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York Centre for Asian Research Update                        Issue 20, Friday, August 12, 2005


Y-File News: YCAR hosting fall conference on Southeast Asia

The York Centre for Asian Research (YCAR) is hosting the 2005 conference of the Canadian Council for Southeast Asia Studies at the Keele campus, Oct. 14-16.

Program committee members from York’s Faculty of Arts include sociologist Peter Vandergeest, director of YCAR, Lisa Drummond, professor of social science, Keith Barney, YCAR graduate associate from the Department of Geography, and anthropologist Judith Nagata. In addition, we would like to thank geographer Philip Kelly for assisting in the planning and programming details.

The conference panels will look at three main themes: War, Conflict and Regional Politics; Economy and Ecology; and Revisioning Southeast Asia. Specifically, we would like to highlight the sessions on Terry McGee and the Vietnam war retrospective on Friday, Oct. 14. Attached is the preliminary timetable and panel distribution for the conference.

The conference, titled "Re-visioning Southeast Asia: Conflicts, Connections and Vulnerabilities", is open to all and pre-registration, which includes a discounted conference fee of only $90 regular ($45 student) is due by Sept. 15. On-site registration is $130 or $75 for students. Program and registration information are available at the council’s conference website.


Linkages between Population and Millennium Development Goals: The Asian Perspective"

This conference will be held in Islamabad, Pakistan from 29th November-1st December, 2005.  Deadline for submission of abstracts is 15th August, 2005. The following are the conference sub-themes:

1. Poverty and Population Growth
2. Gender Equality and Women Empowerment
3. Educational Development & MDGs
4. Maternal and Child Health and Mortality
5. HIV/AIDS and other Sexually Transmitted Diseases
6. Public Private Partnerships in Family Planning & Reproductive Health
7. Role of Fertility Transition in Achieving MDGs
8. Migration, Urbanization and Sustainable Development

Those interested in further details may visit the website: www.pap.org.pk.


East-West Centre  Fellowships, Scholarships and Professional Development Programs

The EWC offers a wide variety of short-term and long-term programs for students, researchers, educators, policy makers, journalists, and professionals.  Programs that are currently accepting applications are listed below.  A complete list of programs can be found at: http://www.eastwestcenter.org/ann-cs.asp.

U.S.-East Timor Scholarship Program
January 2006 Program
Open to East Timorese who meet specific criteria.
Application Deadline: August 19, 2005
http://www.eastwestcenter.org/events-ce-detail.asp?conf_ID=496&type=app

2005-2006 Visiting Fellowships    
Opportunities for research and publication
Application Deadline: September 15, 2005
http://www.eastwestcenter.org/events-ce-detail.asp?conf_ID=764&type=app

ADB-Government of Japan Scholarships    
Fall 2006 Program
Application Deadline: November 1, 2005
http://www.eastwestcenter.org/events-ce-detail.asp?conf_ID=475&type=app

South Asia Fellowship Program Fall 2006
Application Deadline: August 31, 2005
http://washington.eastwestcenter.org/

East-West Center Graduate Degree Fellowships
Fall 2006 Program
Application Deadline: November 1, 2005
http://www.eastwestcenter.org/events-ce-detail.asp?conf_ID=474&type=app


Call for Letters of Intent on Sustainable Forest Management Network Centre for Excellence

The York University Office of Research Services (ORS) has recently obtained the following information from the Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) Network Centre of Excellence regarding a Call for Letters of Intent (LOI) for the 2006/2007 Grant Competition. A summary of this program is provided below.  For complete details, please contact ORS at research@yorku.ca, ext. 55055 or consult the following web site: http://129.128.45.107/english/research/en_cfp.htm.
 
OBJECTIVES:
 
The SFM Network's research framework focuses on strategies and alternatives for achieving sustainable forest management in the following areas:
 
A - NATURAL DISTURBANCE MANAGEMENT
B - INNOVATIVE ZONING
C - INTEGRATED RESOURCE MANAGEMENT
D - POLICY AND INSTITUTIONAL ANALYSIS
E - VALUE ADDED/ALTERNATIVE PRODUCTS
F - ECOLOGICAL CRITERIA AND INDICATORS
G - WATER AND WETLANDS
H - SUSTAINABLE ABORIGINAL COMMUNITIES
I - SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC CRITERIA AND INDICATORS
 
Please note that SFM do not generally support individual researchers, unless the proposal is an addition to a larger, existing integrated project. Applicants must consult with Research Area Leaders regarding the scope of proposed research, before submitting a Letter Of Intent (LOI). Research Area Leaders will provide background and advice on integrating research with current and proposed SFM Network research.
 
