Kausikan discusses Singapore’s Foreign Policy future

On 3 April 2019, Mr Bilahari Kausikan discussed Singapore’s future foreign policy challenges as well as the nation’s best path forward at his fifth and final FASS90 Political Science Lecture on the Practice of Foreign Affairs.

A Foreign Policy Literate Populace

Foreign affairs and diplomacy are inherently nuanced – subtle endeavours that do not always lend themselves easily to the masses. “Most people in every country take only a cursory interest in foreign affairs, and thus find superficial narratives possible,” said Mr Kausikan. Combined with the fact that the effects of foreign policy are less visible on the home front, the general population will either be completely unaware of Singapore’s diplomatic actions or worse, come away with an inaccurate and superficial understanding.

Quoting the late Dr Goh Keng Swee, he cited the mistaken belief that statecraft can be performed in the same way as business negotiations.

“Our businessmen, in the ordinary course of work, have numerous dealings with government officials of these countries. They have to obtain licenses, concessions, contracts and permits. Thus, the Singapore businessman, in the eyes of these governments, performs the role of supplicant for favours. And as our businessmen often compete in their supplications, the image that this creates of Singapore can well be imagined…. Unfortunately, they do not understand, and I am afraid cannot understand, that in the nature of things, relations between independent sovereign states cannot be conducted on the basis of supplicant and overlord. The methods they found so successful in business are not available to us as a government.”

Both Dr Goh and Mr Kausikan emphasized a healthy relationship between two countries involves treating each other as fellow sovereign states first and foremost, regardless of any disparity in size, population or economy.

Mr. Kausikan responding to questions with Deputy Head of Department of Political Science Assoc Prof Ian Chong.

“Small States Cannot Behave Like Small States”

While undeniably succinct and memorable, Mr Kausikan would probably agree that a more complete statement would be that small states cannot behave in a manner proportionate to their size, especially when dealing with larger states. Singapore may be dwarfed by global superpowers like the United States and China, but it must not succumb to staying out of the way and “surrendering ourselves to our fates” especially when national interests are at stake.

“The pragmatic realism of our first-generation leaders recognises that even small countries are never without agency, and were willing to take risks when the interests at stake were important enough,” said Mr Kausikan, referring to instances such as Singapore’s rejection of Chinese demarches to support its position on the South China Sea disputes in ASEAN forums. His warning was clear: if Singapore did not stand up for itself and exercise its agency as a sovereign state to defend core national interests, it would soon find that agency taken away from it.

“Small states should not behave like small states, not if they want to remain states anyway.”

Singapore’s Foreign Policy and What the Future Holds

When discussing the way forward for Singapore’s foreign policy, Mr Kausikan reiterated from his first lecture: “Sometimes, trying to avoid risk is the riskiest option.” He cautioned against defaulting to the safest option available, “particularly at a time greater than usual international flux.” In particular, he was worried about the civil service becoming unnecessarily risk adverse when it came to international relations, especially since foreign policy inherently entails “more risk than in other domains.”

“Dealing with slices of problems rather than their broader implications, being narrowly transactional in relationships and blurring clarity by overly hedging assessments,” he cautioned.

Guarding against complacency in Singapore was a key point Mr Kausikan drove home. When asked by an audience member on Singapore’s next step given it acquired First World status some time ago and is no longer trying to simply survive from day to day, his reply was blunt: “You can never come to the conclusion that ‘Okay! We have done it, we are developed now, we are alright, we can relax.’ That is the way to destroy yourself.”

“In fact, the greatest challenge to Singapore is internalizing the sense that ‘we have arrived.’ We are never going to ‘arrive’; it is always going to be a journey, it is never going to end,” he said. “We have far more capabilities than we did several decades ago. But this is still a dangerous world… The goal is always the same: create a better life for your people given the changing circumstances and the higher expectations (of Singapore’s citizens), and to survive in a complicated world… as best we can.”

Watch the lecture here.

Mr Kausikan discussing future foreign policy considerations for Singapore.

About the Speaker
Bilahari Kausikan is Chairman of the Middle East Institute, NUS. From 2001 to 2013, he was first the second Permanent Secretary and then Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). He was subsequently Ambassador-at-Large until May 2018, having previously served in various MFA appointments, including as the Deputy Secretary for Southeast Asia, the Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York and as Ambassador to the Russian Federation.

