The ASEAN Haze: A Citizen’s Forum

In an effort to translate my academic work to action on the ground, I contributed to “The ASEAN Haze: A Citizen’s Forum”, a public event organised jointly by CERAH (a citizen’s group focusing on haze), New Naratif, and KAMY (Klima Action Malaysia).

The objective of the event was to:

  1. collect donations for WALHI, an NGO in Indonesia who has been working tirelessly to address haze-related issues on the ground
  2. brainstorm ideas on how to maintain haze as a top-of-mind agenda among our local politicians and society even when our skies are no longer hazy
  3. recruit concerned citizens to join CERAH and actively contribute there

In the run up to the event, I was interviewed by BFM to generate publicity and spread awareness of the importance of such citizen forums.

A good turnout of about 30 concerned citizens, consisting of academics, students, activists, and the general public participated. We managed to collect RM465 for our friends in Indonesia. The ideas generated were fed into the CERAH network, with follow up events in the pipeline.

An excellent blogpost recapping the event was written by Deborah Augustine of New Naratif and is available here.


Kuala Lumpur Workshop on Climate Change Policy and Implementation, 7 May 2019

The University of Kent, in collaboration with the University of Malaya, organised a Kuala Lumpur Workshop on Climate Change Policy and Implementation at the High Impact Research Building, University of Malaya on 7 May 2019. The objective of this workshop was to gather relevant Malaysia-based expertise to form an active network to be in a position to respond to future United Kingdom Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) calls. The workshop was well attended with a mix of participants from academia, civil society, and government. Main local priorities with respect to local climate change policy and implementation was identified, and, based on this, guiding ideas for a potential bid was discussed.


Fieldwork in Riau for British Academy Grant on “Evidence Based Forestry in Indonesia”, April 2019

Our three-year British Academy Grant for International Partnership and Mobility ends later this year. We recently had one of our final rounds of fieldwork in Riau, Indonesia.

Participants for this round were myself, Dr Adam Tyson from University of Leeds, Dr Shofwan Albanna from Universitas Indonesia, Ms. Ratih Indraswari and Mr. Apresian Stanislaus from Universitas Katolik Parahyangan. Our local partners from Universitas Abdurrab, Universitas Riau, and Yayasan Hutanriau was of great assistance to our activities.

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Erasmus+ Staff Exchange Program (University of Glasgow)

I was fortunate to be attached to the School of Social an Political Sciences, University of Glasgow for two weeks under the Erasmus+ Staff Exchange Program. During this time, I had the opportunity to engage with UK-based academics from Glasgow and elsewhere, and presented my work at four separate events:

  1. “Challenges on Doing Research on Nationally Strategic Issues”, seminar at the School of Geography, University of Nottingham
  2. “Oil Palm, Land Use Change, and Southeast Asian Influence in the Amazon Rainforest: Governance Challenges of Balancing the SDGs in Latin America” with Dr Patrick O’Reilly (University of Leicester), as part of a panel on “The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Latin America: Justification for business as usual or potential for change?” convened by Dr Karen Seigel at the Society for Latin American Studies Annual Conference, University of Leicester
  3. “A Future Beyond (or Without) the Forest: Reflections on Path Dependency and Alternative Development Strategies in Indonesia and Malaysia” with Dr Adam Tyson (University of Leeds), seminar at Glasgow Centre for International Development, University of Glasgow
  4. “The Environment and Political Economy in ASEAN: Haze, Indonesia and Beyond”, seminar at the School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Glasgow


CLAS International Workshop on Environmental Governance in the Palm Oil Sector , 5-6 June 2018

I am leading a research project on Environmental Governance at the Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS), University of Malaya.

As part of this project, and together with our partners SUSTAINPEAT at the University of Leicester, we organised a Workshop to compare Environmental Governance in the Palm Oil Sector  in the regions of Latin America and Southeast Asia. From the 5th-6th of June, scholars working on Brazil, Mexico, Honduras, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines gathered at the University of Malaya to share their draft papers. Local experts were also in attendance to act as paper discussants.

I  led the Malaysia country paper, entitled “State Autonomy and Peatland (Mis)Governance in Sarawak, Malaysia s Final Frontier for Oil Palm”. Ms Yasmin Rasyid, founder and president of EcoKnights, kindly acted as the discussant for the paper. Other contributors included Prof. Daniel Sombra (Brazil), Dr Inrid Fromm (Honduras), Dr Erin Pischke (Mexico), prof. Gusti Z. Anshari and Dr Patrick O’Reilly (Indonesia), and Prof. Michael Pido (Philippines).

We concluded the workshop with a focus group round-robin style exercise where the presenters and discussants paired up to come up with keywords that were raised during the two days. This was later grouped into major themes (see photos), which we hope will serve as the basis for a cohesive collection of papers.

Moving forward, based on these themes, the presenters agreed to continue working on the presented papers to be published as a special issue for a relevant journal. We later intend to invite more country paper contributors to further expand the collection into an edited volume, edited by Dr Patrick O’Reilly and myself.

Riau Scoping Study, ARI TECSEA Project

The Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore has been awarded a Singapore Social Science Research Council (SSRC) Grant to carry out a five-year project (2017-2022) on the Transboundary Environmental Commons in Southeast Asia (TECSEA). The project is led by Prof David Taylor from NUS Geography and Prof Jonathan Rigg from ARI. I am fortunate to be included in this project as an external collaborator and lead researcher for Work Package 1 of the project on “Atmosphere: Biomass Burning and the Haze”.

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British Academy Evidence-Based Forestry Project (Phase 2)

(Please see Phase 1 here).

Phase 2 of our British Academy Project brought us to Leeds, Oxford, and London. The objective of this fiend trip was to meet with experts based in the UK who have done similar research to the one we are planning to undertake under this project, so that we can learn from them possible methodologies, strategies and challenges, as well as link up with possible contacts back in Indonesia.

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British Academy Evidence-Based Forestry Project (Phase 1)

I am fortunate to be the co-Principal Investigator for a three-year British Academy Grant for a project entitled “The Design, Communication and Impact of Evidence-Based Forestry in Indonesia”. Other members of the group include Assoc. Prof. Dr Adam Tyson (co-PI) from Leeds University, Dr. Shofwan Albana from Universitas Indonesia, and Ms Ratih Indraswari, Mr Apresian Risadi Stanislaus, and Mr Albert Triwibowo from Universitas Katolik Parahyangan.

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