The Impacts of the Fourth Industrial Revolution on Higher Education in ASEAN

The fourth industrial revolution or 4IR builds on the digital revolution and combines multiple technologies that are leading to significant shifts in the economy, business, society, and individually. It is characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres. In practice, it is the idea of smart factories in which machines are augmented with web connectivity and connected to a system that can visualize the entire production chain and make decisions on its own. (Schwab, 2016)

According to Schwab, the fourth industrial revolution is not only changing the “what” and the “how” of doing things but also “who” we are, what it means to be human. It also includes the transformation of entire systems, across and within countries, companies, industries, and society as a whole. (Schwab, 2016)

Up to recent days, we have faced three phases of industrial revolution. Firstly, began with steam and water. Then, electricity and assembly lines discovered. After that, computerization started in 1969. Nowadays, even though there is not an exact period yet, we are entering the discourse of the fourth industrial revolution coming with more advanced technology.

Every industrial revolution provided positive and negative impact to our society. One of the major impacts that we have experienced in the last industrial revolution was the employment issue. It is not only about the job losses but also transformation of the nature of the works. This would be the grave issue in the ongoing (upcoming) industrial revolution. It is predicted as much as 47% of jobs may be automated away in the future. Moreover, 65% of children entering primary school today will have jobs in categories that don’t yet exist. (World Economic Forum, 2017)

Currently, in ASEAN, the top main job family is farming, fishing, and forestry. Looking at the current job family in this region plus the economic and digital technology development, one question arises, has ASEAN entered the fourth industrial revolution yet? I would argue that ASEAN is still in the stage of third industrial revolution. But however, the revolution happening in the other part of the world, will surely affect ASEAN. A report on The Future of Jobs from the World Economic Forum found that the 4IR will lead to a net loss of over 5 million jobs in 15 major developed and emerging economies. Therefore, ASEAN has to adjust to survive in the changing global world.

As the fourth industrial revolution comes with the more advanced technology, ASEAN needs to prepare the upcoming workers with the compatible skills and educations. Many scholars suggest the developing countries investing in areas such as STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education as the future jobs will be mostly related to those areas.

Data on the Human Capital Report by World Economic Forum showed that the distribution of the degree holders in ASEAN has bigger number in social and humanities area. Universities in ASEAN produced only 24% STEM-related graduates (5% in science, 19% in engineering, manufacturing, construction). Therefore, for ASEAN to be more competitive in the 4IR, ASEAN needs to risen the number of students studying in STEM education.

This situation is not only faced by ASEAN but also the US. For a comparison, in the US alone there are more than 500,000 open technology jobs, but universities produce only 50,000 science graduates each year. Therefore, there is a gap between the demand and supply of labour to be solved globally.

To solve this problem in general, the business sector and academia need to sit together and discuss about the future of jobs in the 4IR to minimize the gap between supply and demand of future labour market. What universities could do is to reconsider and reshape the curriculum to respond the changing environment of works to prepare the graduates with the precise skills and educations needed in the future. In the other side, business sector needs to study what are the criteria of jobs in the future and discuss it with the higher education institution. But however, from the study done by World Economic Forum, it appears that business actors do not believe that these technologies will have advanced significantly enough by the year 2020 to have a more widespread impact on global employment levels.

University is a place to educate people for the purpose of knowledge and enlighten people. However, higher education is also one of the main actors globally in reducing the disadvantage that the 4IR might cause. Universities are key platforms to prepare the future workers and also to educate people to keep the revolution in track to benefit all. And that every university can have a direct role in creating economic opportunity for millions of people by reshaping the current curriculum for existing and potential talent to adapt with the ongoing change.

The 4IR will create jobs disruption. Therefore, there will be discrepancy between the demand and supply of the future labour market. Higher education as the bridge to the working environment is seen as one of the main stakeholders in preventing the great loss (jobs) that might cause. Business sector and academia need to discuss together to solve this problem. In ASEAN, it is suggested to increase the number of students studying in the STEM education as the 4IR will demand more human capital in science and technology. Besides, higher education in ASEAN also needs to rethink and reshape the current curriculum to prepare graduates in tune with the change that the 4IR brings. Generally, both business and academia need to cultivate a lifelong learning in every individual to adapt and adjust with the upcoming changes.

This article was written by Walid Ananti Dalimunthe from the ASEAN Studies Forum.

Tackling Migration Issues: Does Indonesia Provide Adequate Legal Protection to Refugees and Asylum Seekers?

In the midst of the global refugee crisis, there has been much discussion regarding the management of refugees and asylum seekers in the developed world, however, this issue has been somewhat overlooked in Indonesia. Historically, Indonesia has been utilised as a transit country, due to its geographical location, archipelago geography, and bureaucratic functioning.   This trend has continued in recent years – in 2016, approximately 13,829 refugees arrived in Indonesia.  However, whilst Indonesia may still be characterised as a transit country, this reality is quickly changing, particularly as both Australia and the United States, two primary re-settlement nations, have decreased their refugee intake.  In 2016, 761 refugees were resettled to the US, and 347 to Australia, almost a 50% decrease in settlement from the previous year.  A drop in re-settlement rates, coupled with an inevitable increase in re-settlement waiting periods, has contributed to the transformation of Indonesia’s role as a country that merely acts as a place of transit, to a destination where refugees are now spending a significant amount of time.  Given these circumstances, the need for a more robust solution in the Government’s approach and attitude towards refugees has become evident.

It should be no surprise that a strong legal protection system is critical to allow for the long-term provision of essential rights such as access to health, education and financial sovereignty.  The 1951 UN Convention on the status of refugees, and the 1967 protocol, are the primary international instruments governing refugee rights, management and processing, however, Indonesia is not yet a signatory to these instruments. Although Indonesia’s most recent legal instrument pertaining to refugees, the Presidential decree 125 of 2016, does provide some clarity regarding the status of refugees and asylum seekers in Indonesia, the decree is still largely limited in its scope, and fails to provide sufficient guidance on refugee rights, an issue that is becoming increasingly vital, given the current decline in re-settlement rates amongst refugees who have reached Indonesian shores.  Furthermore, as Sophie Duxson, research assistant at the Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law at UNSW, discusses, the status and influence of the decree, given that it is not a law, and thus cannot be constitutionally reviewed by an Indonesian court, is also questionable.


International Law

The 1951 UN convention relating to the Status of Refugees, and the 1967 protocol, are the primary international law instruments established to protect refugees.  Despite Indonesia’s longstanding role as a transit country, Indonesia has not yet acceded to either of these protocols, and thus has no international legal obligation to take an active role in the management and processing of refugees and asylum seekers that enter its shores.  However, as part of customary international law, Indonesia is bound by the principle of non-refoulement, which prevents states from returning or expelling refugees from their land.  Whilst the principle of non-refoulement does not entail a right of the individual to be granted asylum in a particular state, it does require states to ‘adopt a course that does not result in their removal… to a place where their lives or freedoms would be in danger on account of their race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.’  Historically, Indonesia has complied with this principle.

