcing China to realign its policies and relationships in the region. As it takes stock of the Middle East and North Africa’s volatility and tumultuous, often violent political transitions, China feels the pressure to acknowledge that it no longer can remain aloof to the Middle East and North Africa’s multiple conflicts. China’s long-standing insistence on non-interference in the domestic affairs of others, refusal to envision a foreign military presence and its perseverance that its primary focus is the development of mutually beneficial economic and commercial relations, increasingly falls short of what it needs to do to safeguard its vital interests. Increasingly, China will have to become a regional player in competitive cooperation with the United States, the dominant external actor in the region for the foreseeable future. The pressure to revisit long-standing foreign and defence policy principles is also driven by the fact that China’s key interests in the Middle East and North Africa have expanded significantly beyond the narrow focus of energy despite its dependence on the region for half 1 China has signalled its gradual recognition of these new realities with the publication in January 2016 of an Arab Policy Paper, the country’s first articulation of a policy towards the Middle East and North Africa. But, rather than spelling out specific policies, the paper reiterated the generalities of China’s core focus in its relations with the Arab world: economics, energy, counter-terrorism, security, technical cooperation and its One Belt, One Road initiative. Ultimately however, China will have to develop a strategic vision that outlines foreign and defence policies it needs to put in place to protect its expanding strategic, geopolitical, economic, and commercial interests in the Middle East and North Africa; its role and place in the region as a rising superpower in the region; and its relationship and cooperation with the United States in managing, if not resolving conflict.
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, Economics, Imperialism, Infrastructure
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, China, Middle East, Asia, North Africa
  • Author: Bhavna Dave
  • Publication Date: 05-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: The Russia-ASEAN summit being held in Sochi on 19-20 May 2016 to mark twenty years of Russia’s dialogue partnership with ASEAN is a further indicator of President Vladimir Putin’s ‘pivot to Asia’ policy, triggered also by its current confrontation with the west. Through this pivot, Moscow wants to assert Russia’s geopolitical status as a Euro-Pacific as well as Asia- Pacific power. It is a pragmatic response to the shifting of global power to Asia. It also builds on the growing Russo-Chinese relations to develop the Russian Far East, a resource-rich but underdeveloped region into the gateway for expansion of Russia into the Asia Pacific. At the same time, the growing asymmetry in achieving the economic and strategic goals of Russia and China has resulted in fears that the Russian Far East will turn into a raw materials appendage of China. Moscow lacks the financial resources to support Putin’s Asia pivot. Therefore, Russia needs to strengthen ties with other Asia-Pacific countries and ASEAN as a regional grouping so as to attract more diversified trade and investments into its Far East region. It is in this context that the Sochi summit takes on added significance. However, given Russia’s sporadic interest in Southeast Asia and its strategic role defined mainly by the limited potential of Russian energy and arms exports to ASEAN Member States, the PR diplomacy and summitry at Sochi may not deliver substantive outcomes for Russia. Nonetheless, Moscow aims to enhance its status in the east and seek business and strategic opportunities through the summit thereby compensating to some extent Russia’s loss following the sanctions imposed by the west over the annexation of Crimea.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Military Strategy, Infrastructure
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, China, Europe, Asia
  • Author: Serina Rahman
  • Publication Date: 10-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: Non-governmental organisations (NGOs), civil-society organisations and grassroots groups are a growing phenomenon across Southeast Asia. Many of these organisations fill in gaps and provide services that are not otherwise met by local authorities and governments; others purport to be the voice of the marginalised, disempowered or discriminated. There is a broad spectrum of these organisations present in Southeast Asia – from the home-grown entity that scavenges funds from myriad sources and volunteers; to large, international establishments with substantial regular funding, full-time staff and transnational networks and influence. ASEAN’s history in dealing with NGOs is chequered. Most affiliated organisations are government-owned or government-influenced organisations (GONGOs) who support ASEAN’s goals and legitimise its policies. This paper proposes that ASEAN should be more supportive of local ground-up organisations so that the regional body can act upon its goal of nurturing caring, equitable and inclusive communities with an empowered civil society, as well as fulfil its commitment to achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. An NGO Matrix that can be used as a tool to plot organisation types could help identify groups that should get the most support. As a demonstrative example, the tool has been applied to several environmental organisations currently active in South Malaysia.