ASC Discusses Global Discourses on Rohingya

ASEAN Studies Center UGM held the fifth meeting of Bincang ASEAN in Friday (12/5), which invitedHadza Min Fadhli Robbi, S.I.P.  (alumnus of the Department of International Relations who is currently completing a Master’s program at the Eskisehir University Osmangazi, Turkey) to share information about the geopolitical issues of the Rohingya community. Held at BC building room number 207, the discussion was initiated with the issue of global discourse and political contestation in Rohingya-Arkan, looking at the issue from the discourse of countries such as Myanmar, ASEAN, China, West and Turkey.

Hadza began by arguing that Myanmar tends to place the Rohingyas as “radical others”. It makes the Rohingyas regarded as unworthy human beings. The Rohingyas have no civil rights like any other ethnic group in Myanmar.

ASEAN as the second closest actor in this case also wants to be involved in resolving the Rohingya conflict. However, this is hampered by the sensitive norms. ASEAN is still considered lack of will and empathy. Countries in Southeast Asia mostly see the Rohingyas problem with the point of view of illegality, and not in the perspective of human rights.

“The Chinese in Rohingya’s problems tend to be pragmatic. As a country that has a giant corporate partnership, China sees the Rohingyas as a poison that hinders growth for Asean as well as China, ” said Hadza. In the similar vein Western countries such as America, England, Australia who sees the conflict Rohingya from the liberal norms of democracy. Western countries wish to protect both Rohingya and the government of Myanmar.

Turkey, in this case, hold a different approach based upon historical connections. Both Myanmar and Turkey had a good relations in the past. The Turkish government with its state-centered approach is very cautious in helping to resolve the sensitive conflicts of Rohingyas. Various aids, such as refugee and logistics tents, have been distributed to the conflict area. In an effort to support Rohingya, Turkey also often broadcast the Rohingya conflict on Turkish cooperation media. (/in)

ASC Welcomed Professor Anders Uhlin from Lund University

On Monday (6/5), ASEAN Studies Center received a visit of Professor Anders Uhlin from Lund University, Sweden. He visited our institution in conjunction with his agenda to be a speaker for the academic roundtable discussion, in which he had the opportunity to present his book entitled “Civil Society and Regional Governance”, taking place in the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences Universitas Gadjah Mada.

Welcomed by our Director Dr. Dafri Agussalim and staffs, Professor Anders Uhlin was glad to have the opportunity discussing about the current condition of how civil society involves in the making and changing of regional governance. He underlined that whether regional institution is challenged or not, civil society should remain at the center of regional governance. Coming up with the idea of “legitimization” and “de-legitimization”, he perceived that the legitimation of global or regional institution is in general coming from civil society. Therefore, studying regional governance and institutionalization is inconceivable without considering civil society at the core.

Book Review: ASEAN in 2017, Regional Integration in an Age of Uncertainty

Studying ASEAN as a region, its policy, relations among member countries, and geopolitical situations has attracted many scholars to inscribe their ideas and analysis. ASEAN in 2017: Regional Integration in an Age of Uncertainty, an outstanding monograph recently published by ASEAN Studies Center Faculty of Social and Political Sciences Universitas Gadjah Mada is one of them.

This monograph offers numerous important points about uneven regional development, which I shall address in this part. One of the example is trade regime, which serves as the core of ASEAN economic integration. Since the beginning, I strongly believe that a trade agreement is a political alliance. Either it is bilateral or multilateral to see ASEAN trade agreement as a product of political negotiation, which represents national interest remains important. In these circumstances, we know that ASEAN+6 (Australia, New Zealand, India, Republic of Korea, Japan, and China) has on-going negotiations on RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) at hands. The RCEP already failed twice to meet its deadline, which is due to the end of this year.

Dr Jeffrey Wilson once noted on his paper then at his public lecture (21 March 2017) that RCEP is like a ‘noodle bowl problems’. Unlike TPP, RCEP has standard issues on environment, labour workers, intellectual properties, etc. However, Shane Preuss offers clear ideas about how to deal with, for example, the labour workers issue. Even if the sending labour states made a consensus with the receiving labour states, the government (with or without aid from NGOs) must promote it in the most efficient and effective mechanisms. It nevertheless would be a good starting point if each nation fully aware about what their most potential resource and start cooperating from that aspect. Once they realize what it is, then give the most attention on it.

