Think Tank (September to November 2019)
RSIS Workshop on Geopolitics and Technology

On 23 October 2019, RSIS conducted a workshop on “Geopolitics and Technology” at the Conrad Centennial Singapore. The workshop was attended by a select group of senior policymakers as well as industry and think tank leaders, including Dr Tony Tan, Chairman of the RSIS Board of Governors (BOG) and Mr Peter Ho, BOG member, were present.

Ambassador Ong Keng Yong, Executive Deputy Chair ...

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Rising from the Ashes: UN Peacebuilding in Timor-Leste
This book, Rising from the Ashes: UN Peacebuilding in Timor-Leste, provides an in-depth look into the UN's first experiment in governing and building peace in the aftermath of conflict, using East Timor as a case study. It examines how the Timorese have progressed after the UN left and the challenges that lie ahead. The book is covered in two parts: in the first part, the book examines the UN's role after it entered East Timor in 1999 as the de facto government; and in the second part, the book examines how Timor-Leste has progressed in peacebuilding after the UN's withdrawal in 2012. Rising from the Ashes: UN Peacebuilding in Timor-Leste is based on the author's first-hand experience working in the UN as it restored law and order and built a state in a country without a government, any infrastructure, or human resources. The book argues that peacebuilding is a long-term endeavor and is a work in progress in Timor-Leste, based on the good foundations laid by the UN. However, like many other developing countries, Timor-Leste has enormous challenges to address; but it also has oil resources and a young population. Its future success will depend on how its oil wealth is managed and distributed, whether it is able to bridge the urban–rural divisions in the country, provide employment for its burgeoning population, and progress economically. Last, but not least, its future success will also depend importantly, on how its leadership deals with past, namely, the continuing intra-elite divisions that are a legacy of its troubled history. They have to transcend past divisions and unite Timorese society for the future development of the country. The book ends with a set of recommendations for Timor-Leste and for the region, namely members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
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The Absent Dialogue: Politicians, Bureaucrats, and the Military in India
Civilian control over the military is widely hailed as one of the major successes of India's democracy. Because it is so rare, especially among post-colonial states, this control is rightfully celebrated. But has this come at a cost? In The Absent Dialogue, Anit Mukherjee argues that the pattern of civil-military relations in India has hampered its military effectiveness. Diving deep into understanding the organization and internal processes within the Indian military, he explains how Indian politicians and bureaucrats have long been content with the formal and ritualistic exercise of civilian control, while the military continues to operate in institutional silos. Yet, there has been little substantive engagement between the two. To support this claim, Mukherjee closely examines the variables most closely associated with military effectiveness-weapons procurement, jointness (the ability of separate military services to operate together), officer education, promotion policies, and defense planning. Further, Mukherjee shows how India's pattern of civil-military relations-best characterized as an absent dialogue-adversely affects each of these processes. While the book focuses on India, it also highlights the importance of civilian expertise and institutional design in enhancing civilian control and military effectiveness in other democracies. Informed by more than a hundred and fifty interviews and recently available archival material, The Absent Dialogue sheds new light on India's military and will reshape our understanding of both the history and contemporary dynamics of civil-military relations and recurring problems therein.
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Malaysia’s 14th General Election and UMNO’s Fall: Intra-Elite Feuding in the Pursuit of Power
The 2018 Malaysian General Election will stand as a major defining event in Malaysian history, when the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition unexpectedly lost power in the country they had ruled for over half a century. This volume brings together scholars who assess one fundamental factor that brought about this game-changing event in Malaysian politics: intra-elite feuding in the leading Malay-based political parties. This study provides an analysis of individual state politics as well as national trends shaped by the actions of leaders in government and the opposition. An indispensable guide for scholars studying the politics of Malaysia and of Southeast Asia more broadly, it will be of great interest for all readers with an interest in Malaysian politics.
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Normalization of Violence: Conceptual Analysis and Reflections from Asia (Irm Haleem, ed.)
This book offers both a conceptual and an empirical analysis of how violence is normalized. In its conceptual analysis, Irm Haleem offers a framework of explanation that she argues is universal in its narratives, which she submits is premised on moralizing, legalizing, and popularizing violence. Haleem engages Stathis Kalyvas’ notion of the two stages of violence (process and outcome), and proposes the notion of ‘metaphysical’ violence as distinct from physical violence. Through drawing upon works of scholars such as Hannah Arendt, Noam Chomsky, WJT Mitchell, Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, George Kateb, and others, she illustrates why these distinctions (of stages and types of violence) are critical in understanding how violence is normalized. In its empirical analysis, Naoko Kumada argues that the contemporary changes in narratives and educational curriculum in Japan are intended to moralize the historic glory days of imperial Japan, which, she argues, may subsequently normalize militarism. Stefanie Kam focuses on how China has normalized violence in Xinjiang through narratives of the imperatives of security, thereby both legalizing and moralizing violence. Jennifer Dhanaraj argues how the denial of citizenship to the Rohingya community in Myanmar has provided both the moral and legal justifications for Buddhist extremists and the military to wage a brutal and unbridled war against the Rohingyas. Finally, Abdul Basit examines how the ex-communication of the Ahmadi sectarian minority in Pakistan has criminalized the minority, thus paving the way for unbridled violence against them from extremist mobs that have justified their violence in moral and legal terms. In all the cases in this book, we see how violence is popularized as being either a matter of the will of the people, or as being for the greater good of the people. This book is a valuable resource for scholars of the theory of violence, both evaluating and building on existing theory in an Asian context.
