Editor’s Desk – MSSM Special Edition

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“Most prognostications for the world in 2017 contend that major disruptive political trends from 2016 will largely determine the course of events for the coming year, and that this is a source of concern, more than hope. The outlook for Southeast Asia for 2017 reflects more than challenges this broader view. 2016 saw changes to major power interests in the region as well as disruptive political dynamics in five of the six most populous Southeast Asian countries. These will play out in 2017 and beyond.” – Southeast Asia Outlook 2017, ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute

The Southeast Asian region remains one of the few places in the world that can combine an abundant labour supply, many coastal cities and port facilities, however growth will rely on geo-political stability, good public infrastructure and education. According to the UN World Urbanisation Prospects (2014), throughout ASEAN, the percentage of people living in cities is projected to rise from about 47 percent in the mid-2010s to 56 percent in 2030 and then to 67 percent in 2050.

Malaysia continues to be heavily dependent on oil and along with corruption scandals and the Ringit’s decline, has signed new naval defence agreements with China, joining the Philippines as another key country to accept, or succumb, to China’s obvious sphere of influence. In turn, the economic outlook has recently brightened for Singapore’s prospects with an export rally lifting demand for Singapore’s shipments earlier in the year and igniting hope that the economy is on the cusp of a strong rebound.

In the security context, Southeast Asian governments have for years highlighted the risk from returning fighters alongside those radicalised at home via the internet. Those warnings have increased as Islamic State continues to lose ground in the Middle East, raising concerns it will metastasise and grow more potent in other places. The situation in Marawi, Philippines, initially came as a surprise to police and military forces, when they were confronted by a hornet’s nest of militants and foreign fighters, including some from as far afield as Saudi Arabia, Morroco and Belitsa. Marawi is a tipping point and serves as inspiration to other groups in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. This translates to increased threats to Singapore and other ASEAN countries and Western travellers throughout the region…Click HERE to read full article.

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