Isis fo­rum to dis­cuss Trump, Brexit ef­fects on Asia-Pa­cific

New Straits Times - - News -

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 atikah@isis.org.my.

Tan Sri Ras­tam Mohd Isa

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