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).

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).

Indonesia Refuses Stress: Uncovering the High Indonesian Happiness Index from the Cultural Perspective

Indonesia is one of the many developing countries located in Southeast Asia. With the level of health, education and income that has not been said to be sufficiently good, the Indonesian people do not appear to have fallen living life as citizens of developing countries with many polemics which often arise from various aspects of life. Even in 2014, Indonesia’s happiness index rose with a considerable percentage difference for a period of one year.

Reporting from the website of the Central Statistics Agency [1], the significant increase in happiness index was 3.17 percent, where in 2013 Indonesia’s happiness index was 65.11 and in 2014 Indonesia’s happiness index rose to 68.28. Based on’s online newspaper website [2], there is no mention of what percentage of the increase in happiness index of other countries, but with the presence of several countries, especially developed countries, which even fell in rank, the increase in numbers scored by Indonesia could be quite high.

Wijayanti and Nurwianti (2010: 116) say that Indonesian happiness is higher than European countries, such as Spain, Italy, and Germany. Indonesia ranks 40th out of 97 countries in the level of happiness of its inhabitants. In addition, based on the world happiness map proposed by a psychologist from the University of Leicester, England, the happiness level of Indonesia is ranked 64th out of 178 countries in the world. The Nation SWLS Score from the study shows that Indonesia ranks above other Asian countries, such as Taiwan (68), China (82), and Japan (90) (Sutanto (2006) in Wijayanti and Nurwianti (2010: 116)).

The happiness index according to the Central Statistics Agency website is calculated based on 10 essential aspects of life, including 1) health, 2) education, 3) employment, 4) household income, 5) family harmony, 6) leisure availability, 7) relationships social, 8) housing and asset conditions, 9) environmental conditions, and 10) security conditions. One factor that becomes a benchmark for happiness index is health, especially mental health. A high happiness index shows that people in a country do not experience many mental disorders where one of the causes of mental disorders is stress. This shows that the level of stress experienced by the Indonesian people is quite low.

Stress is a condition that is internal, which can be caused by physical, environmental, and social situations that are potentially damaging and uncontrolled (Sriati, 2007). Stress can come from individuals, family environment, living environment and can also come from places where individuals spend a lot of time such as offices and places of education (Pedak, 2009).

If a stressful situation is left to someone, without any treatment or treatment efforts, it is certain that many people in this world will experience psychiatric disorders (Tristiadi, 2007: 37). Even in this global era stress tends to attack more people with high economic levels than people with low economic levels, however there are differences compared to the levels of stress experienced by each group of people (Kisker, 1997).

Dong Yul Lee (1999: 352) argues that empirical evidence shows that the correlation between welfare and happiness is culture. Compton (2005) in Wijayanti and Nurwianti (2010: 118) say that individuals have different ways of looking for happiness according to their culture. Oishi and Diener (2001) in Wijayanti and Nurwianti (2010: 118) suggest that things that make happiness in individualist and collectivist cultures are completely different.

People with individualist cultures will be happy with their lives if their self-esteem increases and they have the freedom to do something. People in collectivist cultures place more importance on harmonious relationships and can fulfill the desires of others. One of the things that makes people happy is when they can live their lives according to their cultural values and norms (Wijayanti and Nurwianti, 2010: 118).

The strength of character that contributes to happiness between one community group and another community group varies. An internet survey conducted by Park, Peterson, and Seligman (2004) on 5,299 adults of various races and ethnicities proved the existence of an association between happiness and the strength of the character of hope, enthusiasm, gratitude, love, and curiosity. In addition, in Switzerland it was found that the strength of the character that contributed most to happiness was permanence, while in America it was grateful (Beerman (2007) in Wijayanti and Nurwianti (2010: 120)).

Diener and Diener (1995) in Dong Yul Lee (1999: 352) explained that the correlation between self-esteem and life satisfaction is far stronger in individualistic culture than in collective culture. Every culture must be understood from its own frame of reference, including the existing ecological, historical, philosophical and religious contexts (Kim et al, 2006). Culture has its own contribution to the formation of individual psychological concepts, as well as the concept of happiness (Anggoro and Widhiarso, 2010: 178).

Uchida et al. (2004) in Anggoro and Widhiarso (2010: 184) in his research on the cultural construction of happiness, found that there were differences in the meaning of happiness in the context of Western (individualistic) and Eastern (collectivistic) cultures. Social relations problems and environmental demands to improve self-achievement and personal inability to fulfill these demands can cause stress in a person (Mastura, 2007).

