Think Tank (2/2021)
Asian Security in a Post-COVID-19 Environment

The Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies (NTS Centre) at RSIS convened the fifth annual meeting of the NTS-Asia Consortium from 13 to 15 April 2021. The meeting was built around the theme of “Asian Security in a Post-COVID-19 Environment” and provided a platform for consortium members to exchange perspectives on the continuing relevance of non-traditional issues amid the ongoing pan ...

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Non-Traditional Security in the Asia-Pacific: A Decade of Perspectives
What is Non-Traditional Security? How have our understandings of security changed over the past decade? What are the dominant non-traditional security challenges we face in the world today? The concept of national security remains contested but our understanding of it continues to evolve as it is shaped by the world around us. From a globally dominant 'traditional' understanding of security during the Cold War characterised by a focus on countries and their militaries protecting their sovereignty to today, where non-military threats such as global pandemics, climate change, energy, to disasters threaten the wellbeing and livelihoods of people, communities, and the environment that form the backbone of society. The global dial has shifted towards a more comprehensive understanding of security that recognises these non-traditional security threats moving the focus away from solely the survival of the state to the empowerment and protection of people and the environment. This shift highlights the experiences of different individuals and communities, from civilians affected by war to irregular migrants moving from one place to the next, and what the world witnesses as efforts to empower and protect people and the environment. Indeed, comprehensive security has a long history in the post-colonial Asia-Pacific. Non-Traditional Security emerged after the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis. It emerged as a way to recalibrate the ways governments engaged people and communities and developed pathways for countries in the region to cooperate. Non-Traditional Security in the Asia-Pacific: A Decade of Perspectives, an interdisciplinary collection, is essential reading for anyone interested in the developments of security with a focus on the dominant non-traditional security threats in the Asia-Pacific over the last decade — from advanced undergraduates, graduate students, and scholars, to policymakers at the local, national, regional, and international levels.
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Humanitarianism in the Asia-Pacific: Engaging the Debate in Policy and Practice
This collection offers insights of the international humanitarian system, considering what constitutes humanitarianism in Asia-Pacific, and how it shapes policy and practice in the region and globally. It adds to the conversation on reforming the global humanitarian system by providing the space to share perspectives on humanitarian action from our place in the world. The authors answer these questions by focusing on a range of issues from national to sectoral perspectives to relations between "traditional" and "emerging" players, concluding that the dynamics of the humanitarian system from the perspectives of the Asia-Pacific are rooted in their localized experiences and built outwards. The first significant trend is that understandings of humanitarianism in the Asia-Pacific are primarily shaped by the experience of disasters at home. Second, national governments play a dominant role in humanitarian affairs in the region. Finally, the humanitarian landscape in the Asia-Pacific constitutes a diverse yet under-appreciated set of actors. This book is based on the RSIS Conference on Asia and the Humanitarian World held in 2019 in Singapore. It is relevant to students, scholars, practitioners and policymakers with an interest in humanitarian assistance, disaster management, strategic studies and international relations in Asia-Pacific.
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Understanding Religion: Theories and Methods for Studying Religiously Diverse Societies
This innovative coursebook introduces students to interdisciplinary theoretical tools for understanding contemporary religiously diverse societies—both Western and non-Western. Using a case-study model, the text considers: i) a wide and diverse array of contemporary issues, questions, and critical approaches to the study of religion relevant to students and scholars; ii) a variety of theoretical approaches, including decolonial, feminist, hermeneutical, poststructuralist, and phenomenological analyses; iii) current debates on whether the term "religion" is meaningful; iv) many key issues about the study of religion, including the insider-outsider debate, material religion, and lived religion; and v) plural and religiously diverse societies, including the theological ideas of traditions and the political and social questions that arise for those living alongside adherents of other religions Understanding Religion is designed to provide a strong foundation for instructors to explore the ideas presented in each chapter in multiple ways, engage students in meaningful activities in the classroom, and integrate additional material into their lectures. Students will gain the tools to apply specific methods from a variety of disciplines to analyze the social, political, spiritual, and cultural aspects of religions. Its unique pedagogical design means it can be used from undergraduate- to postgraduate-level courses. For details on the book launch, click here.
