ISEAS Library Selects
Monthly Journal Articles on the
Southeast Asian Region
Extracted from Internet Sources
March 2019

This issue of Monthly Articles Alert contains one article contributed by Dr Ooi Kee Beng, Senior Fellow, ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute.

This is an information alert service put together by the ISEAS Library that contains links to commentaries, blog and journal articles extracted from Internet sources covering Southeast Asia and special topics relevant to the research interest/direction/agenda of ISEAS.  

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Dalam debat cawapres, baik Ma'ruf maupun Sandiaga gagal tawarkan program yang menjawab masalah [In vice-presidential debate, neither Ma'ruf nor Sandiaga offers solutions]: Secara umum, kedua kandidat belum memperlihatkan visi ketenagakerjaan yang cukup visioner. Baik Ma'ruf dan Sandiaga merespons topik-topik hangat seperti tenaga kerja di era revolusi industri 4.0, tenaga kerja asing, penyerapan tenaga kerja. Namun, mereka tidak menggariskan visi jangka panjang.

Hizkia Yosias Polimpung, Hardisman Dasman, Luhur Bima & Ni Luh Putu Maitra Agastya

Mengapa Indonesia perlu dorong petani alih profesi? Pentingnya Dana Desa [Why Indonesia needs to encourage farmers to change their profession: the importance of the Village Fund]: Ketika membuka acara Jakarta Food Summit tahun lalu, Wakil Presiden Jusuf Kalla mengungkapkan kekhawatirannya mengenai penurunan jumlah petani yang dianggap dapat mengganggu produksi pangan kita.

Palmira Permata Bachtiar, Researcher, SMERU Research Institute

Anti-Ahok To Anti-Jokowi: Islamist Influence on Indonesia's 2019 Election Campaign
[link to 26-page PDF document "Anti-Ahok to Anti-Jokowi"]

Partai politik mana yang paling populer di jagad maya Indonesia? [Which political party is most popular on Indonesia's cyberspace?] ...kursi partai hanya memiliki korelasi kuat dan positif (0,67) dengan usia akun Facebook. Kami menyimpulkan ada korelasi antara usia akun medsos dengan jumlah kursi di parlemen hasil pemilu 2014. Semakin tua umur akun Facebook sebuah partai, sebagai contoh, kecenderungannya adalah partai tersebut memiliki kursi yang semakin banyak di parlemen.

Ella S. Prihatini, Hadrian Geri Djajadikerta & Muhammad Sigit Andhi Rahman

Why both conservative and liberal Indonesians must support bill against sexual violence: Conservative Muslims should not ignore the real problem behind sexual violence in Indonesia, which is the subordination of women. They should forget about politics and focus on providing justice, recovery and protection for victims, as the anti-sexual violence bill proposes. They also should understand that liberals are not at fault as they are fighting for the same cause.

Alia Azmi, Lecturer of International Relations, Universitas Negeri Padang

In Conversation With: Julia Suryakusuma bicara tantangan kesetaraan gender di Indonesia [Julia Suryakusuma discusses gender equality in Indonesia]: Nilai-nilai patriarki yang mengakar di Indonesia mengakibatkan berbagai kondisi yang membuat perempuan berada pada posisi rentan. Praktik pernikahan dini di Indonesia juga masih banyak terjadi. Belum lagi kasus kekerasan seksual yang tak jarang berakhir dengan mediasi. Salah-salah, malah korban yang justru berakhir di balik jeruji.
[Includes one 6-minute and one 3-minute video clip]

Felicia Margaretha, Intern Editor; Ikram Putra, Manajer Pengembangan Khalayak

Indonesia's (inter)national role as a Muslim democracy model: effectiveness and conflict between the conception and prescription roles: Indonesia has developed an internal model of reconciling the values of democracy and Islam; therefore it could pursue international activities for bringing the West and the Islamic world together. However, Indonesia's international role as a bridge-builder between democratic values and Islam has limited effectiveness. In this paper the attempt is to investigate why Indonesia's international activity as a bridge-builder between the West and the Muslim world is ineffective?

