I co-authored an opinion piece on Malaysia’s climate commitments with Dr Matthew Ashfold from the University of Nottingham Malaysia. We discussed how climate science and concepts are often complex and inaccessible to the general public, which leads the the lack of public engagement with national commitments. Read the full commentary here.
I co-wrote a piece with Ms Sujatha Spaapen on soft power aspects of Malaysian sustainable palm oil, which was published here in The Vibes on 3 February 2021. We argued that Malaysia should leverage soft power strategies to co-opt rather than coerce countries to be more receptive to the Malaysian brand of sustainable palm oil, with the broader goal to push the sustainable palm oil agenda forward in a more inclusive manner for the global South.
I co-authored a piece for Fulcrum (formerly known as ISEAS Commentaries) with Dr Patrick O’Reilly from the University of Leicester, Dr Shofwan Al Banna Choiruzzad from Universitas Indonesia, and Dr Rory Padfield from the University of Leeds. We reflect on the EU-Southeast Asia palm oil dispute:
“This dispute goes deeper than environmental and economic trade-offs. It is essentially a conflict over values. Each side focusses on different types of goods vested with different meanings, which each seeks to protect. Progress towards resolution is extremely elusive as each selects particular facts while ignoring others to support their respective black-and-white positions.”
The full commentary is available here.
I contributed a commentary to ISIS Focus 4/2020 No.14, a special edition on ASEAN-ROK relations under ROK’s New Southern Policy. An except is below, and the full article is available here.
“The Green New Deal has the potential to diversify the focus of South Korea’s New Southern Policy by inserting the element of environment in a foreign policy that is thought to be too economic-centric. South Korea and ASEAN must consider greater cooperation in two areas under this element: eco-friendly vehicles and environmental governance“
“While COVID-19 may be increasing the risk of a significant haze incident, there is growing evidence that suggests that air pollution both decreases base level immunity to the disease and increases mortality”, writes Dr Thomas Smith, Assistant Professor at the Department of Geography & Environment, London School of Economics in London, and Dr Helena Varkkey, Senior Lecturer at the Department of International & Strategic Studies, the University of Malaya in Malaysia.
You can read the entire blogpost here.
As part of our Toyota Foundation project on “The Southeast Asian haze crisis: Public values as a pathway towards constructive cross-border sentiments and engagement”, we, a group of researchers from the University of Malaya, University of Nottingham Malaysia, and Leeds Trinity University, conducted a series of focus groups in Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.
The Singaporean focus groups were held at the Asia Research Institute in collaboration with our colleagues from the Transboundary Environmental Commons in Southeast Asia (TECSEA) research project. A blogpost was written as a reflection and preliminary analysis of the Singapore focus groups, contextualised within the broader regional project. Click here to read the blogpost, or here for an updated version at ARIScope.
The Indonesian focus groups were held at Pekanbaru, Riau in collaboration with our colleagues from the Department of International Relations, Universitas Abdurrab, Riau. Similarly, another blogpost was written as a reflection and preliminary analysis of the Indonesia focus groups, contextualised within the broader regional project. Click here to read the blogpost.
The Malaysian focus groups were held at Universiti Malaya. Our reflections and preliminary analysis for the Malaysian focus groups, contextualised within the broader regional project can be viewed here.
Continuing my collaboration with Trident Media’s Between The Lines Online Newsletter, I have written an opinion piece on the Malaysian Haze Act which has been shelved by the ministry after months of stakeholder consultations. Click here to read the article.
Lead: As the world struggles to contain the coronavirus pandemic, preliminary research findings highlight how air quality and Covid-19 death rates may be linked, says Helena Varkkey of the University of Malaya. While this correlation may seem tenuous at first, it is not entirely surprising: After all, acute respiratory distress syndrome, which has long been linked to polluted air, has been a major cause of Covid-19-related deaths. The new information on air quality could inform the response to the Covid-19 pandemic, especially in Southeast Asia, now and in the future.
The full article is available here.
My commentary on EU-Malaysian relations in the wake of the EU Renewable Energy Directive has been published in the East Asia Forum.
The full article can be accessed here.
I recently contributed an opinion piece to the Transboundary Environmental Common in Southeast Asia (TECSEA) project’s blog: “Haze in the New Malaysia: The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same?”, published on 16 January 2020.
An excerpt is below:
YBYBY was quick to call out Indonesia for what she regarded as its slow response in bringing their local fires under control, while offering Malaysian assistance to this end. When her counterpart in Indonesia refused this assistance and fired back claiming that Malaysia was not being transparent about their own local fires, YBYBY remained true to form by quickly and accurately citing data from the ASEAN Specialized Meteorological Centre which proved that the haze blanketing Malaysia was indeed from Indonesia. Following this, Indonesia in turn announced that four out of the 30 oil palm concessions (one, again, with links to YBYBY’s husband) that it had seized for investigations related to haze had Malaysian links. Unfazed, YBYBY seemingly approved of the move, declaring that all companies, Malaysian or otherwise, should bear the legal brunt of their actions.
Read the full article here.