Launch of Subjectivities: A journal of Perspectives on Southeast Asia

Subjectivities: A journal of perspectives on Southeast Asia launched its inaugural issue and website on 18 August 2015.

The biannual publication is an undergraduate research journal, run by students and alumni from the Department of Southeast Asian Studies. Each issue tackles a specific theme concerning the region.

Its first issue, titled ‘Undersides’ features the works of 12 contributors from across the region – Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Philippines and Indonesia and is available for download here.

Subjectivities is also looking for students to join their team. Students will get the chance to learn more about what it takes to start and maintain an online publication through roles such as:

1) Editors

  • Possess an interest in a wide range of topics relating to Southeast Asia
  • Good time management
  • Able to effectively facilitate communication between contributors, copywriters and other stakeholders effectively
  • Good command of written English
  • Knowledge of a Southeast Asian language is helpful
  • Proficient in MS Word
  • Familiarity with InDesign is a plus
  • Interested applicants are to send a short writing sample. The writing sample can be a recent paper written for a FASS class

2) Designer/Web Manager

  • Good time management
  • Able to manage different platforms (website, social media)
  • Proficient in Adobe Photoshop and website editing
  • Interested applicants are to send in a portfolio of recent works (website design, publicity materials, graphic design, artworks etcetera)

Interested students are encouraged to send in their CVs to

CGIO Academic Conference 2015: Network and Governance


Date: 27 – 28 August 2015

Venue: Mochtar Riady Building, Level 3, Innovation 3-a (Room #3-7),
NUS Business School,
National University of Singapore,
15 Kent Ridge Drive, Singapore
119245 Map | Direction

Dress Code: Office Attire

Organisers: Prof James Russell Lincoln & Prof Chung Chi-Nien

Please refer to the following links for more information:


SCCI holds talk to commemorate pioneers, in conjunction with launch of ’47 Hill Street’ publication

Lianhe Zaobao

In conjunction with the launch of the commemorative book ’47 Hill Street’, the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry held a public talk on 15 August in which Department of Chinese Studies Associate Professor Wong Sin Kiong and students were invited to present their research on the lives of early Chinese business pioneers and their contributions to Singapore’s history.

Ambassador Chan Heng Chee: Master Storyteller

Lianhe Zaobao

Ambassador Chan Heng Chee, an eminent alumnus of FASS, was featured in Sunday’s edition of Lianhe Zaobao, along with five other exceptional Singaporeans, for their part in shaping Singapore and putting her on a global stage.

In the article, Ambassador Chan shared about her passion for teaching and her stint at the University of Singapore, a predecessor institution of NUS, which had lasted for more than 20 years. At present, she is a member of the NUS Board of Trustees.

Ambassador Chan also provided insights on her transition from academics to diplomacy, and how her cultural and artistic inspirations were a result of her exposure to Cantonese opera since young.

Contributing to the NUS Learning Experience


“I am currently doing my PhD degree under the guidance of Dr Trevor Penney from NUS and Dr Po-Jang (Brown) Hsieh from Duke-NUS. As a Russian student who studied and worked in the U.S., I was always fascinated with Asia and considered the NUS programme a natural extension of both my interests and academic career as NUS has a very competitive research focus. FASS has been very welcoming from the first days of study and the modules I have taken from the Department of Psychology were nothing short of exceptional. Since the graduate programme here places a lot of importance on teaching, I knew I would have to acquire some skills from the very start to do it right. In this, both the teaching workshops organised by FASS and the department, as well as some reading on the side, were of great help. The students’ intelligent questions, enthusiasm and feedback were extremely rewarding for me. I feel honoured to receive the teaching award and to contribute to the reputation of NUS as one of the finest universities in the world in terms of learning experience.”

Egor Ananyev
Graduate Student, Department of Psychology
Recipient of the Graduate Students’ Teaching Award

Congratulations to all FASS National Day Award Recipients!

National Day Awards are a means of recognising various forms of merit and service to the nation. This year, a total of 3,888 individuals in 23 award categories received National Day Honours.

