Vol. 14, No. 1 (Jan 2018)
1. Human Security as an Instrument of (Traditional) Comprehensive Security in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, by Joel Atkinson (Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, Rep. of Korea)
Abstract: Japan, South Korea and Taiwan inhabit an insecure world, both objectively and in terms of how threats are perceived through historically shaped beliefs. A similar conceptualisation of “comprehensive security” forms an intellectual basis for foreign policy in all three countries. In addition to maintaining armed forces, threats are met through strengthening the national economy, and attempts to influence other states and enhance national prestige. Accordingly, the human security policies of these three countries seek comprehensive security through acquiring influence and prestige. None of the three gives substantive attention to the novel, challenging aspects of human security. This is problematic, as all three have a clear interest in the success of the key premises of the human security discourse given their precarious geopolitical situations.
2. Reconstructing and Redefining Hokkaido During the Post-War Period, by Juva Saunavaara (Hokkaido University, Japan)
Abstract: The dominating and often contradicting tendencies of the early post-war Hokkaido were the continuing otherness, foreignness and distinctiveness from the rest of Japan, and the growing integration into the nation state. In other words, Hokkaido became more tightly connected to and more a part of Japan than ever before, but it clearly retained its peculiarity and was not simply a region or prefecture among the others. This study of Hokkaido is built on the premise that rather than being ahistorical and unchangeable entities, regions can be considered as spatial manifestations of social processes and they have to be conceptualised and analysed empirically as a part of the historical development of the society. It utilises the institutionalisation of regions model when analysing how a region is constructed and how it is connected to the observable political, legal, social, economic, cultural, educational and administrative practices. The model consists of four interlocked stages (territorial shaping, symbolic shaping, institutional shaping, and establishment of region) that can be abstracted for analytical purposes and is tested here as a device to perceive the importance and understand relations between the various processes contributing to the making of the region.
3. Sociocultural Adjustment and Coping Strategies of Korean and Japanese Students in a Thai International College, by Douglas Rhein (Mahidol University International College, Thailand)
Abstract: This study is devoted to understanding the adjustment issues Japanese and Korean international students face in Thai international higher education. An exploratory study of 15 visiting Korean college students and 15 visiting Japanese college students in Thai international programs was conducted using qualitative methods. A series of 30 face-to-face in-depth interviews regarding the participants’ sociocultural adjustment to their host community was conducted in 2015-2016. Participants responded to open-ended questions regarding their adjustment experiences and perceptions of the host culture. The interview data was thematically coded into several categories. Participants’ experiences were diverse and ranged from very subtle forms of discrimination and stereotyping to sexual harassment. The most frequently reported impediments to sociocultural adjustment included Thai language issues, excessive undesirable attention from the host community, academic adjustment, and difficulty establishing friendships with the host nationals. The most commonly reported coping strategies reported were the use of social support networks and social isolation from the host community. Implications for international relations departments and international programs within a Thai context are discussed.
4. Retirement Migration: The Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) Program and the Japanese Retirees in Penang, by Benny Teh Cheng Guan (University Sains Malaysia)
Abstract: Modernisation and easy connectivity across spatial boundaries are providing greater opportunities for retirees to migrate abroad. In Malaysia, the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) program has been gaining popularity over the last 14 years. It is a government initiative designed to promote the country as a retirement haven for affluent foreigners. By studying the Japanese retirement community in Penang, this paper examines the role and significance of the program in supporting retirement migration. It further identifies the concerns and contributions of the Japanese retirees as they build their “second lives” in Penang. While the MM2H program has undergone several enhancements, discussions on the experiences of the Japanese participants and research observations have highlighted several concerns that require further improvements. The lack of policy coordination between the various sectors catering to the expanding needs of foreign retirees, for example, reduces the chances of maximising participants’ contribution to the local economy. The ability to track and monitor the movement of participants is equally, if not more, important as promoting and enticing new ones.
5. Transforming Western Democracy in Southeast Asia: The Case of Lanao Del Sur, the Philippines, by Dong-Yeob Kim (Busan University of Foreign Studies, Rep. of Korea)
Abstract: The question “why transplanted Western democracy in Southeast Asia could not thrive as intended” has yet to be answered. A possible answer to the question could be found in the dynamics of cultural encounter between the traditional Southeast Asian society and Western democracy. The case of the Muslim province of Lanao del Sur in the Philippines provides us an understanding how Western democratic institutions were translated and localised. The adaptation of Western democracy meant to restructure the political boundaries and especially for the Muslim Maranao to integrate into the bigger Christian dominated polity. Although the system of authority changed from the traditional to the so-called legal one, the traditional conception of social relations and authority still shape the Maranao politics. Western democratic institutions are observed only superficially. And the transformed Western democracy caused conflicts and armed struggle among the locals.
