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Latest News and Updates

ISEAS Perspective: "ASEAN in Australia's Indo-Pacific Outlook” by Hoang Thi Ha
"The ASEAN-Australia Special Summit on 17-18 March 2018 demonstrates Australia's support of ASEAN centrality in the defense of the region's rules-based order, and open and free trade... Australia's embrace of the Indo-Pacific and ASEAN's reluctance to do the same should not be a barrier to the strengthening of ASEAN-Australia ties, which are based on aligned interests and shared vulnerabilities in the face of shifting power balances and transnational challenges in the region."

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The Straits Times: "ASEAN 2018: More work to be done on labour migration" by Moe Thuzar
"The sheer fact that labour-sending and labour-receiving countries in ASEAN have managed to reach a compromise on a divisive issue after nearly eight years of negotiation is something of a relief."

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The Straits Times: ASEAN 2018: Reconciling consensus with new realities by Hoang Thi Ha
"A hallmark of the ASEAN Way, consensus guarantees that all member states, big or small, are equal in ASEAN's decision-making. It is credited for bringing ASEAN members together and keeping them united."

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ISEAS Commentary: "Australia in ASEAN: Vision or Fantasy?" by Hoang Thi Ha
To be an ASEAN member, one must agree to respect and abide by the ASEAN Charter, including the non-interference principle and decision-making by consensus. As a champion for liberal and democratic values, will Australia refrain from expressing its views on domestic politics of other ASEAN member states as it is doing today? Will Australia be comfortable with the ASEAN Way which Canberra and many Australian commentators have often lamented as “slow and ineffective”?

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Khmer Times: Clarifications on Cambodia and Asean-Australia special summit by Tang Siew Mun
"When Asean meets and engages with external parties, big and small differences should not stand in the way of multilateral dialogue and cooperation that contribute to the overall regional peace and prosperity. In a similar vein, it would be wrong for Australia to use the special summit to raise a bilateral issue with Cambodia."

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ISEAS Commentary: "A Tale of Two Trades: Trump's Tariffs and the CPTPP" by Sanchita Basu Das
"That said, while Mr. Trump’s measures will cause much concern worldwide, the primary purpose is to assuage his domestic audience. It reflects the transactional way Mr. Trump perceives economics and trade agreements. Doomsday conclusions are premature at this stage. Global leaders will be very considered before they react on every move that US makes on trade. The signing of CPTPP testifies to this. It will be such deals that will transform trade and help countries to achieve their long-term objective of an innovative and prosperous society."

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ISEAS Commentary: "Pursue Integration of ASEAN Digital Economy under ‘Open Regionalism’" by Sanchita Basu Das
Singapore, as ASEAN Chair, should also consider advancing digital initiatives to ASEAN+1 arrangements, and if possible, to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement, thereby continuing with ASEAN’s policy of ‘open regionalism’ in the future. The future of the region is as dependent on building digital highways as it is on conventional ones in the past.

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ISEAS Commentary: "ASEAN Must Unite to Keep the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit on Track" by Tang Siew Mun
"The Special Summit proceeding as planned would send a strong and timely reminder to all ASEAN member states that membership in the regional organisation entails a sense of commitment to the regional good. The ball is in Cambodia’s court."

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ISEAS Perspective: “ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit: Matching “Act East” with Actions?” by Hoang Thi Ha and Termsak Chalermpalanupap
Despite ASEAN’s reluctance to embrace the Indo-Pacific concept introduced by the US and supported by India, there is a meeting of minds between both sides in agreeing to work towards “an open, transparent, inclusive and rules-based regional architecture.”

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Commentary: "RCEP in 2018? - Expectations must be Tempered" by Sanchita Basu Das
"Given this background, all parties need to reset their ambitions with regard to the RCEP agreement, understand fellow participants’ political constraints and compromise on economic interests."

