‘Economic downturn’ Bruneians’ top concern

|     Azlan Othman     |

RESPONDENTS from Brunei Darussalam to a recent regional survey have pinpointed “economic downturn” as the top security challenge in Southeast Asia.

In the ‘State of Southeast Asia: 2019’ online survey conducted by the ASEAN Studies Centre of the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute between November 18 and December 5, 2018 to seek the views of Southeast Asians on regional affairs, 80 per cent of Bruneian respondents cited “economic downturn” as their number one security concern for the region.

The top security concern for the other ASEAN member states are Cambodia (domestic political instability, 75 per cent), Indonesia (ethnic and religious tension, 67.8 per cent), Laos (economic downturn and climate change, 62.1 per cent), Malaysia (economic downturn, 63.7 per cent), Myanmar (ethnic and religious tension, 67.1 per cent), the Philippines (regional military tensions and climate change, 62.2 per cent respectively), Singapore (climate change, 61.2 per cent), Thailand (domestic political instability, 78.3 per cent) and Vietnam (regional military tensions, 78.2 per cent).

Domestic political instability, ethnic and religious tensions, and climate change top Southeast Asia’s security challenges. The survey provided six options – economic downturn, terrorism, ethnic and religious tensions, increased military tensions from potential regional flashpoints, domestic political instability, and climate change – for the respondents to identify their top three security concerns.

The survey used the purposive sampling method, canvassing views from a total of 1,008 Southeast Asians who are regional experts and stakeholders from the policy, research, business, civil society, and media communities.

The academe and think-tank community made up the largest group of respondents at 42 per cent. Nearly one third of the respondents (32.9 per cent) came from the government, inter-governmental and international organisation cluster, which provides a rare opportunity to access perspectives from these often closed circles.

The business and finance community (10.4 per cent), civil society and NGOs (eight per cent), and the media (6.7 per cent) made up the remaining 25.1 per cent of respondents.

The 1,008 respondents were drawn from all 10 ASEAN member states to ensure that the survey accurately reflects the regional view.

The highest responses for the survey came from Myanmar (16.9 per cent), followed by Malaysia (14.5 per cent), Singapore (12.7 per cent), Vietnam (12.3 per cent), Indonesia (11.4 per cent), Thailand (11.4 per cent), the Philippines (11 per cent), Brunei Darussalam (4.5 per cent), Laos (2.9 per cent) and Cambodia (2.4 per cent).