6. “Expressive Rationality”: Habitus and Field in a Malaysian Cosplay Community, by Rachel Suet Kay Chan (Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia)
Abstract: Malaysian cosplayers, as a subset of Asian cosplayers, engage in a visually performative activity which raises the issues of ethnic and gender performativity, among other identity markers. This is further contextualised within an “everyday-defined” experience of identity, in which its formation is influenced by non-“social power” agents such as popular narratives (Baharuddin 1996: 18; Baharuddin and Athi 2015: 268). In addition, cosplayers are noted to be affected by global cultural flows. Given its relevance to studies of cosplay, I use Bourdieu’s framework of cultural capital to outline the components which make up an established cosplayer. Using a snowball sample, I survey several tertiary educated and employed Malaysian cosplayers regarding the cultural capital they use to navigate the intersections of race/ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic status. I compare the responses of my sample to that of cosplayers from international forums, and to the content of emerging counter-hegemonic popular narratives. My findings suggest that cosplay can be viewed as a form of public theatre, comprising rational and expressive elements.
7. Social and Economic Impacts of Land Concessions on Rural Communities of Cambodia: Case Study of Botum Sakor National Park, by Petr Drbohlav and Jiri Hejkrlik (Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, Czech Republic)
Abstract: Land grabbing is a serious issue in Cambodia, where land concessions covered approximately 65 percent of the total arable land in 2013. Because of the 36,000-hectare land concession in the Botum Sakor National Park granted by the Cambodian government to a Chinese company, more than 1,400 primarily fishing families have been relocated to new villages built inland, approximately 20 km from the coast. Using a case study research design, this paper provides a unique glimpse into the lives of those relocated by assessing their living conditions, livelihoods, food security, housing and access to basic services approximately four years after the relocation. The results show that those affected by the land concession are worse off than they were before the relocation and will likely remain so in the short to medium term. They have lost their livelihoods, their food and nutrition security have worsened, and their access to both health services and education is problematic. The roads and houses in the relocation sites are poorly built. There are limited water sources in the relocation villages, and the water does not meet the national standards for drinking water. Although some families did find jobs with the investment project, they were concerned about its long-term prospects.
8. Myanmar’s Cultural Dimensions: Exploring the Relationship among the Social Identity, Attitudes Towards Globalisation and Preferences of Myanmar Consumers in Yangon, by Alana Rudkin (American University, United States), and Joseph Erba (University of Kansas, United States)
Abstract: Myanmar is transitioning to an open market economy, but very little is known about Myanmar consumers and their attitudes towards globalisation. Using Hofstede’s cultural dimensions and social identity theory, this study sheds light on the role Myanmar consumers’ cultural values and social identity play in consumer preferences. This study also explores the relationship between Myanmar identity and consumers’ perceptions of products based on country of origin and attitudes towards globalisation. Results from a cross-sectional survey of Myanmar consumers in Yangon (N = 268) reveal that consumers displayed cultural traits similar to the ones from their neighbouring Southeast Asian countries. In addition, Myanmar consumers in Yangon do not express any particular consumer animosity towards products from other countries and seem open to globalisation. Findings provide further insights into Myanmar culture and how to effectively communicate with Myanmar consumers.
9. Economic Versus Political Liberalisation in ASEAN: Public Opinion Among University Students in Four Member Countries, by Guido Benny, Sity Daud and Ravichandran Moorthy (Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia)
Abstract: As a regionalism initiative, establishment of the ASEAN Community needs plausible level of public awareness, good public perception and strong public support from the public for its legitimacy. The current paper discusses the opinion among the public pertaining to regional economic integration under the ASEAN Economic Community initiative in comparison to political-security cooperation under the ASEAN Political Security Community in 2015 among educated public in four ASEAN countries, namely Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam. The study aims to solicit and compare the current situation of public opinion of these two kinds of liberalisation in ASEAN within the context of awareness, perception, and support. The research objectives were achieved by means of statistical measures and analyses on the opinion among 1,471 Gen Y respondents in these four ASEAN countries gathered from a public opinion survey in 2015. The study reveals interesting findings. Firstly, it found that the extent of awareness of both APSC and AEC is still weak resulting in weak extent of perceived relevancy and benefits as well as weak support for APSC and moderate-level support for AEC. Secondly, by comparing the opinion on APSC to AEC, the study found that awareness, perception and support for economic integration in ASEAN were in fact higher than political security cooperation. Finally, some implications of these issues are discussed.
10. Book review: Foundation of Islamic Governance: A Southeast Asian Perspective. Routledge. By Rodrigue Fontaine (International Islamic University Malaysia)
11. Book review: How Solidarity Works for Welfare. Cambridge University Press. By Roger Jeffrey (University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom)