Bincang ASEAN – ReaLISM #1 | Reading, Learning, and Investigating Southeast Asia through Movies

On Wednesday, 29th September 2021, ASEAN Studies Center Universitas Gadjah Mada held a Bincang ASEAN – ReaLISM #1 “Reading, Learning, and Investigating Southeast Asia through Movies.” In this Bincang ASEAN, ASC UGM hosts a screening of Southeast Asia-related documentaries with Muhammad Ammar Hidayahtulloh, M.Dev.Prac. as the discussion moderator. In the discussion, it is reviewing a documentary movie titled “Standing On The Edge of The Thorn”.

The discussion has invited Dr. Robert Lemelson, Ph.D., an anthropologist and documentary filmmaker of the movie, Indiana Puspa Dewi, S.S., MA, a Ph.D. Candidate in Linguistic Anthropology at School of Languages and Cultures University of Queensland, and Ninik Supartini, M.Si Developmental Psychologist and Gender Researcher at Robert Lemelson Foundation.

“Standing on the Edge of a Thorn” is an intimate portrait of a family in rural Indonesia grappling with poverty, mental illness, and participation in the sex trade. The movie has succeeded in portraying how gender violence issues happened. During the discussion, Dr. Robert Lemelson, Ph. D has highlighted that this movie has brought up the issue of gender violence, which was previously considered a taboo subject to be discussed by the public. Even though the problem is happening a lot and affects the psychology of other family members, it is still considered taboo to bring up this issue. Ninik Supartini, M. Si. has also stated her efforts to approach people to recognize gender violence. According to her, gender violence is a structural issue and requires a prolonged approach to resolve it. Indiana Puspa Dewi, S.S., MA, a Ph.D., has also stated the importance of maximizing the village’s cultural background and situation to handle cases of gender violence in the community. The discussion also became more interesting with the Q&A session with participants of this movie screening.

The discussion wrapped up with the importance of being brave to speak up about gender violence issues happening in the community. Other than that, it is also highlighted that cultural resources play a critical role in empowering women.

Report by Citta Azarine A
(Media Intern at ASC UGM)

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Webinar Center for Southeast Asian Studies | Economic Integration in ASEAN and East Asia: Trends and Prospects post Covid-19

The international webinar titled Economic Integration in ASEAN and East Asia: Trends and Prospects post Covid-19” commenced on Thursday, 23 September 2021, and was arranged by the Center for Southeast Asian Studies (CSEAS). The webinar invited six speakers from several backgrounds and expertise to discuss economic trends and prospects of economic integration in ASEAN and in East Asia. The webinar also covered the progress of Green Economy and Regional Digital Economic post-Covid-19. The webinar was opened by the opening remarks from Steve Chen (Taipei Economic and Trade Office) and moderated by Arisman from CSEAS. The ASEAN Studies Center was invited to join the discussion, represented by Tunggul Wicaksono (Research Manager, ASC UGM).

The first speaker, Dr Aladdin Rillo (Senior Economic Advisor, Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia), presented supply chain resilience to support the connectivity trade among states. The resilience itself is being emerged by the unique characteristics such as; mostly private sector endeavours, diverse production sources, and coordination of interested parties. The findings show that the pandemic so far did not disrupt the production flow in the East Asia region. Bigger private sector dynamism, in which companies in the region can perform well and achieve a positive outlook. Moreover, the utilization of digital technology is very helpful to mitigate the harmful impacts of the pandemic. There are ways forward to enhance and sustain the supply chain in the longer term; work together with the private sector to identify the origin of supply and alternative sources, scaling-up digital acceleration to strengthen the circularity of the supply chain, and build stronger supply networks to enhance the sustainability and efficiency in production.

The second speaker, Dr Amalia Adininggar Widyasanti (Deputy Minister for Economic Affairs, Ministry of National Development Planning/Bappenas, Republic of Indonesia), explained the recovery gap resulting from Covid-19 on global integration affecting global value chains in the region. Dr Amalia also mentioned the ASEAN’s role in supporting the trade flow. In this sense, the role of labor market policy is essential to be the key driver of technological progress and productivity growth. East Asia is one of the most significant import sources for ASEAN, and ASEAN itself is the top three exporters in Asia. There are opportunities to enhance the collaboration between two regions related to the manufacturing sector, labor-intensive industry, and technology.