Anna Grzywacz
The Pacific Review

#MeToo has skipped Indonesia - here's why: ...discussions of women's issues have for decades revolved around domestic duties. Gender equality and protection from sexual violence simply weren't part of Indonesia's public debate. Any effort to create more gender-balanced policies gets a powerful pushback from Indonesia's conservative Muslim leaders, who believe women should be pious, obedient, and able to uphold their morality. That includes wearing modest fashion and a veil to avoid arousing men.

Dyah Ayu Kartika, Researcher, Pusat Studi Agama dan Demokrasi (PUSAD) Paramadina

Mengapa Jokowi dan Prabowo diam soal Budi Pego, aktivis lingkungan yang dituduh komunis [Why Jokowi and Prabowo are silent about Budi Pego, the environmental activist accused of being a communist]: Sebagaimana retorika keagamaan yang kerap digunakan para politikus untuk memanipulasi emosi warga, reproduksi narasi hantu komunisme juga memiliki fungsi serupa. Narasi hantu komunisme digunakan untuk mengaburkan kekerasan politik yang menyebabkan ratusan ribu orang yang diduga komunis dibunuh dan puluhan ribu lainnya ditahan tanpa pengadilan pasca peristiwa 1 Oktober 1965.

Abdil Mughis Mudhoffir, PhD Candidate in politics at the Asia Institute, University of Melbourne; Robertus Robet, Lecturer in Sociology, Universitas Negeri Jakarta

Save Palm Oil, Save the Nation: Palm Oil Companies and the Shaping of Indonesia's National Interest: This article argues that rather than being an automatic consequence of the rising importance of palm oil in Indonesia's economy, the inclusion of palm oil in Indonesia's set of national interest priorities in its international relations was a result of an intentional campaign run by palm oil companies.

Shofwan Al Banna Choiruzzad
Asian Politics & Policy

Hijab in Indonesia - the history and controversies: Only a few of the Indonesian Muslim heroines wore the hijab in the past, and many of them did not wear it. This phenomenon tells us that the idea of wearing hijab is a personal preference. Under the New Order regime, the government banned women from wearing the hijab at schools. The Soeharto regime tightly controlled religious issues in public. The government assumed that the hijab was a political symbol that was imported from Iran and Egypt, whose politics did not align with Indonesian culture.

Alimatul Qibtiyah, Lecturer in Communication Studies, Universitas Islam Negeri Sunan Kalijaga

How Indonesia can avoid pitfalls of China's Belt and Road Initiative: If it's decided to develop a transhipment port, then firstly Indonesia needs to understand the structure of the transhipment market or the structure of international hub businesses. Secondly, Indonesia must consider whether it's able and prepared to compete with Singapore and Malaysia, which have developed the largest transhipment market with almost perfect backward and forward linkages in the region.

Chairil Abdini, Lecturer in Public Policy and Decision Analysis, Universitas Indonesia

Why rice self-sufficiency has such a grip on the Indonesian public imagination: Indonesia's current distinctiveness might lie with the legacy of the country's nationalist, anti-colonial movement, and specifically the central role the rice peasant holds as a stirring symbol of independence. Soekarno, Indonesia's first president, famously espoused an ideology of Marhaenism, where the average, poor Indonesian (read Javanese) peasant embodied the ideals of self-sufficiency and perseverance in the face of aggressive, foreign intrusion.