FASS90 Political Science Lecture Series on the Practice of Foreign Affairs
This five part lecture series is organised by the NUS Political Science Society with support from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) and the Department of Political Science. Established in 1929, FASS, one of the earliest and largest faculties is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year. Whilst witnessing numerous changes, we remain steadfast to our vision to strive forward as a premier faculty of excellence in humanities and social sciences that nurtures tomorrow’s engaged, thoughtful and creative global citizens. To mark this occasion, the Faculty is organising a series of events showcasing the strength and breadth of the Faculty’s research as well as kick start future initiatives that would benefit the generations of students who will come through our halls.

US-Sino Relations: Complex and Uncertain – Kausikan

Mr Bilahari Kausikan spoke at length about how US-China relations today affect the current global and regional political order on 20 March 2019 at his fourth FASS90 Political Science Lecture on the Practice of Foreign Affairs.

He was keen to emphasise that despite some similarities, Sino-American relations today are fundamentally different from those between the US and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. “The post-Cold War (world) is complex, not binary,” he stated.

Mr. Kausikan (right) responding to questions with Assoc Prof Bilveer Singh (left) from the Department of Political Science

“US-China Relations are Inextricably Entangled in a Way US-Soviet Relations Never Were”

Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Cold War-era of international political structure that had persisted for more than four decades abruptly came to an end. “Despite its many dangers, the Cold War international order was clear and simple; essentially binary in structure,” said Mr Kausikan.

“You were either on one side or the other. Even if you tried to be or pretended to be non-aligned, you essentially defined your interests in relation to this binary structure. This entrenched a mode of thought: a binary view of the world that is still a powerful albeit usually unconscious, but certainly inappropriate influence on how we understand the trope of China’s rise.”

The biggest difference in today’s US-China relations compared to US-Soviet relations during the Cold War was how interlinked America was with each at the time. The Soviet Union “largely contained itself by pursuing autarky,” Kausikan said. “The US and the Soviet Union interacted only tangentially; their relationship was structured primarily by the need to avoid mutual destruction.”

This is unlike China today, which is inseparably inter-connected with the American economy and that of the world. “Unlike the Soviet Union, China is an irreplaceable node in the global economy, as vital as the American economy,” he stated. “US-China relations are simultaneously inter-dependent in a way that is historically unique between major powers, and simultaneously infused with a deep strategic distrust.” Yet despite this distrust, Kausikan was adamant that Sino-American rivalry was not a zero-sum game as some claim. “China’s rise is not necessarily America’s decline, except in relative terms,” he said, dismissing it as another relic of an outdated Cold War-era mentality.

Bilahari Kausikan discussing US-Sino relations.

America: “Spreading the Burden of Leadership”

Mr Kausikan also noted that despite their vast differences, “both Obama and Trump are iterations of the post-Cold War metamorphosis of American values.” Both have attempted to spread the burden of leadership, particularly defence costs, onto America’s allies; Obama merely did so in a more tactful manner than his successor.

In fact, Kausikan was of the opinion President Trump and his tough stance toward China was not a passing phase but a permanent shift in American policy. “Trump is not an aberration that will pass with the next administration,” he stated. “Key elements of his foreign policy, in particular the tougher approach to China as a strategic competitor enjoy strong bipartisan support across many policy domains.”

“Trump’s successor may speak more prudently and act more predictably, but the probability is that whoever succeeds Trump will represent the same political phenomenon and pursue much the same policies, at least towards China.”

China: Globalisation’s Biggest Winner, Protectionism’s Biggest Loser

This new hostile American stance to both China and globalisation will have serious implications for China, particularly for its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative. “China was the main beneficiary of the American-led post-Cold War globalisation. China may well be the main loser if that order should further fray because the US now embraces a narrower concept of leadership,” Mr Kausikan noted.

“Can the Belt and Road Initiative succeed if the world turns protectionist as a result of the trade war? I don’t think so. More to the point, I don’t think the Chinese think so either.”

