Thank you to those who attended the inaugural LSE Southeast Asia Forum 2016 just two days ago!
We are proud to share the winning infographics, and their accompanying write-ups, done by Pearl, Ying Zhao, and Cheryl, 3 students from LSE, that were presented at the forum. We were also impressed by the infographic submitted by another student, Malik, and have decided to share his infographic and write-up as well!
Congratulations to all winners and thank you to all participants!
1. “The Potential of Technology in ASEAN” by Pearl Yip, 2nd Year LSE Student in BSc Geography with Economics
Hi everyone, I’m Pearl, a Singaporean student studying BSc Geography with Economics. My academic interests are predominantly in the urban, international and environmental subfields of economics, but I have always had a keen interest in all issues relating to ASEAN. I am currently trying to learn Bahasa Indonesia, and I would love to work in an ASEAN country one day!
The confluence of an emerging middle class and a youthful population lands ASEAN in an advantageous position. The potential for harnessing technology is unrivalled and unbounded, and I identify five salient technological trends integral in ASEAN’s development. Firstly, I deem mobile internet a powerful tool that can dissolve geographical barriers and grant rural populations access to information, products and services. Being plugged online expedites business processes, transactions, exchange of ideas, and culminates in an ecosystem where everyone is interconnected, all the time. Secondly, with a combined population of 650 million, the potential for harnessing big data simply cannot be ignored. The rising middle class population presents vast consumption opportunities that retailers must reach out to and tap on, and to do so effectively requires harnessing big data for cross-channel success. The potential for big data transcends merely understanding and targeting customers. It can be used to optimise business processes, enhance law and security, improve public healthcare systems and even augment sports performance. The opportunities are limitless. Thirdly, automation can, rather unambiguously, lead a country down the path of efficiency and rapid development. With advances in, inter alia, artificial intelligence, machine learning and natural user interfaces, machines have outstripped the need for humans to complete mundane tasks. While that portends a looming threat over unskilled workers, equipping our workers to work with automation in their favour can generate massive productivity increases. This means workers can perform tasks that are bigger, better and faster. Cloud technology is another important trend that has the propensity to reduce costs by pooling and consolidating information. This is widely practiced in the healthcare industry, where hospitals pool patient data and this allows for more effective patient treatment. Last but certainly not the least, I believe that social media will be wielded as a powerful tool now and in generations to come. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram help people stay connected with each other, and widespread use of these networks present vast advertising opportunities. The large numbers of users also mean that the dissemination of information has never been faster. In sum, the enthusiasm for recognising these phenomena must never be taken at face value, but must be acted upon and materialised into an ASEAN that is technologically-advanced and developed.
2. “ASEAN Horizons: Security” by Ying Zhao, LSE Student in MSc Comparative Politics
I come from Nanjing, China. I study comparative politics in the Government Department, and I’m interested in Chinese politics.
The Southeast Asian region attains growing attention and importance in the world, and its security issues become a concern shared by the globe. Security issues are mainly consisted of territorial disputes, domestic political stability and regional economic stability. Maritime territorial disputes are most intense in the South China Sea between China and other competing actors such as the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei, due to abundant resources involved here. It is estimated that there are 11 billion barrels of oil and 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Although the Philippines appealed to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in Hague in 2014, China refused to be bound by United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and insisted on sovereignty over the South China Sea. To “avoid escalation of disputes” and to “mediate the imbalanced power”, U.S. decided to send troops and military equipment to the Philippines on a regular base. Apart from this, tension between China and Japan over Diaoyu Island aroused nationalist sentiments in both countries and influenced trade and investment. After 911, U.S. launched “global war against terror” and increased military presence in Southeast Asian region. Transnational militant Islamist group like Jemmah Islammiyah (JI) had cells in Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines. Although there is evidence of links between JI to al-Qaeda and the rise of more conservative Wahabite version of Islam in Indonesia and Malaysia, terrorism and radical Islamism are not as disastrous as that in the Middle East. Political instability also came from democratization process in Myanmar and Thailand and separatist movement in China. This domestic political turbulence might influence neighboring countries as large amount of migrants and refugees flowed out of their homeland and seek a new home. In terms of regional economic stability, Thailand face great challenge. The slowdown economic growth of China due to industry upgrading has influenced other countries’ economy because of its huge market. Besides issues mentioned above, there are other security problems, such as piracy and environmental degradation. And all these issues demand close discussion and consensus on solutions.