Indonesian has also ratified certain international human rights instruments including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights ((CESCR), and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, all of which contain provisions that should, in theory, apply to refugees.  However, evidence has shown that the aforementioned conventions have not been operational, as Indonesia lacks the necessary domestic framework to implement monitoring and dispute resolution mechanisms to facilitate compliance.


Domestic Law

The presidential decree 125 of 2016, and the 2010 Regulation of the Indonesian Director-General of Immigration, are arguably the two most relevant legal instruments addressing the current presence of refugees and asylum seekers in Indonesia.  In January 2017, President Joko Widodo signed a presidential decree that would clear up some of the ambiguity regarding the management of refugees in Indonesia. Perhaps the most important aspect of the decree was the adoption of a formal definition of ‘refugee’, based on the definition contained in the 1951 Refugee Convention.   This is an important step forward for the status of refugees in Indonesia, as law previously classified refugees as ‘illegal immigrants’.  As Febi Uneski, Chair of SUAKA, an Indonesian Refugee advocacy organisation explains, the new decree increases the understanding between governments and officials regarding the status of refugees in Indonesia, despite their ‘mode of their arrival’.     In addition, the decree affirms the Indonesian Government’s responsibility in regards to the management of refugees in the realm of search and rescue operations.  It also recognises the ability of government bodies to provide alternative detention facilities for refugees with special needs and vulnerabilities.

However, whilst the decree has arguably improved the status of refugees in Indonesia, it also re-affirms the transitional nature of Indonesia’s refugee program through failing to acknowledge any intention to establish a legal framework for the processing and management of refugees. In addition, the failure to discuss integration has become a particularly pertinent issue given the increased waiting periods for resettlement.  Refugees and Asylum seekers in Indonesia are unable to obtain a legal status permit known as the Kartu Tanda Penduduk, and as a result, they are unable to work.  Uncertainty in their legal status also makes access to health and educational services extremely difficult. The decree also fails to address how and if state finances will be utilised to promote refugee protection- meaning that any funding is likely to be sporadic and poorly distributed.  Overall, the decree fails to implement an overarching legal procedural mechanism relating to the processing of refugees and asylum seekers, thus, legal uncertainty still remains.

In the absence of any substantial procedural laws regarding the processing of refuges and asylum seekers in Indonesia, the 2010 Regulation of the Indonesian Director-General of Immigration has proved crucial.  The regulation grants the right of individuals who meet certain requirements to register with the UNHCR, and stay in the country on a temporary basis, while their applications for re-settlement are processed.    Essentially, this bears sole responsibility on the UNHCR to deal with the management of refugees in–country. As part of the management process, the UNHCR conducts refugee status determination procedures in Indonesia on behalf of the Indonesian Government.  Upon being granted official ‘refugee’ status, a small number of rights are afforded to the individual, including protection against arrest by local law enforcement officers, provided they comply with a number of conditions.  This mandate also allows refugees to receive access to services offered by the UNHCR  partner organisations, including the International Organisation of Migration (IOM), and the Jesuit Refuge Service (JRS).   However, a referral from an immigration official is usually required in order to access these services, and as a result, many people are unable to gain access to such services.

A number of academics have argued that accession to the 1951 Refugee protocol is necessary to ensure the protection of refugees and asylum seekers in Indonesia. However, practically, this may not be the most realistic reform. As Dita Liliansa argues, there are a number of both external and internal factors, which would be particularly burdensome for Indonesia if they were to accede to the convention and the protocol.  Firstly, whilst the UNHCR is currently responsible for the management of refugees in Indonesia, accession to the protocol would transfer this responsibility to the Indonesian government. This would place a significant financial burden on the Indonesian government, who already have limited resources to deal with domestic issues.  Guarantees in relation to the provision of health and education services would also be difficult to achieve, given that many Indonesian citizens are currently unable to access these services.   Therefore, it is clear that Indonesia must enhance its capacity to address the aforementioned issues, before accepting legal obligations for the provisions of such services.

Whilst the implementation of the 2016 Presidential Decree has been a significant step forward in developing a more positive attitude towards refugees in Indonesia,  there is still much progress to be made to ensure adequate legal protection of refugees and asylum seekers. Although Governmental capacity to ensure compliance with international laws may not currently be possible, it is pivotal for the Indonesian Government to establish a strong domestic legal framework to fill the current gaps.  In the long-term, it is not possible for the UNHCR to provide adequate protection for refugees in Indonesia – their services remain restricted to their organisational mandate, which does not cover all individuals whom require international protection.  Therefore, it is critical that Indonesian establishes its own legal framework for the processing of refugees and asylum seekers on its shores, so it is able to provide adequate protection to individuals who are entitled to it.



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This article was written by Miranda Traeger, an undergraduate student of Bachelor of Law and Arts at the University of Adelaide, while working as an intern at Center for Southeast Asian Social Studies (CESASS).

Road Traffic Accidents in Vietnam: Cause and Solutions

Traffic accidents still remain as a critical problem in Southeast Asia. Based on the report of ASEAN Regional Road Safety Strategy in 2016, the biggest risk faced by most ASEAN countries is traffic accidents caused by the considerable number of two-wheeled vehicles as the primary transportation. The number of trauma due to traffic accidents is quite high in ASEAN. Compared with other ASEAN countries, Vietnam becomes one of the countries with the highest mortality rate, which is 23,60% of 10,000 per population according to Bloomberg

Approximately 14,000 Vietnamese passed away each year due to traffic accidents in which 34% of the main causes of accidents are the high speed of riding, while 68% of the victims are motorists. The figure is 30 times greater than the death rate caused by the disease. Due to high number of users of two-wheeled vehicles by 95%, this condition is exacerbated by lack of adequate post-accident care, which is the ease to get ambulance services.

The high number of accidents is caused by several factors, such as loss of concentration while driving, using a mobile phone while driving, driving under the influence of alcohol, driving at high speed, poor quality of existing infrastructure, and traffic police who are not aware of the traffic violations. Certainly, these factors did not occur by coincidence. Unclear regulation in governing motorist behavior, such as the maximum number of passengers, usage of seatbelts, and lack of law enforcement for violations, has triggered the car drivers to ignore their safety and other road users. The riders’ behavior in Vietnam is said to be very dangerous to other road users as it can be seen from their non-standardized national helmets, their unadjusted speed, their ignorance of traffic signs, a lot of underage drivers, and the frequent use of sidewalks as a track to accelerate their speed.

Recently, a motorist was hit by a truck as the rider switched the lane and stopped abruptly in front of the truck to pick up his friend. The accident also took the loss of three other lives. This incident simply illustrates the traffics in Vietnam inasmuch 35% of traffic accidents are caused by mistake to change lanes. Even by 2015, the number of deaths caused by traffic accidents in Vietnam represents 2.45% of GDP decline.