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ST Opinion: ASEAN needs to fix its digital divide
"At the end of 2015, Internet users per 100 of the population were around 70 to 80 for Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei. Cambodia and Laos, however, had user density of below 20. Less than 25 per cent of Lao firms used e-mail in their business operations, compared with 80 per cent for the Philippines and 91 per cent for Vietnam." - Sanchita Basu Das

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TNP: Foreign ministers to discuss projects to make ASEAN more resilient
"The retreat is a chance for the host foreign minister to explain the chair's theme for ASEAN and its proposed priorities for the year." - Dr Termsak Chalermpalanupap

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TODAY: ASEAN’s foreign ministers gather in Singapore to chart out 2018 priorities
“The Retreat symbolises ASEAN’s time tested tradition of consultation and consensus.”
- Dr Tang Siew Mun

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The Wire: Twenty-Five Years On, India, ASEAN Want to Be in Sync, but Keep Missing Cues
“I don’t recall having any difficulty dealing with the Indian Embassy in Jakarta, especially during the 1990s when I handled the coordination of ASEAN-India relations (as well as ASEAN-Pakistan relations)... My recollection is that the Indian government would always work hard in trying to deliver whatever it has committed to do for ASEAN. But sometimes, delivery is delayed by slow-moving Indian bureaucrats in New Delhi." - Dr Termsak Chalermpalanupap

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Singapore takes the hot seat: Steering ASEAN amid challenges
ASC Head Tang Siew Mun and Lead Researcher, Dr Termsak Chalermpalanupap shared their thoughts with The Straits Times on the different issues and challenges ASEAN will face this year.

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Trends in Southeast Asia 2018 No. 1 – Logistics Development in ASEAN: Complex Challenges Ahead by Tham Siew Yean and Sanchita Basu Das
Growing urbanization, increasing trade and investment due to integration, and emerging new business models like e-commerce are accelerating the demand for efficient logistics in each ASEAN country.
Going forward, developing seamless logistics requires ASEAN countries to first overcome their domestic challenges. Each country needs to develop comprehensive plans, and effective implementation of these is essential. Liberalization commitments should complement domestic reforms in each country.

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Looking ahead to 2018: ASEAN chairmanship poses a stern test for Singapore
“The core issue is getting ASEAN member states to understand and live up to their obligations and responsibilities to the organisation, and come to the realisation that a united ASEAN serves everyone’s interests... In flagging ASEAN centrality as a priority, Prime Minister Lee is in fact reminding everyone the essence and rationale for the establishment of ASEAN and the looming challenges to Asean’s relevance and identity.” - ASC Head Tang Siew Mun

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TODAY: Famous last words by an ASEAN giant by Moe Thuzar and Termsak Chalermpalanupap
"The main impact of Dr Surin’s role, however, was in telling the ASEAN story to the world, to bring the world to ASEAN, politically and economically. In this, he invested and exerted both personal effort and charm, for which he reaped dividends well after he ended his term as Secretary-General.

Still, once an ASEAN Secretary-General, always an ASEAN Secretary-General."

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SCMP: Is China chipping away at the ASEAN bloc?
"ASEAN was concerned about China’s use of bilateral ties to limit the bloc’s strategic space and autonomy... Such concerns apply to not only China but any other major powers that want to bend the group to their strategic interests.” - ASC Head Tang Siew Mun

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Straits Times: ASEAN centrality: What's that?
"ASEAN's mechanisms per se do not have the funding or technical capacity to get involved in the Rohingya issue in a more direct way. That said, ASEAN's convening power does give it the means to play a coordinating role for individual or bilateral initiatives under the ASEAN umbrella." - Moe Thuzar

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Nikkei Asian Review: ASEAN migrant worker deal gets cautious welcome
"The fact that members are willing to agree to a document that hopefully will have some moral suasion for national/domestic implementation of regional commitments can be seen as a constructive step." - Moe Thuzar

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Services Liberalization in ASEAN: Foreign Direct Investment in Logistics
The services sector plays an important role in ASEAN economies as it accounts for about half of the regions GDP and more than 45 per cent of its total employment. ASEAN aspires to deepen integration in the services sector in order to enhance the sectors contribution to economic development and growth in each country. Despite this, services liberalization has progressed slowly compared to goods liberalization both at the multilateral and the regional levels. Different regulatory mechanisms across countries have contributed to the slow pace of liberalization. This book examines the current state of services liberalization in the ten ASEAN economies. It also assesses the FDI enabling environment and the extent of FDI liberalization in the logistics sector as well as the liberalization challenges encountered in each of the ASEAN economies. The book, thus, provides a comparative picture of services liberalization as well as the state of logistics liberalization and development in each of the ten ASEAN member countries. All these have important bearings on deepening ASEAN economic integration for 2025 and beyond.