The third speaker, Dr Jayant Menon (ISEAS Yusof Ishak Singapore), addressed the impact and adjustment of ASEAN’s economic impact and how to adjust to the new normal related to digital disruption and divergent demographics. The pandemic, in a way, reinforcing the trends that are undermining globalization in the form of nationalism sentiment and protectionism (sometimes referred to as rebalancing, reshoring, resilience). The geopolitical issues involved need to be addressed by the implementation of regional agreements such as AEC, RCEP, and CPTPP. The presentation concluded with the proposal to overcome the issues by starting planning to open borders, improving the digital economy that may increase inclusivity, and enhancing trade liberalization through the regional arrangement.

The fourth speaker, Prof Raldi Hendro Koestoer from Coordinating Ministry of Economic Affairs, Republic of Indonesia, presented circular economy in Indonesia. Online-based services are supporting the path to economic recovery in Indonesia. He concluded that the government must provide a secure guideline in financial regulation to support the strategic initiative.

The fifth speaker, Dr Roy Chun Lee (Associate Research Fellow, Director, The Economic Law Research Center, Taiwan), presented the topic of economic rivalry in the global supply chain and regional integration. The world in 2021 is challenged by multiple key dimensions of change, including the elevating relationship, reconfiguration of the supply chain, green security, and uncertainty of supply chain reform among the states. Moreover, deep integration issues include human capacity, STEM capacity, cross-border finance, and digital transformation.

The last speaker, Dr Cyn-Young Park (Director of Regional Cooperation and Integration Division Economic Research and Regional Cooperation Department, Asian Development Bank), presented Asia’s financial integration that is in the downturn during the pandemic even though over the past few decades, there has been a gradual increase in regional cooperation. Concerning trade, supply chain, and investment for post-Covid-19, there is momentum in implementing non-tariff measures while at the same time limiting the trade barriers. Another way is to embrace the evolution of digital trade, which is comprised of online support and e-commerce. Therefore, there is an urgency to enhance the affordability and access of ICT, improve logistics and delivery infrastructure, intensify the regional effort in regulation, broaden the e-payment availability, and institute legal and regulatory reforms.

To sum up the discussion, there is a possibility for ASEAN to address the issue of sustainability by ASEAN Economic Community framework. On a larger scale, Asia’s regional integration will continue to deepen with varying dimensions in the subregions. Even though Covid-19 threatens to reverse progress attained by open trade, investment, and mobility, digitalization can help recover and reconnect the cooperation among states.

Chile-ASEAN Future Perspectives Dialogues

“The Chile-ASEAN Future Perspectives Dialogues” carrying the theme of theme “Socio-Cultural Identity and Community Building: Experience for Better Integration” was held on Tuesday, 7 September 2021. The Dialogue was coordinated by the Embassy of Chile and invited the ASEAN Studies Center UGM along with the Centre for International Studies of the University of Chile, and the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA).

This Dialogue commenced with opening remarks from Carolina Valdivia, Under Secretary of Foreign Affairs of Chile, Jorge Sahd, Director of the Center for International Studies of the University of Chile, and Gustavo Ayares, the Ambassador of Chile to Indonesia an ASEAN. All three speakers emphasized the importance of strengthening collaboration and cooperation between Chile and ASEAN to formulate new perspectives and collaborative plans among the two regions.

The discussion was moderated by Ambassador Gustavo Ayares and invited Nicole Jenne, Center of International Studies at UC, Guilia Ajmone Marsa, ERIA and Dr Riza Noer Arfani, ASEAN Studies Center UGM. The speakers highlighted several key messages including, ways acknowledging the socio-cultural ties shared by both regions and the developments which have stemmed from our shared history, the importance of community engagement, and economy as an entry point towards greater and tighter cooperation. Dr Riza highlighted the historical trajectories to achieve a foundation for community building between America Latin and ASEAN.

The Dialogue also discussed several priority areas of cooperation including digital development, economic perspectives, socio-cultural ties, connectivity, and future initiatives for ASEAN-Chile Integration. Further, the discussion underscored the importance of working together and continuous efforts to form a meaningful engagement between Chile and ASEAN member states. It is hoped that cooperation from these various sectors can create a mutually beneficial relationship for both regions.

