Publication in Economics, Politics and Public Policy in East Asia and the Pacific


5G in Singapore: Is the tide turning against Huawei?

A Huawei employee showcases their facial recognition technology at their booth at Interpol World in Singapore, 2 July 2019 (Reuters/Edgar Su).

Author: Amalina Anuar, RSIS

Amid the ongoing US–China technological and geopolitical rivalry, decisions to award 5G contracts to Huawei — or to their competitors Nokia and Ericsson — continue to garner much press. In Singapore, Huawei was edged out after Singtel and the Starhub–M1 joint venture decided to partner with Ericsson and Nokia respectively to build the city-state’s standalone 5G network. Along with other countries also opting for non-Chinese 5G equipment, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared this as evidence of Washington’s anti-Huawei campaign bearing fruit. Read more…

A new beginning for Singapore?

Opposition Workers' Party supporters celebrate the results of the general election in Singapore on 11 July 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Edgar Su).

Author: Ying-kit Chan, Leiden University

The 2020 Singapore General Election confirmed the Workers’ Party (WP) as the strongest alternative to the incumbent People’s Action Party (PAP). The WP strengthened its hold over its existing six seats in a single-member constituency (SMC) and a group-representation constituency (GRC). It also won four more seats in a newly-created GRC. But what does this mean for Singapore’s political landscape?

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Early election backfires on Singapore’s ruling party

Voters practice social distancing while queuing at a polling station during Singapore's general election amid the COVID-19 outbreak, 10 July 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Edgar Su).

Author: Garry Rodan, UQ

Singapore’s ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) election victory on 10 July, winning 83 out of 93 seats, was emphatic. Still, the opposition Workers’ Party (WP) gains from six to ten seats mark a political watershed in the tightly controlled city-state: its highest parliamentary representation since Singapore’s independence in 1965.

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A collective ASEAN response to COVID-19

An official wearing a face mask looks on as Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc attends a special video conference with leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Hanoi 14 April 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Manan Vatsyayana).

Author: Hsien-Li Tan, NUS

When COVID-19 cases first appeared in the ASEAN region early in 2020, there were fears that public health systems would be overwhelmed. Responses around the region have varied. After decisive action — and missteps — in the initial months, Vietnam, Thailand, Brunei, Malaysia, and Singapore are now cautiously relaxing restrictions while working to avert a second wave. Indonesia and the Philippines continue to see significantly higher infection and death rates, leading to strong criticism against the Jokowi and Duterte administrations.

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PAP’s self-inflicted Singapore election losses

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his wife Ho Ching arrive at a polling station during Singapore's general election amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Singapore, 10 July 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Edgar Su).

Author: Bridget Welsh, University of Nottingham Malaysia and National Taiwan University

On 10 July, Singapore’s People’s Action Party (PAP) suffered one of its worst electoral results: 61 per cent of the popular vote. The opposition Workers’ Party (WP) now holds 10 of 93 parliamentary seats.

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Singaporeans send a message

Workers hang up electoral poster for ruling People's Action Party ahead of the general election in Singapore, 30 June 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Edgar Su).

Author: Editorial Board, ANU

On 10 July Singapore held a general election that was noteworthy for more than its setting amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The governing People’s Action Party (PAP) won reelection with a reduced share of the popular vote — just over 61 per cent, down from just under 70 per cent in 2015, though opposition parties won only 10 seats in the 93-seat parliament.

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Singapore government in denial

Heng Swee Keat of the People's Action Party meets residents during a walkabout ahead of the general election in Singapore, 28 June 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Edgar Su).

Author: Michael Barr, Flinders University

The People’s Action Party (PAP) government of Singapore has suffered its worst ever election result, but Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has suggested merely that the result was ‘not as strong an endorsement as hoped’.

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Building on the modular design of DEPA

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern meets with Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Istana in Singapore, 17 May 2019 (Reuters/Feline Lim).