I shall start with lessons from European Union on work labour. Would it work in ASEAN? Consider, for example, cultural different between both entities. The European society already passed a long journey from functional cooperation, which I doubt would go immediately in Southeast region. However, the author already put some attention that we could not just apply the exact policy in ASEAN and yet the EU’s experience would still beneficial for us to learn.

What I shall disagree with the arguments made in the book is that if the only things we should do is to provoke socio-cultural purpose with people-oriented and people-centred approaches. In the age of anthropocentrism, I argue that we should not pay attention with merely human-made problems, but also in a wider environmental perspective. We should lead ASEAN to put more attention on environmental issues, rather than merely focusing on ‘people-oriented’ and ‘people-centred’ ASEAN.

Paul J. Crutzen, an atmospheric chemist, is the person who popularise the ‘Anthropocene’ term. In 2000, Crutzen stated that anthropogenic activity (every human behaviour) in 21st century affects the atmosphere. It could be related to recent condition as the time when anthropogenic activity has a significant effect to the ecosystem. Probably, it started since the 18th century, right after the Industrial Revolution.

Consider, for example, haze issues in the region. Remember when the peatland in Borneo (Kalimantan) and Sumatra were burned down because the El Ninocyclic in 2015. Neighbour states such as Singapore, Brunei, and Malaysia spoke up to press the government to take a quick and efficient action. However, environmental problems have its own characteristics. It needs integration and commitment from every nation in the region, since the excess will affects not only one country, but also the whole region. The effect was devastating. If you would not to inhale smoky air in the morning, you have to track where the fresh air is coming.

There is a real-time satellite imageries from Global Forest Watch about the burning events, actually when its peak on 14 October and its downfall on 14 December 2015. That is a reason why Carbon-tax regulation is important and we need to struggle for this from now on.

Carbon dioxide gas was produced naturally in three ways. First, from volcanic mountains both on earth surface and on deep below ocean. Second, as the result of deep ocean organism metabolic process, which would float to the sea surface in summer. Third, from fossil fuel or coal burning from anthropogenic activity (economic activity).

We could not (or less) doing anything to control carbon dioxide gas from the first and second producers. Yet, we absolutely could do something to produce less carbon dioxide gas from our activity, and carbon-tax regulation could be a solution to the problem.

Carbon-tax regulation is a set of rules to control the price of carbon dioxide emission (as a fee) produced from a certain party. Private corporations and state-owned corporations, especially in industrial and transportation, every goods from export-import activities, also every Indonesia citizen needs to be taxed. Precisely, with different charge. The regulation would give most impact to the export-import trade. Goods could not be imported from a country that does not apply the regulation unless they pay a high tariff or they could apply the same regulation in their own country to pass the goods.

However, the addition fee would raise up the price of goods or service. However, the good news is, money from the tax would be shared (as a dividend) to every citizen on the same amount. Everyone would receive it in a certain period and does not depend to one’s carbon dioxide emission produced. The government, along with every state-owned enterprises does not receive any rupiah of it. Generally, the people would be helped in transition from fossil fuel and coal dependence.

The RCEP negotiations include reducing export-import tariff, which could means a good thing since it would increase corporations and factories to produce more goods, and stimulating economic growth. We should also consider the contribution of increased economic growth to environment. More goods produced (with recent technologies) means more waste produced too, if we still use fossil fuel or coal as two main energy sources.

I do not say that the government needs to ban all economic activity that includes fossil fuel or coal as the energy sources, since the effect would be economically damaging. However, we should start to consider not just our future, but our next generations too. Would they live in a world when they have to fighting with others just to drink a glass of water? An age when they have to wear a gas mask all the time because the contaminated air to be inhaled?

Implementing the regulation should be accompanied with more research on renewable energy sources, and in the same time, we could raise campaign to using less plastic and using more eco-friendly stuff in our daily life. We have to raise environmental awareness not just in Indonesia, but also in the whole region. This is the problem that we should work together to solve.

