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The Challenges of Contemporary Security in Southeast Asia (individual papers)

Friday 20 March 2015, 1400 – 1600, Lecture Theatre 6

Roger Darby
Cranfield University

List of Papers:

  • Indonesia: A Country in Transition. A Case for Soft Power and Multilateral Engagement to Develop Future Leaders to Sustain Defence Reform
  • Persuasion versus Coercion in Indonesia’s Responses to its Militant Threats
  • Controlling the currents? Mobilities, motility and the securitisation of maritime Sabah

Paper 1: Indonesia: A Country in Transition. A Case for Soft Power and Multilateral Engagement to Develop Future Leaders to Sustain Defence Reform

Roger Darby
Cranfield University

Indonesia is an example of a country at the crossroads of transition. Recent political events point to a developing success story of movement to a more mature democracy. It is also aligned with a growing awareness of its pivotal strategic defence and security position in South East Asia. Multilateral alliances are paramount to Indonesia maintaining good tripartite relations between ASEAN countries, China and the USA. Such machinations in defence and security require a subtle balance between soft and hard power. Providing suitable leadership and effective human capital to maintain this delicate equilibrium will severely test the capacity of Indonesia’s defence sector and newly elected government to sustain its rising international profile. This paper provides an example of HRM in defence in general and more specifically of the role of education and defence engagement in providing support for institutional development in the security sector. Capacity building will play a fundamental role in the future success or failure of Indonesia’s armed forces. Success will require further substantial investment using finite tangible and intangible resources including human capital. The questions are posed, is the recent progress achieved sustainable or a chimera; and have lessons been learned or lessons forgotten, to reforming defence and security?


Paper 2: Persuasion versus Coercion in Indonesia’s Responses to its Militant Threats

Paul J. Carnegie
Universiti Brunei Darussalam

In the early 2000s, Indonesia witnessed a proliferation of Islamist paramilitary groups and a heightened security environment and numerous terror activities in the wake of Suharto’s downfall. Having said this, given its recent authoritarian past dealing with radicalism and militant threats (especially Islamist ones) is a sensitive political issue in Indonesia. Although there is wide spread support for dealing with the problem there is also an understandable collective aversion towards the potential return of the sort of repressive practices of the Suharto era. The spectre of overt security intrusion simply does not play well domestically. Persistent punitive actions runs the risk of antagonizing or polarizing segments of the population and perpetuating ‘ghettoized’ sense of enmity and alienation amongst them towards state and society. Interestingly, over the fifteen years since Suharto’s downfall, the dire threat predictions have largely failed to materialise at least strategically. This outcome raises some interesting questions about how Indonesia has understood its militant threat and the localised responses to the problem. The following paper examines the nature of radicalism and militancy in Indonesia and the responses to it in order to gauge the ways in which Indonesia has sought to diminish this security threat.


Paper 3:  Controlling the currents? Mobilities, motility and the securitisation of maritime Sabah

Gordon Carson
King’s College London

The intrusion into eastern Sabah in 2013 by an armed group from the southern Philippines, along with subsequent kidnappings and shootings at island resorts off the east coast of the state, has brought the issues of maritime mobilities and cross-border non state networks and relationships to the forefront of geopolitical thinking in Southeast Asia. In response to these events and ongoing concerns about the ease in which people and things cross Sabah’s maritime borders with the Philippines and Indonesia, the Malaysian government has proposed a variety of measures to control and disrupt these movements.

This paper will marry an analysis of these state maritime securitisation practices and processes with findings from fieldwork conducted during 2013 in coastal communities of eastern Sabah. There, the sea is an important space of work, trade and leisure, and maritime mobilities are not an exception to the flow of life but a core practice and objective of many residents. I will discuss how residents reacted to the Malaysian government’s securitisation proposals as well as highlight longer-running contests over the management of and movements on and across maritime space. Additionally, this paper will consider the influence of motility – or the potential for and propensity of certain groups to move around geographic, economic and social spaces – on the Malaysian government’s maritime securitisation strategy.