We are pleased to announce the following National Day Honours awarded to our FASS faculty and staff members.  Our warmest congratulations to:


Prof Brenda Yeoh
Dean, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences


Assoc Prof Chan Wai Meng
Associate Professor, Centre for Language Studies


Ms Karen Chan May Ling
Associate Director, Dean’s Office


Mdm Koh (Chong) Mui Gek
Management Assistant Officer, Department of Geography


Dr Alexander Lee Earn Yung
Senior Lecturer, Department of Social Work

Assoc Prof Maribeth Erb Mucek
Associate Professor, Department of Sociology

Mdm Yuen Sau Yoong
Management Assistant Officer, Centre for Language Studies

Flourishing under guidance and supportive environment


Annisa Ridzkynoor Beta, a graduate student of the Cultural Studies in Asia programme, is a recipient of the Graduate Students’ Teaching Award – an award that recognises and rewards the teaching efforts of FASS graduate students.

Annisa has facilitated the module ‘Social Capital’ together with Dr Vincent Chua (Department of Sociology) for a semester.

Recently, we caught up with her to congratulate her on the award and to find out more about her thoughts on pursuing a graduate programme with FASS as well as her experience as a Teaching Assistant.

1. Why did you choose Cultural Studies in Asia?

It was essential for me, when I was looking for PhD programmes, to study in an environment that will allow my research interests to flourish, not just to have a degree. The programme’s focus on Asia allows me to learn about and further investigate important notions in Asian context that are not taken for granted for its ‘Asian-ness’.

My main research interest is on Muslim women in Indonesia, specifically on their movements and subjectivity. Being in Cultural Studies in Asia PhD programme has allowed me to critically read previous studies about Muslim women in Southeast Asian context. There has always been a conscious effort in the programme to rethink ideas such as identity, representation, power relations, subject formation, and politics of the body in Asian context, and I found it indispensable for my research progress.

Thus, I found Cultural Studies in Asia fitting to my criteria to further my study.

 2. How has FASS and NUS contributed to your journey thus far?

Taking different modules from different departments has shown me how supportive FASS and NUS has been for an interdisciplinary student like me. The scholarship scheme, campus facilities, as well as events and seminars organised in the university has facilitated my intellectual growth, and I believe that FASS and NUS have provided me the most vital contributions I need as a young scholar.

3. How do you feel about the award that you have achieved?

I am grateful, and I cannot express how happy I am to receive the award. Assisting Dr Vincent Chua for a semester has opened up a lot of fields of study that I have not thought of before.

Knowing that the module ‘SC3225 Social Capital’ was new for me, Dr Chua was really kind and encouraging, and his sessions were engaging, allowing me to position myself not only as a Teaching Assistant but also as a student of the class itself. Being awarded for an opportunity to learn has made me realized how lucky I am as a PhD student in a very supportive institution like NUS.

4. Can you tell us more about your experience as a Teaching Assistant?

Starting the semester with the module was a bit challenging. However, Dr Chua was very supportive and I felt involved and engaged with the materials. My students were also very interested in the topics in the module, so I felt challenged to work harder as a teaching assistant. For the tutorials, I looked into extra materials, and the students were also asking stimulating questions, and by the end of the semester, I felt like I learnt a whole new set of knowledge.

5. Were there any challenges during the course of teaching?

Not really. Dr Chua provided guidance and information, and students in my tutorial were cooperative and interested in the module.

6. What were the memorable moments?

I always enjoy receiving emails from students in my tutorials. They inquire about issues that may not be addressed in the lectures or tutorial sessions, and I found those electronic discussions motivational for me as a teaching assistant.

 7. Has the teaching experience changed your outlook on learning, academic interests or personal aspirations? How so?

Yes, mainly because ‘Social Capital’ was a field that prioritises quantitative analysis, and I have been accustomed to humanities’ qualitative approach in doing research. I learnt that social inequality can also be critically approached via quantitate based research, and for me this opened up more areas in understanding gender issues.

8. What are your future plans with regards to your academic development?

I plan to earn my degree in the next two years, and to focus on developing my research interest through research projects and teaching.

Seminar Cancellations: “Coup, King, Crisis” & “Diplomacy Under Seige”

Due to unforeseen circumstances, the seminars by A/P Pavin Chachavalpongpun, “Coup, King, Crisis” and “Diplomacy Under Siege”, have been postponed until further notice. Thank you for your understanding, and we sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused.

