ASEAN EE Industry: What Now?

Picture: Electronics factory workers in Cikarang Indonesia (© ILO/Asrian Mirza

The heart of ASEAN’s regional economic connectivity, both in intra-regional and extra-regional trade, is the electronic and electrical (EE) industry an industry that has provided millions of jobs and holds ASEAN’s importance in the global economy for decades. The last statistics published by ASEAN in 2015 stated that “electrical machinery and equipment and parts thereof; sound recorders and reproducers, television image and sound recorders and reproducers, and parts and accessories of such articles” the intra-regional total trade in ASEAN is USD 543,751 million and the extra-regional trade nearly tripled with the total amount of USD 1,726,558the highest of all 99 forms of commodities. read more


By Jonathan Evert Rayon

Based on the World Drug Report in 2018, 31 million people worldwide suffered from drug use disorders resulting in millions enduring health risks such as hepatitis C and HIV. Drug trafficking is defined by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) as illicit trade which involves the cultivation, manufacture, distribution and sale of substances subject to drug prohibition laws, and is a prevalent issue in Southeast Asia. As discussed at the 7th ASEAN Drug Monitoring Network (ADMN) during 5th-7th March 2019, drug cases in 2018 experienced an increase, with most drug cases taking place in Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. The fact that over 90 percent of drug offences were conducted by ASEAN nationals despite serious measures taken by member countries, such as the Philippines’ war on drugs or Indonesia’s potential death penalty, emphasises the realisation of a Drug-Free ASEAN remains a challenge. read more


By Truston Jianheng YU 

Image: Merdeka Palace Changing Guard by Gunawan Kartapranata

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo recently announced plans to relocate Indonesia’s capital city to outside Java. Following Myanmar’s move from Yangon to Naypyidaw, Indonesia will be the second country in modern Southeast Asia to relocate its capital city. There are good reasons for such a decision, but there are also many implications which are worth noting.

Since the Dutch East Indies colonial period, the settlement of Batavia has been the de facto capital city. Over the generations, it has gradually evolved into the modern Jakarta as we know it. With the number of inhabitants equivalent to the next three largest cities combined, Jakarta is the primate city of Indonesia. Together with the neighboring towns and regencies including Bogor, Depok, Tangerang and Bekasi, the Greater Jakarta megalopolis, known as “Jabodetabek,” boasts a population of some 28 million, comprising ten percent of Indonesia’s total population. read more

ASEAN, EU collaboration needed to resolve palm oil dispute

Image: Palm oil mill in Sabah, Malaysia © CEphoto, Uwe Aranas

The failure  to upgrade ties between the EU and ASEAN to a new strategic dialogue partnership at the 22nd ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting was another blemish on relations between the most institutionalized regional groupings of the developed and developing world.

The outcome of the talks, however, do not come as a surprise and reflect that the EU is more concerned with upgrading relations than ASEAN. ASEAN member states, meanwhile, are using the interregional negotiations to leverage national agendas. read more

Indonesia Refugee Policy is on Right Track

Refugees from Afghanistan stage a rally in front of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ (UNHCR) office in Medan, North Sumatra, on Monday, Nov. 19, 2018. (JP/Apriadi Gunawan)

January 2019 marks two years of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s 2016 presidential decree on handling foreign refugees. The Presidential Decree no. 125/2016 on the Treatment of Refugees from Overseas, signed on Dec. 31, 2016, provides legal certainty and standard procedures on coordination and effective collaboration among the mandated government agencies.

Before this decree, the Directorate General of Immigration under the Law and Human Rights Ministry was the highest authority to exercise policy response towards asylum-seekers and refugees in Indonesia – mainly with security measures. Human rights of refugees were largely neglected, especially as they were considered largely illegal immigrants. read more

Quo Vadis: Thailand’s Taking the Chair of ASEAN, Sailing in the Troubled Waters

After one year, Singapore has led the Association to progress in ASEAN’s three pillars, the next torch of the Association is now in Thailand’s grip. Faced with relentless fights against new threats of transnational crime, terrorism, trade wars, climate change, the new chairmanship seems to give some hopes to reach out a greater partnership, reaffirming some key agendas of deepening the infrastructure and people-to-people connectivity, maintaining the rules-based order and sustainability.

“Advancing Partnership for Sustainability” has been chosen as Thailand’s new tagline for its chairmanship of ASEAN 2019. It encompasses two points: sustainability and connectivity. Along with this tagline, many observers may ponder upon what will the next chairmanship bring to the region? And how will it pull the ASEAN member states together in the midst of facing other countries’ spur of development assistance? And more importantly, how would it push the agenda to strengthen ASEAN Centrality in any regional initiatives that seem to tear apart? read more

The Challenges of Indonesia’s Palm Oil Industry: An Overview

The global debate on the sustainability and legitimacy of palm oil production is one that continues to evolve and define the industry. As Indonesia and Malaysia are the two major palm oil producing nations, there is much discussion around the issues that palm oil plantations pose in the face of environmental sustainability, the local economy, and human rights. The Indonesian debate on palm oil is an international issue that continues to affect local, national and international frameworks through negative consequences to the flora and fauna and land disputes, while also providing benefits for local economies and the development of rural Indonesia. read more

ASEAN on Disaster Management: Earthquake and Tsunami in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia

7,7 SR Earthquake and 1.5-meter-high tsunami hit Central Sulawesi, Indonesia on September 28th, 2018. The natural disaster caused various physical destructions, and fatalities; the death toll reached 1,948, and thousands may still be buried under the debris, not yet found. In response to the unfortunate disaster, The ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER) has coordinated with relevant agencies and stakeholders to organize search and rescue teams as well as humanitarian support to Indonesia. This, of course, relieves some of the burdens Indonesia now carries. read more

Modern Slavery: A Fight, Not Yet Won

Photo by Lisa Kristine (

The term slavery may sound a little bit old, but in fact, slavery still exists in this era with a new term: modern slavery. The term modern slavery is an umbrella concept, capturing various form of exploitation that affects the vulnerable workers worldwide. According to World Slavery Index, modern slavery can be defined as the condition in which a person treats others as their property, so that the person’s (slave) freedom is seized and exploited for the benefit of the person who practices slavery; people can be hired and thrown away like goods. read more

Panmunjom Agreement: The Role of ASEAN behind the Pacified Peninsula

Rafyoga Irsadanar

A new stage of peacemaking had progressed in the Korean Peninsula as Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae-in declared that there will be no more war in the region. This great momentum of peace among the President of Republic of Korea and Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea happened during 2018 Inter-Korean Summit in “Peace House” at Panmunjom on April 27th. Under the “Panmunjom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity and Unification of the Korean Peninsula”, both parties agreed to denuclearize Korean Peninsula and to conduct more talk with the United States in officially bringing Korean War to a permanent end. read more