SEAS Alumnus Dr Kyle Latinis featured in The Straits Times, Thursday 3 August 2017

How S’pore team hit pay dirt in Angkor Wat, The Straits Times, Thursday 03 August 2017.

An archaeological field school from Singapore which set up a 12-day excavation at Cambodia’s Angkor Wat has helped unearth a rare, late 12th-century statue.

Buried in a pit about 40cm deep, the approximately 2m-tall sandstone statue, sculpted in the image of a guardian, was dug up last Saturday at the ancient Tonle Snguot hospital complex, just two days into a test excavation.

The find has been described by experts the world over as incredible and the most significant in recent years, since most of the site’s valuable items have been looted.

Speaking to The Straits Times, head of the field team, Dr Kyle Latinis from Singapore’s ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute’s Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre (NSC), said: “It is extremely rare to discover something so significant just days into our dig. We were lucky and in the right place. We also had a good sampling strategy.

“You do not expect to find statues with their heads intact at Angkor Wat because looters are rampant in these areas and most of the ancient Cambodian statues are held illegally in the hands of private collectors.”

The field school and excavation are funded by Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) at the cost of about $70,000, said NSC head Dr Terence Chong.

This is the field school’s fifth session. It is a three-week archaeological research and training programme held in Cambodia and Singapore. The site was selected by NSC as well as researchers from the Apsara Authority – the Cambodian state agency charged with managing the Unesco World Heritage Site.

The Singapore team scoped the project and sampling area and directed the excavation effort. This was done in consultation with Apsara Authority, the host partner. The aim is to investigate ancient hospital activities, habitation and structures.

The programme is designed to emphasise the history of intra-Asian interactions over the past 2,000 years and to create a regional identity and a community of scholars from East Asia Summit countries.

There are 14 participants this year, four of whom are from Singapore. The others hail from countries such as the Philippines and Cambodia. They are students and young professionals.

While NSC set up the excavation, the statue was recovered by Cambodian archaeologists, among others. It has since been moved to a museum for protection.

Archaeology undergraduate Natalie Khoo, 22, said: “To witness the rituals conducted for removal of the statue and the opportunity to work on this historical hospital site is an exciting and a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

The statue likely was one of a pair and flanked a temple or shrine area that was part of the hospital complex, said Dr Latinis.

He added that the statue likely collapsed near the original spot it was erected in, along with the temple wall. “Although the statue is broken in a few places, it is near complete. It likely collapsed after the site was abandoned,” he said.

He added that the other two sections of the hospital complex were dedicated to physical treatment and a medicinal plant garden.

About 100 hospitals were built by the 12th-century King Jayavarman VII, who reigned from 1181 to 1218. He was known as the king who had launched the largest and the most construction projects.

The Tonle Snguot site had likely been inhabited by a community before it became a hospital. It is unclear how big the hospital complex was as of now, and more work needs to be done.

Dr Latinis said that a lot of ceramics, statues and structural remnants have been unearthed so far.

“A whole bunch of questions on the architectural history as well as technological information and industry of the time will be answered,” he added.

by Melody Zaccheus, Heritage and Community Correspondent

View the original article.

Celebration for Southeast Asian Studies Graduating Class of 2017

On 10 July 2017, the Department of Southeast Asian Studies hosts a graduation tea party to celebrate and recognize our graduate’s achievements and their transition to an important new phase of life. Members of the faculty and student got together at the AS8 Level 4 Foyer for an al fresco tea reception before their commencement ceremony the same evening.

Congratulations to the Class of 2017!!

Wang Gungwu Medal & Prize

The Department of Southeast Asian Studies is delighted to announce that Mr Goh Aik Sai has been awarded the Wang Gungwu Medal & Prize (AY2016-2017) for the Best Masters thesis in the Social Sciences/Humanities for his thesis entitled ‘Enlightenment on Display: The Rise and Fall of Singapore Buddhist Museums’. (Advisor: Professor John N Miksic.)

Congratulations to Goh Aik Sai!

Publication of Ms. Ng Sue Chia’s Honours Thesis (BA Hons, Cohort 2002-2003)

An Honour’s Thesis from the SEASP by Ms Ng Sue Chia (Honours Cohort 2002/2003) titled, “Threads of Gold: The Rise of Indochinese Enterprises in Terengganu” was spotted by a German Publishing house (VDM-Publishing) which approached her for the publication of her thesis. Retaining the original thesis title, the published book will be launched some time in September 2009 and available for purchase on and Nobles &

Congratulations to Sue Chia on this accomplishment!

Details of the book is noted below:

 Ng Sue Chia, Threads of Gold: The Rise of Indochinese Enterprises in Terengganu, Germany: VDM Verlag, 2009.

It has been more than 20 years since the Cham community settled en masse in Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia. Yet, hardly much is written about them. This book aims to provide an ethnographical study and examine the immediate history, networks and identity of the Cham Diaspora. The locals had assumed that they are either ‘Malays’ from Cambodia or ‘Vietnamese Muslim converts’. They are Muslim-Cham from Cambodia and Vietnam, who fearing the assaults of the Pol Pot regime and possible threats to their identity-and-religion, have from 1975 begun to flee to various United Nations-run refugee camps in Thailand, hoping to be resettled in Malaysia. From their initial occupations as petty traders and odd job labourers, they have emerged as successful textile and gold retailers in KT. They have also built a socioeconomic network within their community on which they could depend for various form of support.

This book would be of interest to anthropologists and political analysts who are studying minority group relations and the social- political dynamics of refugees-local population interactions.

About the Author: Ng Sue Chia graduated with a Second Upper Class Honours Degree from the SEASP in 2003. Upon graduation, she became a Media Planner with Mindshare Singapore, an advertising MNC based in Singapore, where her job regularly took her to the company’s New York office for work. She went on to do a M.A in International Political Economy at NTU on an IDSS Research Assistance Study Award. After her Masters, Sue Chia began work at the Homeland Defence Programme, Centre of Excellence for National Security, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, NTU. She first worked as a Research Assistant and then as Research Analyst and is currently an Associate Research Fellow at the Centre.