And despite its undeniable position as an economic superpower, Kausikan was not optimistic that China could be a substitute for American leadership in the global economy. “An open global order cannot be led on the basis of a still-largely closed and mercantilist Chinese model,” he remarked, especially when “Chinese growth rests on that open international order.” As such, he feels that some sort of temporary truce will be called on the ongoing trade war, although it would likely be “a very bad deal, and both sides will have the incentive to get out of it as soon as possible.”

Engagement Still the Main Tone of US-China Relationships

Nevertheless, Mr Kausikan emphasised that despite the rancour of the trade war, the central theme of US-China bilateral ties was that of engagement and communication. “War is highly improbable, nuclear deterrence impels caution, engagement will not cease and the US and China will still cooperate when their interests coincide,” he stated. Given how closely the two countries are tied to each other and the rest of the world economically, a continued policy of engagement would bode well for all sides.

Watch the lecture here.

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About the Speaker
Bilahari Kausikan is Chairman of the Middle East Institute, NUS. From 2001 to 2013, he was first the second Permanent Secretary and then Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). He was subsequently Ambassador-at-Large until May 2018, having previously served in various MFA appointments, including as the Deputy Secretary for Southeast Asia, the Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York and as Ambassador to the Russian Federation.

FASS90 Political Science Lecture Series on the Practice of Foreign Affairs
This five part lecture series is organised by the NUS Political Science Society with support from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) and the Department of Political Science. Established in 1929, FASS, one of the earliest and largest faculties is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year. Whilst witnessing numerous changes, we remain steadfast to our vision to strive forward as a premier faculty of excellence in humanities and social sciences that nurtures tomorrow’s engaged, thoughtful and creative global citizens. To mark this occasion, the Faculty is organising a series of events showcasing the strength and breadth of the Faculty’s research as well as kick start future initiatives that would benefit the generations of students who will come through our halls.

FASS Lecture – Education for a World that Works by Prof Elizabeth Minnich | 11 April 2019 (Thursday)

You are cordially invited to a FASS lecture Education for a World that Worksby Professor Elizabeth Minnich.

Professor Elizabeth Minnich is a Distinguished Fellow with the Association of American Colleges & Universities and Professor of Moral Philosophy at Queens University. Previously, she served as Dean and Core Professor at the Graduate School of the Union Institute and University.  Her special appointments have included Visiting Scholar, Scholars & Seminars Program at The Getty Research Institute for the History of Art & The Humanities; the Hartley Burr Alexander Chair in Public Philosophy at Scripps College; the Daniel Evans Chair at Evergreen State College; the Whichard Visiting Distinguished Professorship of Humanities and Women’s Studies at East Carolina University; Visiting Distinguished Professor at the University of Hartford; the Carol Zicklin Visiting Scholar in Interdisciplinary Studies at Brooklyn College.  Earlier in her career, she was Associate Dean of Faculty at Barnard College/Columbia University after teaching and serving in various administrative positions at Sarah Lawrence and Hollins Colleges.

The lecture will be moderated by Professor Robbie Goh, Dean Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.

Date: 11 Apr 2019 (Thursday)

Time: 3pm (Tea Reception followed by Lecture)

Venue: Blk AS8, Level 4, Seminar Room #04-04, 10 Kent Ridge Campus (Next to Central Library) (Click here for Map)

For catering purposes, kindly register via http://bit.ly/fass-education by 5 April 2019 (Friday).

Bilahari Kausikan discusses the Art of ASEAN diplomacy

Bilahari Kausikan (Arts & Social Sciences ’76) discussed the Association of South-East Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) historical and current role at his third instalment of the Practice of Foreign Policy Lecture Series at NUS on 13 March 2019.

Founding Purpose – What was Left Unsaid
ASEAN, according to Kausikan, was very much a product of the Cold War. Although the Bangkok Declaration, ASEAN’s founding document, emphasised economic cooperation, “for ASEAN’s first quarter-century, almost nothing was done to advance economic cooperation.” ASEAN’s true purpose at the time was to function as a bulwark against growing communist influence in the region, particularly after Vietnam invaded Cambodia in 1978 with Soviet Union’s support.

“There were more immediate political and security concerns, and irrespective of what the Bangkok Declaration said, these political and security concerns were ASEAN’s real concerns. Whatever our other differences, all the five founding members were anti-communist or non-communist,” he said. “The realisation was that if we did not hang together, we would hang separately.”