In order to address high volume of accidents on the highway, there are several policies that the government can implement to improve security of the drivers such as the regulations on the use of helmets in 2007. However, the policy does not seem to solve the problem since the rider’s helmet is cheap with very low quality and not being standardized as in other countries. According to the World Organization (WHO), 80% of helmets in Vietnam do not meet national standards.

To reduce the risk of accidents on the road, there are various ways that should be done, such as revitalizing the presence of police officers. They should be trained on what they should do when traffic violation or accident occurs. Besides, road users should be reminded about the importance of safety while riding by the use of punishment if they violate the traffic in order to minimize bad habits of driving.

As the central figure, the government should be strict toward the regulation of traffic that has been said to be quite apprehensive. Increasing penalties for offenders is one powerful way to reduce road accidents as it will increase the likelihood of riders to comply with the rules. The role of professional medical personnel is also important to reduce the death toll caused by accidents. Rescue teams for accident should be increased in terms of their ability and quantity to cope with high prevalence of the accidents. Use of public transport, such as bus or train, should be encouraged and accompanied by improvements in the quality of service so that motorists shift into public transports with lower risk of accidents.



This article was written by Muhammad Azizurrohman, an undergraduate student of Economics Universitas Islam Indonesia, while working as an intern at Center for Southeast Asian Social Studies (CESASS).

The Secret of Existence of Traditional Game in Vietnam

Changing social layers in the society are inevitable things during globalization era. Technological progress becomes the most observable thing to see. The movement from traditional to modern technology is usually called as modernization. This happens due to the innovations of the world scientists which bring some impacts for the entire layers of society. The positive impact of modernization for human being can be seen from facilitation in daily activities. For example, a labor who initially worked manually to produce goods might take several days to complete. Because of technological support, the labor now is able to produce more and faster goods.

Technological advances are not only influential in terms of ease of work, but also in affecting the changes in children’s games, such as, gadgets, play stations, and computers. Enjoying such games does not require much energy as we can sit and play by clicking the mouse and stick, and a glass of fresh milk to boost our spirit. This technological process has been changing habits for current generation by reducing their social activities in the community. When modern games are preferred than traditional games, it indirectly fades the social interaction and teamwork taught in traditional games. According to William F Ogburn, any social change will encompass two aspects of culture, including the material and non-material aspects. Material aspect is a variety of cultures in the form of something or objects, while non-material is a value, norm, and behavior pattern. William suggested that these two aspects must go hand in hand to avoid the change of undesired individual behavior.

This phenomenon happens in many countries which are currently or have been experiencing modernization. With the exception to Vietnam, this country tends to retain their culture, especially their traditional or folk games. Hanoi is an example of the cities with survived traditional games in this modern technological era. The persistence of this traditional game cannot be separated from the participation of the government and local people who continue to maintain and preserve it for the next generation. It can be seen from “My Hanoi Club” which aims to accommodate and spread cultural values, history, and lifestyle in Vietnam. My Hanoi club’s Activities are held every weekend around Hoan Kiem Lake. This area is reserved for pedestrians so that any vehicles are not allowed to cross this area.

There are many examples of traditional games played by various circles at this event, including Jump Rope, Mandarin Square Capturing, Stilt Walking, Tug War, and many other traditional games.

Moreover, the Vietnamese government added curriculum of traditional games for elementary school students in 2007. It is expected that the preservation of traditional games will have an impact on the intellectual life of the children. Since early ages, they have been formed to be a person who can work systematically and able to cooperate through the traditional game. In addition to some of these things, these traditional games will help them to develop their understanding of something, improve their memory, imagination, and certainly help them recognize their culture

There are some traditional games which become the favorite game for elementary school students in Vietnam, such as Follow My Leader, An Quan, Tug of War, Bamboo War. The Follow My Leader game is one of the games that helped the children to improve their intelligence as well as coordination for eyes and hands to introduce solidarity, discipline, and ability to react.

Not only local people enjoying the cultural activities, but also foreign tourists who participated to feel the thrill of playing traditional games with other communities. This activity certainly beautifies the face of Vietnam which seems to maintain their culture. Preservation of traditional games will have an impact on the growing attitude of nationalism and the unifying tool for the Vietnamese as the people can maintain their culture together. In addition, the identity of the nation in the eyes of the world will be recognized if the country has any characteristics that can be maintained or even can be a means to improve the country’s economy, especially in the tourism sector.



This article was written by Muhammad Azizurrohman, an undergraduate student of Economics Universitas Islam Indonesia, while working as an intern at Center for Southeast Asian Social Studies (CESASS).

A Portrait of Southeast Asia’s Illegal Wildlife Trade Reality


If there’s one thing that Southeast Asia should be known for, it is one thing; Diversity. This region is the home to many cultures, belief, traditions, cuisines that extends all the way to its rich biodiversity. The region hosted millions of species that ranges from both animals and plants. Many states in this region are in fact, aware of this fact and the notion of this leads majority of states in Southeast Asia to sign and ratify the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna 1975 ) within their national legislation, as a measure taken to protect 3000 species of flora and fauna. In Indonesia, CITES has already been ratified into Law no 5 Year 1990 for the conservation of living resources and Ecosystems. The ratification process itself are divided into 3 (three) criteria in which the former one (1) are deemed the most effective, while the latter one is the deemed ineffective (3) due to the lack of alignment between the content within the legislation and the aforementioned conventions.

However, based on the research conducted by UNEP, wildlife trade still occurs in many parts of the world. UNEP reported that illegal trade in wildlife is generally around 7-23 billion dollars annually.  Furthermore, the reason why the focus shall be in Southeast Asia are because, the growth rate in environmental crime within the region corresponds with the GDP growth rate in many Asian states to the number of 5.1 up to 7.5% . This is an activity that should be prevented and eradicated not only by enacting legislations but also, to understand the reason behind these activities. The reality of the implementations of these policies in Southeast Asia are still ineffective due to the fact that legislations are not enough to tackle a problem that has been deeply rooted within the region.

In fact, the trade of wildlife in East and Southeast Asia has a long history. In parts of the region, kings presented live animals and wildlife to the leaders of the neighboring states as a “diplomatic tool” and during the first 20th century, the trade of wildlife has been a major source of foreign exchange. The description above reflected the mindset of the people within the region that still thinks that wildlife can be utilized to their own benefit. It is not enough to tackle wildlife trading without analyzing the root of the problem, due to the fact that both domestic and international illegal wildlife trade is a complex business that has the stimulant of both socioeconomic and cultural forces.


Commercial Structure & Business Operation

To understand this horrible business activity, one must grasp the notion on the structure of this activity, in which there are three roles that Southeast Asia countries partake. It is divided as a Source, Conduit and Consumer states. The source country is where these biotas are being taken away from their natural habitat to be transferred to the conduit states, where these species are being stored and sold to the collectors that originate from consumer states. This activity are driven by many factors as well; Southeast Asia’s rising living standards , infrastructure development that enhance the mobility of the activity, myths that created demands to consume a certain animal parts to the opening up of a several states economy to an international market – based policies that improve international trade connections.