Click here to purchase the book.
TODAY: South-east Asians positive about ASEAN but want to see faster pace of regional integration
“The fact that South-east Asians hold high expectations and see ASEAN as highly potential bodes well for the regional organisation. It is up to ASEAN to rise up to these high expectations and to transform these hopes into reality.” - ASC Head Tang Siew Mun

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TODAY: Singaporeans least positive about ASEAN compared to regional counterparts, survey shows
“ASEAN has a PR problem in that few Singaporeans know when it is working for them... Although Singaporeans do not see the direct benefits accrued by ASEAN, this does not mean that the grouping is not important to the city state.” - ASC Head Tang Siew Mun

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SCMP: Trump’s Vanishing Act: A Metaphor for the US in Asia? by ASC Head Tang Siew Mun
"It should be self-evident that engaging ASEAN and its full and active participation in ASEAN-led processes, including the summit, helps to maintain and advance US strategic interests in Southeast Asia and the wider East Asia region."

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ISEAS Commentary: The ASEAN "Consensus” on Migrant Workers: not Ideal but a Basis to Continue Working by Moe Thuzar
"Although the negotiations for a regional instrument started off in 2009 with the intention to develop a legally-binding instrument, the ASEAN Consensus does not have legal weight, and will not require member states to ratify the document nationally for implementation. Rather, it carries a moral weight for national governments to implement measures that address the commitments expressed in the document."

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TODAY: PM Lee in Manila on 3-day visit for ASEAN Summit
"His interest with respect to Asia has thus far all been about North Korea and China, and the region would be primed to his views and policy pronouncements on Asean and South-east Asia." - ASC Head Tang Siew Mun.

"Myanmar's situation, in particular, may occasion further consultations on how Asean can assist in finding constructive pathways, collectively and bilaterally, for a lasting solution." - Moe Thuzar

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New York Times: Trump to Asia: Unite on North Korea, but Go It Alone on Trade
"China has made significant inroads in cultivating Southeast Asia... This isn’t an entirely bad proposition for the region, but China’s success is disastrous for the U.S., as Chinese advances are at the U.S.’s expense." - ASC Head Tang Siew Mun.

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Bloomberg: Southeast Asia Seeks Reassurances From Trump
"There is a greater sense that America is not dependable, that the trustworthiness of America has gone down... If Trump continues to fall short, then we have to re-think as well." - ASC Head Tang Siew Mun.

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ISEAS Commentary: “Trump Changes his Mind on his First EAS Meeting in Asia” 
"It should be self-evident to the Trump Administration that engaging ASEAN and its full and active participation in ASEAN-led processes, including the EAS, helps to maintain and advance US strategic interest in Southeast Asia and the wider East Asia region." - ASC Head Tang Siew Mun.

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Nikkei Asian Review: Experts call for ASEAN unity on South China Sea
"ASEAN also plays an important role. If ASEAN remains united and speaks with one voice, China will think twice of any potential unilateral movements... Engaging China is actually not a lost game. There are many positives and utilities for us to continue to exchange [with] China, and in the last few years, we have seen some progress." - ASC Head Tang Siew Mun.

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The Globe Post: ASEAN Lacks Unity as Need to Address Rohingya Crisis Grows
“The key problem here is the deterioration of trust, as a result of Malaysia’s disassociation from the recent ASEAN Chairman’s Statement on the situation in Rakhine state,” - Hoang Thi Ha, Lead Researcher (II), Political & Security Affairs.

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The Malaysian Reserves: After 5 decades — doing away with the ASEAN way?
“ASEAN has to deal with the urgent question of institutional efficiency. What is the point of keeping the consensus model if the result is paralysis?” - ASC Head Tang Siew Mun

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Korea Times: ASEAN nations need to curb exchanges with N. Korea
"North Korea has manipulated diplomatic ties with and regulatory loopholes in Southeast Asian countries to overcome U.N. sanctions through illicit activities such as counterfeiting, money laundering, drugs and arms trade." - Hoang Thi Ha, Lead Researcher (II), Political & Security Affairs.

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ISEAS Perspective: ASEAN Single Window: Advancing Trade Facilitation for Regional Integration by Sanchita Basu Das
"After missing the initial deadline, ASEAN member countries are planning to launch the ASW in 2018, at least among a sub-set of countries and for limited functions... Going forward, ASEAN member countries must raise awareness about ASW/NSWs, strengthen the capacity of responsible national agencies and consider a fully-dedicated unit in their national economies to manage NSW functions. They should also ensure trained manpower and adequate funding for the smooth operation of the ASW in the ASEAN Secretariat."