Despite ASEAN’s newfound unity and common purpose, it was still out of its weight class when it came to the Cambodian conflict. The Vietnam-Cambodia war was a “Sino-Soviet proxy war, and it was never in ASEAN’s power to resolve. This was a big boys’ game,” stated Kausikan. “ASEAN’s role was to rally international support to prevent a Soviet-backed Vietnamese fait accompli. And this was a limited, but not inconsequential role which we performed very successfully.”

Bilahari Kausikan (right) responding to questions with Asst Prof Deepak Nair (left) from the Department of Political Science.

 

Bilahari Kausikan sharing his insights on ASEAN with the audience.

Post-Cold War: Still Limited but Vital
With the end of the Cold War following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, ASEAN found itself in need of a new purpose. What was ASEAN to do now that communism was no longer a threat?

“The answer to that,” Kausikan said, “was to try and do what we had always said was our purpose: economic cooperation.” In 1992, the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) was set up and the first phase of economic integration was “completed as scheduled by the end of 2015.” That economic integration however, did not come easy, particularly because “it was difficult to muster the will to take the political decisions that economic cooperation required without the existential challenges of the Cold War as a spur.”

Consensus and Non-Interference: Stability, Even at the Cost of Efficiency
Much of this was due to ASEAN’s “most fundamental consideration”, which is “to preserve the organisation, even if it means inaction or consensus only of form.” This meant that unless all member states agreed, ASEAN would choose the safe option and take no action. In a region with such vast differences in government styles and culture coupled with wildly diverging national interests, achieving unanimous consensus can be complicated and difficult even in the best of times.

While Kausikan admitted that consensus-based decision making often produced “sub-optimal outcomes,” he was adamant that “despite their obvious limitations, consensus and non-interference cannot be abandoned as ASEAN’s core operating principles.” Maintaining consensus amongst all ASEAN members remains paramount because “all the differences that have made regionalism so necessary and so hard to achieve have not disappeared, and will never disappear. They therefore have to be managed, if the peace is to be kept.” Using any other mode of decision-making “risks even small differences escalating into serious conflicts.”

ASEAN and the South China Sea Disputes
With four ASEAN member states currently locked in territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea, questions from the audience naturally gravitated the position ASEAN ought to take. When asked, Kausikan dismissed the idea of ASEAN playing a larger role in collectively engaging China on territorial disputes.

“We (ASEAN) discuss the South China Sea collectively with China, but we can only do that on issues that are actually secondary or tangential to the core issue, which are the competing claims,” he stated. “Territorial disputes can by definition only be settled by the parties to the dispute,” which are primarily bilateral.

In fact, Mr Kausikan contends that “it is beyond ASEAN’s capabilities to resolve the disputes in the South China Sea” since it has become “something of a proxy for the contest between the American and Chinese ideas of regionalism.”

“As with the Cambodian issue in the 1980’s, this is a big boys’ game.”

The best thing ASEAN can do now regarding the South China Sea according to him, is to “make our red lines clear to both sides” and once again play a limited, but vital role in keeping the peace in the region.

Most importantly, he added, “there are things that ASEAN can do very well and we do them, there are things we can only do sub-optimally, and there are things that are simply beyond our powers. And the art of ASEAN diplomacy is to know which is which.”

Watch the lecture here.

The third instalment in the series, Bilahari Kausikan addressing a full house on ASEAN.

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About the Speaker
Bilahari Kausikan is Chairman of the Middle East Institute, NUS. From 2001 to 2013, he was first the second Permanent Secretary and then Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). He was subsequently Ambassador-at-Large until May 2018, having previously served in various MFA appointments, including as the Deputy Secretary for Southeast Asia, the Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York and as Ambassador to the Russian Federation.

FASS90 Political Science Lecture Series on the Practice of Foreign Affairs
This five part lecture series is organised by the NUS Political Science Society with support from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) and the Department of Political Science. Established in 1929, FASS, one of the earliest and largest faculties is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year. Whilst witnessing numerous changes, we remain steadfast to our vision to strive forward as a premier faculty of excellence in humanities and social sciences that nurtures tomorrow’s engaged, thoughtful and creative global citizens. To mark this occasion, the Faculty is organising a series of events showcasing the strength and breadth of the Faculty’s research as well as kick start future initiatives that would benefit the generations of students who will come through our halls.