Due to the illegality factor of this commercial activity, there’s a several “methods” that might be used by the seller such as (1) targeting new source areas or countries for a particular species, (2) new smuggling methods and routes to avoid detection and most generally, (3) to exploit the weak wildlife- related law enforcement. The former one is a method where the traders exploited new areas  in order to capture or extract one particular kind of species due to the fact that the previous area does not accommodate the needs of the consumers anymore. The second method involved new and different methods upon transporting wildlife to their conduits. In Vietnam, wild bears are being smuggled using fake army vehicles, ambulance with the biota dressed as the patient. The latter one is the most horrible one, where the smugglers that are caught smuggling illegal biotas, convince the customs official that the species on their possession are actually legal to trade, and this created a much less penalty than the one actually imposes by law. This is a very sad reality; where it shows that there is a very minimum cooperation between the customs official and law enforcers; that shows the lack of understanding of the subject matter of the regulations that has already been created.


Vital Source of Income

One of the reason why enacting the previous rules and regulations are insufficient are due to the fact that these activities are still, the vital income of populations living in some parts of Southeast Asia, especially in the greater sub-mekong  area, especially in Vietnam and Laos. In Nakai – Nam theun National Park Laos, 59% of the villages admit that terrestrial wildlife had been an important source in their village over the last decade, and they do admitted that overall species of wildlife number had declined over the last decade. The usual frequently-sold species are the one that suffered from the effect the most, experiencing drops to 75%, and these are due to many illegal activities happening in the forest that makes these species lose their habitat. Notwithstanding of the obstacles, this still create a very narrow part of the populations specializing in becoming hunters specializing in wildlife trade, in which makes it a career decision. These people are equipped with new skills and equipment that might helped them do their jobs, such as tranquilizing drugs and other process that might ease their burden to capture one wildlife species.

Other than the economic factors, there are still many factors that could leads into these activities. However, the brief description above is an accurate portrayal to this illegal activity. In order to deal with this problem effectively creates urgencies for states, to learn more about the mechanism of wildlife trade. Technology can be used as an effective tool to compile data in regards to list of the identification of types of illegal species, demands, routes & to list every trading activities possible. Further analysis in regards to both social and economic factor of this problem is also necessary; in order to understand the demands of this activity.

There also needs to be better cooperation between both the local, regional and national level to have a better regulatory control of CITES. On the legal perspective, the actions that can be undertaken also involved reviewing the content of CITES for several countries that has a larger number for wildlife trade and to increase the strength of the national legislation. This actions needs to be done immediately due to the fact that most source  states, still has a insufficient content to protect these wildlife, due to their category 3 status to the ratification of CITES; meaning that the legislation are not meeting the requirements for the implementation of CITES.

However, the most prominent eradication measure that could be exercised is to gradually change the mindset of the key stakeholders involved within the activities itself. In order to change the pattern, a change in mindset is also necessary. There needs to be advocacy to relevant stakeholders with the agenda of debunking myths of consuming of animal parts while at the same time, regards to the impacts of this activity in the long run, since without this measure extinctions are inevitable.


References (2018). National laws for implementing the Convention | CITES. [online] Available at: [Accessed 27 Aug. 2018].

Broad, S., T. Mulliken, and D. Roe. 2003. The nature and extent of legal and illegal trade in wildlife. In Oldfield, S. (ed.) The Trade in Wildlife: Regulation for Conservation. UK and USA: Earthscan.

Nooren, H. and G. Claridge. 2001. Wildlife trade in Laos: the end of the game. The Netherlands Committee for IUCN, Amsterdam.

Nash. S. ed. 1997. Fin, feather, scale and skin: observations on the wildlife trade in Lao PDR and Vietnam. Petaling Jaya, Malaysia: TRAFFIC Southeast Asia.

TRAFFIC Southeast Asia. 2004. Armored but endangered. Asian Geographic (4)

SFNC. 2003b. Implementation of actions against the extraction and trade in wildlife at the Pu Mat National Park: proceedings of a workshop held on 27 June 2003 in Vinh City, Nghe An province. S. Roberton, F. Momberg & Tran Chi Trung. SFNC project, Vinh.

SFNC. 2003a. Hunting and trading wildlife – an investigation into the extraction and trade in wildlife around the Pu Mat National Park. S. Roberton, Tran Chi Trung & F. Momberg, SSFNC project, Vinh.



This article was written by Aicha Grade Rebecca, an undergraduate student at the Faculty of Law Universitas Gadjah Mada, doing an internship at the Center for Southeast Asian Social Studies (CESASS).


The Errors in Various Legal Frameworks Regulating Piracy Activities in Southeast Asia


What comes into your mind when you heard the word “pirates?” is it Captain Hook from the Disney movie “Peter Pan” with an eye patch? Is it a hungry and angry guy from Somalia trying to hijack the Maersk Alabama in “Captain Phillips?” However, other than focusing on how the popular media trying to portray how pirates actually looked like, we shall be aware that actual piracy activity is something that is closer to home. In fact, Southeast Asia hosted the most piracy activities due to their fragile geographical location and other relevant socio economic factors. The number elevated in between 1995 – 2013 into being the place for 41% total piracy activities. These numbers are quite high when being compared to Somalia (18%) and West African Coast (13%) .

Based on Adam Mccauley from TIMES, more than 120.000 ships passes through the Indonesia- Malaysia- Singapore which makes it a vital waterways and trade routes for international economic and trading activities.  The data conducted in the year of 2010 proven that piracy drains $7 Billion – $12 Billion US Dollars each year from the global economy creates an urgencies for parties to both eradications and analysis of these occurrences.

Therefore, other than describing the maritime security policies of the respective Southeast Asian states, this article means is to assess both legal and socio – economic factor that resulted into international criminal activity to keep occurring in Southeast Asian waters. Starting from the problems of defining “Piracy” in UNCLOS and other conventions, Geographical locations, legal complications due to overlapping jurisdiction and to assess the corruption activities of states that contribute to the existences of these activities.


UNCLOS; Unsuitable to Govern Piracy in Southeast Asia?

The measure to prevent and eradicate piracy activities has already been regulated on the UNCLOS (United Nations Conventions on Law of The Sea). This documents is the most prominent legal documents that regulates most aspect on ocean governance systems, despite their Mare Liberum & Res Communis status. This conventions governs baselines, states rights over their respective sea area as well as natural resources contains within it and how human beings cultivate these resources. The definition of “piracy” itself that is contained within UNCLOS is “any illegal acts committed for private ends by the crew or passengers and directed on the high seas and outside the jurisdictions of any state” . However, this is problematic in a way that piracy within the territorial seas are not included within the context of piracy contained in the aforementioned articles.