Here I am not arguing that socio-cultural purpose with people-oriented and people-centred approaches is unnecessary. Nevertheless, I shall say that it is not the only important thing to be consider of. If we pursue a premise ‘to fulfil basic rights’ in the last article by Ahmad Umar with a more philosophical thought, I wonder if we could achieve it in the near future. If one could not get what he or she needs, would it be ASEAN member-states’ duty to provide it for the people?

Viny Alfiyah is an Undergraduate Student at Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, Universitas Gadjah Mada


Bincang ASEAN: ASEAN in 2017, Regional Integration in an Age of Uncertainty

Earlier this year, four researchers from ASEAN Studies Center, Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, Universitas Gadjah Mada, namely Ahmad Rizky M. Umar, Dedi Dinarto, Dio Herdiawan Tobing, and Shane Preuss have offered policy recommendations for ASEAN in a brief monograph entitled “ASEAN in 2017: Regional Integration in an Age of Uncertainty.”

The fourth Bincang ASEAN put effort to disseminate the monograph. Generally, the publication informs readers on how ASEAN should react towards geopolitical crisis. This discussion was a response on the failure of ASEAN to overcome the regional issues.

Three topics were discussed. Firstly, Dinarto reviewed the political issue on how Rodrigo Duterte dealt with maritime security and overcome the on-going crisis in South China Sea. He found out that Duterte remains unclear on how he will pursue maritime security, despite Duterte’s attention in maritime domain.

Regarding to this stance, Dinarto offered three recommendation: 1) ASEAN under Philippines should engage more with China, 2) ASEAN should be adaptive and fluid; and 3) ASEAN should reconsider its core principles and values.

The second issue was economic. Preuss discussed how ASEAN has fallen short to overcome low-skilled labour migration referred to Thailand – Cambodia Momerandum of Understanding (MoU).

As the solution, Preuss outlined the following recommendations: 1) identify sectors and industries with labour shortfalls; 2) develop and integrated regional framework for ensuring affordable and safe migration; 3) lower the costs of sending remittances by improving low-skilled worker access to financial institutions in their host state; and 4) facilitate integration policies for temporary low-skilled migrants.

The third was socio-cultural issue. Discussing the issue of refugee diplomacy, Tobing argued that the current state-centric approach has failed to solve Rohingya. Therefore, he proposed several recommendations under socio-cultural banner: 1) make use of ASEAN’s strategic measure to reduce barriers in multicultural community; 2) promoting multi-stake holders and community-based approaches; and 3) ASEAN must keep on engaging with Myanmar through its members.

Another serious part that still lagged far behind was social integration. Umar reviewed the social purpose of ASEAN regarding two key principles of ASEAN regional integration: “people oriented” and “people-centred”. If only this principle had been applied, ASEAN would have face a bright future. “It is not too late to start. Acknowledging and embracing the difference is the most important thing,” he ensured.

New Visiting Research Fellow at ASEAN Studies Center

We welcome our New Visiting Fellow, Mr Suraj Shah from International Development Institute, King’s College London. Mr Shah will be working on his Dissertation research, which will discuss “The Political Economy of Trade Liberalisation and Industrial Strategy in ASEAN”. His research is very timely with the upcoming negotiations related to Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in ASEAN, which will face its deadline this year.

In addition to completing his research, Mr Shah will also involve in various academic activities at ASEAN Studies Center. He will be scheduled to present some of his research findings, as well as to contribute a Working Paper to ASEAN Studies Center.

Mr Suraj Shah completes his BA (Hons) in History from Royal Holloway, University of London and is now undertaking MSc in Politics in Emerging Market Economies at King’s College London. His work is supervised by Dr Andy Sumner, a leading expert on Indonesian and Southeast Asian Studies at the United Kingdom and Co-Director of King’s International Development Institute.

ASC Researchers Partake in Roundtable Discussion with U.S. Embassy and National War College


Today (07/4), two ASEAN Studies Center’s Researchers, Dedi Dinarto and Dio Herdiawan Tobing took part in Roundtable discussion with delegates from the U.S. Embassy and National War College. The meeting aimed to overview the development of current Indonesia’s foreign policy and its impact towards the South China Sea, contemporary issues in Indonesia’s domestic politics, and the rise of religious extremism and political Islam in Indonesia.

