Contemporary Southeast Asia Vol. 44/1 (April 2022)

Contemporary Southeast Asia Vol. 44/1 (April 2022)
Date of publication:  April 2022
Publisher:  ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute
Number of pages:  168
Code:  CS44/1
Soft Cover
ISSN: 0129797X
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  • Contemporary Southeast Asia Vol. 44/1 (April 2022)
    [Whole Publication, ISSN: 1793284X]
  • Preliminary pages
  • 1. Understanding the Institutional Challenge of Indo-Pacific Minilaterals to ASEAN, by Hoang Thi Ha, author
    The intensity of minilateral coalition-building among the United States and its Indo-Pacific partners, especially the consolidation of the Quad and the formation of AUKUS in 2021, has rekindled concerns over the relevance of ASEAN multilateralism and ASEAN’s claim to centrality in the regional architecture. Although the challenge to ASEAN-led mechanisms from competing and parallel institutions initiated by other powers is not a new phenomenon, this article argues that the intensity of today’s geopolitical tensions, primarily but not exclusively between the United States and China, has driven America and its Indo-Pacific partners to invest more in minilateral coalitions than in ASEAN institutions to advance their strategic goals. The institutional challenge that these minilaterals present to ASEAN is three-fold. First, they signify the entrenchment of hard balancing by the United States and its Indo-Pacific partners and their reduced reliance on ASEAN’s normative influence. Second, their small, nimble membership holds out better prospects than ASEAN institutions in delivering tangible results and effective responses to regional security challenges. Third, they accentuate the pre-existing strategic incoherence within ASEAN in the face of Great Power competition.
  • 2. Cyber Terror, the Academic Anti-corruption Movement and Indonesian Democratic Regression, by Wijayanto, Fiona Suwana, Nur Hidayat, authors
    This article examines a series of cyber terror attacks in 2019 on academics who protested the bill revising Law No. 30/2002, also known as the Corruption Eradication Commission (Komisi Pemberantasan Korupsi, or KPK) Law. Recent research has highlighted a shrinking civic space as one prominent sign of Indonesia’s democratic regression. However, how and to what extent this shrinking has occurred in the digital public sphere is still not well understood. Based on interviews with 16 academics who were members of the movement and who were subjected to cyber attacks, this article suggests that this amounts to “cyber terrorism”. These attacks caused significant psychological distress to the academics involved and damaged the communications and coordination capacities of the movement, ultimately weakening it. This study argues that corrupt oligarchic elites were behind this “cyber terror” campaign, given the sophisticated nature of the cyber attacks and the intended goal of suppressing the academic anti-corruption movement. These elites would benefit from a weakened KPK as it would no longer be able to effectively investigate corruption allegations involving some of its members. These findings reinforce the latest studies on Indonesia’s democratic regression.
  • 3. From Periphery to Centre: The Self-evolution of the Vietnamese Communist Party’s Central Committee, by Nguyen Khac Giang, Nguyen Quang Thai, authors
    The Central Committee (CC) of the Vietnamese Communist Party (VCP) is widely regarded as Vietnam’s most important political institution. However, few studies have exclusively examined the development of the CC since the beginning of the i mi (Renovation) era. Based on a new biographical dataset of 626 CC members from the 6th to the 12th National Congress of the VCP, as well as Party’s internal documents, this article examines the institutional self-evolution of the CC in three key aspects: (1) its changing structure and composition; (2) its decision-making principles; and (3) its norms of elite promotion. In so doing, we argue that the CC has moved from the periphery to the centre of Vietnamese elite politics, resembling the role of a “shadow parliament” where major policies are deliberated and passed and where top leaders are chosen. The CC has achieved this position by developing and maintaining a considerably high level of intra-party democracy, expanding the selectorate by accommodating provincial elites and the National Assembly while greatly standardizing the norms of elite promotion. We also examine the impact of the CC’s rising power on the factional dynamics by revisiting three main classifications of factionalism in Vietnam in light of the new biographical dataset. We argue that the failure to identify solid factional boundaries among Vietnamese political elites is the direct consequence of the CC’s transformation since Doi Moi. 
  • 4. Fragmentation, Complexity and Cooperation: Understanding Southeast Asia’s Maritime Security Governance, by Scott Edwards, author
    Southeast Asia is beset by a host of maritime security threats including illegal fishing, piracy, smuggling and environmental crimes. Institutions responding to these issues have proliferated. This article systematically maps and demonstrates this new complexity and fragmentation using original empirical data. Focusing on blue crimes rather than territorial disputes, it argues that fragmentation, a non-hierarchical proliferation of arrangements, is a key driver of regional cooperation on maritime security, and that while conflict overlap and duplication are present between arrangements, the development of trust and collective identification between actors is having an overall positive effect on regional cooperation. The article further argues that this emerges from fragmentation in two ways. First, fragmentation creates more opportunities for sustained interaction, which can habituate cooperation due to the expanding web of meetings. Second, fragmentation, when well-managed, exposes an expanding set of actors to these trust-building processes. The article therefore provides new perspectives on regional dynamics and the state of cooperation in the field of maritime security.
  • 5. Remodelling Indonesia’s Maritime Law Enforcement Architecture: Theoretical and Policy Considerations, by Evan A. Laksmana, author
    Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelagic state, tends to punch below its weight in regional maritime affairs. Part of the explanation for this puzzle lies in Indonesia’s under-developed and ineffective maritime governance system. This article seeks to develop ways to overhaul Indonesia’s maritime governance by focusing on one specific but potentially strategic area: maritime law enforcement in the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The article analyses the institutional challenges surrounding Indonesia’s EEZ maritime law enforcement and develops theoretical models and policy options drawn from the experiences of other Asian maritime states. It argues that Indonesia needs to move from its current “division of labour” model, where there are multiple agencies with multiple tasks, to a “unified command” model, where different maritime assets are unified under a single operational command. The article suggests that Indonesia should consider a “dual agency” architecture where the Indonesian Navy and the Maritime Security Agency become the two primary EEZ maritime law enforcement authorities. The article aims to contribute to broader debates surrounding maritime security governance and Indonesia’s future trajectory as a maritime power in the Indo-Pacific.
  • BOOK REVIEW: Reconstructing Japan’s Security Policy: The Role of Military Crises, by Bhubhindar Singh, by Alessio Patalano, author
  • BOOK REVIEW: Thai Politics in Translation: Monarchy, Democracy and the Supra-constitution, edited by Michael K. Connors and Ukrist Pathmanand, by Kittisak Sujittarom, author
  • BOOK REVIEW: Religious Pluralism in Indonesia: Threats and Opportunities for Democracy, edited by Chiara Formichi, by Burhanuddin Muhtadi, author
  • BOOK REVIEW: The Courteous Power: Japan and Southeast Asia in the Indo-Pacific. Edited by John D. Ciorciari and Kiyoteru Tsutsui, by Bhubhindar Singh, author
  • BOOK REVIEW: Nothing Is Impossible: America’s Reconciliation with Vietnam, by Ted Osius, by Nguyen Tuan Viet, author
  • BOOK REVIEW: United Front: Projecting Solidarity through Deliberation in Vietnam’s Single Party Legislature., by Paul Schuler, by Hai Hong Nguyen, author

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