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Environment, United Nations, Non State Actors, NGOs
  • Political Geography: Malaysia, Asia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Xianbai Ji, Pradumna B. Rana, Wai-Mun Chia, Changtai Li
  • Publication Date: 12-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: The advent of mega-free trade agreements (mega-FTAs) including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a defining feature of global trade governance in the 21st century. What are the costs and benefits of mega- FTAs? What is the political and strategic calculus behind mega-FTAs? Is there a “domino effect” triggering off the mega-FTA troika in a chain of reactions? Does mega-regionalism reinforce or undermine multilateralism? Since commonly used econometrics models cannot shed light on non-economic issues, this paper examines mega-regionalism by conducting a perception survey. This survey received responses from 648 opinion leaders located in 31 Asian countries. Respondents felt that mega-FTAs are good trade policy instruments that are “building blocks” to multilateralism. Linked by a “domino effect”, the mega-FTAs have important political and strategic dimensions. The United States wants to socialise China by writing high- standard “rules of the road” through the TPP. China then pivoted to RCEP to counter the TPP. Brussels through TTIP wanted to join the mega-FTA bandwagon to stay relevant. Additionally, remaining questions on decentralising global economic architecture highlight the need for regional and global institutions to complement each other.
  • Topic: European Union, Multilateralism, Trans-Pacific Partnership, Free Trade, Decentralization
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Europe, Asia, Global Focus
  • Author: Alexander R. Arifianto
  • Publication Date: 12-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: Since 2001, Indonesia’s political decentralisation has opened fresh avenues for a new generation of local government executives to be elected. These new local leaders tend to promote novel styles of political leadership that are can transform how public policy and services are delivered at the local level. This report profiles a number of Indonesian local transformative leaders, most notably Surabaya Mayor Tri Rismaharini and Bandung Mayor Ridwan Kamil. The report finds a number of characteristics that helped them to become transformative local leaders, including: an ability to develop popular legitimacy among their citizens, independence from political parties, ability to promote innovative policy to reform local public services, having strong political networks with senior politicians and other stakeholders, an ability to handle setbacks, and having political pragmatism. It is not yet known if these local “transformative leaders” can change the nature of national-level politics in Indonesia that is often characterised to be dominated by “oligarchic” party leaders. Nonetheless, they certainly have changed how politics and public policy are being done within their respective localities.
  • Topic: Public Policy, Local, Services, Decentralization
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Asia
  • Author: Nadica Pavlovska
  • Publication Date: 06-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: The internet penetration and the consequent creation of hyper-connected reality has exposed the Singaporean population to much more diversity of thoughts and influences. In this environment, efforts to maintain social cohesion and multicultural tolerance among the population is now even more challenging. In light of this, this paper attempts to explore the means available to maintain pro-social behaviour and build a culture of respect online. By assessing the current measures undertaken in Singapore, this paper argues that the majority of the strategies are “mind changing” such as education and awareness raising campaigns. However, by taking into account the specificity of the internet interaction, it is suggested that these strategies could be further enhanced by adopting a “context changing” approach in the online interaction by using specific behaviour influencers such as social norms, priming and messenger approach.
