2014

Seminar Series (No. 4, 2014) 

“The Name of God on Trial: Narratives of Law, Religion and State in Malaysia”

Speaker: Mr Joshua Neoh
Date: 14 July 2014, Monday
Time: 12 noon - 1pm
Venue: Meeting Room 2-6-41 (Building 2, Level 6, No. 41)
Contact person: Mohamed Ismail Mohamed Tahir (Logistics) and Prof. James Chin (Academic matters)

Speaker’s profile:
Joshua Neoh Lecturer in Law, Australian National University.  Joshua is an alumnus of the ANU College of Law, graduating with First Class Honours and the University Medal in 2010. He also holds a Master of Laws from Yale Law School (2010-11).

Abstract:
The power to name is both an awesome and awful power – it is an exercise of sovereign power. In the Abrahamic traditions, the monotheistic God is the ultimate sovereign. The power to name God, then, is one of most magnificent powers that is conceivable to humans: it is the sovereign power to name the ultimate sovereign. It is this naming of God that has been put on trial in Malaysia. The state decrees that the name 'Allah' is only to be used in reference to the Islamic God. Christians, in response, have insisted that they too call their God – the Christian God – by the name of 'Allah'; and that the state has no monopoly over the power to name God. The matter ends up in court, where judges are asked to decide on the name of God. How on earth did the human judges in Malaysia end up with the power to name the divine judge? 

 

Seminar Series (No. 3, 2014)

“Maritime Security in South China Sea”

Speaker:  Professor David Arase 
Date: 18 June 2014, Wednesday
Time: 3pm-4pm
Venue: Meeting Room 2-6-41 (Building 2, Level 6, No. 41)
Contact person: Mohamed Ismail Mohamed Tahir (Logistics) and Prof. James Chin (Academic matters)

Speaker’s profile:
Professor David Arase is a resident Professor of International Politics at the John Hopkins-Nanjing Center.

Abstract:
The focus is on the kinds of maritime territorial claims being advanced by coastal states. A broad distinction is drawn between ASEAN members' claims based on UNCLOS principles and China's reliance on historical memory and national interest to assert its ownership of territory inside the vague 9 dash line delimitation. Explanations for the sharpening of maritime territorial disputes include the UNCLOS's clarification of property rights, the availability of enhanced technologies to develop maritime assets, growing demand for energy and food, military competition, and growing nationalism. Though ASEAN has sought to engage China in cooperative solutions following the precedent set by the 2002 Declaration of Conduct (DOC), China has in the past 5 years reverted to a pre-DOC pattern of unilateral efforts to realize its claims. Reasons for China's increasing assertiveness are found in China's rising power, changing identity, dissatisfaction with existing regional order, and ambition to create a more China centered region. In this regard, China's concept of a Community of Common Destiny, and China's 2+7 Initiative toward ASEAN are explained. Discussion of how to manage the situation begins with an outline of the US position and its interests in maritime SE Asia. It then turns to the question of ASEAN centrality, noting that ASEAN is central of all big powers' regional ambitions. It is suggested that ASEAN needs to strengthen internal unity and external representations to continue shaping the regional agenda. In particular, it needs to resolve intra-ASEAN maritime territorial disputes according to UNCLOS principles, clarify the legal status of China's 9 dash line, and engage China collectively in handling territorial disputes according to UNCLOS and other relevant legal instruments.   

 

Seminar Series (No.2, 2014)

“The ‘Responsibility to Protect’ (R2P) norm after the Libyan and Syrian Crises: Dead, or Alive and Kicking?”

Speaker: Dr. Alan Bloomfield
Date: 20 May 2014, Tuesday
Time: 12 noon-1pm
Venue: Seminar Room 6-2-15 (Building 6B, Level 2, No.15)

Contact person:

Mohamed Ismail Mohamed Tahir (Logistics) and Assoc. Prof. Helen Nesadurai (Academic matters)

Speaker's profile:
Dr Alan Bloomfield worked as a litigation solicitor in top Australian law firms for seven years. In the final two years of this career, he completed his Masters in International Relations at the University of New South Wales (UNSW). He then completed a PhD at Queen’s University in Canada, and subsequently taught in the UK for two years before returning home in 2013. He is currently the Vice-Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow at UNSW. This is a research-intensive position, and he has published articles about Australian defence policy, strategic cultural theory, and regional responses to the rise of China. He is currently finishing a book which explores India’s attitude towards the responsibility to protect (R2P) doctrine, with particular focus on the years 2011 and 2012 when India sat on the UN Security Council and humanitarian crises erupted in Côte d'Ivoire, Libya and Syria.