Report by:
– Citta Azarine Azhar
– Munawar Wahid S
(Media Interns at ASC UGM)

Roundtable Discussion on ASEAN Women and Children Protection through Civil Society and Academic Participation

To continue the Public Lectures which was held on Monday, 30 August 2021 on ASEAN Women and Children Protection through Civil Society and Academic Participation, the ASEAN Studies Center at Universitas Gadjah Mada invited groups of academia and think-tanks and CSOs working in the field of child protection and women empowerment on Tuesday, 31 August 2021. These entities came together for a roundtable discussion to discuss the common challenges in realising the protection of women in the national and regional level, whether already established networks were available, issues that have the ACWC yet to cover and in what ways the academia as well as CSOs could support this effort.

This Roundtable Discussion was held to build a stronger engagement between the ACWC, CSOs as well as the academia and was briefly opened by Ms. Yuyum Fhahni Paryani as the lead moderator. Participants of the discussion were then divided into three panels. The first panel delved into the topic of the CSO (Women) Support to the Work of the ACWC which was facilitated by Ms. Vicky Barreto, a Development Specialist. The second panel discussed CSO (Children) Support to the Work of the ACWC the discussion of which was facilitated by Mr. Hafizh Noer, an Associate Fellow at Policy Lab. The last panel was facilitated by Mr. Tunggul Wicaksono, Research Manager at ASEAN Studies Center at Universitas Gadjah Mada discussing the topic of Think-tank and Academia Support to the Work of the ACWC.

Having discussed in separate groups, participants regathered for a Townhall discussion to share the output of each group. A discussant of the Session, H.E. Wan Noraidah binti Wan Mohd Zain, Director of Children Division at the Department of Social Welfare in Malaysia, noted the high interest for continued engagement to take place, the need to stablish an overview on areas of expertise among CSOs and Think Tank in women and child issues to further discuss possible methods of collaboration.

The roundtable discussion was convened to help map and overcome the current challenges of the ACWC, amid the pandemic and increasing priorities of the ACWC in implementing their work plan. The importance of working together was also noted by the meeting. In order to achieve this, the support from ASEAN Member States was noted as imminent.

The roundtable discussion convened at 13.00 and ended at 16.45.

Public Lecture on ASEAN Women and Children Protection through Civil Society and Academic Participation

The ASEAN Studies Center of Universitas Gadjah Mada, with the sipport of the Netherlands Embassy in Jakarta has conducted a series of discussions regarding the ASEAN Commission on the Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) to map possible engagement efforts with the aim of strengthening the promotion and protection of women and children in the region. The series of discussions have commenced since October 2020 following the commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the ACWC.

On Monday, 30 August 2021 a Public Lecture titled “ASEAN Women and Children Protection through Civil Society and Academic Participation” was held to further map potential roles that CSOs and think tanks can play to further advocate for the of women and children. The Lecture was officially opened by the opening remarks from Dr. Dafri Agussalim as the Executive Director of ASEAN Studies Center UGM, and H.E. Amb. Lambert Grijns as the Ambassador of the Kingdom of The Netherlands to Indonesia, Timor-Leste, and ASEAN.

This Public Lecture was attended by approximately 60 participants from across ASEAN members. Moderated by Ms. Yuyum Fhahni Paryani, former Indonesian Representative for the ACWC on Children’s Rights, the discussion invited four panelists namely Dato Paduka Dr Haji Junaidi bin Haji Abd. Rahman as the ACWC Chair and Brunei Darussalam’s Representative for Children’s Rights, Ms. Yanti Kusumawardhani, Indonesia’s Representative to the ACWC for Children’s Rights, Ms. Santi Kusumaningrum, Director of PUSKAPA – Center on Child Protection and Wellbeing at the University of Indonesia, and Ms. Rachel Tan, as Program Officer and focal point for the Women Gender and Diversity Working Group of the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network (APRRN).

The discussion highlighted a number of issues including the role of CSOs and the academic community which is to support the State in undertaking the obligation as duty bearer in fulfilling the rights of Children, to contribute to CRC Alternative Report CRC in order to support the government efforts on implementing CRC including ensuring child participation, to undertake research on the situation and well-being of women and children, and contribute on implementing Concluding Observation of CRC beneficial as foundation works on measures to child rights realizations.

The academic community can also come together by directing the government towards three main areas of support for women and children: social protection, family support and specialized protection. These points are to be included in policy briefs/suggestions to inform policy makers of an added layer of vulnerability and risk experienced by children due to miscalculated policies.

The importance of participatory approaches was also highlighted during the discussion, especially on issues concerning refugee women and children. The ACWC can play a strategic role in engaging and consolidating the many different fronts and actors to prevent miscalculated policies from being found.

