Project

Connecting Oceans: Malaysia, the Straits of Malacca and the South China Sea

Goal: Malaysia occupies a central geo-political position between the Indian Ocean, the South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean. This requires a clear-cut maritime policy to deal with the ensuing political, security, social and economic challenges.

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Hans-Dieter Evers
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Just published by UKM Press 2020
 
Good book sir..thank you
 
Hans-Dieter Evers
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The second volume of Connecting Ocean will be available in April 2020. There will be a book launch at IKMAS-UKM on April 1st, 2020,
Evers, Hans-Dieter, Abdul Rahman Embong, Rashila Ramli (eds.), 2018, Connecting Oceans. Vol 1, Malaysia as a Maritime Nation. Bangi: UKM Press.
Evers, Hans-Dieter, Abdul Rahman Embong, Rashila Ramli (eds.), 2020, Connecting Oceans. Vol 2, Malaysia as a Nusantara Civilization. Bangi: UKM Press.
 
Hans-Dieter Evers
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Malaysia's geopolitical position as a key to the governance of South China Sea conflicts. Nusantara as a cultural and political concept since the 14th century.
Hans-Dieter Evers
added 2 research items
Location at the Straits of Malacca and a long coastline provide states with a substantial maritime geostrategic potential. Using data of the CenPRIS Ocean Index the paper will analyse the competitive position of Penang, Johor, Negeri Sembilan, Malacca, Selangor, Perak, Kedah and Perlis, all states along the Straits of Malacca. The question will be asked, whether or not Penang, Malacca and Johore have realized their maritime potential and have moved ahead of their competitors along the Straits of Malacca. The development of other maritime states will provide a benchmark, through which the maritime performance can be measured. It will be argued that Penang’s maritime potential as a gateway to the Indian Ocean could be more fully realized , whereas Johore has made good use of its geo-strategic position between the Straits of Malacca and the South China Sea.
Hans-Dieter Evers
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Location at the entrance /gateway to the Indian Ocean and its long coastline provide Penang State with a substantial maritime potential. The maritime potential and its utilization by a maritime economy have been captured by an index, developed by the Centre for Policy Research and International Studies, USM. Using data of the CenPRIS Ocean Index the paper will analyse the competitive position of Penang in relation to Singapore, Johore, Melakka, Selanggor, Perak, Kedah and Perlis, all states along the Straits of Malacca. The question will be asked and at least partially answered, whether or not Penang has realized its maritime potential and has moved ahead of its competitors along the Straits of Malacca, serving as a gateway to the Indian Ocean. The development of the other maritime states will provide a benchmark, through which the performance of Penang can be measured. It will be argued that Penang’s maritime potential as a gateway to the Indian Ocean could be more fully realized and some of the connections across the Indian Ocean will be highlighted.
Hans-Dieter Evers
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Countries may utilize a long coastline in relation to their landmass as a resource to develop their maritime economy. This paper argues that ASEAN countries differ in utilizing their maritime potential. As a basis for further comparative studies the Center for Policy Research and International Studies (CenPRIS) in Penang developed a set of indicators to measure the maritime potential of nations, the state of their maritime industries and the degree to which the maritime potential has actually been utilized. Using the CenPRIS Ocean Index (COI) shows that Brunei and the Philippines have underutilized their maritime potentials, whereas Singapore and Thailand have made full use of it. Malaysia still has the potential to further develop its maritime economy.
Hans-Dieter Evers
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What is the the historical in China's claims to the South China Sea?
See this publication by Johannes Kurz at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/293820719 What is the historical in China's claims to the South China Sea? Conference Paper · November 2013
 
Hans-Dieter Evers
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Please open the following webpage for our paper on OBOR and Malaysian Maritime Policy.
 
Hans-Dieter Evers
added 5 research items
The Chinese Government has embarked on a new strategy, known as “One Belt, One Road” or OBOR. This paper concentrates on the maritime part of this development policy, which entails heavy infrastructure investments in ports and railroads, but also property developments like satellite cities or condominiums, offered for sale mainly to Chinese citizens. There will be obvious commercial benefits to economies along the Southern Silk Road, but also geo-political effects like increasing political dependency due to Chinese capital investments and cquisition of property rights in ports and condominiums. Regarding these developments, a Malaysian maritime policy is called for to match OBOR and the Indonesian Maritime Fulcrum, as well as ASEAN integration. Keywords: OBOR; Maritime Policy; Geopolitics; ASEAN Integration
The South China Sea has attracted considerable attention among politicians, journalists and scholars since it has become a contested maritime space. Most work concentrates on conflicts and negotiations to resolve the ensuing issues. In this paper a cultural theory will be applied to stress the importance of conceptions of space found in different cultures. The South China Sea is defined as “mediterranean”. By comparing it to other maritime spaces, like the Baltic and the Mediterranean Sea, lessons will be drawn from the “longue durée” of history, as analysed by French historian Fernand Braudel.
The South China Sea has attracted considerable attention among politicians, journalists and scholars since it has become a contested maritime space. Most work concentrates on conflicts and negotiations to resolve the ensuing issues. The paper to be presented uses a different approach, taken from Max Weber’s “Verstehende Soziologie”. It starts off by contrasting different conceptions of maritime and terrestrial space. The South China Sea is defined as “mediterranean”. By comparing it to other maritime spaces, like the Baltic and the Mediterranean Sea, lessons will be drawn from the “longue durée” of history, as analysed by French historian Fernand Braudel in his famous book La Méditerranée et le monde méditerranéen à l'époque de Philippe II.
Hans-Dieter Evers
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In 2013 the author organized a workshop with the topic “Reframing the South China Sea” under the auspices of the Institute of Asian Studies, Universiti Brunei Darussalam. The theme of the workshop was outline in an introductory presentation under the title “Conceptions of Maritime Space: A Cultural Perspective on the South China Sea (Introduction to workshop agenda)”. A keynote address by Philip E. Steinberg of Durham University “The South China Sea as Asian Mediterranean: A ‘Fluid’ Concept” added to the general thrust of the conference, namely to get away from a narrow conflict approach to a long-term view with an emphasis on culture and society. The conference prospectus outlined that “the workshop will look at the South China Sea from a different and novel perspective. It will look back into history, where the SCS has facilitated trade and cultural exchange, migration, the spread of languages, and the creation of maritime states. It will also consider resources and opportunities of the SCS from fishing, to shipping, mining and cultural exchange. The South China Sea will be looked at as a “mediterranean sea” and compared to other landlocked seas in Asia and elsewhere. Lessons will be learned from adopting a comparative perspective” (Conference prospectus by the conference convener, 2013). According to Dr Nur Azam, Dean, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, UBD, in his welcome address “fostering research on growing together rather than emphasizing the dividing forces of the countries around the South China Sea will be the aim of this workshop. Breaking new ground and providing new perspectives drives the workshop agenda”. A revised version of the introductory paper was published as Evers, Hans-Dieter. 2014. "Understanding the South China Sea: An Explorative Cultural Analysis." International Journal of Asia Pacific Studies 10(1):80-95. http://ijaps.usm.my/?page_id=2284
Hans-Dieter Evers
added 2 research items
This paper reviews several approaches to measure and evaluate ethnic diversity. An “ethnic diversity index (EDI)” is developed, based on Simpson’s diversity index, commonly used in biodiversity research. It describes the degree of variety of ethnic groups living together on a common territory. The EDI of states of Peninsular Malaysia and Kuala Lumpur shows that ethnic diversity has generally declined between 1970and 2000. This change is attributed to migration, government policy and urban planning. Ashby’s “Law of Requisite Variety” and Ostrom’s recommendation for the governance of biodiversity is used to point to problems of governance of complex and highly diverse social systems.
Whereas many institutions are in place to govern urban and rural land, maritime areas are less well covered. This situation of a “governance void” has led to uncertainty and conflicts. Thus the South China Sea has become a contested maritime space. In this paper the cultural theory of Oswald Spengler will be applied to stress the importance of conceptions of space as a basis for maritime governance. By comparing it to other maritime spaces, like the Baltic and the Mediterranean Sea, lessons will be drawn from the “longue durée” of history, as analysed by French historian Fernand Braudel. Embedded in this larger theoretical framework special attention will be placed on the Malay and Javanese Nusantara conception of maritime space and its implication for governing the South China Sea.
Hans-Dieter Evers
added 3 research items
The South China Sea has attracted considerable attention among politicians, journalists and scholars since it has become a contested maritime space. Most works concentrate on conflicts and negotiations to resolve the ensuing issues. In this paper, a cultural theory will be applied to stress the importance of conceptions of space found in different cultures. The South China Sea is defined as "Mediterranean." By comparing it to other maritime spaces, like the Baltic and the Mediterranean Sea, lessons will be drawn from the "longue durée" of history, as analysed by French historian Fernand Braudel and from concepts of the cultural theory of Oswald Spengler. The paper will look at the South China Sea from two perspectives. The political perspective will discuss various events that have happened due to political tensions because of territorial demarcations, fishing rights and access to natural resources. Comparing three "Mediterranean seas," I shall argue that Mediterranean seas share certain properties that give rise to tensions and even armed conflict, but also solutions to its problems. The second perspective uses macro-sociology and cultural anthropology to classify and understand actions of the general population as well as political leaders when they ascertain property rights to Mediterranean seas.
Malaysia is a “maritime nation”, but while the governance of urban and rural land is well institutionalized, maritime areas are less well covered. This situation of a “governance void” has led to uncertainty and conflicts and the South China Sea has become a contested maritime space. Contrary to the opinion voiced by many Western commentators, the PRC’s government has not claimed the full territory demarcated by the so-called “red dotted line”, but has claimed an EEZ around islands claimed for historic reasons, following UNCLOS Article 15. Sociologically speaking the South China Sea is a mediterranean sea and a mediterranean socio-cultural area, or in Malay terms a “Nusantara”. Though there is ample linguistic and archaeological evidence that Austronesian (Malay) seafarers have sailed the South China Sea for centuries, no nautical maps have been discovered in Malay classical texts. Earlier research by the author suggests that Malay and Indonesian seafarers have ample knowledge of rocks, islands and currents in the South China Sea and beyond, but a directory of these names has yet to be assembled, proving Malays utilization of these islands as fishing grounds or shelter. The paper argues that research on the concept of Nusantara or similar concepts would be necessary to establish a Malaysian cultural concept of mediterranean maritime space to assist Malaysia “in the battle of words” for the peaceful and sustainable governance of the South China Sea. Additional research in maritime sociology would be needed to highlight its governance problems and to extend our knowledge on the South China Sea as a cultural area. The Persatuan Sains Sosial Malaysia could and should undertake the task of stimulating research in this direction.
Whereas many institutions are in place to govern urban and rural land, maritime areas are less well covered. This situation of a “governance void” has led to uncertainty and conflicts. Thus the South China Sea has become a contested maritime space. In this paper the cultural theory of Oswald Spengler will be applied to stress the importance of conceptions of space as a basis for maritime governance. By comparing it to other maritime spaces, like the Baltic and the Mediterranean Sea, lessons will be drawn from the “longue durée” of history, as analysed by French historian Fernand Braudel. Embedded in this larger theoretical framework special attention will be placed on the Malay and Javanese Nusantara conception of maritime space and its implication for governing the South China Sea.
Hans-Dieter Evers
added a research item
Malaysia is a ‘maritime nation’, but while the governance of urban and rural land is well institutionalized, maritime areas are less well covered. This situation of a ‘governance void’ has led to uncertainty and conflicts and the South China Sea has become a contested maritime space. Contrary to the opinion voiced by many Western commentators, the PRC government has not claimed the full territory demarcated by the so-called ‘red dotted line’, but has claimed an EEZ around islands claimed for historic reasons, following UNCLOS Article 15. Sociologically speaking the South China Sea is a mediterranean sea and a mediterranean socio-cultural area, or in Malay terms a ‘Nusantara’. Though there is ample linguistic and archaeological evidence that Austronesian (Malay) seafarers have sailed the South China Sea for centuries, no nautical maps have been discovered in Malay classical texts. Earlier research by the author suggests that Malay and Indonesian seafarers have ample knowledge of rocks, islands and currents in the South China Sea and beyond, but a directory of these names has yet to be assembled, proving Malay utilization of these islands as fishing grounds or shelter. The paper argues that research on the concept of Nusantara or similar concepts would be necessary to establish a Malaysian cultural concept of mediterranean maritime space to assist Malaysia ‘in the battle of words’ for the peaceful and sustainable governance of the South China Sea.
