Jane Kate Leonard
Contributors: Carolyn Cartier, Christina Kim Chilcote, Young Jin Choi, Jamie Doucette, Eli Friedman, Jim Glassman, Heidi Gottfried, Laam Hae, Jinn-yuh Hsu, Iam Chong Ip, Jin-Bum Jang, Soo-Hyun Kim, Jana Kliebert, Kah Wee Lee, Seung-Ook Lee, Christina Moon, Bae-Gyoon Park, Hyun Bang Shin.
Burmese Labour Migration to Malaysia
Anja K. Franck, Emanuelle Brandström Arellano and Joseph Trawicki Anderson
Recent research on the ‘migration industry’ has provided a means to interrogate how private actors come to be used as a means to facilitate, direct and control migration. Both through incorporating private actors into security functions and outsourcing certain functions to labour brokers, the use of migration industry actors is an important part of the ways in which the state works to maintain its sovereign control over territory and the ways people move across it. Yet this is not the only way in which migration industry actors are used. Instead, private actors also play a key role for migrants, although attention towards how migrants themselves perceive and use these actors during the migration process has received far less attention. Using timelines of migrant trajectories from Burma/Myanmar to Malaysia, the following study therefore sets out to map the private actors involved in the migrants’ projects to travel to and stay in Malaysia—and to investigate how these actors are strategically used by migrants as a means to increase their room to manoeuvre during the migration process. In approaching this, the study combines literature on the privatisation and commercialisation of international migration with scholarship on migration trajectories and migrant agency. Empirically the study builds upon fieldwork conducted in the Burmese migrant community in the city of George Town in northern Malaysia.
Migration Governance in Asia between Regional Integration and Free Trade
Flavia Jurje and Sandra Lavenex
Notwithstanding their traditional attachment to sovereignty, Southeast and East Asian countries have embraced a dynamic agenda of labour mobility liberalisation through trade agreements. This article assesses the free movement agenda within ASEAN from a multi-level perspective, comparing it to ASEAN countries’ corresponding commitments within the World Trade Organisation’s General Agreement on Trade in Services and Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) concluded as a group or individually with non-ASEAN countries. Contrary to other trade aspects it turns out that intra-regional commitments within ASEAN do not significantly exceed multilateral ones, and score below the level of liberalisation achieved in ASEAN+ and bilateral FTAs. This article interprets this discrepancy as a consequence of strong economic and labour market differences among ASEAN members as well as the lower sensitivity of allegedly technocratic FTAs for considerations of national sovereignty. The article concludes with the limits of this trade policy approach for migration governance and migrants’ rights.
A Japanese Perspective
Eszter Lukács and Katalin Völgyi
The emerging wave of mega-FTAs during the global economic crisis era has so far attracted considerable academic attention. This paper primarily investigates two of the mega-FTAs, namely TPP and RCEP, from the perspective of Japan. It focuses on Japan’s role and interests in the launch of mega-FTAs and how Japan tries to keep them on track, with protectionism on the rise worldwide (particularly on the US side).
State Sovereignty and the Protection of Refugees in Southeast Asia
The fact that most Southeast Asian States are not party to the main instruments pertaining to the protection of refugees has given rise to the ‘rejection of international refugee law’ theory, which has largely dominated the literature on the issues pertaining to refugees in Southeast Asia. Based on an analysis of the practices of Southeast Asian States with regard to refugees, this article argues that although they are not party to the 1951 Convention, the main countries of asylum in the region, i.e. Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, de facto treat differently the people they acknowledge to be in need of some sort of protection: that is, refugees. Unlike other irregular migrants, refugees are protected against non-refoulement and, to a certain extent, are also protected from detention for irregular entry into the territory of another State. In doing so, Southeast Asian States maintain a ‘fiction’ according to which they preserve sovereignty over the borders of their countries while in reality largely accepting the limitations posed by international refugee law.
Harmful and sudden events trigger intense media coverage which in turn can elevate public interest in a problem within an instant. A period of heavy air pollution in Beijing in January 2013 may have been such a case. This sudden and intense period of air pollution featured historically high levels of fine particulate concentrations and was assumed by observers to be a trigger for shifting public perception and increased pressure for policy adjustment. This study examines whether this period of severe air pollution indeed triggered increased public scrutiny, following which the influential factors behind this development are outlined. In this context, a focus is given to the interplay of air quality, media reporting and public discussion in shaping sustained public interest. Based on a timeline analysis and survey data, it is argued that the combination of historically high air pollution with intense media reporting did lead to higher public attention to the topic.
Nicola Piper, Stefan Rother and Jürgen Rüland
This two-part Special Issue has examined the migration–sovereignty nexus in the context of intra-regional migration in Asia, with specific focus on Southeast Asia (‘Special Issue’). The sub-region represents the perfect laboratory for teasing out the complexities involved in (actual and rhetorical) attempts made by states to control and regulate migration in what has become a space characterised by increasing diversity of (collective and individual) actors operating at various levels. The diversity, complexity and breadth of migratory movements discussed in this Special Issue thus constitute one of the policy fields where the sovereignty norm clashes with the need to manage interdependence. The seven empirical studies in this Special Issue have examined current political, economic, social and legal dimensions of migration in Southeast Asia from an interdisciplinary perspective, linking the discussion of the migration–sovereignty nexus to ‘regional migration regimes’, ‘the transnational–national intersection’ and ‘grass-roots responses’. The common message that emerges from the papers in this issue—that state sovereignty in the area of migration is being challenged from multiple levels—leads us to argue for a future research agenda which would align the study of sovereignty more closely with governance studies as well as studies on norm diffusion. Such an agenda would contribute new insights into emerging forms of sovereignty beyond the confines of the state.