The meeting was opened by debating whether U.S. loses its hegemonic control over the world or other hegemonic powers are rising to shape a new global order. Dr. Nur Rachmat Yuliantoro, Head of the Department of International Relations UGM stated that, “The U.S. remains as the world’s hegemony and not losing its influence. However, it should be noted that more countries like China, Russia, India, Indonesia, and Brazil are rising in terms of economy and military.”

Afterwards, the Head of Office of International Affairs UGM, I Made Andi Arsana, Ph.D, explored the international law approaches towards the South China Sea dispute. He argued that it is very difficult for the international community to find solution towards this issue when China rebels towards UNCLOS. For him, an alternative method to understand China’s logic is necessary to engage with them.

The session was then followed by discussing Indonesia’s foreign policy to the South China Sea dispute. Dio Herdiawan Tobing, ASC’s Research Manager addressed, “It is a very difficult moment for Indonesia because ASEAN is still the cornerstone of Indonesia’s foreign policy, and yet the regional organization could not produce any solution for the South China Sea issue”. For him, the fragmentation of ASEAN’s member states’ stance and consensus-building preference in the decision-making process led to stagnation, not only in the case of South China Sea but also in other cases such as the Rohingya.

Commander Timothy Barelli, U.S. Coast Guard and student at the National War College responded, “Then what is Indonesia’s practical solution in time of ASEAN’s stagnation?”

Dio argued further, “It seems like Indonesia prefers more on bilateralism and is moving away from ASEAN. It can be seen from the establishment of a new directorate for Southeast Asian affairs in Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry while it already has Directorate-General for ASEAN Cooperation.”

ASC’s Researcher, Dedi Dinarto, expressed then, “It seems that Indonesia plays a kind of hedging-style diplomacy, where it did not pose any active role in ASEAN, but remains to consider ASEAN as important for its foreign policy.” He argued that Indonesia lacks initiative after the failure of joint communique on the case of South China Sea in ASEAN Summit 2016 hosted by Lao PDR. In contrast, back to the foremost failure of ASEAN Summit in Cambodia, former Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa conducted a shuttle diplomacy to ensure extra-institutional approach working on the South China Sea crisis. In the era of President Joko Widodo, his foreign policy approach is much more pragmatic, rather than seeking more either in bilateral or multilateral engagement. If certain political or security issues will exacerbate the stability of Indonesian national sovereignty, thus it is unlikely to be discussed and prioritized.

Lastly, the discussion was closed by handing over the souvenirs from the representatives of U.S. embassy, Mr. Taylor Fincher and National War College, Dr. Bradley McAllister and Ambassador Piper Campbell to Dr. Paripurna P. Sugarda, LL.M, UGM’s Vice Rector of Cooperation and Alumni.

ASC Researcher Joins Worldwide Debate on IORA and ASEAN

Our Researcher Dedi Dinarto engaged in a debate on whether Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) will undermine ASEAN centrality in Indonesia’s foreign policy.

Earlier this month, Dedi published an article at The Diplomat which discuss whether Indonesia shifts its foreign policy focus towards IORA rather than maintaining ASEAN Centrality. He argues that Indonesia’s active participation in organising IORA should not put aside ASEAN in foreign policy, since it could undermine regional environment.

Dedi’s article was written as a response from an idea brought by Ibrahim Almuttaqi, the Head of ASEAN Studies Programme at The Habibie Center. He previously wrote at The Jakarta Post that IORA is Indonesia’s initiative to fill the ‘vacuum of governance’ in the Indian Ocean as a part of Jakarta’s new foreign policy under Jokowi.

Dedi’s responses to Ibrahim’s article was responded by two separate articles from David Willis, a PhD Candidate at Flinders University, Australia, and Ibrahim Almuttaqi himself. Responding to Dedi’s argument, David wrote at the Diplomat that Indonesia is neither shifting from ASEAN nor filling the “vacuum of governance” in IORA, but rather promote a form of pragmatic bilateralism.

Ibrahim sets in a rejoinder at the Jakarta Post by noting that “ASEAN is still the cornerstone of Indonesia’s foreign policy”,

Dedi presented his article at bi-weekly Bincang ASEAN at ASEAN Studies Center UGM in Friday (31/3). At the forum, several ASC colleagues raised some questions and comments over Dedi’s arguments over IORA and ASEAN.