Abstract:
Some scholars think R2P (the “Responsibility to Protect” norm) is dead following the angry reaction to the way NATO exceeded its mandate in Libya, which in turn led to a deadlock in the Security Council and failure to intervene in Syria. But this sort of analysis is too simplistic. R2P is a young norm which is still evolving, and we should not expect it to have already become a law-like obligatory norm. We should instead recognise how far it has come in a relatively short time (12 years), and that it is better to conceptualise R2P as a permissive norm, or a well-entrenched discourse in international circles, or a constitutive part of many key actors’ identities. One, or even several non-applications in crises does not consign it to irrelevance, and while ever it is widely talked about and regularly deployed in arguments about how to respond to crises, it should be considered ‘alive and kicking’.

 

Seminar Series (No.1, 2014)

“The problematics of Indonesian democracy”

Speaker: Mr Pranoto Iskandar
Date: 9 April 2014, Wednesday
Time: 12 noon-1pm
Venue: Meeting Room (Building 2, Level  6, Room 41)

Contact person:

Mohamed Ismail  Mohamed Tahir (Logistics) and Dr. Colm McNaughton (Academic Matters)

Speaker's profile:
Pranoto Iskandar has pioneered and written extensively on the relevance of international law for the benefit of the development of the democratic Indonesian domestic legal system. Among many others, his award-winning Hukum HAM International (International Human Rights Law), which is currently in its second edition, is not the only book available on the subject in Indonesia but also, as Professor An-Na’im acclaimed, has “comprehensive scope and strong scholarship.” Moreover, his many scholarly contributions have generated some encouraging impacts in cementing the emerging interest in the domestication of human rights norms nationwide. His recent initiative is the Indonesian Journal on International & Comparative Law which is aimed "to provide a new forum for emerging perspectives on international and comparative legal issues, especially those that implicate non-Western regions or cultures." His current project is developing the theoretical foundation that would smoothen the introduction of liberal democracy in Indonesia. The project is ambitiously providing the case for the integration of international and foreign laws to indigenize the liberal values in Indonesian democratic national legal system. Moreover, this trailblazer project is believed by many as a breakthrough in Indonesian thinking as well as activism on democracy and human rights that is traditionally trapped in communitarian delusion.


Abstract:
Rather than producing a new liberal democracy, the sudden democratizing process that started in 1998 has only produced a mere electoral democracy. Based on this assumption, this article examines the impacts of preserving the Five Principles, or better known as Pancasila, which I consider as some form of exceptionalism (national self-righteousness) with respect to the politics of constitutionalism and the concept of human rights in Indonesia. In this case, the Indonesian version of exceptionalism, or Five Principles, that is officially recognized as “the [very] source of all sources of laws of the land” has unwittingly legitimized some fundamental deviations as Indonesia proceeds to “electoralized” its public life. To make matters worse, this delusion has also prompted the process of building a democracy to drift from one ad hoc response to another that eventually hurts the very objective of reformasi itself, especially with respect to the of the rule of law and the protection of fundamental civil and political rights that are prerequisites for realizing liberal constitutionalism. I argue that Demokrasi Pancasila, which was supposed to be a “middle path,” neither liberal nor socialism, has failed to produce a new course of philosophy and politics. Moreover, it has become a collection of meaningless efforts, used as new bottles into which the old wine of communalism and socialism, and sometimes liberalism, are poured. In conclusion, this paper is a wake up call for Indonesia to look the devil in his eyes and choose either liberalism or socialism as its central orienting principles, rather than being deceived by the Proustian notion that reform is too costly or otherwise impossible, especially in terms of protecting human rights.