Author: Giridharan Ramasubramanian, ANU

On 12 June 2020, three countries — Chile, New Zealand and Singapore — signed the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement (DEPA), deepening their international cooperation on digital economy issues. One of the most unique aspects of DEPA is its innovative modular design, which trade policymakers in other countries should explore and build upon. Read more…

Establishing humanitarian lanes during COVID-19

Essential workers have their noses swabbed before returning to the workforce at a regional screening center amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Singapore 9 June, 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Edgar Su).

Authors: Alistair DB Cook and Christopher Chen, RSIS

COVID-19 is severely impacting the humanitarian system. It has forced countries to focus on containing the pandemic with national lockdown measures — hindering humanitarian action and denying aid to many affected communities in the Asia Pacific. But countries in the region have begun negotiations to normalise international travel, with Australia and New Zealand being the first to initiate bilateral discussions over the establishment of a ‘Trans-Tasman bubble’ and a ‘humanitarian corridor’ to the Pacific during the pandemic. Read more…

Is ASEAN’s COVID-19 response leaving migrant workers behind?

Firefighters spray disinfectant on a street during the movement control order due to the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 31 March, 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Teng).

Author: M Niaz Asadullah, University of Malaya

Many ASEAN nations saw a sharp decline in the number of coronavirus fatalities after more than a month in lockdown. New infections in Thailand dropped to single-digit figures and Vietnam has already reopened its economy. The Philippines and Malaysia have conditionally permitted most sectors to resume business.

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Tracing the problems with Singapore’s COVID-19 app

Author: Howard Lee, Murdoch University

The Singapore government won international acclaim for its deft handling of the COVID-19 crisis in its early months. The country was praised for its ability to activate an efficient contact tracing system to track down possible cases and implement strict quarantine measures to reduce community infection. Read more…

The Indo-Pacific Outlook: a new lens for ASEAN

Workers put up a sign to welcome leaders to the 35th ASEAN Summit in Bangkok, Thailand 29 October, 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Patpicha Tanakasempipat).

Authors: Simon Tay and Jessica Wau, Singapore Institute of International Affairs

With China–US tensions and geopolitical turbulence increasing, many in the Asia-Pacific have looked at how ASEAN would respond to remain united, central and relevant. The ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP) report is a response to the rising contention between great powers as well as a lens for ASEAN’s future priorities. Read more…

DEPA lacks added value

Customers try out smartphones at a mobile phone store (Photo: Reuters).

Author: Jane Kelsey, University of Auckland

Negotiations on the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement (DEPA) between Chile, New Zealand and Singapore were concluded on 21 January 2020. The Joint Ministerial Statement issued in May 2019 promised a ‘first-of-its-kind’ and ‘forward-looking’ agreement that would be a pathfinder for the WTO and APEC — offering new approaches to digital trade issues and exploring new frontiers in the digital economy. But significant new rules and obligations were never likely.

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The future of work: what Australia can learn from Singapore

Tourists walk around the forecourt of Australia's Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, 16 October 16 2017 (Photo: Reuters/David Gray).

Author: Conrad Guimaraes, Sydney

In 2019, the Australian political arena was dominated by the Federal election. Despite the bitter partisanship on display — aggravated by the bushfire crisis — Canberra has seen the beginning of a bipartisan consensus on a key policy issue: the future of work. Read more…

Singapore’s fight against the coronavirus on social media

A woman wearing a protective mask passes empty shelves of instant noodles and canned food, as people initially stocked up on food supplies after Singapore raised coronavirus outbreak alert level to orange, at a supermarket in Singapore, 8 February 2020 (Reuters/Edgar Su).

Author: Archana Atmakuri, NUS

Over 60 countries are now fighting confirmed and suspected cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), with the highest number of cases outside China recorded in South Korea, Italy, Iran and Japan as of today. Singapore has 117 confirmed cases but 80 patients have recovered as of 5 March. Read more…