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SE Asian economies get a lift from China. Later, they may get the bill
"The next level from here is you can see more social outcry... These are the checks and balances for some of these countries, especially those where leaders are elected for a specific number of years... China will be mindful of that as well." - Sanchita Basu Das

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Myanmar crisis: Humanitarian effort by ASEAN a possibility
"The current situation involves a community with which a large part of Myanmar's populace feels no affinity." - ASC Lead Researcher (Socio-Cultural) Moe Thuzar

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Seminar: The United States and Southeast Asia Under the Trump Administration by Dr. Satu Limaye
This seminar offers one American perspective prior to the visit on the continuities and divergences between the Obama and Trump Administrations regarding Southeast Asia, developments in U.S.-Southeast Asia relations during the first nine months of the Trump Administration and the prospects for U.S. bilateral and multilateral ties with Southeast Asia. It argues that there are clear differences (and uncertainties) regarding the Trump Administration versus the Obama Administration’s approaches to Southeast Asia.

Click here to read more about the Seminar and registration details.
Response to NST article on 'Malaysia and ASEAN ties with US, remain strong' by ASC Head Tang Siew Mun
On 21 August 2017, the New Straits Times published an article titled ‘Malaysia and ASEAN ties with US, remain strong’ and mentioned the “How do Southeast Asians View the Trump Administration?” survey ASEAN Studies Centre conducted in April this year. ASC Head Dr Tang Siew Mun has written a response to the article and the comments made by the Honorary Deputy Foreign Minister of Malaysia, Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican.

Please click here to read the response.
Rappler: At 50, ASEAN faces unpleasant reality check
"ASEAN has to adjust to “an increasingly fluid strategic environment that is made more unpredictable by US President Donald Trump’s uncertain approach toward the region... “At the same time, it is caught in China’s embrace which provides ASEAN member states with economic benefits, but Beijing’s tightening stranglehold on the region can sometimes leave ASEAN gasping for air.”" - ASC Head Tang Siew Mun

"“Today, when debating the South China Sea issue in ASEAN meetings, Cambodian officials and scholars are widely considered as representatives of the national interests of China, though they mostly reiterate previous ASEAN statements on the South China Sea.”" - ISEAS Yusof-Ishak Deputy Director Dr Terence Chong

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COMMENTARY: How can RCEP benefit ASEAN? by Sanchita Basu Das and Pham Thi Phuong Thao
"In practical terms, ASEAN businesses would follow one set of procedures instead of having to navigate through five different sets of rules when trading with its RCEP partners. This would inevitably lead to greater ease of doing business in the region and increase ASEAN’s attractiveness as a trade and investment destination."

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COMMENTARY: The ASEAN Charter: Evolutionary or revolutionary? by Dr Termsak Chalermpalanupap
"Change in ASEAN will not be revolutionary. It would certainly not come overnight. Judging on the past 50 years, transformations tend to be deliberate, and come about as the result of “consultation and consensus.”"

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COMMENTARY: The promise and perils of democratising ASEAN by Moe Thuzar and Nur Aziemah
"Deeper political integration in ASEAN will not happen by pooling sovereignty. ASEAN at 50 will continue to keep the current boundaries of its political and security cooperation... But continuing with this approach gives neither cause nor rationale for ASEAN member states to sideline the voices and concerns of the people."

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ISEAS Contemporary Southeast Asia Vol. 39/2 (August 2017) special article 'Roundtable: ASEAN at 50 and Beyond' available for download
To mark ASEAN's 50th anniversary, ISEAS Contemporary Southeast Asia Vol. 39/2 (August 2017) has released a special article titled 'Roundtable: ASEAN at 50 and Beyond'. This article features eight prominent scholars and senior policy practitioners assessing and reviewing the organization's successes and failures as well as charting its growth and future development.

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COMMENTARY: ASEAN centrality is meaningless if group lacks trust of others by Tang Siew Mun & Jason Salim
"Outlining firm and principled stances towards external developments are all well and good, but cooperating on common security threats in tangible ways would make ASEAN even more relevant to the public."