Jamie S. Davidson, Associate Professor of Political Science, National University of Singapore

Diagnostic Study of Child Labour in Rural Areas (with Special Emphasis on Tobacco Farming): This study aims to identify the contributing factors and root causes impacting child labour in tobacco-growing areas, and to provide a representative situation of children and/or youth working in agriculture and on small-scale tobacco farms in Indonesia.
[link to 124-page PDF document "Diagnostic Study of Child Labour in Rural Areas"]

Emmy Hermanus, Stella Aleida Hutagalung, Rezanti Putri Pramana, Fatin Nuha Astini, Elza Elmira, Veto Tyas Indrio & Widjajanti Isdijoso
SMERU Research Institute


Determinants and Impacts of Financial Literacy in the Lao PDR: Financial literacy is gaining increasing importance as a policy objective in many countries. However, internationally comparable information on financial literacy is still scarce. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development International Network on Financial Education (OECD/INFE) survey of adult financial literacy is a standardized survey instrument, but so far has mainly been implemented in higher-income countries outside of Asia.

Peter J. Morgan & Long Q. Trinh
Asian Development Bank Institute

Forest-Land Commons in Laos in the Twenty-First Century: Agrarian Capitalism and the 'Non-Commodified Subsistence Guarantee': This paper argues in the context of the dispossession of common lands of great importance for rural people by large-scale plantation concessions-provided empirical local evidence for what they refer to as a "non-commodified subsistence guarantee", for poor rural people affected by large-scale plantation concessions. In particular, authors direct our attention to considering how, in the context of a deepening commodification of land and labor, customary and communal land can serve as "a buffer against the dislocating forces of agrarian capitalism", as well as helping to maintain a form of livelihood autonomy for people living in rural Laos.

Land Governance in Laos: Article "considers how conceptualizations related to land have shifted over the last number of decades, especially since the Royal Lao Government period before 1975, and also since the Lao PDR State began introducing economic reforms in the 1980s and 1990s. Whereas the government previously deemed it important to control the country's land-holdings for the purposes of maintaining national sovereignty, in recent years land has been increasingly understood differently, including being mobilized to generate capital and promote economic growth.

Ian G. Baird
Kyoto Review of Southeast Asia

Making Possibilities out of the Impossible: Rural Migrant Workers' Backdoor Economies and the Pitfall in Lao PDR: This paper considers the indirect consequences of rural land dispossession when it comes to economic activities for marginalized migrants living in urban areas. In particular, the article focuses on the types of "backdoor economies" that rural migrant workers sometimes engage in. In particular, author provides a case study involving a Lao employee of a Chinese company in Vientiane, and how the driver secretly steals gasoline from his employer on a daily basis and sells it at the side of the road at night in order to generate additional income to supplement his salary.

The Geography of Security: Coercion, Comparative Advantage and Population Management Work in Contemporary Laos: This article considers Lao government land policy and its intersection with security discourses related to population management, from the late 1980s up to now. Adopting a Foucauldian perspective, and drawing on a case study from the northern province of Luang Namtha, author argues that we should examine population management work in upland Laos using Aihwa Ong's concept of graduated sovereignty, which he refers to as "political work done by less-than-powerful states to adapt their territories and populations to the constraints and opportunities of the global economy."

Turning Land into Capital for Whom? Crises and Alternatives of Land Commodification in Laos: This article critically examines the Turning Land into Capital policy adopted by the Lao PDR government in the mid-2000s and considers its current crisis due to a loss of popular legitimacy and recent high-level government critiques. The author examines contradictions between the popular promises of the policy in theory and its much-maligned impacts in practice.


Decentralisation is the Best Pro-Growth and Pro-Poor Economic Strategy for New Malaysia: With the change in government in May 2018, Malaysia has once again been given the chance to re-make itself. The first comprehensive re-making of the Malaysian policy framework after Merdeka was the 1970 New Economic Policy (NEP). The most fulfilling outcome from this...

'New' Malaysia: Four key challenges in the near term: In the aftermath of Malaysia's momentous regime change, the new government faces a number of challenges to implementing wholesale political reform.