3. “ASEAN: Have We Arrived? Inclusive Growth & Development” by Cheryl Tham, 1st Year LSE Student in BSc International Relations
Originally from Singapore, I’m a first year International Relations student here at the LSE. I intend to specialise in International Political Economy (IPE) in my third year. A motto I try to live by – Do what you can; Start by starting. You only get what you grab for.
ASEAN has always been more than a static theoretical concept for me. My childhood has been peppered with ASEAN associations, many admittedly unbeknownst to me then. An avid chess player, I have represented Singapore at various ASEAN competitions. I distinctly remember the cultural performances after each day of competition. Looking back, these cultural exchanges were never merely casual entertainment for a good laugh and stretch. Indeed, one of ASEAN’s primary goals – agreed upon by the five founding states, including Singapore, was to accelerate cultural development in the region. My family has been blessed with our domestic help who hails from the Philippines, whom I affectionately call ‘Aunty Sylvia’. She represents many Filipinas who left their families and loves ones (most notably their infant children) for a foreign country to earn their keep. Despite the growing Filipino community in Singapore, there remains much room for social integration. Recent distasteful remarks about the congregation of Filipinas in front of Lucky Plaza, a shopping centre on the iconic shopping belt only echo sentiments of the NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) incident when Singaporeans were up in arms protesting against the construction of a foreign workers’ dormitory in the heart of a residential estate, Serangoon Gardens. In light of the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015, a growing proportion of migrant workers will be expected to hail from the region. To this end, grandiose notions of One Vision, One Identity, One Community must be matched with grassroots efforts of comparable vigour to foster a greater sense of ASEAN identity amongst our population, young and old alike. Since moving to London recently, I have had the privilege to enjoy the conveniences of the EU, most prominently the ease of travel within the Schengen Zone. While both regional blocs have witnessed successes in a growth in member-states, each faces mounting challenges looming ahead. The upcoming historical Brexit referendum threatens to forever change the EU narrative. ASEAN faces the perennial power-balance between China and India. To this end, both blocs should look to each other for counsel and inspiration to chart the future.
4. “Inclusive Development for ASEAN: Building a Regional Youth Consultative Assembly” by Abdul Malik Omar, LSE Student in MSc Local Economic Development
ASEAN is a sociopolitical and economic organisation of ten Southeast Asian countries which aims at accelerating economic growth, social progress, and sociocultural evolution in the region. In 2015, it has a nominal GDP of more than US$2.6 trillion placing it to be one of the top economic zones in the world. ASEAN’s population in 2015 stands at approximately 625 million people or 8.8% of the world’s population. Over half of them are below 30 years old. One can say they play a huge role in shaping the region one day. Despite this stark demographic, the youths are underrepresented in public policy making. We need to change this. To solve this issue, I propose ASEAN to create a Regional Youth Consultative Assembly, a yearly gathering of youths which ties in to the ASEAN Summit, which works to provide a platform for the youths to engage, discuss, and collaborate to solve issues and secure opportunities present in the region.
There is a four-step guideline in achieving such end: First is to reintroduce the consultative platform into the ASEAN Summit. Second, to select youth leaders in the region to represent their own countries in the event. Third, to pass and rectify resolutions in an UN Model-like framework. Finally, it is for the government to continually invest in their youths in building up their capacities to lead one day. Challenges arise. Among them is the commitment needed for member governments to carry out this project into reality, resource and capacity constraints, and the danger of tokenism. But opportunities abound, such that it can empower the future leaders of the region to make changes NOW in creating a cohesive, sustainable region. The other potential would be the realisation of a regional youth parliament one day. To conclude, the youths are the key to the future in the region. To ignore them is to ignore ASEANs future. The need to reintroduce ASEANs Youth Consultative Platform will go a long way in improving the state of ASEAN. It has been done before, it can be done again. Regional Youth Consultative Assembly must be realised.