Wijayanti and Nurwianti (2010: 118) argue that the principle of life of the Javanese who has a lot of influence on peace of mind is sincere (nrima). With this principle, the Javanese are satisfied with their fate. Whatever has been held in his hand is done happily. Nrima means not wanting the property of others and not envy the happiness of others. They believe that human life in this world is governed by the Almighty in such a way that there is no need to work hard to get something. (Herusatoto, 2008).

There is a relationship between the strength of character and happiness in the Javanese and the strength of character contributes significantly to the happiness of the Javanese. The level of happiness of the Javanese is above average. The five main character strengths of the Javanese are thankfulness, kindness, demography, justice, and integrity, and the strength of character that contributes meaningfully to happiness in the Javanese is perseverance, creativity, perspective, justice, vitality, curiosity, and forgiveness. (Wijayanti and Nurwianti, 2010: 120)

Thus, even though Indonesia is a developing country with various aspects of its life which are quantitatively lacking, with various values and norms adhered to by all its people and eastern cultures that are still held firmly, Indonesian society gets its own enlightenment and peace in living their lives, especially in dealing with stress that ends in mental disorders as is the case in many developed countries with intense competition in life and high levels of individual society. Happiness alone cannot be calculated only by the economic level of a country but by the socio-cultural conditions of its people.



Anggoro, Wahyu Jati dan Wahyu Widhiarso. (2010). “Konstruksi dan Identifikasi Properti Psikometris Instrumen Pengukuran Kebahagiaan Berbasis Pendekatan Indigenous Psychology: Studi Multitrait‐Multimethod”. Jurnal Psikologi, Volume 37, No. 2, Desember 2010: 176 – 188.

Dong Yul Lee, et. al. (1999). “What Makes You Happy?: A Comparison of Self-Reported Criteria of Happiness between Two Cultures”. Social Indicators Research, Vol. 50, No. 3 (Jun 2000), pp. 351-362.

Fordyce, Michael W. (Aug 1988). “A Review of Research on the Happiness Measures: A Sixty Second Index of Happiness and Mental Health”. Social Indicators Research, Vol. 20, No. 4, pp. 355-381.

Kisker, George W. 1997. The Disorganized Personality. New York City: McGraw Hill Book Company.

Pedak, Mustamir. 2009. Metode Supernol Menaklukkan Stres. Jakarta: Hikmah Publishing House.

Sriati, Aat. 2007. Tinjauan tentang Stres. Jatinangor: Fakultas Ilmu Keperawatan UNPAD.

Tristiadi, Ardi, dkk. 2007. Psikologi Klinis. Yogyakarta: Graha Ilmu.

Wijayanti, Herlani dan Fivi Nurwianti. (Juni 2010). “Kekuatan Karakter dan Kebahagiaan Pada Suku Jawa”. Jurnal Psikologi, Volume 3, No. 2.

[1] (diakses pada tanggal 20 Desember 2015)

[2] pada tanggal 20 Desember 2015)



This article was written by Nitya Swastika, an alumnus of Anthropology , Faculty of Cultural Sciences, UGM while interning at the Center for Southeast Asian Social Studies (CESASS).

Chaos in the Middle of Hope: Seeing Frontier Areas in Southeast Asia

“As a region with a wide territory, relations between the periphery and the center of power in ASEAN are often colored by negative stereotypes due to cultural differences. Surprisingly in the midst of a negative stereotype that developed, the outer areas or often referred to as frontier are still continuously built endlessly for the future hopefuls that unfortunately often cause social and environmental problems ”

The term frontier in the social science universe was originally used by Jackson Turner to explain the American mentality. The term is used to describe the customs of American colonists in exploring and building civilizations in the outer regions found in the new continent. The habit arises because of the view that the outermost is an area full of resources but still underdeveloped. Therefore the area needs to be continuously exploited in order to advance so that it can produce profit for human.

Interestingly, the development of the era makes the term frontier no longer a monopoly of the United States. At least as far as I know there are many anthropologists who claim that Southeast Asia is an area that has abundant frontier areas. The names of anthropologists such as Bernad Sellato, Tania Li, De Konick, and Pujo Semedi are just some of the many other anthropologists who have studied frontier areas in Southeast Asia.

In the context of anthropology the term frontier is often interpreted as a relation between the center and the outermost regions. In other words, the term frontier is an attempt by academics to see the relation between society in the central area of power over the community in the outer regions-and vice versa. As we know, countries in Southeast Asia have territories which are not small so there are cultural differences that are quite striking between the central region of power and the outer regions. Therefore, the relation between the central region of power and the outer regions is often colored with negative stereotypes. The striking cultural difference makes the people and governments entrenched in the center of power often assume that their culture is superior.

