ANU Researchers Engaged Practitioners via a Roundtable

Roundtable on Southeast Asian States' Threat Perception
SEAI Roundtable

Organized by Emir Syailendra and Rahman Yacoob, ANU SEAI Seminar Series pulled together scholars and practitioners to discuss threat perception in this changing region. The roundtable was on 'Southeast Asian Countries' Threat Perception Amid the Intensifying Great Power Competition.' The event happened on Thursday, 27 April 2023, 3.30 pm – 5 pm, at Coral Bell School Board Room, Room 2.54, Level 2, Hedley Bull Building (Building 130), 130 Garran Rd, Acton, ACT 2601. The practitioners involved were five Defense Attaches of Southeast Asian states and embassy staff from Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, and the Philippines.

The announcement of AUKUS was emblematic of the intensifying great power competition and power recalibration in the Indo-Pacific region. Amid this changing strategic environment, Southeast Asian countries have started assessing their regional outlook and threat perception. Southeast Asian elites are under pressure to develop a strategy that both preserves their strategic autonomy and benefits from the great power rivalries. This Southeast Asia Institute roundtable discussion aimed to provide dialogue between scholars and practitioners on this development. The ANU Southeast Asia Institute, Research Seminar Series, is a recurring seminar series that showcases the work of scholars within the ANU working on political, social and cultural issues in Southeast Asia, with the goal of encouraging greater exchange, collaboration and networking amongst the research community. This roundtable featured two research presentations based on insights from elites' interviews and fieldwork.

The first presentation was by Abdul Rahman Yaacob, a final-year PhD candidate at the National Security College (NSC) of The Australian National University (ANU). Rahman presented on Australia, Aukus and Southeast Asia: A Case Of Strategic Divergent Or An Opportunity For Closer Defence Relations? He examined the strategic divergence between Australia and Southeast Asia and explored the opportunity for Australia to employ AUKUS as a means to enhance defence relations with the latter.

The second presentation was by Emirza Adi Syailendra, a PhD candidate at the Strategic and Defence Study Centre at The Australian National University. He was grappling with two questions: How do we make sense of threat perception in this changing region when countries stay away from labelling others as a threat? How do they influence each other's threat perception amid the changing regional order?   

The event ended with Southeast Asian-style refreshments of fried rice and stir-fried glass noodles, where scholars and practitioners further chatted to deepen their engagement.