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COMMENTARY: EU no role model, but holds lessons for ASEAN by Hoang Thi Ha
"Although Asean has neither the intent nor capability to become another EU, it can draw good lessons from the latter’s experience, especially post-Brexit. One important lesson is to communicate effectively to the public the benefits of regional integration, which are not always self-evident and without trade-offs or painful adjustments."

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COMMENTARY: ASEAN’s decent track record in working for the common good by Moe Thuzar
"Coordinated participation can heal political divides and bridge economic and institutional differences. To this end, ASEAN’s decisions and regional positions are an agreed combination and compromise of national interests from the 10 member states. Even as each government strives to help its peoples meet the challenges of the future, regional cooperation continues to be a relevant answer to deglobalisation sentiments."

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COMMENTARY: ASEAN Economic Community a solid pathway to prosperity by Dr Tham Siew Yean
"By promoting regional growth through enhanced trade and investment opportunities for its 10 member countries, the AEC has set Asean on the path of shared prosperity, creating a future where each country’s economic resilience will depend on its closest neighbours."

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ASEAN’s Growing Pains and Challenges by Tang Siew Mun
"It would also not be easy for the socio-cultural pillar but fostering understanding and building bridges of friendship will always be less divisive than territorial disputes. ASEAN remains a work in progress, but it is useful to examine what works and what does not for ASEAN to advance to the next step of community building."

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SEA Views: Why a strong ASEAN is essential for region
"The current political structure in South-east Asia may well dilute Asean's ability to negotiate with external powers. It would be a tragedy if a failure of coordinated leadership within ASEAN results in great-power competition turning this region into a strategic battleground. ASEAN leaders need to seek another round of consensus to manage this strategic challenge. But who dares to take the lead at this time? That is a significant policy question worthy of discussion across the region." - Dr Pongphisoot (Paul) Busbarat

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ISEAS Commentary: "ASEAN Convenes High-Level Security Talks Amidst Regional Uncertainties"
"A pressing agenda for ASEAN as it walks into the AMM and related meetings will be to assess the fluctuating geo-strategic landscape. The US has swung from its initial disinterest in the region in the early days of the Trump Administration to potentially becoming trigger-happy as it seriously considers military action in the Korean Peninsula. This is coupled with a China ready at any moment to showcase its military might and deploy its assets in order to achieve its national interest." - Jason Salim and Tang Siew Mun

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The Straits Times: ASEAN keeps readers riveted at Big Read Meet
"ASEAN is like the air you breathe - you will notice it only when it is gone... ASEAN is often seen as 'talk only' and even 'do nothing', but when you keep people talking, at least they are not fighting." - Hoang Thi Ha

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ISEAS Commentary: "A Futile Call: Making Bahasa Melayu ASEAN’s Official Language" 
"At face value, Prime Minister Najib’s proposal is an attempt to bolster his political credentials by championing the Malay language ahead of the general elections due by May 2018. However, his actions cannot be summarily dismissed as a domestic matter because as an ASEAN Leader, he has the recourse to push this cause at ASEAN Summits. If he follows through with this unrealistic proposal at the regional level, he might force his fellow ASEAN leaders into the conundrum of having to defend the primacy of their respective languages and promote their language as ASEAN’s main and official language as well." - Tang Siew Mun

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Mediacorp FOCUS (FY1718) - EP17: "亚细安50年 ASEAN50"
ASC Head Tang Siew Mun was interviewed by Mediacorp Focus program episode 17 on ASEAN 50.
Click here to watch the video in Mandarin and here in English.
Why are sanctions on N. Korea not working?
"North Korea's provocations, while being progressively dangerous and disturbing, do not pose an existential security threat to ASEAN countries... Some ASEAN countries may feel increasingly apprehensive about Pyongyang's acts of defiance and quietly distance themselves from the latter, but they do not want to burn their bridges." - Hoang Thi Ha

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Khmer Times: Promoting an inclusive ASEAN
"ASEAN and its development partners must target where the gap lies, through identifying development gaps and suggesting policy recommendations. Multi-stakeholder partnerships is critical to harnessing resources to reduce the gaps. Institutional capacity, resource limitations and governance and accountability need to be holistically addressed. Development needs to be comprehensively understood." - Dr Vannarith Chheang

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VOA Exclusive: ASEAN, China Expected to Endorse Initial Code of Conduct in South China Sea
"The COC would only have meaning if it were legally binding, but it is unsure if the negotiating parties would be agreeable to a fair and just structure of managing relations in the South China Sea" -ASC Head Tang Siew Mun