Cooperation key to good relations – Kausikan

On 20 February 2019, Mr Bilahari Kausikan (Arts and Social Sciences ’76) presented the complex and sometimes tense bilateral relations Singapore has with Malaysia and Indonesia, while concisely describing the importance of understanding Singapore’s rather different relationship with each.

Kausikan was candid when describing Singapore’s sovereignty, “The governments of our neighbours deal with Singapore as a sovereign nation because we have developed capabilities,” he said.

Bilateral Relations with Malaysia

Given recent public discussions over the deferment of the Singapore-KL high-speed rail, the Instrument Landing System (ILS) over Seletar Airport and the extension of Malaysia’s port limits into Singapore waters, it was no surprise that Singapore’s bilateral relations with Malaysia took centre stage during his lecture.

Mr Kausikan cautioned against assuming recent differing opinions were solely due to the surprise election of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government in Malaysia and the return of Dr Mahathir Mohamad as Prime Minister of Malaysia.

“We should not place too much emphasis for the current situation on PM Mahathir,” he said. “These are not new issues; they are very old issues … this is the fourth iteration.”

Mr Kausikan was optimistic the next generation of Singapore’s leadership is capable. In particular, he singled out Minister of Finance Heng Swee Keat, former Principal Personal Secretary to the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Minister of Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing’s tenure as Chief of the Army. Their vast experiences can inform Singapore’s future foreign policies.

Mr Kausikan speaking to the audience about Singapore and Malaysia-Indonesia relations.
Mr. Kausikan responding to questions with Deputy Head of Department of Political Science Assoc Prof Terence Lee.

Bilateral Relations with Indonesia

Mr Kausikan emphasized that while Singapore’s relations with Malaysia and Indonesia are similar, there are some differences.

He highlighted Indonesia under President Joko Widodo’s administration is “much more interested in domestic issues (like) alleviating poverty and doing things for his own people, (concerning himself) with foreign policy only to the degree that it contributes to that.”

Since 2014, Singapore has been Indonesia’s largest foreign investor with US$8.4 billion in realised investments in 2017 alone. Cordial bilateral relations advance Indonesia’s domestic goals while allowing Singapore access to the largest economy in ASEAN. Both are among each other’s top trading partners and source of visitor arrivals.

Importance of Regional Cooperation

He emphasized putting aside differences and cooperating whenever possible throughout the discussion. When asked about the threat of cross-border terrorism by a member of the audience, he replied the security departments of the three countries collaborated closely to ensure safety. This was a good example of Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia working together towards a common goal.

“The Malaysian Special Branch, the equivalent of our ISD, is extremely professional and cooperates closely with our security authorities” he said.

Later, he recounted a 2016 incident when Indonesian authorities arrested a group of militants planning to launch rockets towards Singapore from Batam, as an example of Indonesia-Singapore addressing cross-border terrorism.

Mr Kausikan stressed that Singapore “can cooperate with our neighbours, should cooperate, and in fact must cooperate” while safeguarding and advancing national interests.

Watch the lecture here.

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About the Speaker
Bilahari Kausikan is Chairman of the Middle East Institute, NUS. From 2001 to 2013, he was first the second Permanent Secretary and then Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). He was subsequently Ambassador-at-Large until May 2018, having previously served in various MFA appointments, including as the Deputy Secretary for Southeast Asia, the Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York and as Ambassador to the Russian Federation.

FASS90 Political Science Lecture Series on the Practice of Foreign Affairs
This five part lecture series is organised by the NUS Political Science Society with support from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) and the Department of Political Science. Established in 1929, FASS, one of the earliest and largest faculties is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year. Whilst witnessing numerous changes, we remain steadfast to our vision to strive forward as a premier faculty of excellence in humanities and social sciences that nurtures tomorrow’s engaged, thoughtful and creative global citizens. To mark this occasion, the Faculty is organising a series of events showcasing the strength and breadth of the Faculty’s research as well as kick start future initiatives that would benefit the generations of students who will come through our halls.

NUS Philosophy alum wins big at 71st Locarno International Film Festival

We are pleased to report that filmmaker Yeo Siew Hua, an alumnus from the Department of Philosophy, has won the Golden Leopard for his film A Land Imagined at the 71st Locarno International Film Festival back in August 2018.