This practices resulted into piracy activities happening in the territorial sea area, even though the ship of their own nationals are the victim of the attacks. Mostly, these hijacking activities are conducted with smaller vessels and would only resulted into these activities to be considered as theft / armed robbery . Research also proven that both African/Southeast Asian region have different characteristic when it comes to piracy, since in the latter region, piracy are predominantly hijacking tankers to steal oil cargos other than kidnapping and asking for ransom in return.

The legal definition of the concept of piracy as written in the aforementioned documents created a legal implications where the writer believes that it created a reality where most of these “minor” piracy perpetrators goes free due to the point that this documents failed to address the problem of piracy activities in the territorial waters and the traits of piracy that is happening in Southeast Asia.  These problems are the reason why the Straits of Melacca are considered to be a war risks premium area by the Joint War Committee (JWC) of the London Market.  This facts is the reason why many states in Southeast Asia come up with both bilateral & joint cooperation agreement in order to tackle piracy activities, such as the Regional Co-Operation Agreement in Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ship In Asia (ReCAAP) where states shares information conducts cooperative arrangements in order to eradicate piracy, and other bilateral joint agreement.


Cooperation Is Not Enough – ReCAAP is not enough.

However, by regulating the ReCAAP does not mean that the problem of Piracy is immediately solved.  This is due to various political interests and other socio – economic factors that has been going on within the region. On the political sectors, most of ReCAAP members are ASEAN members. This leads to a non – interventionist approach into various matters where states are hesitant to interfere in other state’s affairs due to the fact that for years, ASEAN believes in harmonious co – existence where states exists alongside others with respect to sovereignty. Furthermore, some states are still reluctant to share information that could not be beneficial for their national interest.

The implications of the aforesaid statements are quite detrimental in the long run in a sense where political interests are one of the biggest obstacles in the process of eradicating Piracy in Southeast Asia. The geographical contour of Southeast Asia that is mainly made out of intersecting economic exclusive zones and straits goes along a several regions made eradication process impossible due to the fact that states has their own sovereignty rights in order to protect their areas in which includes their waters.   Although International Law and Law of the Sea recognizes the practice of Hot Pursuit or the rights of coastal state to conduct a pursuit of a foreign vessel all the way to the high seas, these practices are in fact, limited in reality.  Furthermore, the compositions of Indonesia that is made up of thousands of islands could makes it harder for ocean patrol to eradicate piracy due to the fact when this event occurred, the perpetrators could easily hide in one of the islands that is located near to the area.


Solutions and Possible Legal Frameworks

Thus, after doing a brief research of the subject matter, the writer come up with three approach in order to tackle the aforementioned problems by approaching it through 3 different aspects; such as Legal, Political & Socio Economical Part. The writer believed that in order to tackle a problem that has been going on for quite some time and deeply rooted within the region, this approach must be done in order to prevent, maintain and eradicate, all at once.

In the legal aspects, there must be an understanding that there are actual differences between the concept of “piracy” and “contemporary piracy”. The concept of piracy are concept that is derived from the western world and it involved element of war where the master and the crew of the vessel is usually taken as hostage. However, contemporary piracy are usually conducted in smaller boats and the activity that is usually conducted are theft that could resulted into private entity experiencing losses, even before the goods reached the port of destination. Thus, there needs to be an expansion of the legal definition of piracy due to the fact that in the region, people are usually conducting piracy for purely, economic motives.

In the political aspects, there must be an increase of cooperation between states (especially coastal ones) to conduct more joint cooperation in order to eradicate piracy. This could means more information sharing platform between regions in order to become more transparent in regards to any information concerning these activities. In the past few years, the effort has not been very effective due to the fact that states still highly concerns that transparency would resulted into their states to be deemed as weak and vulnerable against these attacks, while in fact transparency are the most integral part into the battle against piracy. In the aspect of technicalities, there must be also standardized and uniformed standards and protocols when it comes to ways to conserve the vessel and the goods contained within it whenever this kind of event occurred, and this must be apply by all vessels that sails through the ASEAN waters.

And lastly, the 2 efforts above could not be implemented if it is not being paired with a good approach towards the socio – economic factors of the region as well. There needs to be a socialization process by the regions that consists of government, state actors as well as non governmental actors to help the people, especially the one with the lower status living in the coastal area, about the danger of this activity and how it can be detrimental towards the status of maritime security of a country. Also, there needs to be cooperatives between parties to create initiatives in regards of finding alternative source of income for people living in the area who is prone to this kind of activities. With that, we could hope that the society could be more proactive and would be willing to cooperate with the government, to help eradicate this kind of crime once and for all.


Law & Legislations References

United Nations Conventions on Law of The Sea

Code of Practice for the Investigation of Crimes of Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Assembly Resolution A.1025

Regional Co-Operation Agreement in Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ship In Asia (ReCAAP)


Journals References

Apjjf. Org. (2018). Security in the Straits of Malacca. The Asia – Pacific Journal: Japan Focus [Online] Available At: Https// – Khalid/2042. Article. Html.

Forster, B (2014). Modern Maritime Piracy: An Overview of Somali Piracy, Gulf of Guinea Piracy and South East Asian Piracy. British Journal of Economics, Management & Trade 4 (8). Pp. 1251 – 1272

Leng, L. (1987). Access to Southeast Asian Waters by Naval Powers: some problems and Ambiguities. Contemporary Southeast Asia, 9 (3), pp. 207 – 220

Piracy in South – east Asia (2000). Strategic Comments. 6 (5), pp. 1 -2


Miscellaneous References (2018). Economics of Piracy in Southeast Asia. [online] Available at: [Accessed 25 Sep. 2018].

Recaap. Org (2018). ReCAAP Information Sharing Center. To enhance cooperation through information sharing, capacity building and cooperative arrangements in combating piracy and armed robbery against ships. (2018) The Most Dangerous Waters in The World (online). Available at / piracy – southeast – asia – Malacca – strait / [Accessed 25 September 2018].



This article was written by Aicha Grade Rebecca, an undergraduate student at the Faculty of Law Universitas Gadjah Mada, doing an internship at the Center for Southeast Asian Social Studies (CESASS).


Philippines’s Changing Approach to South China Sea Dispute: Duterte’s Administration, Two Years On

Rodrigo Duterte came into office as Philippines’s 15th President on June 30, 2016. His approach to South China Sea dispute and his overall foreign policy once shocked many in the region, and more around the world. As his approach to South China Sea dispute differs from his predecessor, Benigno Aquino III (in office 2010-2016), the world is watching what will come out of this diversion.

Under Benigno Aquino III’s presidency, Philippines was very assertive in emphasizing its claim upon the competing claims by several other countries in the South China Sea. During Aquino’s administration, the Philippines brought the case against China to the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in 2013. The decision came on July 12, 2016, about two weeks after Duterte assumed office.

