March 19, 2020

Malaysia appears to be absent from the regional discourse on the ‘Indo-Pacific’, a construct that is reshaping the Asia-Pacific affairs and regional order. At a time when powers near and far are placing greater attention on Southeast Asia – a battleground for the discourse – Malaysian leaders and officials have largely been silent on the issue. While Malaysia joined fellow member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in adopting the ‘ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific’ in June 2019, it did not issue any statement that explicitly refers to the Indo-Pacific. The Foreign Ministry’s Foreign Policy Framework of the New Malaysia: Change in Continuity, a document officially launched by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in September 2019, made no reference to the term.

http://www.cscap.org/uploads/cscap%202020%20v3.pdf

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Dr. Kuik Cheng-Chwee is an associate professor at the Strategic Studies and International Relations Program at the National University of Malaysia (UKM), and concurrently an associate fellow at the Institute of China Studies at the University of Malaya (UM). He is the co-founder and co-convener of the East Asian International Relations (EAIR) Caucus, a research platform for exchange, engagement, and empowerment among foreign affairs professionals in Malaysia. Dr. Kuik is an adjunct lecturer at the Malaysian Armed Forces Defense College (under Ministry of Defense) and the Institute of Diplomacy and Foreign Relations (under Ministry of Foreign Affairs). Previously he was a postdoctoral research associate at the Princeton-Harvard “China and the World” Program (CWP) and a visiting research fellow at Oxford’s Department of Politics and International Relations. Dr. Kuik’s research concentrates on weaker states’ foreign policy behavior, state alignment choices, regional multilateralism, East Asian security, China-ASEAN relations, and Malaysia’s external policy. His publications have appeared in peer-reviewed journals such as Journal of Contemporary ChinaContemporary Southeast AsiaChinese Journal of International PoliticsAsian SecurityChina: An International JournalAsian Politics and PolicyEast Asian PolicyShijie Jingji yu Zhengzhi, as well as edited books. Cheng-Chwee’s essay “The Essence of Hedging” was awarded the biennial 2009 Michael Leifer Memorial Prize by the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies for the best article published in any of the three ISEAS journals. He is a co-editor (with Alice Ba and Sueo Sudo) of Institutionalizing East Asia: Mapping and Reconfiguring Regional Cooperation (Routledge 2016). His current projects include: hedging in international relations, ASEAN states’ responses to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (with Lee Jones), and politics of China-related railroad projects in Southeast Asia (with David Lampton and Selina Ho). Cheng-Chwee serves on the editorial boards/ committee of Contemporary Southeast AsiaAustralian Journal of International AffairsAsian Perspective, and Routledge’s “IR Theory and Practice in Asia” Book Series. He holds an M.Litt. from the University of St. Andrews, and a PhD from the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). Cheng-Chwee can be contacted at cckuik@gmail.com.