Mr Yeo is the first Singaporean to win the coveted top prize in this European film festival. According to a local pundit, “Winning at Locarno is a massive achievement for the avant-garde auteur. The first edition was held in 1946, making it the first international film festival to take place after World War II.”

The film follows a lonely construction worker from China who goes missing in Singapore after forming a virtual friendship with a mysterious online gamer and a police investigator who uncovers much more than he bargained for in order to find him.

A Land Imagined is released in Singapore theatres from 21 February 2019.

Bilahari Kausikan shares foreign policy insights in first of public lecture series

On 30 Jan 2019, Bilahari Kausikan (Arts & Social Sciences ’76) spoke on the practice of foreign policy at NUS. He situated the fundamental role of national interests in foreign policy and explained why Singapore’s national interests are not better and more widely understood. He examined common errors in thinking about foreign policy, as well as the creation and maintenance of relevance for a small city-state like Singapore.

The inaugural lecture was presided by NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye, Senior Deputy President and Provost Ho Teck Hua and FASS Dean Professor Robbie Goh.

Watch the lecture here.

 

Mr. Kausikan sharing foreign policy insights with the audience.
Mr. Kausikan responding to questions with Head of Department of Political Science Assoc Prof Soo Yeon Kim.
NUS President Prof Tan Eng Chye presenting a token of appreciation to Mr. Kausikan.

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In conjunction with the Faculty of Arts and Social Science’s 90th anniversary, the Department of Political Science is hosting Kausikan’s lectures on the Practice of Foreign Affairs. Full information, topics and dates available here.

Bilahari Kausikan is Chairman of the Middle East Institute, NUS. From 2001 to 2013, he was first the second Permanent Secretary and then Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). He was subsequently Ambassador-at-Large until May 2018, having previously served in various MFA appointments, including as the Deputy Secretary for Southeast Asia, the Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York and as Ambassador to the Russian Federation.

Established in 1929, the NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS), one of the earliest and largest faculties is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year. Whilst witnessing numerous changes, we remain steadfast to our vision to strive forward as a premier faculty of excellence in humanities and social sciences that nurtures tomorrow’s engaged, thoughtful and creative global citizens. To mark this occasion, the Faculty is organising a series of events showcasing the strength and breadth of the Faculty’s research as well as kick start future initiatives that would benefit the generations of students who will come through our halls.

Joint Book Launch – Citizens in Motion: Emigration, Immigration, and Re-migration Across China’s Borders & Marrying for a Future: Transnational Sri Lankan Tamil Marriages in the Shadow of War

A joint book launch celebrating the release of Citizens in Motion: Emigration, Immigration, and Re-migration Across China’s Borders by Associate Professor Elaine Ho (NUS Department of Geography and FASS Research Division) and Marrying for a Future: Transnational Sri Lankan Tamil Marriages in the Shadow of War by Assistant Professor Sidharthan Maunaguru (NUS Department of South Asian Studies and NUS Department of Sociology) will be held at the Pod, NLB on Tuesday, 7th May 2019.
 
In Citizens in Motion, A/P Ho examines the migration patterns and multifaceted national affiliations of both elaine hoChinese migrants overseas and foreign migrants in China. Through interviews and ethnographic observations conducted in China, Canada, Singapore, and the China-Myanmar border, A/P Ho captures the rich diversity of contemporary Chinese migration processes. By bringing together these various experiences and national contexts, A/P Ho offers an insightful analysis of the challenges and opportunities facing nation-building and cultural diversity management mediated by the influences of migration processes.
marrying for a futureAsst Prof Maunaguru focuses on Sri Lanka in Marrying for a Future, where he argues that the social institution of marriage sidharthan maunaguruserves as a critical means of reuniting dispersed segments of Tamil communities who fled Sri Lanka during the almost 26 year civil war. This is because key agents and elements of marriage such as marriage brokers and transit places help foster connections between these fragmented communities. Importantly, the book offers an interesting take on migration issues by situating transnational marriage within the larger scholarship of forced displacement and refugees.
 