Dio H. Tobing, ASC Research Manager, commented that whilst Jakarta seems to promote IORA in a global level, the Association still lacks institutional basis as a global governance institution. In the same vein, Ahmad Rizky M. Umar (ASC Executive Secretary) also mentioned that Indonesia’s foreign policy should also be seen as driven by larger geopolitical contestation rather than merely a product of decision-maker’s choice.

ASEAN Studies Center Holds Research Workshop

On Friday (31/3), ASEAN Studies Center (ASC) Faculty of Social and Political Sciences Universitas Gadjah Mada had successfully organized our first research workshop at Jogjakarta Plaza Hotel. The workshop aims to provide space for coordination and discussion between our researchers, who are going to conduct their research project starting on April 2017. Our Director Dafri Agussalim commenced the forum by congratulating all of the researchers who have acquired research grants from various providers, such as Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, SHAPE-SEA, Raoul Wallenberg Institute, and Australia-Indonesia Centre.

Afterwards, our Executive Secretary Ahmad Rizky Mardhatillah Umar provided general rules to help around eight research team. He suggested each team member to prepare timetable and field research schedule for coordination purpose. He also highlighted some important dates when each research team needs to submit their progress report and financial report. Through this mechanism, he wishes that each research team would be able to conduct their research in accordance to the schedule. Moreover, they should commit to provide research output at the end of research project, in which ASC strongly encourage them to produce journal article, policy brief, and working paper.

The session was then followed by each team disseminating their research progress for comments and suggestions among research members. Umar also added information that ASC will host three visiting scholars who will be our collaborative research partner, namely Dr. Avery Poole from University of Melbourne, Australia, Assoc. Prof. Mohamed Battour from Tanta University, Egypt, and Prof. Ronald Holzhacker from University of Groningen, Netherlands. Next, we also invite each researcher to sign a contract as a commitment to participating in the whole process of research project.

Lastly, Rahayu—one of our researchers from Department of Communication Universitas Gadjah Mada—proposed that this remarkable development of ASC’s research project should be followed by creating a kind of ‘data management center’, of which all of the data collected from fieldwork research are archived and accessible to all of our researchers. This initiative will be very helpful for our researchers to produce various academic works from the available data. Our Director welcomes this noteworthy suggestion for the future development of ASEAN Studies Center.

New ASC Book: “ASEAN In 2017: Regional Integration in an Age Of Uncertainty”

ASEAN Studies Center UGM is pleased to launch a new book that covers a regional outlook in 2017. Co-authored by four ASEAN Studies Center’s researchers, this book highlights three key issues in ASEAN regional integration and the policy prospects for integration beyond 2017.

In political and security issue, Dedi Dinarto argues that Duterte’s presidency in Phillippines, who will hold ASEAN Chairmanship, is pivotal in managing US-Sino rivalry in the region. This is particularly in case with growing tension in the South China Sea.

In economic issue, Shane Preuss suggests that low-skilled labour migration is likely to deepen uneven economic development in the region, in which ASEAN needs to respond.

In social and cultural issue, Dio H. Tobing highlights the unresolved conflict in Rohingya, which has been a regional issue since 2015. Without strong regional solution from ASEAN and engagement with Myanmar’s new administration, the issue will bring further problems for regional social and cultural environment.

Ahmad Rizky M. Umar finally underscores the need for ASEAN to promote social integration instead of merely focusing on political and economic integration, given the state of ASEAN in 2017.

All authors strongly recommends Indonesia’s foreign policy to hold strong leadership in ASEAN.
ASEAN in 2017: Regional Integration in an Age of Uncertainty can be downloaded here

Pengumuman Seleksi Wawancara AYIEP 2017

Yth. Kepada seluruh peserta seleksi Panitia AYIEP 2017,

Setelah melalui proses seleksi yang panjang dan dengan kompetisi yang tinggi, kami mengumumkan hasil seleksi wawancara panitia ASEAN Youth Initiative Empowerment Program 2017, sebagai berikut:


1 V. Y. Seto Damar
2 Hasya Nindita
3 Galuh Octania Permatasari
4 Fadilah Rahma NR
5 Rostya Septiana Putri
6 Heidy Melia Nefertiti
7 Anang Wahid Efendi
8 Alifiandi Rahman Yusuf
9 Patricia Martina Tobing
10 Dzikrullah Umam


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