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Nikkei Asian Review: Prospects fade for ASEAN migrant worker deal
"The 'divide' between sending and receiving countries is over the enforceability of the instrument's provisions were it to be legally binding, which would require domestic ratification and compliance. The sticky issues, as I understand, continue to be over the inclusion of undocumented workers and also families of migrant workers in the coverage." - Moe Thuzar

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ASEAN Lecture Series: The ASEAN Charter at 10: Prospects and Retrospect by Prof Tommy Koh
When the ASEAN Charter was signed on 20 November 2007, analysts and observers of ASEAN hailed it as the beginning of a new era in the history of the regional organization. For forty years, ASEAN had overcome one existential crisis after another. In 2004, ASEAN decided that it needed a Charter in order to strengthen its institutions and the rule of law. In his lecture, Prof. Koh will give a brief history of the making of the Charter, explain why he considers the Charter as a revolutionary document, and review the various suggestions to amend the Charter. It will be held on 3 August 2017, 10am at the Institute.

Click here to read more about the Lecture and registration details.
ISEAS Economics Working Papers: Impact of TPP-11 on Japanese Manufacturing Affiliates in ASEAN by Kazunobu Hayakawa and Kohei Shiino
This paper discusses how tariff reductions through TPP may affect Japanese manufacturing affiliates in ASEAN countries. Without the U.S., there is some uncertainty in the impact of TPP on the investment and expansion plans of Japanese affiliates in Malaysia and Vietnam’s textile and footwear industries. Similarly, it is also uncertain that Japanese affiliates in ASEAN non-TPP member countries will shrink their business in these industries. In the case of other industries, the TPP-11 will not affect Japanese affiliates because market access will not be different between TPP and non-TPP member countries.

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Latest issue of ASEAN Matters For America/America Matters For ASEAN available now!
A collaboration between the East West Center in Washington, ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, the Congressional Singapore Caucus, the Congressional Caucus on ASEAN and the US-ASEAN Business Council launched ASEAN Matters for America / America Matters for ASEAN on 16 May 2017. It is a publication and a web resource for credible and nonpartisan information, graphics, analysis, and news at the national, state, and local level on U.S.-ASEAN/Southeast Asia interactions.

Click here to check out the publication!
VOA News: US Pivots Back to Hard Line on China Over Disputed Sea
“It’s just becoming routine.. They know the procedure and what to expect. And in the meantime I think the Chinese are making progress in winning hearts and minds on continental Southeast Asia.”- Dr Termsak Chalermpalanupap

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ISEAS Perspective: Trade Facilitation Synergies between WTO and ASEAN Initiatives
“The WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement and ASEAN’s trade facilitation measures both seek to improve trade processes among member states. While the TFA focuses on customs processes, ASEAN’s measures are broader in coverage. The ASEAN Trade Repository, ASEAN Single Window and ASEAN Customs Transit System will benefit from a commitment by ASEAN member states to implement similar measures in the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement.”- ISEAS Senior Fellow Tham Siew Yean

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Financial Times: Japan sends biggest warship on Southeast Asia mission
“It signals Tokyo’s political will in taking baby steps to establish itself as a security player in Southeast Asia, which comes at a critical moment when American interest in the region is in grave doubt”.- ASC Head Tang Siew Mun

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TODAY: Trump’s Asia retreat leaves room for new regional order
"How could the US expect to remain a global power when it appears to be turning its back to the world at every turn? The Trump administration has pulled the US from the TPP and the Paris climate change accord, and is said to be reviewing its membership in the World Trade Organisation. The fact that Germany and Canada have openly stated the need for alternative leadership should be a wake-up call to the US. It is the US’ prerogative to privilege America First at the expense of its global responsibilities, but Washington should not expect to be treated with the same respect and deference if it is no longer interested or capable of sustaining the global order." - ASC Head Tang Siew Mun

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TODAY: SMEs urged to transform their businesses to ride on digital wave
"Faced with the digital onslaught, businesses which are not ready to transform, which are still using the “old ways of doing business... If they (SMEs) are not keeping themselves abreast of this new technology, they may suffer." - Sanchita Basu Das

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NHK World: NRT Focus - ASEAN: Between Superpowers
"The United States has a track record of agreeing to multilateral agreements and partnerships like TPP, and the Rome Statute, Kyoto Protocol to name a few, but has backed out, has not signed, has not ratified. So what does that say about US leadership? What does it say about US commitment to a rule-based international order?." - Dr Tang Siew Mun

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The Straits Times: Why James Mattis' reassurance fell a little short
"For Dr Tang Siew Mun, who heads the Asean Studies Centre, Mr Mattis disappointed by not offering concrete ways to engage the region, such as in the area of cyber security or the upgrading of Cobra Gold, the largest Asia-Pacific military exercise, held in Thailand annually."