An assessment of select procurement initiatives in the National Anti Corruption Plan 2019-2023: This brief paper will give an overview of the current procurement regime. Next, the paper will briefly look into cases of corruption, negligence, and non-compliance in procurement. This paper will provide full list of Strategy 3's 16 initiatives. Due to limitations within this paper, we will attempt to evaluate a few select issues and initiatives within the strategy 3, alongside relevant initiatives from other Strategies. With occasional reference to previous literature on public procurement in Malaysia, this paper will provide a general evaluation of those specific initiatives. This paper then provides a few recommendations to improve these initiatives.

Faiz Abdul Halim & Aira Azhari
Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) (Malaysia)

A Regular Column to Keep You Updated about Penang2030: To be sure, Penang2030 is not meant to signal the inception of countless new projects and policies by the state. Rather, it is an ordering of ongoing projects in value terms that will deepen these and inspire new projects. The key issues highlighted so far in emails from the public include the following...

Are Digital Disruptions Good or Bad? Well, That's Up to You: When asked about Malaysian attitudes towards cashless systems - particularly e-wallet adoption - Daniel B. Ruppert, group CEO of Sedania Innovator, thinks that Malaysians may not fully embrace cashless systems yet: "Here in Malaysia we are all very spoilt. We all have credit and/or debit cards; we all have bank accounts - bank account implementation is very high...

Batu Kawan Rising: The state development arm, Penang Development Corporation (PDC), is the architect of the entire area and reveals that a high-tech medical hub, international schools, possible theme parks and spacious linear parks are also on the cards. PDC's Physical Planning and Land Management Division senior manager Aziz Bakar says just over 2,000 acres of the former backwater's 6,300 acres is left to develop and mould.

Cameron Highlands - From Hill Station to Agricultural Heartland: The colonial government had in fact viewed the Highlands as a potential hill station since the 1880s. It was commonplace for Europeans to establish hill stations to avoid the hot weather and diseases of the lowlands. Hill stations normally functioned as convalescent homes and holiday resorts; Penang Hill and Fraser's Hill were among the substantial hill stations in Malaya. While exploration of the Highlands continued, it was not until 1925 that the Cameron Highlands Development Committee was formed to look into serious expeditions and consistent development.

Fleeting Squatters in Public Spaces: But it would be dishonest to deny the feeling that comes to all who live in Malaysia when looking at the spick-and-span environs that things will not develop all that positively in practice. This scepticism rests on good grounds: the country is not known for its commitment to maintenance - of buildings, of roads, and of anything that is publicly owned; nor is the enforcement of laws and regulations something done reliably or believed in consistently.

Leaving the Island for Greener Pastures: Moving from Penang Island to the mainland might have been deemed foolhardy a mere decade ago, but today, drawn by new and attractive development projects, quality health and educational facilities and housing prices that are less painful on the pocket, many are boldly packing up for Seberang Perai.

Making Sure Our Taps Will Never Run Dry: Penang faces a predicament of its own: it is a water-stressed state with limited raw water resources; the Muda River is its most precious resource, supplying 80% of the state's water, pumped from the Lahar Tiang Intake through the Sungai Dua Canal; and its water catchments, stretching 62.9km wide, make up the remaining 20%.

Seberang Perai in Numbers

The Tale of a Japanese Peranakan: At 51, Adel Yap Lye Meng is finally ready to share her story. "Many of us keep it secret because of the vitriolic criticism we have received," says the descendant of an allegedly powerful Japanese Peranakan family. With her fair skin, deep-set eyes and high nasal bridge, Adel often receives questions about her ethnicity. However, things were more sensitive four decades ago...

