SEASSR Vol. 2, No. 1 (Jan-June 2017)


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This second issue of Southeast Asian Social Science Review (SEASSR) focuses on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which established the ASEAN Economic Community in November 2015 in Kuala Lumpur. ASEAN was formally set up in 1967, with the signing of the Bangkok Declaration. It was formed primarily for the purpose of forging economic, cultural and political ties among its members which, today, stands at ten – Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, The Philippines and Vietnam. Fifty years on, the jury is still out on the success and overall significance of ASEAN.

The five papers for this focus issue were originally delivered at the International ASEAN Economic Integration Forum (AEIF) organised in Kuala Lumpur on 14-15 September 2016 by the Institute of Malaysian and International Studies (IKMAS), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, together with the Asian Studies Centre of the St. Anthony’s College, University of Oxford, and the World Trade Institute, University of Bern, Switzerland. The comments below, though not necessarily in order of appearance in the volume, present a picture of ASEAN – albeit a cursory and an incomplete one – which could help stimulate discussion about the challenges ASEAN faces as it attempts to forge economic integration.

The first paper by Haniff Ahamat looks at ASEAN non-tariff barriers. He illustrates that, despite noble ideas of regional economic integration within ASEAN, barriers set up are still high. These ongoing barriers, he believes, have serious repercussions for trade liberalization within ASEAN.

Besides non-tariff barriers, there exist restrictions on competition, and more specifically, the enactment of competition laws within ASEAN member states (AMS) which is the concern of the paper by Angayar Kanni Ramaiah. The compatibility of these national laws with ASEAN guidelines and motivations, and also with those of wider transnational agreements is what is prominent in the discussion here. Ramaiah’s assertion is that convergence, indeed the standardisation of national competition laws, is what is required to enable the emergence and the sustainability of more liberalised markets within ASEAN. To this end, she explores the legal challenges and proposes recommendations as guiding principles.

The paper by Chandran and Nathan moves outside ASEAN’s national borders in looking at the economic agreements in place between India and ASEAN. Looking at two free trade agreements – a bilateral one between Malaysian and India and another between ASEAN and India – the authors first explain what they are; next, they evaluate the benefits and disadvantages of both, concluding with a discussion outlining the possibility that these agreements compete rather than complement.

The fourth ASEAN-focus article in this issue, by Wong Wai Kuen, examines the fast growing area of economic opportunity and benefit in the region, medical tourism. Medical tourism refers to ‘the phenomenon where patients choose to leave their own country to seek consumer-oriented medical care abroad that is of high-quality, shorter patient’s waiting time and at comparatively lower cost.’ Wong examines the development and success of this billion dollar industry in three neighbouring ASEAN countries, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.

But, important as these economic and legal issues are for the ASEAN community, the keynote address by Rahman Embong reminds us that a wider understanding, evaluation and possibly critique of the community is required. With an overarching commentary that contextualises ASEAN issues and areas of concern Rahman paints, as it were, the necessary big picture. While recognising the success and sustainability of ASEAN as an economic community, Rahman nonetheless focuses on ASEAN’s potential and its importance as a socio-cultural community that can be peoplecentred. Through looking back at the genesis of ASEAN to its contemporary make-up and roles and stressing the need to go beyond simplistic assertions that economic development inevitably will lead to community development, Rahman provides a doorway – certainly an important one – where ASEAN could move into, one that tries to genuinely develop and advance a People’s ASEAN.

Also in this issue is a fascinating interview with the doyen of critical Malaysian social science, Syed Husin Ali, by the issue’s coeditor, Lai Suat Yan. Syed Husin’s reflections on growing polarisation in Malaysia since as early as the 1960s and the `politics of avoidance’ among university students provide much food for thought. His discussion on philosophy and its virtual absence as an area of study in Malaysian universities provides valuable insight into the possible thinking and strategies of those in power.

Through a wide-ranging interview that spans a period of more than half a century, Syed Husin provides us with a rich tapestry of educational, cultural and political development in Malaysia. There are certainly many lessons that can – and must – be learnt here; lessons about structural inequality, discrimination and, more individually, dignity, humility and personal courage in the face of tyranny.

1. Prelims.

2. Zaharom Nain, Lai Suat Yan & Faisal Syam Hazis – ASEAN Economic Integration and Its Challenges. [Pages 5-7]

3. Abdul Rahman Embong – Beyond Economic Imperatives. [Pages 8-17]

4. Haniff Ahamat – Reducing Non-Tariff Barriers in a More Integrated ASEAN. [Pages 18-48]
5. Angayar Kanni Ramaiah – An Exploratory Study on Diversity and Convergence Process. [Pages 49-71]
6. Suseela Devi Chandran & K.S. Nathan – Malaysia-India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (MICECA) and ASEAN-India Free Trade Agreement (AIFTA): Complementing or Competing? [Pages 72-92]
7. Wong Wai Khuen – Building the ASEAN Economic Community – Challenges and Opportunities for Cross-Border Medical Tourism Development in Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. [Pages 93-114]

8. Lai Suat Yan – Syed Husin Ali: Pioneering Social Scientist and Public Intellectual. [Pages 115-138]

9. Michael Burawoy – The Public University – A Battleground for Real Utopias. [Pages 139-173]

10. Afiq Nazrin Nor Rizlan – Memoir dan Biografi Sebagai Sumber Membangun Historiografi Baru. [Pages 174-187]
11. Susmihara – Pemikiran Islam Kontemporari di Indonesia: Kajian ke atas Beberapa Tokoh Utama. [Pages 188-208]

12. Lilia Halim – Lucy Crehan, Random House UK. 2017. Cleverlands: The Secrets Behind the Success of the World’s Education Superpowers. [Pages 209-215]

13. Contributors.

14. Guide to Contributors.

15. Order Form.

Abdul Rahman Embong, PhD, is emeritus professor in sociology of development and principal fellow at the Institute of Malaysian and International Studies (IKMAS), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.