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The Diplomat: The US Needs ASEAN in Its New Asia Strategy by Vannarith Chheang
"ASEAN welcomes the active engagement of all major powers in the region, but the continued presence of U.S. military, economic, and soft power is paramount to future regional stability and prosperity. Nevertheless, strategic rivalry and competition between the United States and China have created a security dilemma for ASEAN member countries."

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ISEAS Perspective: What does it take to join ASEAN? by Moe Thuzar
ASEAN’s relations with external partners are structured on the premise of those partners’ capacity to support ASEAN’s development in terms of both resources and expertise. Even conferring the status of observer or guest to non-members for less formal interactions has a strategic or practical purpose. The final decision on according membership or any type of affiliation rests with the ASEAN Summit, and requires consent of all existing ASEAN members. The role of the ASEAN Chair comes in only when a formal request from prospective applicants is received officially for further internal consideration and consultations.

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Yale Global: ASEAN Summit’s China Tilt Portends a New World Order
“In a survey carried out by the ASEAN Studies Centre, more than 73 percent of 318 regional affairs experts polled answered that they had little or no confidence that Beijing will “do the right thing” in contributing to global peace, security and governance. The same poll indicated that, although 69.8 percent of respondents felt that Southeast Asia would be more stable with US engagement, America was seen as a less dependable ally than before the Trump administration took power: 54.3 percent of respondents felt that America could not be relied on to uphold free trade, human rights and international law in the region. More than half also felt that Washington had lost strategic ground since Trump became president."

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Commentary: "Draft Framework on the Code of Conduct: Much Ado About Nothing?" by Tang Siew Mun
“International law constrains ASEAN and China in equal measure, while providing protection to all parties. The question of “legally binding” is still on the table, and China might find this route more politically palatable and cost-effective to pursue and consolidate its sizeable gains in the South China Sea. For ASEAN, the cover of international law levels the playing field for big, medium and small countries."

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TODAY Commentary: China’s Belt and Road: Devil is in the details by ASC Head Tang Siew Mun
“China should not fall into the trap of being a victim of its own success. While ASEAN wholeheartedly welcomes the Belt and Road Initiative and the closer economic relations it brings, China should not take the region for granted. Economic success is tenuous unless it is supplemented by political cooperation and strategic trust. As ASEAN appears to grow ever closer to China’s economic orbit, what assurances can China offer that it would be hegemonic and benign in equal measure?"

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The Straits Times: ASEAN-China draft framework for South China Sea code completed
“ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute analyst Tang Siew Mun noted that China has always been "less enthusiastic" about a legally binding COC, and it appears that some ASEAN states may have leaned towards the Chinese side. But he thinks it is not in the interest of any of the parties to agree on any outcome that is short of legally binding. This "would provide little recourse or comfort to any aggrieved parties, including China", he told The Straits Times."

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TODAY: China, ASEAN agree on code of conduct framework in South China Sea
“... Breakthrough (in the negotiations for a framework) is the result of ASEAN’s unwavering push for a binding code of conduct. But this positive happenstance would not materialised without China’s cooperation and Beijing should be given equal credit... The framework is the basis for further negotiations, it is not the code of conduct. But we should recognise this achievement as an important first step." - ASC Head Tang Siew Mun

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Philstar: ASEAN perception of US drops after Trump backed Duterte's drug war
“Philstar: ASEAN perception of US drops after Trump backed Duterte's drug war “In a survey by the Singapore-based ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, the perception of Southeast Asians on Washington's image has deteriorated in four months. About 64.3 percent of the respondents said that the US cannot be relied on to uphold free trade, human rights and international law in the region. This follows the Trump's declaration of support for President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs, which involved thousands of extrajudicial killings."