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Religious Hatred: Prejudice, Islamophobia and Antisemitism in Global Context
This book shows how scholarly studies of prejudice, identity formation, and genocide studies can shed light on global examples of religious hatred. The book is divided into four parts, focusing respectively on: theories of prejudice and violence; historical developments of antisemitism, Islamophobia, and race; contemporary Western antisemitism and Islamophobia; and, prejudices beyond the West in the Islamic, Buddhist, and Hindu traditions. Each part ends with a special focus section. For details on the book launch, click here.
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Countering Islamic State Ideology: Voices of Singapore Religious Scholars
In this important collection of essays, leading scholars draw on the rich traditions of Islam to counter the malignant and dangerous ideology of the Islamic State (IS), which seeks to restore the past glories and political triumphs of Islam by means of violence, cruelty and force.
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Civil Society Organizations Against Terrorism: Case Studies from Asia
With recent changes in social and political landscapes around the world the focus of preventive counter-terrorism has shifted in many places from government to civil society. The contributors analyze the different approaches of Civil Society Organizations in preventing and countering violent extremism in various countries in South and Southeast Asia. The cases examined include, Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. The key emphasis is on understanding the context within which each example was initiated, and the factors that determined their relative success or failure. The evidence from these cases suggests that much can be achieved through empowering communities to engage in aiding both the indoctrinated and those who pose the greatest risk of radicalization. A valuable contribution to the literature on preventing and countering violent extremism.
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1819 & Before: Singapore’s Pasts
The essays published here began as a series of lectures commemorating the bicentennial of Thomas Stamford Raffles’s establishment of a British Station in 1819. The essays draw on thirty-five years of archaeological investigations on and around Fort Canning, new readings of the Malay Annals, early Chinese records reporting Singapore, and the Portuguese and Dutch records to probe and challenge our understanding of Singapore’s history before Raffles. Altogether, these essays suggest that Singapore had a pre-1819 past that was deeply connected to the millennium-long maritime history of the Straits of Melaka and its links to the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean.
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Digital Diplomacy After COVID-19: Estrangement and Disruption
The Centre for Multilateralism Studies brought together experts to discuss the transformative effects of digitalisation on international diplomacy.  Professor Rebecca Adler-Nissen, University of Copenhagen, and Associate Professor Corneliu Bjola, Head of the Oxford Digital Diplomacy Research G ...
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A Pacific Turn? The Foreign and Security Policy of the European Union towards Asia
The European Union is witnessing a “Pacific turn” in its foreign and security policy but not a “pivot to Asia”, argued Assistant Professor Christian E. Rieck, Chair of War Studies at the University of Potsdam. Prof Rieck was giving a talk titled “A Pacific Turn? The Foreign and Security ...
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Pacific Regionalism at a Crossroads: How did We Get Here and Where to Next?
On 18 March 2021, the Centre for Multilateralism Studies (CMS) organised a webinar on the dynamics of regionalism in the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF). Dr Tess Newton Cain, Project Leader of Griffith Asia Institute’s Pacific Hub, discussed the longstanding tensions undergirding the decision by t ...
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The Next Bound in US-China Relations
RSIS co-organised a virtual roundtable discussion on 29 April 2021 with the China’s Center for China and Globalization (CCG) and the US-based Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS). Titled “The Next Bound in US-China Relations”, the discussion drew together distinguished schol ...
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Data Governance and Protection in Humanitarian Action: RSIS-ICRC Workshop
On 18 March 2021, the Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) Programme at RSIS and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) hosted an online workshop titled “Data Governance and Protection in Humanitarian Action”. Building on two previous RSIS events — a workshop in 2017 ...
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RSIS-RHCC Workshop on Humanitarian Futures
Disasters and crises are predicted to grow significantly in magnitude and frequency in the next decade and beyond, aggravated by technological, socioeconomic and geopolitical factors at regional and global levels. Southeast Asia, in particular, faces a wide range of potential risks, such as th ...