VALUE: Up to $125,000/year
 
DURATION: 3 years
 
DEADLINES:
Letter of Intent: September 28, 2005, 4:30 MDT
Full Application (by invitation only): Anticipated deadline of December 16, 2005.

York University researchers are reminded that all applications for external research funding, including Letters of Intent, must be reviewed and approved by the Office of Research Services before they are submitted to the granting agency.  For internal approval, the application must be accompanied by a completed ORS Application Checklist, which requires the Chair’s and Dean’s signatures.  To ensure that the approved application is ready by the agency deadline, a complete application folder must be submitted to the ORS ten (10) working days prior to final submission date. Office of Research Services, 214 York Lanes, York University, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3. Tel: (416) 736-5055 Fax: (416) 736-5512.


SAARC foreign secretaries meet in Islamabad Aug 17, The Daily Star, 2005-08-11

The foreign secretaries of the SAARC states will meet in Islamabad on Aug 17-18 to review the South Asian regional body's activities since its 12th summit in January last year. All seven members of the SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) have agreed to join the meeting, official sources said.

Foreign Secretary Hemayet-uddin will lead Bangladesh delegation at the meeting. He will also lead the Bangladesh delegation at the annual consultation with Pakistan in Islamabad scheduled for Aug 19-20 to review bilateral issues including trade and economic cooperation. Bangladesh would again take up the longstanding issue of repatriation of stranded Pakistanis at the foreign secretary-level consultation, the sources added.

Pakistan Foreign Secretary Riaz Mohammad Khan will preside over the SAARC Standing Committee's session. The standing committee monitors and coordinate programmes, approve projects and programmes, modalities of financing, determine inter-sector priorities, mobilise regional and external resources, and identify new areas of cooperation.

The session will be preceded by a one-day meeting of the 26th session of the programming committee of senior officials on August 16. The session will finalise a report on SAARC activities for review at the foreign secretaries' meet. Sources said the meeting will provide Hemayetuddin an opportunity to discuss bilateral relations with his counterparts. The meeting is taking place ahead of the twice-postponed 13th SAARC Summit now set to be held in Dhaka on Nov 12-13. The sources said the agenda of the SAARC summit will also be discussed at the standing committee meet. Prior to his trip to Pakistan, Hemayetuddin will also visit Singapore to hold a foreign secretary-level consultation with the city-state on Aug 14-15.


 

ASEAN needs to take a more people-centric approach, The Star,  2005-08-08

Asean needs to take a more people-centric approach by getting people to participate in its activities, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said. This was important for creating an Asean community by 2020, he said. The approach should include encouraging people to get involved in activities such as side events during the 11th Asean summit, he said in his speech aired over TV3 in conjunction with Asean Day celebrations Sunday. This was one of the initiatives outlined by Malaysia, which is taking over the chair of the regional organisation from Laos for the 11th Asean summit in November. Other initiatives were:

SETTING up an Asean charter;

DEVELOPING an Asean development fund from sources obtained from dialogue partners, international institutions & private sector;

TAKING a more pro-active stance and role at international meetings;

HOLDING a meeting of Asean defence ministers for the first time;

GETTING approval for a non-aggression treaty among Asean countries; and

INTENSIFYING efforts to narrow the development gap among Asean countries through existing programmes such as Vientiane Action Plan and Initiative for Asean Integration.

Abdullah urged the Asean community to get to know more about Asean and support Asean Governments’ initiatives to strengthen the regional grouping. He said a caring Asean community could be achieved by inculcating understanding and appreciation of the uniqueness and richness of their culture and encouraging people-to-people contact through tourism, student exchange, arts and culture programmes. He also said Asean nations should share information and expertise about poverty-eradication measures and expand job opportunities without damaging environment and natural resources.

Although Asean had been in existence for 38 years, he said, many people still did not have an in-depth knowledge about the grouping and its achievements. "This is possibly because emphasis given to Asean all this while was not comprehensive and did not involve the people’s interest." He said that, the situation had begun to change as Asean now stressed mainly on community development. "This is very encouraging and efforts should be stepped up in terms of awareness, education and involvement."

Abdullah said economic and trade cooperation had open a lot of job opportunities among Asean countries, but a lot more could be done to strengthen the institution so that the grouping would remain relevant. "For instance, we need to inculcate ‘the we feeling’, reduce the development gap among old and new Asean members and instill equality in values such as democracy, human rights and good governance." Themed "Asean community building for Asean people," it is the first time that all Asean nations are celebrating the event simultaneously.