The Future of Creative Industries in Penang: The concept of creative industries has been in use since the 1990s and marks a broad wave of the digital era. In the post-industrial service economy, creativity has emerged as a prime driver in developing a knowledge economy - the quaternary sector
[link to 9-page PDF document "The Future of Creative Industries in Penang"]

Alexander Fernandez, Lim Sok Swan & Pan Yi Chieh
Penang Institute


The Sovereign Trickster: In our current moment, authoritarian figures loom large. One of them is Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. He seems to embody two notions of sovereignty. One is related to law, the other to norms: on the one hand, the power of taking exception to the former, deciding who will live and who will die; on the other hand, the freedom from the limits of the latter by way of dissipation, irresponsibility, and excess. This article explores the double sources of his power with reference to the works of Michel Foucault and Achille Mbembe.

Vicente L. Rafael
The Journal of Asian Studies

The Jolo Bombing and the Legacy of ISIS in the Philippines: The impact of ISIS in the Philippines will be long-lasting, not only in terms of more violence but also in the appeal of a "pure" Islamic state as an alternative to perceived neglect and injustice. "The Jolo Bombing and the Legacy of ISIS in the Philippines", the latest report from the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC), looks at the 27 January 2019 Jolo bombing and what it reveals about the ongoing activities of pro-ISIS groups.

Addressing the Illegal Wildlife Trade in the Philippines: The Philippines is a consumer, source, and transit point for IWT, threatening endemic species populations, economic development, and biodiversity. The country has been a party to the Convention on Biological Diversity since 1992.

Press freedom under attack: why Filipino journalist Maria Ressa's arrest should matter to all of us: Maria Ressa's case is important not only because a government used a crime statute to intimidate and lock up a journalist for what should have been treated as a civil dispute, but because of what it says about the way governments are increasingly using the "rule of law" to silence the legitimate work of journalists.

Peter Greste, Professor of Journalism and Communications, The University of Queensland

ASEANASEAN/Southeast Asia

"A Competitive Development Bazaar?": ASEAN Dialogue Partners' Policies and Their Implications for the Mekong Subregion: The Mekong subregion is witnessing a "development bazaar" where there is no outright hegemonic development grand plan but a variety of options offered by ASEAN's Dialogue Partners (DPs) for ASEAN riparian states to choose from. Against this backdrop, this policy report assesses key DPs' policies and their implications for the subregion as well as provides policy recommendations for Southeast Asian governments to respond to the current dynamics. This paper contends that ASEAN officials should: (i) raise the awareness of ASEAN maritime members about the significance of the Mekong subregion to Southeast Asia; (ii) collectively coin ASEAN's Mekong policies, (iii) engage the DPs via the existing regional and subregional initiatives, and (iv) incorporate Track II's recommendations into policymaking process.
[link to 17-page-PDF document "A Competitive Development Bazaar?"]

Does Money Grow on Trees? Restoration Financing in Southeast Asia: In global discussions over climate change and the policy interventions needed to address it, the role of land use - including forests - is often overlooked. Given its unique role as both a potential source of emissions - as well as storage - for carbon, the land use sector may play a crucial role in the world's success or failure in avoiding dangerous levels of climate change over this century.
[link to 56-page PDF document "Does Money Grow on Trees?"]

AsiaAsia Pacific

Powering Up Sustainable Energy for Asia: A green transformation, if done right, can address poverty reduction goals and improve health and environmental quality across the region.

Ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific: The US Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) strategy is focused on promoting the interests of countries which believe that all should enjoy unfettered access to international seas and airways. Admiral Davidson discussed how the FOIP strategy focuses on the US collaborating with like-minded nations to observe the rule of law. This includes the adherence to cyber norms, defense of intellectual property rights, and fair and reciprocal trade - all of which are essential for people, goods, and capital to move across borders to the shared benefit of all. He emphasised that, while stressing inclusiveness as a fundamental aspect of a FOIP, the United States aspires to a regional order of sovereign nations in the Indo-Pacific that defends its populations, respects human dignity, competes fairly in the market place, and is free from coercion.
[contains 60-minute video clip]