Together, A/P Ho and Asst Prof Maunaguru contribute unique approaches to studying migration and opens up possibilities for future scholarship to build on these alternative perspectives. If you are interested to hear more from the authors themselves, please RSVP to reserve your seat. The event details are as follows:
Date: Tuesday, 7th May 2019
 
Time: 6.00–8.30pm
Venue: The Pod, National Library Building
 
Organizers: Singapore Research Nexus and FASS Migration Cluster, FASS Research Division
 
Click here for additional details.
 

FASS90 Political Science Lecture Series on the Practice of Foreign Affairs: Bilahari Kausikan on Singapore Foreign Policy

Click to enlarge.

In conjunction with FASS’ 90th anniversary, the Department of Political Science is organising a public lecture series on the Practice of Foreign Affairs. The guest lecturer is former Ambassador and currently Chairman of the Middle East Institute, Mr Bilahari Kausikan.

Date: 30 Jan, 20 Feb, 13 Mar, 20 Mar & 3 Apr
Time: 6pm – 8pm
Venue: FASS LT11 (Click for map)

Sign up for the lecture via the following links:
https://tinyurl.com/polsci-sfp-nusmembers (NUS members)
https://tinyurl.com/polsci-sfp-public (Public members)

The synopses for the lectures are as follows:

Lecture One: How to Think about Foreign Policy?
30 January 2019
The first lecture situates the fundamental role of national interests in foreign policy. Why are Singapore’s national interests not better and more widely understood? The talk examines some common errors in thinking about foreign policy, as well as the creation and maintenance of relevance for a small city-state, and why small countries should not behave like small countries.

Watch the lecture.

Lecture Two: Origins I – Relations with Malaysia and Indonesia
20 February 2019
The second lecture conveys the inevitable complexity of relations with Singapore’s neighbours. It provides an overview of the systemic origins of bilateral tensions with our neighbours, focusing on the uses and abuses of history, and the roles of ‘baggage’ and personality. The talk ends with thoughts on how Singapore could manage complexity and cope with competing nationalisms with our neighbours.

Watch the lecture.

Lecture Three: Origins II – ASEAN: Vital but Limited
13 March 2019
 The third lecture discusses the origins of regionalism in Southeast Asia. It explains the necessity but also the limits of ASEAN. The talk will suggest that ‘it is pointless to criticise a cow for being an imperfect horse’.

Watch the lecture.

Lecture Four: The New Global and Regional Strategic Context
20 March 2019
The fourth lecture looks at the key factors driving change in the global and regional order. Issues to be explored include: the nature of US-China relations, coping with competing influences, the roles of Japan, India, Australia, Russia and the EU. The talk also offers thoughts as to why the future of East Asia will be multi-polar.

Watch the lecture.

Lecture Five: Future Challenges
3 April 2019
The final lecture in the series examines the interaction of foreign policy and domestic politics. It offers thoughts on how to manage uncertainty and emerging systemic vulnerabilities in Singapore.

Watch the lecture.

Professor Ted Hopf’s work wins the 2018 Albie award

Congratulations to Prof Ted Hopf from the Department of Political Science on winning the Albie award from the Washington Post for his journal article, jointly written with Bentley B. Allan and Srdjan Vucetic, entitled “The Distribution of Identity and the Future of International Order: China’s Hegemonic Prospects.”

The Albie award recognises the best work on political economy in 2018. Named after the late, great political economist Albert O. Hirschman, the winning works are curated by Daniel W. Drezner, a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and a regular contributor at The Washington Post. According to Prof Drezner, “The important thing about an Albie-winning piece of work is that it forces the reader to think about the past, present or future politics of the global economy in a way that can’t be un-thought.”

Here’s what Prof Drezner said about the article:

“There has been so much written about the liberal international order this past year. Its critics are piling on, and even its most enthusiastic cheerleaders have doubts. This article, however, suggests that the current hegemonic order is likely to be far more resilient than the pessimists believe. This is because the core ideas animating the current order — democracy and free markets — have far more popular support across the globe than elites tend to assume. Any Chinese effort to challenge or supplant the current order is therefore unlikely to gain many adherents.”

On winning the award, Prof Hopf said, “It is always most gratifying when one’s academic work becomes part of the broader policy debate, especially when it concerns an issue of such contemporary significance as the rise of China.”

Click here to see the other Albie award winners.