Singapore: The Strategic Intent of a Global Hub of Hubs, Asian Analysis, August 2005

Singapore's quest to be a 'hub of hubs' is a manifestation of the city-state's priority to be one step ahead of its competitors. To that end, Singapore has been seeking to broaden its linkages in every way possible even if its strategy seems to suggest a dragnet approach in the hope that at least one venture will provide a bountiful economic harvest.

Singapore's free-trade area (FTA) regime expanded in June with the much-sought-after India-Singapore Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA). CECA took slightly more than two years to negotiate, and provides a boost to rapidly expanding economic ties. India is now Singapore's fastest growing market. Should the proposed ASEAN-India FTA materialize, Singapore is well placed to gain handsomely. Total ASEAN-India trade is US$15bn a year with India-Singapore trade accounting for almost US$7bn. By positioning itself as a pathfinder for both China and India, Singapore also hopes to tap the fast-growing Sino-Indian economic relations. The CECA enables Indian professionals in 127 specific occupations to work in Singapore and will provide impetus to Singapore's aggressive policy aimed towards attracting foreign talent. However, as with its air services negotiations with Australia, no significant inroads were made in liberalizing bilateral air services with India. Singapore favours an open skies regime to enhance its connectivity to new and existing markets. This is vital to its status as an air and sea hub and in the rejuvenation of its tourist and retail sectors.

On the diplomatic front, Singapore and the US enhanced their security relationship with a Strategic Framework Agreement for a Closer Cooperation Partnership in Defence and Security (SFA). The SFA defines Singapore as a Major Security Cooperation Partner of the US (although not a treaty ally) and formalises the 'special relationship' between the two countries. Singapore continues to urge the US to reach out to moderate, mainstream Muslims as part of the collective response to terrorism. This was most recently expressed during Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's July visit to the US. In another indication of its positioning as a 'civilisational cipher', Singapore hosted the inaugural Asia-Middle East Dialogue (AMED) in June, in which 21 Asian and 18 Middle East countries participated. AMED aspires to increase mutual understanding between the two regions as well as to provide a platform for moderate voices in an age of militant extremism.

Increasingly, Singapore is seeking to host high-profile global events not merely to tap the attendant economic benefits but also to strategically profile itself as a global city. In July, Singapore hosted the International Olympic Council session, which elected London as the host city for the 2012 Olympics. In 2006, the Boards of Governors of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group will hold its annual meetings in Singapore, an event expected to draw 16,000 delegates and observers. By leveraging on the massive media coverage of these mega-events, the message conveyed to both domestic and foreign audiences alike is that Singapore is a hub of geopolitical importance, vibrancy and connectedness with the world  a place where people, activities, ideas, and diverse opportunities converge.

Domestically, the PAP government is further consolidating its dominant position prior to general elections, which have to be held by the latter half of 2007. Besides an extensive leadership renewal, the goal for the ruling party is to secure a convincing victory margin in Lee Hsien Loong's first general election since assuming the premiership. In view of the widening income gap confirmed by two national surveys, the government will put much effort into devising programmes to uplift the poor before calling for elections. Incumbent S R Nathan, who is 81-years old, has confirmed that he is seeking re-election as President in August. It is unlikely that there will be another candidate given the strong government backing (including the trade union movement, key business groups, and various race-based groups) for his candidacy. If President Nathan is re-elected for his second six-year term without a contest, it will mark the second consecutive time (these are the third presidential elections) that Singaporeans need not cast their ballots for their elected head of state.

WATCHPOINT: In light of the London bombings, the government will emphasise the public's critical role in safeguarding national security. It will also urge further integration of Muslim Singaporeans through the reinforcement of their unique Singaporean Muslim identity  a deep Islamic commitment that is in harmony with a multiracial, globalized, and secular state. - Eugene K B Tan,
Lee Kong Chian School of Business, Singapore Management University.

Asian Analysis is published by Asean Focus Group in cooperation with the Faculty of Asian Studies at The Australian National University, Canberra, Australia. Asean Focus Group (www.aseanfocus.com) is one of the Asia Pacific region's leading corporate advisory firms specialising in M&A, regional representation and direct investments. The Australian National University (www.anu.edu.au/asianstudies/) is one of Australia's leading research and teaching universities with globally recognised Asian expertise and experience. Asian Analysis provides 8-10 short commentaries each month that present opinions and commentary on not only economic issues in the ASEAN region and beyond, but also some of the deeper underlying social and political issues that shape the economic development of the region.


York Centre for Asian Research (YCAR). For further information, contact ycar@yorku.ca
Ste. 270 York Lanes, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto ON  M3J 1P3. URL: www.yorku.ca/ycar.