Many predicted that Philippines would use the ruling from The Hague against China. However, Duterte used the award from the court in a different way. Instead of using it in multilateral forums to gain legitimacy, Duterte is willing to put aside the ruling in exchange of closer relations with China.

In forging closer relations with China, Duterte visited Beijing on October 2016, only months after he started his administration. He came back to the Philippines by bringing China’s promise to give investments worth of USD 24 billion to the Philippines (USD 9 billion of soft loans and USD 15 billion of direct investment).  However, before going deeper to further discussion, it is important to understand some buzzwords surrounding the issue.


What is the South China Sea Dispute?

There are currently at least five competing claims in the South China Sea. The Philippines puts its claim on the basis of 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, as it rules for Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) to be demarcated as much as 200 miles from its baseline. This claim overlaps the Chinese claim, which is based on the “nine-dash line”. China claims that the “nine-dash line” has been historically recorded by China as part of its territory, shown in a map published in the 1940s. Other claimants include Vietnam, Malaysia, and tiny Brunei, with most of them referring their claim to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea while they also see that China’s claim is void before the international law. (source:


What are the rulings?

The Philippines initiated the arbitration in January 2013 by seeking rulings on several matters. In 2016, PCA rules that China’s claims of historic rights within the “nine-dash line” were without legal foundation. The panel also rules that Beijing’s activities within Philippines’s 200 nautical miles EEZ, such as illegal fishing and artificial island construction, violated the sovereign rights of the Philippines.

The arbitration, which was initiated by the Philippines in 2013, was filed under Benigno Aquino III’s administration. However, though, after Duterte assumed office, Philippines’ approach changed dramatically.


Shifting from the Traditional Ally

Not very fond of Former US President Barack Obama, Duterte dismissed a military cooperation with the United States soon after he started his administration. Duterte ended the joint military exercises between the United States and the Philippines through a statement delivered on September 2016, about two months after he was sworn to office.

Duterte’s dislike of Obama could be one of the contributing factors that fuel Philippines’s shift from its traditional ally to an unpredicted new friend at that time, each of them being the United States and China respectively. Duterte seemed to dislike Obama that much as he told Obama to “go to hell” in a statement he delivered in 2016.

The shift from the traditional ally indicates Philippines’ growing closeness with China. Duterte said that Philippines cannot afford war with China.  He also added that [the Philippines] ‘cannot win a battle against China’.  In a separate occasion, Duterte delivered a rhetorical question, which sounds more like a statement, asking ‘why will [Philippines’s] soldiers fight a war they would lose?’


Chinese Investment Promise: Two Years On

However, two years on, China’s investment that was promised earlier in 2016 has not yet come into reality.  Some like Alvin Camba (2018) would argue that the Philippines has not seen an increase in Chinese investment yet not because the investment from China has not actually increased, but instead because there is an error in the calculation, in which Hong Kong is excluded from the equation, even though ‘much of Chinese FDI coming to the Philippines is actually from Hong Kong’. He calls this error as “a fundamental accounting error” , and that the prevailing narrative in major newspaper reports that Chinese FDI in the Philippines has barely increased during the Duterte administration is a “misidentification” .

Whether the Chinese has indeed not delivered the promise or there is an error in the calculation, it is not wise to make a judgment only after two years since the promise was said. Besides the fact that some information on export-import and FDI might not be complete yet for collection and subsequent availability for public, a better outcome can be expected from an assessment after Duterte’s tenure finishes.


Hedging Amid Uncertainty

Anyhow, with growing uncertainty in the air, the current situation forces the Philippines to diversify its foreign policy strategy.

Came to office in 2017, current US President Donald Trump is forging a warm relationship with Duterte. This can be seen from the “warm rapport” between the two during his visit to the Philippines in 2017.  Trump even lauds his relationship with Duterte as a ‘great relationship’.

Bound by their dislike of former US President Barack Obama, they are having a very close relationship.  This warm relationship may be one of the reasons behind Philippines growing closeness with its traditional ally under Duterte, after Duterte himself severed the relationship with the United States under Obama administration.

Philippines is right to hedge in this uncertain situation. Hedging is defined by Hemmings (2013) as the action to “spread risk by pursuing opposite policies towards another state” and to “carry out two contradictory policy directions simultaneously: balancing and engagement”.

By balancing, Hemmings (2013) meant the maintenance of a strong military, building and strengthening alliances – as done by the Philippines through its re-engagement with US military.

On the other hand, by engaging, he meant building trade networks, increasing diplomatic links, and creating binding multilateral frameworks (Hemmings, 2013). This approach is taken by Duterte through his action to put aside The Hague ruling in exchange of closer relations with China. Additionally, the joint exploration for oil and natural gas between China and the Philippines  can be seen as another way to engage China.

This hedging strategy is also visible from Duterte’s remarks during his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2017. Duterte stated that eventually, he would eventually raise the arbitration ruling with Xi Jinping, but needed first to strengthen relations between the two countries, which the Philippines is hoping will yield billions of dollars in Chinese loans and infrastructure investments.

By putting its two legs on two grounds, Philippines is trying to play it safe. It is impossible to judge Duterte’s foreign approach only after two years of his leadership. He has another four years to serve, given the six years term in his presidency.

Duterte is wise to hedge in such uncertain situation. With the United States seeing the Philippines as an increasingly important ally in the region and with China’s unpredictable move, re-engagement with traditional ally and effort not to upset an increasingly dominant power in the region are not a bad idea after all.



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ABS-CBN News. (2018). Duterte on South China Sea dispute: Why will soldiers fight a war they would lose? Retrieved from

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Bloomberg. (2017). Trump Bonds With Duterte Over Their Dislike of Obama, Avoids Human Rights. Retrieved from

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Camba, A. (2018). What happened to the billions China pledged the Philippines? Not what you think. Retrieved from

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Hemmings, J. (2013). Hedging: The Real U.S. Policy Towards China? Retrieved from

Manila Bulletin. (2018). Duterte: ‘We cannot win a battle against China’. Retrieved from

Rappler. (2018). China lost to PH in court. Will it win via joint exploration? Retrieved from

Reuters. (2017). Duterte says China’s Xi threatened war if Philippines drills for oil. Retrieved from

Reuters. (2017). Trump has ‘warm rapport’ with Philippines’ Duterte: official. Retrieved from

The Guardian. (2016). Rodrigo Duterte to end joint US and Philippine military drills. Retrieved from

The Japan Times. (2018). China’s $24 billion promise to the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterter still hasn’t materialized. Retrieved from

The New York Times. (2017). Trump Lauds ‘Great Relationship’ With Duterte in Manila. Retrieved from

VOA. (2018). Distrust of China Sparks Philippines, US to Step up Joint Military Exercises. Retrieved from



This article was written by Angelo A. Wijaya, an undergraduate student at International Relations Universitas Gadjah Mada, while doing an internship at the Center for Southeast Asian Social Studies (CESASS).