The discussion also invited discussants, namely H.E. Yuyun Wahyuningrum, the Representative of Indonesia to AICHR, Mr. Ali Aulia Ramly, Child Protection Specialist of UNICEF Indonesia, and Ms. Audrey Lee, Senior Program Manager at International Women’s Right Action Watch Asia-Pacific (IWRAW-AP).

The discussion was closed by Ms. Yuyum Fhani Paryani as the moderator with a summary of the discussion which was carried out.

Network on ASEAN-China Think Tanks (NACT) Annual Meeting 2021

The 2021 NACT Annual Meeting, which also marks the 30th anniversary of the ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations, was held on March 19, 2021. In his opening remarks, President of China Foreign Affairs University (CFAU), Xu Jian, stated that in times of difficulties where the COVID-19 pandemic challenges multilateralism, it is the region’s ultimate fight to curb the virus’s spread while at the same time strengthen the commitment in regional partnership in coping with the adverse impacts on the social and economic sector.

On a similar note, Dr. Nguyen Hung Son, the Vice President of Diplomatic Academy of Viet Nam (DAV), acknowledged that the forum could be a platform to discuss and comprehend each view on the Southeast Asia region’s development. On this occasion, the panel is expected to promote good relationships and bring prosperity to the parties. As an essential dialogue partner, a substantive partnership among NACT members is needed in order to construct ideal regional architecture. In regards to current challenges, the foundation of the cooperation must be based on responsibility and responsiveness.

The moderated discussion was attended by nine keynote speakers from each of NACT members and was parted into two panels; (1) Economy and Sustainable Development in ASEAN – China Relations, moderated by Dr. To Minh Tu (DAV), and (2) Economy and Sustainable Development in ASEAN – China Relations, moderated by Prof. Guo Yanjun (CFAU). NACT Indonesia was represented by Mrs. Yulida Nuraini Santoso (Managing Director of ASEAN Studies Center, Universitas Gadjah Mada) with a research paper titled “Achieving Sustainable Development Goals by 2030: Reducing the Gap of Inequality through ASEAN-China Trade Relations.” In her statement, Mrs. Yulida proposed ways forward in eradicating inequality, such as strengthening the partnership between China and ASEAN, which is based on mutual benefits and exchanging innovation among international organizations.

The meeting was concluded with a hope to enhance mutual trust and understanding between China and ASEAN member states, as well as exchanging knowledge and perspective to ensure stability, resilience, and development in the region.

The Unnerving Act East Policy and the Uninterested ASEAN

By Habibah Hasnah Hermanadi, M.A (Photo: thailand-business-news.com)

India has been “acting east” for quite a while now but how does the East respond? Well, if the East in this context can be represented by Southeast Asia then not much. The annual State of Southeast Asia 2021 report that was recently published by the ASEAN Study Centre captured the degree of distrust ASEAN and Southeast Asian countries have toward India. Where we can see how India stood up among other influential foreign powerhouses. Southeast Asia warmed up to Japan and European Union. In the past, the countries distanced itself from the United States under President Donald Trump, but that view is currently changing presumably affected by the newly inaugurated President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris marking new beginnings and democratic hope. However, India’s persistence in making a more significant presence had been viewed more cautiously with 50.8% proclaiming of no confidence and less than 19% of confidence. It had slightly decreased from 53.5% in 2020. However, the number had increased quite drastically in the last couple of years considering it used to be around 45.6% in 2019.

Whither India in Southeast Asia? 

The report highlighted there was greater distrust Southeast Asian countries have for China. Nonetheless, there was not much momentum gained by India in the face of such change. Prior to this, India claimed to be willing and able to take this leadership role when it comes to ASEAN, but as it was reflected in the status quo it does not seem to go to that direction. With that being said, India is still an outsider. State-wise in the context of foreign policies this is rather expected. Factually, the relation is considerably at its fetal state if it is compared to Japan’s affluence in the Southeast region.

Why the distrust? While the survey emphasized the question of whether India will do “the right thing” this does not reflect well on ASEAN. India should evaluate their strategy, perhaps this idea of rekindling kinship and including India in the Southeast Asian affairs are not going as they intended to be. With a lack of foreign policy maneuvers that are catered to the socioeconomic-cultural and values that are centering Southeast Asia. New Delhi’s pragmatism might not work for this case. The distance remained, India should not be using the same strategy as they do in South Asia as it is in Southeast Asia.