  • Topic: Internet, digital culture, Social Cohesion
  • Political Geography: Asia, Singapore
  • Author: Loro Horta
  • Publication Date: 03-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: Chinese leaders consider relations with Brazil to be of utmost importance. Brazil‘s vast reserves of natural resources, its massive agricultural sector and market potential for Chinese exports make Brazil one of China‘s top foreign policy priorities. Within the past decade, Sino-Brazilian ties have soared with trade reaching US$22 billion in 2007 and Brazil becoming China‘s main South American trading partner. In early 2009, China even surpassed the United States as Brazil's largest trading partner with two-way trade reaching a staggering US$43 billion. Both countries have cooperated in various sensitive technology sectors such as satellite and military technologies, and are expanding these exchanges. Today, Brazil accounts for 40 per cent of China‘s total agricultural exports and is therefore extremely important for food security of the Asian giant as well. Many observers have argued that China‘s growing relations with Brazil is likely to lead to an alliance between the so-called "third world giants" to balance American and Western hegemony. While there are indeed several complementarities between the two emerging economies and while both countries share some common political beliefs regarding the international system, many issues of contention will remain and perhaps be aggravated as Sino-Brazilian ties develop. Alliances have very different meanings in the post-Cold War context, and they no longer imply rigid military and economic blocks confronting one another. The concept of ―strategic partnership‖ is a better framework to look into new power relations in the 21st century. Despite some tensions in Sino-Brazilian relations, both nations can be expected to grow closer to one another. The positive aspects of their relationship far outweigh the problems and tensions inherent in most relations among major powers. The Sino-Brazilian strategic partnership is likely to produce significant changes in the balance of power in the Americas. China's growing ties to Brazil, however, will not necessarily lead to a dramatic loss of influence for the United States. While China has gained an impressive economic presence in Brazil — and in the region — economic influence does not always translate into political and strategic dominance. The economic power of the United States remains the dominant force and its century old relationship with Brazil continues to have a strong appeal among the Brazilians. Arguably, China's growing influence in the Americas, to an extent, is a result of previous U.S. administrations' neglect of the region's needs and it remains to be seen what effect would a more attentive U.S. administration will have in facing China's growing influence in Latin America.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Science and Technology
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia, Brazil, South America
  • Author: Chenyang Li, James Char
  • Publication Date: 03-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: In discussions on Myanmar's political reforms since the installation of a civilianised military regime in 2011, most analysts have focused on the bedevilment of bilateral ties between Beijing and Naypyidaw. To be sure, China has since become more attuned to the concerns of non-state actors with the opening up of Myanmar's political space as well as recalibrated its strategies in the face of renewed diplomatic competition from other countries in vying for the affections of the Burmese leadership. In acknowledging the corrections China‘s Myanmar policy has undergone, this article argues that Beijing‘s factoring in of Burmese national interests and development needs can help enhance its prospects. While a return to the previous robust bilateral relationship may appear inconceivable in the near future, this article concludes that there is still hope for Beijing in overcoming the challenges posed by Naypyidaw's political transition should it be able to keep up with the latter's evolution over the longer term.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Development, Diplomacy, Non State Actors
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Myanmar
  • Author: Pradumna B. Rana, Wai-Mun Chia
  • Publication Date: 03-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: In the past few years, the pace of economic growth in South Asia has slowed considerably for two reasons: unfavourable global economic environment and the slowing pace of economic reforms that once were the key drivers of the region’s dynamic economic performance and resilience. This paper focuses on the latter and following Rana (2011) and Rana and Hamid (1995), it argues that South Asian countries have not sequenced their reforms properly. The first round of reforms in South Asia that began in the 1980s and the early 1990s focused on macroeconomic reforms — monetary, fiscal, and exchange rate management, as well as reducing rigid government controls — which led to private sector driven economic growth. These should have been followed by the more microeconomic reforms — sectoral and the so-called “second generation” reforms to strengthen governance and institutions — to sustain the higher growth levels. But they were not and reforms ran out of steam because of, among others, lack of law and order, and corruption in the public sector. This paper finds a significant “governance gap” in South Asia that refers to how South Asia lags behind East Asia in terms of various governance indicators and how within South Asia some countries are ahead of others. The paper argues that in order to revive economic growth, South Asian countries must implement microeconomic reforms: it identifies the remaining policy agenda for each South Asian country. However, implementation of microeconomic reforms poses a difficult challenge as they require a wider consensus and political support and have a longer term focus. The recent election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in India with a strong mandate for economic reform provides an environment of “cautious optimism” for all of South Asia.