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The Responsibility to Provide in Southeast Asia: Towards an Ethical Explanation
Despite the long-held and jealously guarded ASEAN principle of non-intervention, this book argues that states in Southeast Asia have begun to display an increasing readiness to think about sovereignty in terms not only of state responsibility to their own populations but also towards neighbouring countries as well. Taking account of the realities of interstate cooperation in the region, and drawing on the work of Emmanuel Levinas, the author develops a new theoretical framework reflecting an evolution of attitudes about state sovereignty to explain this emerging ethic of regional responsibility.
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Understanding and Countering Online Falsehoods and Influence Operations
The Centre of Excellence for National Security (CENS) held its workshop titled “Understanding and Countering Online Falsehoods and Influence Operations” from 4 to 5 November at Marina Mandarin Singapore. This annual workshop is a follow-up to its previous editions, held in 2017 and 2018. < ...
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Trilateral Dialogue on Strategic Landscape, Governance Trends, and Economic Cooperation in Southeast Asia
RSIS, The Brookings Institution and Lowy Institute, co-organised a conference on “ASEAN, Australia, and the United States”. Held from 29 to 30 October at Grand Copthorne Waterfront, the dialogue examined the strategic landscape, governance trends, and economic cooperation in Southe ...
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Singapore Trade Policy Forum 2019
The Centre for Multilateralism Studies (CMS), organised the Singapore Trade Policy Forum at Sheraton Towers Singapore on 21 and 22 October. With support from the governments of Singapore, New Zealand, and Australia, the forum brought together experts from government, business, and academia. Th ...
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RSIS-IAEA Faculty Development Course on Nuclear Security
The Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies at RSIS and the Division of Nuclear Security of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), co-organised a faculty development course on nuclear security at the RSIS Lecture Theatre, from 21 to 25 October 2019. The course provided basic traini ...
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RSIS-GCSP Executive Course on “Crisis Management: Navigating the Storm”
The RSIS’ Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) Programme and Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP) co-hosted the second “Crisis Management: Navigating the Storm” executive course in Singapore. The five-day course had participants from government, military, international organi ...
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Belt and Road Initiative: Impacts on Recipient Countries and Global Governance
On 7 October 2019, RSIS brought experts together to discuss the “Belt and Road Initiative: Impacts on Recipient Countries and Global Governance”. Co-organised by the RSIS’ China Programme and Public Policy and Global Affairs Programme of School of Social Sciences, the workshop provided a platf ...
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Seminar by NSSP Distinguished Visitor Dr Sean McFate
Dr Sean McFate was in Singapore from 7 to 11 October as part of the Distinguished Visitor Programme hosted by RSIS’ National Security Studies Programme. Dr McFate is an author, novelist, and expert on foreign policy, grand strategy, and war. A professor of strategy at the National Defense Univ ...
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Crises, Political Populism, and Wealth Shocks
On 4 October 2019, Professor Andrew Walter, NTUC Professor of International Economic Relations at RSIS and Professor of International Relations at the University of Melbourne, delivered a public lecture at Marina Mandarin Singapore, on how financial insecurity affects support for populist poli ...
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Conference on Foreign Interference Tactics and Countermeasures
The Conference on Foreign Interference Tactics and Countermeasures was held on 25 September at the PARKROYAL on Beach Road Singapore. Organised by RSIS, the conference aims to raise awareness on the modalities of foreign interference/evolution of foreign interference and digital-age tactics.
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China’s Vision for a New Regional and International Order
The National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR) and RSIS held a joint workshop on 18 September 2019 exploring China’s vision for a new regional and international order. In recent years, an increasingly wealthy and powerful China has sought to remould the world order in accordance with China’s stat ...
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Countering Extremism
The Centre of Excellence for National Security (CENS) held its annual workshop on countering extremism from 16 to 17 September, at the Marina Mandarin Singapore. Organised by CENS’ Radicalisation Studies Programme, this year’s iteration was titled “The Next Lap”, which recognised the progress ...
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Kick-off Workshop for the Policy Research Network on Contemporary Southeast Asia
RSIS, the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS) in Japan, and the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Indonesia co-organised a kick-off workshop from 6 to 7 September 2019, to launch the Policy Research Network on Contemporary Southeast Asia. Around 50 par ...
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Appraising Thucydides’ Trap
Professor Steve Chan, College Professor of Distinction and Professor of Political Science, University of Colorado, Boulder and Ngee Ann Kongsi, Professor of International Relations delivered an RSIS Distinguished Public Lecture titled “Appraising Thucydides’ Trap” at Marina Mandarin Singapore ...
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Hindu Nationalism: Meanings and Implications
On 2 September 2019, Professor Gavin Flood, FBA, Visiting Professor at the RSIS’ Studies in Inter-Religious Relations in Plural Societies Programme, presented his views on the various meanings of Hindu nationalism. He argued that Hindu nationalism need not come at the cost of Hindu narratives ...
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Maintaining Strategic Autonomy in Times of Tectonic Shifts in Global Affairs
RSIS and Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP) dedicated its inaugural dialogue to addressing the contemporary topic of “Maintaining Strategic Autonomy in Times of Tectonic Shifts in Global Affairs”. Hosted by RSIS in Singapore, the dialogue brought together more than 30 academics and resear ...
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Mervin Kok
Adrian Chong
Adrian Ang U-Jin
Angelo Trias
David Butler
Jansen Wee
Lee YingHui
Sarah Teo
Zi Yang
Alistair D. B. Cook
Benjamin Ho
Ghina Natasha
Julius Cesar Imperial Trajano
Muhammad Haziq Bin Jani
Tsjeng Zhizhao Henrick
Amalina Anuar
Cameron Sumpter
Gulizar Haciyakupoglu
Lee Hui Ying
Nazia Hussain
Xue Gong