IAS Working Papers

IAS Working Paper Series

The Institute launched a Working Paper Series in 2012. It is a key component of the IAS profile both locally and internationally. The Working Paper Series acts as a publication resource to facilitate the rapid and open-access dissemination of work by IAS scholars, UBD faculty and other scholars working in and on the region. This Series of topical peer-reviewed research papers, many of which go on to finalized publication in international journals, is available in printed and online versions. Papers from the IAS WPS can be downloaded from the list located on this web page. Printed versions are also available from the Institute’s publication collection.


• Professor Lian Kwen Fee (kwenfee.lian@ubd.edu.bn)
• Associate Professor Paul J. Carnegie (paul.carnegie@ubd.edu.bn)

Copyright remains with the authors.

Working Paper No. 59

Authors: F. Merlin Franco, Godson Samuel, & T. Francis

Abstract: Borassus flabellifer L., is a semi-domesticated palm of cultural and economic importance to local communities from the Persian Gulf to the Cambodian- Vietnamese border. Drawing from a qualitative study conducted in Southern India, we bring out its biocultural significance to the local people, and the mutualistic relationship between the palm and its tappers. Various parts of the palm are used as medicine and food by the local communities; it is celebrated in folklores, and even equated with gods. The tappers who add value to the palm by ensuring its produce is available to the local inhabitants, also take care of the semi-domesticated palm in its habitat. Energy is transferred from one partner (palmyra palm) to another (toddy tapper), and in return, the palm receives protection, seed dispersal and suitable habitat conditions to flourish. The claims of the tappers indicate that the relationship between the tappers and the palm is mutually beneficial.

Working Paper No. 58

Author: Zawawi Ibrahim

Abstract: The Malay peasantry in peninsular Malaysia has been the subject of fieldwork and ethnographic research by both colonial and local anthropologists. Raymond Firth’s Malay fishermen, based on fieldwork in Perupok, a fishing community in Kelantan, stands as an early and now classic example of the genre. I was born some seven years after Firth’s first fieldwork in another east coast Malay fishing village, Kampung Che Wan, Kijal, in Terengganu. This article is about my own process of remembering the ethnographic details of my home village, thinking like an anthropologist over the period of a lifetime. . .

Working Paper No. 57

Authors: Jennifer Kim Lian Chan & Victor T. King

Abstract: During the past two decades the Southeast Asian region has experienced a range of major crises. Its substantial tourism industry has often taken the brunt of these difficult and testing events, from natural and environmental calamities, epidemics and pandemics, downturns and financial slumps in the world economy, terrorism and political conflict. The latest peril, this time on a global scale, is the ‘Novel Coronavirus’ (Covid-19/SARS-CoV-2) pandemic; it has already had serious consequences for Southeast Asia and its tourism development and will continue to do so. . .

Working Paper No. 56

Authors: Mahirah Nazatul Hazimah and Lian Kwen Fee

Abstract: There are an estimated 14,000 to 20,000 Iban living in Brunei, most of them in the Ulu Belait and Temburong districts. They migrated to Brunei from Sarawak just before the Second World War in search of new land and opportunity to improve their livelihood. Not recognized as one of the seven puak by the state, the common narrative is that they face challenges of incorporation into the Sultanate. In Mukim Sukang (Ulu Belait) there are eight Iban longhouses. This case study of the Iban of Melilas documents how one particular community has successfully negotiated and managed their acceptance as full citizens of Brunei while retaining their Iban identity. . .

Working Paper No. 55

Author: Paul J. Carnegie

Abstract: Proposing constitutional reform and the process of establishing it are two distinct matters. The former is largely a normative projection of what could be whilst the latter involves the manner in which reform is brought about. In reality, translating proposals into accepted practice involves overcoming legacies of the past. Whether or not they can persist over time is a process that is invariably fraught and often generates mixtures of trade-off and compromise. The following paper examines the merits or otherwise of a gradualist approach to constitution-making. By anatomizing the constitutional reform process that took place in Indonesia from 1999-2002, it considers whether or not such an approach is appropriate for establishing meaningful constitutionalism in plural and divided societies. . .

Working Paper No. 54

Author: Mahfuzah Abd Wahab

Abstract: While the myth of the exotic Oriental is a subject of rejection and subversion in conventional postcolonial studies, in contemporary studies of Southeast Asia, self-exoticism is evident at both the individual and national levels. It is deployed to achieve positional status in a globalised world. This paper investigates what Graham Huggan (2001) terms the postcolonial exotic, particularly in terms of a re-politicisation of the female body in contemporary literature concerning Southeast Asia. It also draws on Christopher B. Balme’s theory of performative metonymy (where postcolonies mimic the expectations of the ex-colonisers) to foreground the workings of Huggan’s postcolonial exotic in selected texts. The two primary texts selected for this purpose are Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan’s Sarong Party Girls (2016), which traces the practice of postcolonial exotic through the self-exoticising of the female body, and Amir Falique’s The Forlorn Adventure (2014) in which the presentation of Brunei can be read as an extension of the politics of the female body. . .

Working Paper No. 53

Author: Lian Kwen Fee

Abstract: In this paper, I trace the development of my work on race and ethnicity over my academic career, as a reflection in part of my biographical background. My interest in race and ethnic relations originated from my experience of the race riots in Kuala Lumpur on May 13th in 1969, subsequently grounded in graduate school in New Zealand where I conducted research on the Chinese and the Maoris. My early work on returning to Singapore was on Malay identity in the region. It moved on later to writing about the marginalization of Tamils as an underclass in Malaysia and then a broader consideration of race, class, and politics in Peninsular Malaysia precipitated by the General Election of 2008. Since the 1990s the representation of race and politics has pre-occupied many social science discourses, which is reflected in my work on the politics of racialization and Malay identity in Singapore. . .

Working Paper No. 52

Author: Victor T. King

Abstract: Dispute, disagreement and debate are the very stuff of academic activity. The problem arises when the language of the debate takes on a personal dimension and the authority that is claimed in arguing in favour of a particular position, approach or perspective becomes so entrenched that other voices are assigned to the margins. This paper reviews the origins and development of the exchange of views between competing voices in the interpretation of the importance and ‘meaning’ of the ritual textiles of the Iban of Borneo and whether or not they embody and express a language of symbols. . .

Working Paper No. 51

Author: Cordelia Belezaire

Abstract: In the last three decades, labour casualization has become synonymous with Public Service reform in many developing countries. Reforms were meant to restructure and streamline public service delivery by establishing a more flexible workforce. Yet, labour casualization brings with it significant uncertainties such as diminished security of tenure, minimal employment protections and no guarantee of long-term employment prospects. The following paper considers the structural impact of casualization on labour relations and the ways in which it influences the effectiveness of public service delivery. . .

Working Paper No. 50

Author: Hajah Siti Norfadzilah Binti Haji Kifli

Abstract: This research explores how halal is regulated and practised in Brunei by highlighting the process of Halal Certification in Brunei. In the recent enforcement of the Halal Certificate and Halal Logo (Amendment) Order of 2017, this research discusses the effects it has towards the local food and beverage (F&B) businesses, particularly the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). By comparing halal certification in Brunei with Singapore and Malaysia. . .

Working Paper No. 49

Author: Victor T. King

Abstract: This paper explores critically and historically some of the popular academic views or ‘myths’ concerning the development of the study of Southeast Asia through the lens of the contributions of particular scholars and institutions. Within the broad field of Southeast Asian Studies the focus will be on the disciplines of geography, history and ethnology, and major scholars who contributed to the early study of the region. . .