Admiral Philip S. Davidson
International Institute for Strategic Studies

Counterterrorism Yearbook 2019: The Counterterrorism Yearbook is ASPI's annual flagship publication curated by the Counter-terrorism Policy Centre, now in its third year of publication. It is a comprehensive resource for academics and policymakers to build on their knowledge of counterterrorism developments in countries and regions around the world. Each chapter in the yearbook is written by an internationally renowned subject-matter and regional expert who provides their insight and commentary on counterterrorism policy, legislation, operations and strategy for a specific country or region, looking at both the year in review and the challenges for the year ahead.
[link to 146-page PDF document "Counterterrorism Yearbook 2019"]

Isaac Kfir & Georgia Grice
Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI)

Asian Development Review: Volume 36, Number 1: This edition covers intergenerational mobility of families in slums of Jakarta, exports and imports of Thailand, and the effects of foreign direct investment on the productivity of 15 emerging market economies, among others.

Sectoral and Skill Contributions to Labor Productivity in Asia: Economic development has progressed rapidly in Asia in recent decades, moving many people out of subsistence agriculture into more productive jobs in manufacturing and services.

Matthias Helble, Trinh Long & Trang Le
Asian Development Bank Institute

Introduction to China's Military Operations Other than War: With its increasing capability witnessed in recent decades, the People's Liberation Army's (PLA) conduct of military operations other than war (MOOTW) remains woefully understudied. With most analyses concurring it improbable that Beijing would engage in traditional security operations in the foreseeable future, responses to non-traditional security (NTS) threats would appear to be an aspect where the PLA's capabilities will continue to be showcased. In reviewing China's MOOTW, this policy report provides a retrospective account of how the PLA has overseen previous MOOTW activities, as well as identify those areas of PLA MOOTW expected to undergo further refinement. A better appreciation of NTS and China's MOOTW will provide a positive platform for facilitating cooperation between Beijing and other countries in the region.

Fan Gaoyue & James Char
S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS)

Demystifying Rising Inequality in Asia: This gap is at its highest level in decades for developed economies, while the inequality trend has been rising in many developing countries. In Asia, despite recent economic growth, income distribution has been worsening as well.
[link to 409-page PDF document "Demystifying Rising Inequality in Asia"]

Bihong Huang, Peter J. Morgan & Naoyuki Yoshino
Asian Development Bank

Democracy & Disorder: The struggle for influence in the new geopolitics: Over the past year, 33 Brookings scholars examined the interplay between domestic and international challenges to democracy in critical countries and regions. The key findings of this project make for challenging reading for those citizens and policymakers committed to defending the space for democracy in international affairs, but there are also grounds for optimism and for mobilization.

EastEast/South China Sea

Resource Sharing and Joint Development in the South China Sea: Exploring Avenues of Cooperation: The Philippines and China signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Cooperation on Oil and Gas Development, demonstrating their willingness to explore joint development as a pathway to collaboration, notwithstanding their territorial disputes. Recent commentaries on joint development are mostly framed on legal challenges, South China Sea (SCS) rows, geopolitics, and state-centric security issues. However, there have been no extensive discussions on the potential contributions from non-state stakeholders that can make joint development agreements environmentally sound, sustainable, and less political.

The impact of trade opening on developing Asia: Evidence and policy implications
"Even though in aggregate, trade leads to economic gains, it almost always creates winners and losers. To design appropriate social protection policies, it is important to know the identities of these winners and losers. These policies need to be in place for equity reasons as well as to build and sustain support for free trade."

specialClimate change

Echoes of 2008: Could climate change spark a global financial crisis? The primary source of systemic risk outlined in the Cambridge report stems from rising global temperatures and untenable losses to insurers as a result. For example, the authors warn that if climate change is left unchecked, the world will witness the tripling of catastrophic losses on property investments over the next 30 years.

Korey Pasch PhD Candidate in Political Science and International Relations, Queen's University, Ontario

Human Rights Report 2019

World Report 2019: Our annual review of human rights around the globe.
[link to 346-page PDF "World Report 2019"]



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