Afiq Nazrin Nor Rizlan, BA (Hons), is a candidate for the Master of Philosophy programme at the Institute of Malaysian and International Studies, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. His research is on history and social movements.

Michael Burawoy, PhD, is a professor of sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. He was the immediate past President of the International Sociological Association (2010-2014).

Suseela Devi Chandran, PhD is presently attached as a lecturer with the Faculty of Administrative Science & Policy Studies in UiTM, Shah Alam, Malaysia. Her area of interest is on regional groupings in Southeast Asia, bilateral relations of ASEAN countries especially on Malaysia-India bilateral relations. She is also involved in teaching Education in Human Values (EHV) under a non-governmental organization in Malaysia.

Haniff Ahamat, PhD, is currently an associate professor at the Faculty of Law, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. Prior to that, he was an academic staff member at the Faculty of Law, the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) for 15 years. His key publications include journal articles on the interface between competition law and affirmative action in Malaysia, the position of Islamic international law on free trade, and the interface between EC competition and antidumping laws. He also co-authored a textbook entitled Competition Law in Malaysia published by Sweet & Maxwell (2016).

Lai Suat Yan, PhD, is a senior lecturer at the Gender Studies Program, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Universiti Malaya.

Lilia Halim, PhD, is Professor in Education (Science Education) at the Faculty of Education, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. She was the immediate past dean of the faculty.

Mohd Faisal Syam Hazis, PhD, is an associate professor and senior fellow at the Institute of Malaysian and International Studies (IKMAS), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. He is chair of the Centre for Asian Studies at IKMAS.

Mohd Hazim Shah, PhD, was formerly a professor at the Department of Science and Technology Studies, Faculty of Science, Universiti Malaya.

Muhammad Rahimi Bin Hasan, MA, is a PhD candidate at the Institute of Malaysian and International Studies (IKMAS), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. His area of research is on feminism and gender.

Nathan, K.S., PhD, is a Distinguished Fellow in the Malaysian Institute of Defence & Security (MIDAS). Previously professor of international relations in the University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, his major research interests and expertise include Asia-Pacific international relations, Malaysian foreign policy and ASEAN security.

Angayar Kanni Ramaiah, LLB (Hons.), LLM, is a Senior Lecturer in Law at the Faculty of Business Administration, University Technology MARA (UiTM), branch campus in Penang, Malaysia. Currently pursuing PhD at the Faculty of Law, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia in Competition Law and Policy in ASEAN, she has written a number of papers in competition policy and law in Malaysia and ASEAN, which include “Fair CPL in the Rise of AEC on SME in ASEAN: Critical Observations and Recommendations” (Business, Economics And Mercantile Law: Selected Issues, ATINER), “The Challenges of the Anti-Competition Regulations on Trade Associations in Malaysia” (ACF 2014), and “The Aftermath of the CHFA Case on Trade Related Associations and Price Fixing Agreements in Malaysia (ICLAPS 2014).

Dra. Susmihara, M. Pd., is a lecturer at the Faculty of Civilization and Humanities of Alauddin State Islamic University of Makassar, South Sulawesi, Indonesia. She is also a PhD candidate in the field of education at the same university.

Wong Wai Khuen, BSc., Master in Health Services Management, graduated from the University of Science Malaysia after obtaining the Bachelor of Science. He currently serves as the Principal Assistant Director in the Ministry of International Trade & Industry, and collaborates with various academic institutions as technical advisor to co-publish research papers with key focus on cross-border trade in health services and impact of emerging ICT technology on health service consumption.

Zaharom Nain is Professor of Media and Communication Studies at the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus (UNMC). His main area of expertise is in the sociology of communications and the political economy of the media. He is currently co-editing a volume on civil society and the new media in six Southeast Asian countries, the product of a two-year IDRC (Canada) funded international project which he headed.

Chief Editor: Abdul Rahman Embong
Editors: Zawawi Ibrahim; Mohd Hazim Shah; Rashila Ramli; Tham Siew Yean; Zaharom Nain; Fadzilah Majid Cooke; Chin Yee Whah; Sity Daud; Faisal Syam Hazis; Lai Suat Yan
Associate Editors: Lee Yok Fee; Sharifah Shahirah; Maisarah Hasbullah; Joanne Lim; Fadzilah Puteh, Wan Puspa Melati
Editorial Assistant: Mohd Azwan Abd Rahman
  • Hans-Dieter Evers (University of Bonn, Germany)
  • Michael Burawoy (University of California at Berkeley, US)
  • Shamsul A.B. (Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Malaysia)
  • Abdul Samad Hadi (Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Malaysia)
  • Anthony Milner (Australian National University)
  • Jomo K.S. (Malaysia)
  • Terry V. King (University of Leeds, UK)
  • Syed Farid Alattas (National University of Singapore)
  • Surichai Wungaeo (University of Chulalongkorn, Thailand)

ASEAN Integration, Trade Barriers, Economic Regionalism, International and Regional Organisation, Global and Regional Good Governance, Competition law and policy, diversity, anti-competition and convergence, Malaysia-India, bilateral, economic cooperation, trade agreement, investment, Medical tourism, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), Crisis, university, rationalization, commercialization, public, policy, Memoir, biography, history from below, people’s history, historical sources, Memoir, biografi, sejarah dari bawah, sejarah rakyat, sumber sejarah, Contemporary Islamic thought, neo-traditional Islam, neomodernist Islam, liberal Islam, Pemikiran Islam kontemporari, Islam neo-tradisional, Islam neomodernis, Islam liberal

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