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COVID-19 in Asia: Reflections One Year On
On 19 March 2021, RSIS held a virtual roundtable titled “COVID-19 in Asia: Reflections One Year On”. Chaired by Prof Mely Caballero-Anthony, Head of the Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, the roundtable brought together several distinguished speakers: Dr Jemilah Mahmood, Specia ...
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SRP Executive Programme 2021
On 23 and 24 March 2021, the Studies in Inter-Religious Relations in Plural Societies (SRP) Programme held the sixth run of its Executive Programme (EP), titled “Religion, Hatred, Law, and the Pandemic”. Thirty-nine participants, ranging from policy makers and public service officers to commun ...
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Evolving Terrorism Threat in Southeast Asia
While terrorism is not an existential threat to national security in Southeast Asia, it remains a significant regional concern, especially in the Philippines. In terms of casualties, the Philippines has had the highest rate of terrorism-related fatalities in Southeast Asia because it suffers f ...
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Is Globalisation Dead? The Pandemic and De-globalisation
Signs of deglobalisation were already evident after the Global Financial Crisis in 2008 and the COVID-19 pandemic has simply amplified this trend; international trade and tourism have been greatly reduced and global supply chains disrupted as a result of lockdowns to tackle the pandemic. < ...
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Policy Research Network on Contemporary Southeast Asia Webinars
Three clusters of the Policy Research Network on Contemporary Southeast Asia (PRN-SEA) shared their findings in a series of webinars co-organised by RSIS, Japan’s National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS) and Indonesia’s Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Mar ...
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Great Power Rivalry and Maritime Order in Southeast Asia
On 9 March 2021, RSIS, Japan’s National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS) and Indonesia’s Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) co-organised a webinar titled “Great Power Rivalry and Maritime Order in Southeast Asia” under the auspices of the Policy Research Network ...
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Surveillance and Privacy during COVID-19 and the Next Normal
The COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating digital transformation in public services such as healthcare, security and education. This trend is accentuating current issues and creating new ones relating to surveillance and privacy. Bearing this concern in mind, the Centre of Excellence for Na ...
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US-China Rivalry: A "Decoupling" World?
While the Joe Biden administration may dial back anti-China rhetoric, strong bipartisan support against China in the United States makes it unlikely that we will see a substantial policy reversal to the pre-Trump era. This was the main point of convergence emerging out of a panel webina ...
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Lessons Learnt from Countering Terrorism: The UK Experience
Neil Basu, Assistant Commissioner for Specialist Operations, Metropolitan Police Service and Senior Officer-in-Charge of Counter Terrorism Policing, United Kingdom, shared his experiences working at the heart of the United Kingdom’s counter-terrorism apparatus a a webinar on 4 March 2021. Join ...
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COVID-19 and the Future of Diplomacy
As part of the RSIS webinar series on Post-Pandemic Multilateralism and Diplomacy, the Centre for Multilateralism Studies hosted an event on 2 March 2021 titled “COVID-19 and the Future of Diplomacy”. The webinar saw the panellists deliberate on the challenges brought about by diplomacy having ...
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Most Read RSIS Policy Reports
The Policy Reports offer the reader with policy recommendations for various levels – from policymakers and decision-makers in governments, to international organisations, academic institutions, think tanks, civil societies, commercial sectors, and the media.
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Most Read RSIS Commentaries
The RSIS Commentary contributes views to public discourse on international affairs, with a focus on international affairs relating to the Asia Pacific region, ranging from security and politics to climate change and non-traditional security.
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Op-eds by RSIS Researchers
RSIS Researcher regularly contribute analyses and perspectives on topical issues. These are published in presses, current affairs online platforms and top-tier academic journals. Click here for the full list of op ...
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RSIS Researchers’ Comments in the Media
RSIS Researchers regularly provide comments through media interviews to share useful resource and insights on relevant topic. These include newspaper quotes, TV interviews as well as radio interviews. Click here for th ...
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Adrian Chong
Amalina Anuar
Luca Farrow
Nazia Hussain
Shawn Ho
Irene Chan
Margareth Sembiring
Quek Xin Wei
Unaesah Rahmah
Lina Gong
Muhammad Faizal Bin Abdul Rahman
S. Nanthini
Wu Shang-Su