Time for New Delhi’s Softer’ Side

For so long, New Delhi does not shy away from various military and security-related agreements in Southeast Asia. In Myanmar this commitment is visible, India agreed to supply arms and equipment needs for joint border patrol in addition to Indian warships that make regular calls at Myanmar’s ports. Recently at the India-Vietnam Summit, the two signed seven agreements in areas as diverse as defense, petrochemicals, renewable and nuclear energy furthering their agreement for cooperation between their defense industries in a total of 600 million USD. In another case, the Philippines expressed their deepening interest in attaining the first India-Russia Cruise missile or BrahMos supersonic cruise missile, the purchase is deeply motivated by their concern of China active movement in the South China Sea. In Indonesia, the continuation of India-Indonesia Coordinated Patrol (IND-INDO CORPAT) remains vital to India’s SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region) vision that heavily maritime reliant.

Comparing India’s determination within the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or the Quad, a forum that is manifested out of security purposes, is not alike with engaging with ASEAN or Southeast Asia. All Quad members willingly bridge their interest through a common security objective that is to balance the ever-growing presence of China. India cannot enter ASEAN through the same means. If Indo-Pacific is still relevant until today, then diversify the strategy in approaching each member state and speak the language of its community. For all they know the majority of ASEAN countries declared the concept of Indo-Pacific to be unclear and still need further elaboration. The distance pertained due to the inability to translate the ASEAN way that is heavy on values and political characteristics. This went beyond mere speaking the political language among the states but also comprehend the socio-cultural response ASEAN member countries have in viewing external actors. Not until India had successfully submerged into one of its inner-circle in Southeast Asia that sense of foreignness will remain.

However, it does not mean New Delhi has not tried to use its soft power capacity in exercising its foreign policy. It was only 2018 when Narendra Modi established the ASEAN-India Research Training Fellowship that is intended to reach out to Southeast Asia through research and development in technology and science in India’s top technological Institutions. Perception management is pertinent in this matter to diminish the distance and gradually gaining a more meritorious spot in the heart of the ASEAN countries.

In this Economy?

The report also covered how China remained a strong economic influence in Southeast Asia. Furthermore, Beijing continuously disregards New Delhi’s attempts of closing in the region. Firstly through dismissing Indo-Pacific completely in various forums and secondly by proclaiming this diplomatic reach as a futile effort. The effort might not be futile as it was framed by China, but at the same time not as fruitful. When India’s foreign policy paradigm shifted from looking to acting, this also implied a degree of engagement, something that is translated rather too simplistic by New Delhi. New Delhi branded itself as a benign and responsible rising power in comparison to the expansive and revisionist Beijing, but these claims did not affect China’s economy and present among ASEAN countries.

Interestingly, just last year India withdrew itself from Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) on its brink of agreement. Jaishankar, Minister of External Affairs pointed out how India’s needs were not addressed thus questioning the intention to take part in the agreement. The need to deepen economic engagement is blocked by India’s defensive, protectionist approach to international trade. Moreover, in the case of working with ASEAN, this became apparent at the last ASEAN-India Economic ministers meeting in August 2020. Both parties failed to issue a joint media statement. To trace the root of failure, the parties are in disagreements over the scope of the scheduled ASEAN-India Trade in Goods Agreement (AITIGA) review. On one side, India initiated the importance of the review to focus on AITIGA implementation and most importantly to address its trade deficit with ASEAN. However, ASEAN wanted the review to extend trade liberalization and facilitation.

Conclusion

So far, the Act East policy in Southeast Asia has been hot and cold. This implied lack of commitment to push further or even to achieve the so-called engagement. India claimed growing strategic partnership through more military-related agreements such as in Myanmar, Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines are progressing enough. It might progress but not to the imagined significance New Delhi portrayed itself to be. For these agreements are happening away from the community, it became another decent deal signed merely in the transactional framework away from engagement. In addition to that backing off from RCEP is quite the relationship stain just as much as the inability to find common grounds on free trade and trade facilitation with ASEAN. In this case, domestic affairs are not to blame, in fact, a chance to seize the momentum and commit with the action plan as foreign and domestic supposed to work altogether.

 

Habibah Hasnah Hermanadi, MA.

Habibah is a political researcher with a master’s degree from the Department of Political Science, University of Delhi. Feel free to access her research and publications here.