Isis forum to discuss Trump, Brexit effects on Asia-Pacific
KUALA LUMPUR: The 31st AsiaPacific Roundtable is poised to be a significant edition in its three-decade history.
Institute of Strategic and International Studies (Isis) chairman Tan Sri Rastam Mohd Isa said this was because it would take place against a backdrop of landmark events, such as Donald Trump’s election as the United States president as well as the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union.
As a result of these events, he said, the three-day conference, beginning May 22 themed “The Future of the Asia-Pacific: Issues and Institutions in Flux”, would examine the relationships among major powers.
“It is particularly important now with the situation in the US, the rise of China as a superpower and the growing influence of Japan and India, as well as Russia’s behaviour. We will look at new dynamics of power relations specifically in the Asia-Pacific region.
“The US-China dynamic has been interesting over the past few years. It will be interesting to see if under Trump, China is seen as an adversary or partner. The recent meeting between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping was smooth. But, Trump has made promises to do certain things about China,” he told the New Straits Times.
Rastam said despite good relations with China, Asean had to deal with territorial disputes with the superpower relating to the South China Sea.
“And even though Malaysia is not among the list of six Muslim nations affected by the US ban on travellers, there is still a lot of uncertainty,” he said.
The conference, he said, played a crucial role as a platform for dialogue and discussion among academics, senior government officers and scholars with the hope that it reached or inspired policymakers in coming up with resolutions.
He said the conference would discuss what Asean could learn from the EU’s experience following Brexit and Greece’s potential withdrawal from the Eurozone.
The sessions at the conference include “Asean: Is Change Inevitable” as well as the final session, “Exceptionalism vs Integration: Nationalist, Anti-Globalisation and Anti-Establishment Politics”.
“It would discuss Asean beyond 50 years. Do we adopt the EU way of doing things and risk jeopardising our ties for anticlimactic conditions, or do we continue as an entity as we have before? There are good lessons to learn from the EU, but there is also populism,” Rastam said.
He added that the final session would see the effects of populism, fuelled by social media, and cyber security leaks, besides digitisation, being discussed.
Panellists include Professor Jomo Kwame Sundaram from Isis and Singaporean diplomat Bilhari Kausikan.
He said the “Wither Economic Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific: More Ingredients for the Spaghetti Bowl” session would discuss the way forward for countries affected by the US’s withdrawal from the Trans Pacific Partnership as well as the superpower’s next move.
Rastam said cybersecurity matters would also be discussed with speakers from Palo Alto Networks, Visa and Microsoft.
There would also be a “Strategic Update on Southeast Asia and Oceania” and a “Strategic Update on Northeast Asia” that relates to what is happening in the Korean peninsula.
There is also a session titled “Irregular Migration: Regional Flows and Impact”. Panellists include Arakan Project director Chris Lewa and Australia’s ambassador for People Smuggling and Human Trafficking Andrew Goledzinowski as well as representatives from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and International Committee of the Red Cross.
He said the think tank was organising a symposium on Asean on May 21, a day before the conference.
The conference, organised by Isis, takes place at Hilton Kuala Lumpur.
For registration and enquiries, visit www.isis.org.my or contact Isis public affairs and conference services division manager Nur Atikah Ishak at 03-2693 2060 or email email@example.com.
Tan Sri Rastam Mohd Isa