Tectonics, Tremors and Tempers: Southeast Asia Politics and the Evolving COVID-19 ‘Normal’

ISIS.Virtual Webinar
14 May 2020
Dr Bridget Welsh
Honorary Research Associate University of Nottingham Asia Research Institute Malaysia (UoNARI-M)

What imprint will Covid-19 have on Southeast Asia? In the first few months of the pandemic attention has focused on health, and the socio-economic spillovers. These will continue to evolve and deepen as the crisis unfolds. Less attention has centered on how the shocks of Covid-19 will reshape politics in the region – the role of Great Powers of China and the United States, among neighbors within ASEAN and for individual governments, especially for those expecting to hold elections this year – Myanmar and Singapore. Drawing from trends in Wave 5 of the Asia Barometer Surveys (2018-2020) that measure political attitudes and an analysis of emerging reactions and responses to Covid-19, the discussion points to the evolving Covid-19 political fault lines, changing public perceptions and sources of tensions in the region moving forward. Covid 19 – as earlier crises have done in the region – will fundamentally shift governance and power relations – both weakening and strengthening the region ahead.