51 Years of ASEAN: A Question for Human Rights System

The crisis in Rakhine State has been there since a long time. Since 1962, during the military regime, the violence on behalf of ethnic and religious has been occurred and caused a miserable tragedy in the Rakhine State, Myanmar. Around 2.000 people have been killed and more than 140.000, approximately, became homeless. Therefore, Myanmar government has violated Human Rights toward the Rohingya. (Human Rights Watch)

Recently, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency, more than 650,000 Rohingya refugees have fled to Bangladesh since the end of August year 2017 to escape violance and persecution in Myanmar. Previously, The Fact Finding Mission of the United Nations showed that approximately 1,3 million people have moved to the Bangladesh border. The rest of Rohingya refugees are trying to move out to another country such as Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia. (United Nations, 2018)

Up to recent date, domestically, Myanmar government has lack of willingness to settle the conflict down. Regionally, ASEAN, with its very own AICHR (ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights), has a small power to manage the crisis. Willingness among its members is also weak toward the issue. At the highest level meeting of ASEAN, the ASEAN Summit, this issue has never been put on the table. Last week in Singapore, the ASEAN Leaders gathered and again there was no discussion on the issue. Solidarity of the ASEAN Member States is also far from harmony. It can be seen from a disunity of the ASEAN Member States on voting in the previous United Nations General Assembly Resolution L.48 on the situation of Human Rights in Myanmar. Five or half of the ASEAN Member States opposed the resolution. They are Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar of course, the Philippines, and Vietnam. Two ASEAN Member States abstained, Thailand and Singapore. Only three ASEAN Member States supported the resolution, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei. This again challenges both development of Human Rights legal structure in ASEAN, political willingness to implement and enforce Human Rights law and regulation domestically and regionally, and its non-interference principal which is unavoidably limiting the actions from other ASEAN Member States. So, at the governmental level in general, there is no a big expectation and opportunity from the government to government cooperation in settling the crisis.

Thus, it is time for us as civil society to show our solidarity for our ASEAN family in Rakhine State, Myanmar. CSOs in ASEAN could cooperate closely with each other to resolve the problems from the grassroots level. It is also hoped that CSOs across the region could push and force its own government domestically to concentrate on this issue under its foreign policy agenda.



This article was written by Walid Ananti Dalimunthe from ASEAN Studies Forum.


Climate Change Mitigation Within ASEAN: Can the Solution Be Found in A Game Theory Model?

Whilst the terms ‘climate change’ and ‘global warming’ are now frequently heard in a number of contexts, whether that be in a professional environment, the classroom, or in your Facebook newsfeed, it can sometimes be difficult to understand why such notions are so alarming – the opportunist may just see these changes as an excuse to flaunt their favourite t-shirt for a few more days a year. However, the ramifications of climate change go far beyond a jacket collecting more dust in your wardrobe. Changes in climate induced by a warming planet are anticipated to spark challenges in social, economic, and political conditions across the globe, particularly within the ASEAN region. In light of this, as a simple game theory model suggests, collaboration of partners within ASEAN, although not always perceived as the easiest and most lucrative path in the short-term, will ultimately be the most rewarding approach, and will play an essential role in harnessing future regional stability and prosperity.


The Natural Science behind Global Warming

Climate change refers to a change in the global or regional climatic patterns, prompted by a warming planet, which can be attributed to increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide. As is explained by Al Gore in his book, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to the Power, the sun emits energy in the form of light, which the earth absorbs, inevitably warming it. Some of this heat energy is converted to infra-red radiation that is reflected back into space.  For many years, this process has been controlled by a natural layer of greenhouse gases, which traps some of the heat inside the atmosphere, to keep earth at the ideal temperature to support life. However, in the past few years, the thickness of this once natural greenhouse gas layer has increased, trapping in heat, and thus warming the planet. This transformation is predominantly due to the burning of fossil fuels, which provides most of the energy for transportation, electricity usage, and a vast range of industrial activity.


Climate Change and ASEAN

A myriad of studies have demonstrated that ASEAN residents will be particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change for a number of reasons. Firstly, from a geographical perspective, a large percentage of the population in the region resides in coastal areas. For example, in Indonesia, 75 major cities, and 80 percent of the county’s industries, are situated in coastal areas. Rising sea levels, in addition to increased flood potential, are just a few of the climate-induced devastations expected to impact these areas. Flooding, typhoons, cyclones, and other extreme-weather related disasters, are also likely to ravage these regions at an unprecedented rate.

However, the impacts of climate change are not only limited to the coastal lying regions within ASEAN. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has recognised a number of risks that global warming creates, some of which will challenge food security in the region. Research has suggested that a warmer planet will likely lead to a decrease in crop yields, due to an increasing CO2 fertilisation, in addition to a higher variability in precipitation, leading to flooding and droughts. For example, a study in 2005 published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, suggested that a 2-degree temperature increase induced by global warming could decrease the current rice yield in the region by 17 percent. Such devastations are likely to impact international relations within the region, through catalysing migration, and creating issues relating to food security. This is especially palpable within South East Asia, where high instances of poverty make adaption and response more difficult.

Whilst the exact impacts of climate change are unknown, there is now little doubt that there will be change, and that the unpredictable nature of this change, is central to its detriment. The question then turns to what can be done to address climate change.

A well-known game theory, ‘the Prisoner’s Dilemma’, has been said to encapsulate the dichotomy in climate change mitigation strategies – the independent conflicts, but overall necessity, for collaboration. In an increasingly capitalist world, whereby much emphasis is placed on economic growth, there is great incentive and pressure for countries to increase growth in the short term. Whilst economic growth is often looked on favourably for a reason – it can help lift individuals out of poverty, and increase living standards, unrestrained and unregulated growth is usually coupled with higher levels of c02 expulsion, in addition to increased pollution, both of which are detrimental to the environment, and ultimately, lead to the warming of the planet.

In the short term, defecting countries that fail to significantly reduce emissions, perhaps in an attempt to achieve higher growth rates, will likely receive a competitive advantage over those nations that are restrained in their growth models. However, if all countries decide to defect and undertake unregulated economic activities (which are associated with an increased production of green house gases) the repercussions would likely be devastating – the impacts of climate change revealing themselves sooner, and in more severe forms.

In the long-term, the best-case scenario for all countries would be to commit to climate mitigation and collaborate together. Whilst research suggests that much of the climate damage is already locked in, co-operation and a reduction in emissions will certainly reduce this impact. Consequently, although some countries within the region will arguably be more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, it is in the best interests of the neighbouring regions that their counterparts are stable. A plethora of academic discourse illustrates the impact that humanitarian crises, mass migration, and food security may play in undoing peace within a region. This is undoubtedly exacerbated in an increasingly globalised environment.

Whilst on a fundamental level, thee prisoner’s dilemma model seems applicable to the notion of climate change mitigation, it would be puerile to reduce a very complex scientific, social, political and economic problem to a game-theory model. However, there is value in getting back to the basics. Ultimately, it is only through co-operation and collaboration that productive strategies targeting climate-change can be formulated.