Hans-Dieter Evers
added a research item
Countries may utilize a long coastline in relation to their landmass as a resource to develop their maritime economy. This paper argues that ASEAN countries differ in utilizing their maritime potential. As a basis for further comparative studies the Center for Policy Research and International Studies (CenPRIS) in Penang developed a set of indicators to measure the maritime potential of nations, the state of their maritime industries, and the degree to which the maritime potential has actually been utilized. Using the CenPRIS Ocean Index (COI) shows that Brunei and the Philippines have underutilized their maritime potentials, whereas Singapore and Thailand have made full use of it. Malaysia still has the potential to further develop its maritime economy.
Hans-Dieter Evers
added 5 research items
The dictionary meaning of ‘Nusantara’ is ‘Indonesia’ (in Indonesia) and ‘Malay World’ (in Malaysia), but different meanings have been attached to the concept throughout Southeast Asian history. It appears in fourteenth-century Javanese texts but largely disappeared from written materials for a time, and surfaced again when its almost magical qualities were (re)discovered in the late twentieth century. The meaning of the term has changed over time. In 1334, Gadjah Mada, the chief minister of the Majapahit Empire, used it to refer to the maritime fringes (the nusantara) of the Majapahit Empire. During the anticolonial struggle, the term captured the imagination of writers, novelists, poets, and politicians in Indonesia and in British Malaya but it then disappeared from public debates, only to resurface in the 1990s with the emergence of a Nusantara youth culture and a politicized Nusantara Islam in Southeast Asia.
Seminar Paper, presented 3 March 2016, IKMAS Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia
World trade, including a major part of the world's energy resources, has to pass certain 'choke points' between areas of production and their final destination. One of these choke points is the Straits of Malacca, the sea passage connecting the China Sea with the Indian Ocean. As the Straits are only 1.5 nautical miles (2.8 km) wide at their narrowest point, they form some of the world's significant traffic bottlenecks. The way through the Straits is the shortest sea route from the Horn of Africa and the Persian Golf to East Asia and the Pacific Ocean. 'There is no doubt that the Malacca and the Singapore Straits together form one of the most strategic straits of the world'. But the Malacca Straits are not just a conduit for sea traffic from East to West or West to East. Cross-Straits communication is increasing, integrating the provinces and countries on either side of the Straits. Cross-boundary social networks are ethnically diverse but closely integrated. Thus the Straits' cultural and biodiversity bears great opportunities for the economic and social development of the littoral states of Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. Peace and stability in the region are a precondition for regional development, uninterrupted energy supplies and international trade between the European Union and East Asia.
Hans-Dieter Evers
added a research item
Whereas the governance of urban and rural land in Malaysia is well institutionalized, maritime areas are less well covered. This situation of a “governance void” has led to uncertainty and conflicts and the South China Sea has become a contested maritime space. Differing cultural conceptions of maritime space have led to overlapping claims to the resources of the South China Sea. Geographically speaking the South China Sea is a mediterranean sea, or in Malay terms (perhaps) a “Nusantara”. Though there is ample linguistic and archaeological evidence that Austronesian (Malay) seafarers have sailed the South China Sea for centuries, no nautical maps have been discovered in Malay (in contrast to Chinese) classical texts. The paper argues that research on the concept of Nusantara or similar concepts would be necessary to establish a Malaysian cultural concept of mediterranean maritime space to assist Malaysia “in the battle of words” for the peaceful and sustainable governance of the South China Sea.
Hans-Dieter Evers
added an update
"Connecting Oceans: Malaysia as a Maritime Nation" is the tentative title of a research programme of the Pok Rafeah Distinguished Chair of International relations at the Institute of Malaysian and International Studies (IKMAS), National University of Malaysia (UKM). Regular PRC Workshops take place at IKMAS, where research plans and results are discussed.
PRC Workshop 3, 22-08-2016 featured an introductory talk by Emeritus Prof. Dr. Rahman Embong and a seminar presentation by Emeritus Prof Dr. Hans-Dieter Evers, Pok Rafeah Chair, on "Connecting Oceans:  Malaysia's Geo-political Position".
The next PRC Workshops will take place 6 Sept and 28 Sept 2016 10:00 at IKMAS Seminar Room.
 
Hans-Dieter Evers
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Hans-Dieter Evers
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Malaysia occupies a central geo-political position between the Indian Ocean, the South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean. This requires a clear-cut maritime policy to deal with the ensuing political, security, social and economic challenges.