  • Topic: Governance, Reform, Global Political Economy, Economic Development
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Asia
  • Author: Sumona Dasgupta
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: This paper explores how the contentious issue of Kashmir has been framed in the India- Pakistan composite dialogue which aims at building a peace process between the two nuclear armed countries locked in an adversarial relationship for over six decades. Through an item by item analysis of the eight heads of the composite dialogue, it demonstrates that barring one item, the script of Kashmir — its land, resources, livelihoods and security — runs through all of them in some form or another. Yet this top- down composite dialogue conducted by the political leadership of India and Pakistan has yielded no tangible results in resolving any of the issues around Kashmir. It is time for a new imaginative peace-building paradigm to be given a chance where the people of Kashmir, in all their diversity, are recognised as legitimate stakeholders in an inclusive dialogic process. The paper suggests that intra-Kashmir people-to-people dialogues, both within Indian-administered Kashmir and between Indian and Pakistan administered Kashmir, be allowed to acquire a meaning and momentum of their own and advocates consultative mechanisms to allow community voices and narratives to percolate into and inform the official Indo-Pakistan composite dialogue. A more people centric peace process in Kashmir is an idea whose time has come.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Military Strategy, Conflict, Peace
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, India, Asia, Kashmir
  • Author: Iis Gindarsah
  • Publication Date: 06-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: Indonesia has been increasingly susceptible to recent geopolitical developments. Along with the rapid pace of regional arms modernisation and unresolved territorial disputes, it begins to ponder the impact of emerging great power rivalry to the country’s strategic interests. However, rather than pursuing a robust military build-up, Indonesian policymakers asserts that diplomacy is the country’s first line of defence. This paper argues that Indonesia’s defence diplomacy serves two agenda of hedging strategy — strategic engagement and military modernisation. This way, Indonesian defence and security officials seek to moderate the impact of geopolitical changes whilst maintaining the country’s defensive ability against regional uncertainties.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Diplomacy, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Asia
  • Author: James M Dorsey, Teresita Cruz-del Rosario
  • Publication Date: 12-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: An analysis of the Middle Eastern and North African militaries has produced a laundry list of literature, much of which was either valid for a specific post-World War II period or highlighted one of more aspects of military interest in the status quo or attitudes towards political change. Leaving aside the geopolitical differences between Southeast Asia and the Middle East and North Africa, a comparison of the transition in both regions brings into focus the building blocks that are needed for an armed force to embrace change. Southeast Asian nations succeeded whereas the countries in Middle East and North Africa, with the exception of Tunisia, have failed for several reasons.
  • Topic: Politics, Military Strategy, Military Affairs, Transition
  • Political Geography: Africa, Middle East, Asia, North Africa, Southeast Asia
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: Corruption has become a perennial issue that has shackled political parties to a groundswell of unpopularity in Indonesia. In the run up towards the 2014 General Elections, it is envisaged that such an issue may jeopardise the electability of certain political parties. This report explores the influence of corruption cases on the elections by first highlighting the current status of competing political parties in the 2014 elections. The report then looks at the notable corruption cases that have an adverse effect on the political parties. The report concludes with four points. First, how utilising the "corruption-card" has become the new weapon of choice among political parties. Second, how the acute problem of corruption signifies that Indonesia's democratic consolidation process is far from over. Third, how shadowy affairs between political parties, their elites and the media can and should be constantly monitored. Lastly, the need to strengthen and continuous evaluation of the Corruption Eradication Committee (KPK) to prevent unnecessary interventions by political parties in the future.
  • Topic: Corruption, Democratization, Development, Political Economy, Governance
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Asia
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: The Democratic Party (PD) – the incumbent party that won a majority sweep in the 2009 general elections, conferring Yudhoyono his second presidency – is now experiencing a dramatic reversal of fortunes. The party's electability rate has dipped significantly from its heyday peak of 21 per cent in 2009 to a meagre 7 per cent in 2013. A convention based on democratic proceedings ha s been hatched as part of a last - ditched effort by PD with the express purpose of generating the requisite publicity before legislative elections commence in order to restore confidence among its voters. While the convention has been proceeding apace, its impact on the electorate and on the image of the party as a whole has been disappointing. This report analyses the reasons why PD's novel attempt at a democratic convention failed to rejuvenate the party like its predecessor the Golkar party did a decade a go. Included in the analysis are scenario analyses of the various outcomes of the convention, given the plausible choices that party Chairman Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono may take in consideration of the current dire status of PD.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Islam, Political Economy, Governance
  • Political Geography: Asia