In light of this, it is interesting to consider ASEANs role in climate change mitigation policy, especially as a region that will bear a large proportion of the burden of climate change. Since the Singapore Summit in 2007, ASEAN has listed climate change as a priority issue. As it stands today, all the ASEAN member states have signed the Paris agreement and ratified the Kyoto Protocol – landmark global frameworks in the way of climate mitigation. There has also been a number of ASEAN specific inititatives, including the establishment of the ASEAN Climate Change Initiative (ACCI) and the ASEAN Working Group on Climate Change (AWGCC), in addition to the Joint Response to Climate (AAPJRC) in 2012.  However, as the report by the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs and Myanmar Institute of International and Strategic Studies illudes to, many ASEAN countries have taken the backseat in influential climate-change negotiations, letting their european counterparts lead the way. Furthermore, a regional climate framework, with specific goals, and a robust accountability mechanism, has not yet been established.

The report suggests a few reasons as to why this might be the case. Most convincing is the notion that stringent adherence to the ‘ASEAN way’ promotes national sovereignity, and principles of non-interference, which at first instance, may appear to conflict with a strong regional agenda on climate change mitigation. As a result, it has been said that the ASEAN secretariat is waiting for nation-states to take the lead and determine their own capabilities and goals. However, as the report recognises, the Paris agreements and the Kyoto protocol respectively incorporate mechanisms where nationally determined contributions are prized. A regional mitigation strategy which honours these elements, would not interefere with the ASEAN way. The report suggests several pratical ways in which ASEAN could act on climate change to achieve better results and enhance regional collaboration, whilst staying true to the core values of the organisation. Such strategies certainly seem plausible, but will not be achieved without capacity building and increased funding – which inturn can only be attained through a genuine commitment and interest in climate mitigation, exercised and vocalised by all partners within the region.

Overall, ASEAN currently sits at a fork in the road, presented with a variety of options in terms of climate change responses. The path towards further collaboration with a genuine focus on climate change mitigation will not be without its bumps, but appears to offer the greatest rewards at the end of the journey. Taking a strong stance on climate change mitigation will not only set the stage for ASEAN to assert its postion and influence globally, but will minimise the impacts of a problem that, whether just or not, will have the greatest strain on the economic, political, and social systems of its own nation states.

Comparing a complex issue such as climate change, to a simple game theory model may seem futile. But the overarching lesson from ‘the prisoner’s dilemma’ resonates with ASEANs current position in tackling climate change. Ultimately, the greatest benefit for the region will be achieved only through co-operation.



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This article was written by Miranda Traeger, an undergraduate student of Bachelor of Law and Arts at the University of Adelaide, while working as an intern at Center for Southeast Asian Social Studies (CESASS).

Transgender Legal Protection in Indonesia and Thailand

The word ‘transgender’ may be familiar to our ears. This word meant in this article means people who have gender identity or gender expression that is different from the gender they had at birth, from woman to man, or vice versa.

Southeast Asia is one area where religion is the most considered factor, so transgender is often considered to be against the norm. Not infrequently in Southeast Asia, transgender gets discriminated, especially to enjoy a decent life. In fact, they are often forcibly evicted, fired, and so on. In fact, transgender is a human being and a citizen who has human rights. In addition, it must always be remembered that the state is obliged to provide protection to its citizens, without exception. Thus, we need to highlight this transgender phenomenon.

Talking about transgender that constantly demands equality in diversity raises a big question about how the law governs transgender. As is known, the world’s average law, regulates everything by dividing the sex of citizens into two groups: men and women. For example, as we find in Indonesia, in labor law, there are certain leave that can only be taken by women or criminal rape formulated with the special characteristics of female victims.

In Indonesia, the majority of people still regard transgender as an ‘unusual’ thing. Nevertheless, there are few people concerned with this phenomenon. This is evidenced by the existence of Srikandi Foundation which began to stand since 1998 and it focuses on health issues related to transgender and their work. In addition, in 2010 there is a quite famous case related transgender, namely Alter Hofan. Alter is a man who used to be a woman. Later, he married a woman named Jane. Knowing Alter is transgender, Jane’s mother reported the marriage to the police on the grounds of fraud. After undergoing a trial in South Jakarta District Court, the panel of judges decided Alter was acquitted of all charges because the panel of judges held that it was not a crime. Even on the appeals level, the verdict states that although the Defendant has been proven to apply for the identity of the female sex to the male, but the act is done on the impulse caused by an abnormality called klinefelter syndrome, so again he escapes demands.

According to Indonesian law, as set out in Article 28 Paragraph 1 of the 1945 Constitution, everyone has the right to live and sustain his/her life. The meaning of ‘everyone’ in this article is certainly intended for all Indonesian citizens, regardless of their condition. Then, in Law no. 39 of 1999 on Human Rights, Article 71 affirms that the government is obliged and responsible for respecting, protecting, upholding and promoting human rights.

In fact, the government does pay attention to transgender citizens, as the Ministry of Health always provides free HIV / AIDS medicines to transgender. The state institution of National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) always insists that every citizen, regardless of his/her condition, has the same rights and should not be discriminated against. Thus, it can be concluded that, regardless of the negative assumptions of society, according to Indonesian law, transgender still has the status as a citizen having an obligation to build his/her country and to succeed the country’s development. Therefore, the right to transgender remains in force, including the right to work, social security, decent living standards, health, education, and participation in cultural life.

In addition to Indonesia, Thailand as one of the countries in Southeast Asia can be said to be more open to the existence of transgender, based on the number of ladyboys there. Transgender in Thailand has the nickname “kathoey”. They usually work in Thai entertainment, TV shows, and nightclub performances. Thailand is also one step ahead in supporting and protecting transgender rights. Evidently, they published the “Gender Equality Act” in September 2015 to eliminate discrimination, one of them is against transgender. This law criminalizes discrimination between sexual identities which affirms that unjust discrimination to a person having a sexual expression different from his or her original sex is a crime.

Nevertheless, as in Indonesia, transgender discrimination still exists in Thailand, as is the article in the Bangkok Post in 2013 that claims social discrimination in transgender there. The Bangkok Post says that there will be no transgender with high-class jobs, such as doctors, lawyers, scientists, teachers at state schools and universities, and corporate executives. Therefore, most transgenderers become entrepreneurs or freelancers. Even in 1954, transgender was banned from entering the military realm because because they are considered to have a ‘mental disorder’. However, this decision was revoked in 2005.

Until now, the transgender phenomenon is still a debate in the countries of Southeast Asia. However, Thailand and Indonesia, through the government and some of its parties, actually still treat transgender just like other citizens in general.



This article was written by Vicky Van Winkelhoff (in Indonesian), an undergraduate student at the Faculty of Law at the Islamic University of Indonesia, while working as an intern at Center for Southeast Asian Social Studies (CESASS).