With its power and superiority, people in the region of power often see the outer regions as exotic spaces with abundant resources but are still lagging behind, as a result they feel the need to advance the region. With such views, many outermost areas in Southeast Asia such as rural areas of Borneo in Indonesia or Mindanao Island in the Philippines whose natural products are exploited by the government through national or multinational companies for the ‘progress of local communities’ (Li, 2014; De Konick & Derry in Fold and Hirsch, 2007). However, behind the motive of advancing the local community is hidden the greater motive of the accumulation of economic benefits for the state. The motive for maximum profit makes the country tend to introduce new commodities suitable to be developed in frontier region with the condition that the commodity has a high demand in the global market. Therefore, changes in the frontier area can easily be met as the dynamic of market demand. Moreover, in order to accelerate economic growth, the government feels the need to send low-paid, skilled workers easily accessible in the central areas of power. Therefore, it is not surprising that in the frontier areas there are many transmigrant settlements built by the government [1].

Transmigrants and other actors who come from the center to the frontier area certainly do not come with empty heads. Their arrival is also intrigued by the imagination of their new environmental conditions in the past as well as the hope for the future. Thus the frontier area is a space of nostalgia as well as the hope of the future. With that view frontier area will be exploited continuously without knowing the time. This is due to the presence of imagination that the frontier area is an area that was formerly exotic but underdeveloped so the resources has to be exploited in order to have a brilliant future. Term exploitation is still problematic, because before the arrival of outsiders, local communities are also already using natural resources for their interests. Nevertheless, power relations between the central regions of power and frontier territory make me interpret the exploitation as a processing of resources – especially nature – in a modern way through economic-oriented development that is accompanied by the creation of new cultural and religious values like values in the central areas of power .

The imagination is not unproblematic. Because, with the provision of imagination, the government often holds that the only way to advance frontier area is by commodifying its abundant natural potential. Therefore, it is not surprising that Anna Tsing (2003) argues that in the natural frontier areas changed into natural resources. The problem is, exploitation of nature often presents conflict between state and local society. This is because in the frontier areas the limit of private and public ownership of natural products is unclear because of the validity of two types of law that are believed to be customary and positive law. Therefore, social chaos is not an unusual thing in a frontier society

Besides religious mission or da’wah that many presents in frontier area to ‘civilize’ local society also often create value conflict. Not infrequently the conflict of values due to the coming of new values from outside creates internal conflicts among local people who accept and reject these values.

The problem does not stop at the cracking of human relations. The rise of homogenization of tropical forests by governments in frontier areas such as Mindanao and Kalimantan has made many environmentalists criticize aloud. In their view, the homogenization of tropical forests is one of the causes of global warming. Due to the serious threat of homogenization of tropical forests in frontier areas for global warming, the United Nations in a summit meeting in Bali in 2007 agreed that the world’s top emitters should provide incentives to tropical forests (Fawdi, 2017). The hope with incentives given countries that have abundant tropical forests can conserve tropical forests are found in frontier areas.

In other words, the development of frontier areas with many tropical forests is expected to no longer be anthropocentric in nature through the homogenization of natural products but by maintaining the existing heterogeneity without losing its economic potential.

Nevertheless, the frontier mentality – or frontierism – is not necessarily bad. In addition to improving the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), development by government or corporations in frontier areas is able to get local people out of the underdeveloped stereotypes that prevent them from accessing urban areas.



Sudibyo, Dian Lintang. 2013. Konon Kita Saudara: Ketegangan Etnis di Perkebunan Kelapa Sawit Kalimanatan Barat. Yogyakarta: Skripsi Universitas Gadjah Mada

Fawdi, Ilhami Maulana. 2017. Melihat Proyek REDD+ dan Gerakan Tradisionalisme Masyarakat Adat, sebuah artikel dalam Jurnal Ranah: Fenomena Sosial Dalam Perspektif Antropologi. Yogyakarta: Keluarga Mahasiswa Antropologi UGM

Fold, Neils & Philip Hirsch. 2009. Re-ThinkingFrontier in Southeast Asia: Editorial di The Geographical Journal, Vol. 175, No. 2, Re-thinking Frontiers in Southeast Asia(Jun., 2009), pp. 95-97

Tsing, Anna Lowenhaupt. 2003. “Natural Resources and Capitalist Frontiers” in Economic and Political Weekly, vo. 38, No, 48 (Nov.29 – Dec 5, 2003), pp. 5100-5106.

Wensted, Frederick & Paul D Simkins. 1965. The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 25, No. 1 (Nov., 1965), pp. 83-103

[1] Sudibyo (2013); Wernstedt & Simkins (1965)



This article was written by Venda Pratama (in Indonesian), Anthropology alumnus, Faculty of Cultural Sciences, UGM, while working as an intern at Center for Southeast Asian Social Studies (CESASS).