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TODAY: Duterte wants ASEAN to include Turkey, Mongolia
“Geographical imprint is a major factor in the regional organisation’s membership, and neither Mongolia nor Turkey meet this criteria... One possible route for both countries to consider is ‘sectoral partnership’. But this is by no means an easy route as Mongolia and Turkey need to make the case of substantial and sustained interactions with ASEAN." - ASC Head Tang Siew Mun

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Study Explores Southeast Asian Opinions on Trump Administration
"The study is called “How Do Southeast Asians View the Trump Administration?” It was a project of the ASEAN Studies Centre at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore. Yusof Ishak was Singapore’s first president...The online survey was completed last month. The center received answers from more than 300 people from throughout ASEAN -- the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. They included government officials, civil society members, business leaders, educators and media workers." - VOANews

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Trump Administration Begins Engaging Southeast Asia, Region Waits for Details
"Trump’s engagement comes at a crucial time in U.S. relations with the region. Despite the previous administration’s focus on Southeast Asia, a recent poll of elites—including government officials, business representatives, academics, and journalists in the region—by the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore found that nearly 75 percent of the respondents saw China, not the United States, as the most influential country now and over the next decade." - CSIS

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Survey Reflects Southeast Asian Perception of US Engagement Under The New Administration
"The Institute of Southeast Asian Studies – Yusof Ishak Institute (ISEAS) in Singapore recently conducted a survey on US- Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) relations under the Trump administration as part of its programming to celebrate the 50th anniversary of ASEAN’s founding." - East-West Centre

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Trump has blown US credibility in Southeast Asia: Poll
"More than half of respondents in Southeast Asia say the U.S. has become less dependable as an ally and has lost strategic ground to China under Trump, according to a survey conducted by the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore. The poll quizzed 318 people from government, academia, business and civil society in the 10 countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations." - Nikkei Asian Review

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What Does Southeast Asia Think About the Trump Presidency?
"A recent online survey of regional experts conducted by the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute’s ASEAN Studies Center in Singapore depicts a dim view of the Donald J. Trump administration. It’s uncertain if outreach efforts, such as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s meeting with ASEAN foreign ministers and senior officials last week, can repair the damage to U.S-ASEAN relations the surveyed experts — academics, think tankers, government officials, and members of civil society and non-governmental organizations — perceive." - The Diplomat

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New Survey Paints Bleak Picture of Southeast Asian Views on Trump Administration
"The survey shows an obvious lack of confidence in the U.S. and its dependability as an ally has also taken a beating. The region has a gloomy view on the present and future ties between U.S. and Southeast Asia... On the contrary, it is a strong statement of the region’s disappointment in the disinterest shown by the Trump administration. This is not a clarion call of ‘Yankee go home!’ Quite the opposite." - ASC Head Tang Siew Mun

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FT: US steps up SE Asia effort but survey points to China sway
"China appears to have won the strategic battle with the US, emerging as the most influential power in the region... But China has not won over Southeast Asia yet. The perception of Chinese power is real but its dominance is not clear-cut." - ASC Head Tang Siew Mun

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SCMP: Trump ‘dents US reputation’ in Southeast Asia, leaves door open for China
"Survey finds United States has lost strategic ground to China since US President Donald Trump took office... More than half of the 318 Southeast Asian respondents to the survey, by Singapore’s Iseas-Yusof Ishak Institute, said the United States had lost strategic ground to China since US President Donald Trump took office, and China had emerged as the ­region’s most influential country."

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TODAY: America no longer seen as a dependable ally: ASEAN survey
"In all probability, South-east Asia, like the rest of the world, grapples with the question of what the US stands for under the Trump administration, other than affirm ‘America First'... Without a doubt, South-east Asia’s image of the US has declined but the region continues to harbour hopes that Washington will continue to provide regional security." - ASC Head Tang Siew Mun

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TODAY: ISEAS poll shows low trust for China in region
"China should exercise strategic restraint, continue to engage in regional dialogue and cooperation, and give assurances to its neighbours, not by words but by actions... Hard power can defeat others quickly, but only soft power can win them over in the long run." - Hoang Thi Ha

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REUTERS: As Japan adapts to China's rise, ADB wrestles with relevance
"Politically, the AIIB is a direct challenge to the ADB by providing borrowers an alternative... OBOR with AIIB's deep pockets offers a vision of the region for 'friendly nations' to participate. In contrast, the ADB lacks a grand plan and focuses on smaller projects." - Tang Siew Mun

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