The Lee Kong Chian NUS-Stanford Initiative on Southeast Asia

14 Aug: Coup, King, Crisis: Anxiety over the Royal Succession

A Seminar by Assoc. Prof. Pavin Chachavalpongpun
Lee Kong Chian NUS-Stanford Distinguished Fellow on Contemporary Southeast Asia, AY2015/2016

Chaired by Prof. Lionel Wee
Vice-Dean (Research), Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Friday, 14 August 2015, 3PM
AS7 06-42, Research Division Seminar Room
The Shaw Foundation Building, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
National University of Singapore

The Thai military staged a coup on 22 May 2014, overthrowing the elected government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Outwardly, the military justified its political intervention with the classic claim that corruption was the rot of Thai politics and the coup was needed to purify the political domain. At a deeper level however, the military intervened at a time when a critical transition in Thai politics is on the horizon: the imminent royal succession. For decades, the traditional elites, of which the military is a part, have long dominated Thai politics. This changed with the arrival of the Shinawatras who set huge socio-economic changes in motion. They then took advantage to empower themselves politically, and in doing so, shook the old political structure. In today’s Thailand, the power struggle between elective and non-elective institutions is now reaching its peak because the era of King Bhumibol is closing. Haunted by anxiety over a future without the charismatic King, the traditional elites are vying to manage the royal succession and maintain their power position. The speaker argues that the military government led by General Prayuth Chan-ocha is seeking to reinforce the position of the palace to ensure that the monarchy will continue to be at the centre of power in the post-Bhumibol days. It is unlikely that these undertakings will stabilise Thai politics, and as voters become alienated in the political process à la Prayuth, large-scale violent protests may be seen as unavoidable in order to restore democracy. Email to RSVP.

Pavin Chachavalpongpun is Associate Professor at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University. Earning his PhD from the School of Oriental and African Studies, Pavin is the author of two books: “A Plastic Nation: The Curse of Thainess in Thai-Burmese Relations” and “Reinventing Thailand: Thaksin and His Foreign Policy”. Read more about Dr Chachavalpongpun here.

Diplomacy Under Siege: The 2014 Coup and Thailand’s Foreign Relations

Seminar by Assoc. Prof. Pavin Chachavalpongpun
Lee Kong Chian NUS-Stanford Distinguished Fellow on Contemporary Southeast Asia, AY2015/2016

Chaired by Dr. Terence Lee
Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science

Thursday, 3 September 2015, 10AM
AS7 06-42, Research Division Seminar Room
The Shaw Foundation Building, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
National University of Singapore

Thailand’s coup of May 2014 has not only generated significant impacts on domestic politics, but also on the country’s foreign policy. Facing international sanctions, mostly imposed by Western governments, the military government of Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-ocha has attempted to diversify Thai foreign policy options in order to quench the intensity of outside pressure. For Thailand, in the post-coup period, there has been a strengthening of relations with neighbouring countries, ranging from Myanmar and Cambodia to China and Japan. And meanwhile, Thailand’s ties with Western nations, in particular the United States, which called for the Thai junta to return power to the Thai people, have continued to chill. The visit of the US Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Daniel R. Russel, to Thailand in January 2015, emerged as a diplomatic hiccup that pushed Thailand further into the warm embrace of China. The speaker will discuss the current state of Thai foreign policy in relation to the domestic political crisis in Thailand.

Email to RSVP.

Pavin Chachavalpongpun is Associate Professor at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University. Earning his PhD from the School of Oriental and African Studies, Pavin is the author of two books: “A Plastic Nation: The Curse of Thainess in Thai-Burmese Relations” and “Reinventing Thailand: Thaksin and His Foreign Policy”. Read more about Dr Chachavalpongpun here.

Study conducted in Singapore shows genes can determine whether we are liberal or conservative

The Straits Times

The debate between nature and nurture has been a long drawn and highly contentious one. Professor Richard Ebstein from the Department of Psychology at the NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences has worked with a team of researchers to study 1,771 university students of Han Chinese origin. The research has found that the presence of the DRD4 gene in the research subjects may have affected the subjects’ political inclinations. The findings also suggest that “[t]he association between political attitude and DRD4 was highly significant for females” and less significant for men. While genetic determinants have been increasingly used to understand human behaviour, we should also take into account the complexities of human nature and that no one trait can fully explain how we conduct ourselves.

To read the full article click here.