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Indo Pacific Dialogue @ Kuala Lumpur

Aug 08, 2023
02.30 PM - 05.30 PM
Le Méridien Hotel, Kuala Lumpur

Aug 3, 2023

Indo Pacific Dialogue @ Kuala Lumpur
The Emerging Indo-Pacific Order: ASEAN, Malaysian, and the EU Perspectives

Date: 8 August 2023
Time: 2:30 - 5:30 pm
Venue: Le Méridien Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


Prof. Amitav Acharya

Prof. Amitav Acharya

Distinguished Professor, School of International Service, American University, Washington, DC, USA

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H.E. Michalis Rokas

H.E. Michalis Rokas

Ambassador and Head of the EU Delegation to Malaysia

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Elina Noor

Elina Noor

Senior Fellow, Asia Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington, DC, USA

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Dr. Johan Saravanamuttu

Dr. Johan Saravanamuttu

Adjunct Senior Fellow, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

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Dr. Rahul Mishra

Dr. Rahul Mishra (Moderator)

Director, Centre for ASEAN Regionalism Universiti Malaya (CARUM), Asia-Europe Institute, Universiti Malaya

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Indo-Pacific Project
Centre for ASEAN Regionalism Universiti Malaya (CARUM), Asia-Europe Institute, Universiti Malaya
(Funded by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Malaysia)
(Supported by: Delegation of the European Union to Malaysia, Embassy of Sweden In Kuala Lumpur, Embassy of Spain in Kuala Lumpur)

Indo-Pacific Research and Outreach Project

A Quadrilateral Outreach and Research Initiative in partnership with 18 Malaysian Institutions on 7 Pillars of the EU’s Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific


The Indo-Pacific construct is bringing about a major shi7 in the way Southeast Asian countries and their major stakeholders perceive the regional dynamics. Despite China’s lukewarm response, support for the Indo-Pacific is gathering momentum with the US, Japan, Indonesia, India, South Korea, New Zealand, Australia, and Canada acting as its leading proponents. With the European Union and its major stakeholders endorsing the Indo-Pacific, the construct has received a major fillip. Contrary to popular perception, the ongoing Ukrainian crisis has made it important for the EU and its member countries to put the Indo-Pacific under sharper strategic focus.

One of the central features of the Indo-Pacific construct is its emphasis on ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) as part of this region but also facilitating it to play the central role in shaping the ideational and normative contours of the emerging order. Initially wary of the Indo-Pacific, ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) has embraced the construct. Such a response came about a7er the EU, Japan, India, and the US reiterated their commitment to keeping ASEAN at the centre of the Indo-Pacific.

As one of its oldest dialogue partners, the EU aims to work more closely with ASEAN and its members in promoting Indo-Pacific cooperation. The EU and ASEAN decided to form a strategic partnership in 2020, reinforcing their common beliefs in the rule-based international order, efficient and sustainable multilateralism, and free and equitable trade. The EU published the Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific in 2021, outlining the multifaceted, normative, and inclusive approach to solving global challenges and reshaping the international order.

Like ASEAN (where Indonesia took the lead in promoting the Indo-Pacific construct), the countries, leading the push for an EU Indo-Pacific strategy – Germany, France, and the Netherlands – first announced their respective policies at the national level. These countries are not only leading European powers wielding significant influence over the EU but also have considerable economic and diplomatic influence in the Indo-Pacific region.

For ASEAN and the rest of the Indo-Pacific region, the EU's Indo-Pacific strategy is excellent news since it gives the Indo-Pacific system a powerful normative component. Despite the US efforts to develop a coordinated reaction to China's expanding presence in the Indo-Pacific, the EU attempts to avoid the US and China’s competition. This puts it in alignment with ASEAN and maybe another important normative function of the EU.

Wary of the US-China rivalry and its likely fallout many ASEAN member countries have not been vocally supportive of the Indo-Pacific construct even though they have endorsed the ASEAN Outlook on Indo-Pacific (AOIP).

Malaysia and the Indo-Pacific

As a founding member of ASEAN and one of the biggest economies in the region, Malaysia is considered one of the most influential powers in the ASEAN region. It’s considered one of the five most influencing countries in the region.

Malaysia is a part of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which represents a total of 1.9 billion people worldwide. It is a member of the UN Human Rights Council (2022–2024) and continues to promote its perspectives on international issues, including the UN Security Council's reform, Middle Eastern conflicts, non-proliferation, terrorism, and violent extremism, among others. Malaysia’s proactive role in dealing with the military junta in Myanmar and efforts to restore democracy in the country has not gone unnoticed by the international community. Likewise, regarding the Rohingya question as well, Malaysia has done a commendable job in hosting the Rohingya refugees from war-torn Myanmar.

Malaysia still has not shown its cards regarding the current Indo-Pacific dynamics and is yet to officially embrace the Indo-Pacific construct. Both Malaysia’s current foreign and defence policies - the 2019 Foreign Policy Framework of the New Malaysia and the first-ever Defense White Paper launched the same year – do not explicitly mention the Indo-Pacific. The White Paper only references it to highlight some of Malaysia’s security concerns, particularly concerning the emerging great power rivalry.

A wide range of diplomatic, strategic, economic, and security-related agreements and arrangements anchor Malaysia’s foreign policy posture in the region. Many of these efforts are hardly inter-regional, but the accidental by-product of Malaysia’s strategic positioning, which straddles the Indian and Pacific oceans. They are nevertheless coherent efforts to address Malaysia’s strategic and security realities and pursue Malaysia’s concerns and interests, which extend into both oceans.

On the ground, Malaysia’s foreign and security policies acknowledge and attempt to deal with the emerging realities in the Indo-Pacific. Yet, despite being so proactive on other fronts, Malaysia’s response to the Indo-Pacific has not been very forthcoming.

Being a fellow democracy, which is also the EU’s second-largest economic partner in the ASEAN region, the EU and other stakeholders must quell Malaysia’s apprehensions about the Indo-Pacific and bring it onboard the Indo-Pacific community. This research and outreach initiative aims to disseminate knowledge about the EU’s cooperation strategy in the Indo- Pacific and generate informed debates on the subject at the national and provincial levels.


This research and outreach project aims to facilitate a greater understanding of the EU’s Indo- Pacific strategy, its linkages with ASEAN’s Indo-Pacific outlook, and why and how Malaysia could benefit from the Indo-Pacific cooperation. It contributes to making sense of the emerging Indo-Pacific regional order in general and the EU’s Indo-Pacific engagement plans in particular and how it is a critically important opportunity for Malaysia. The organizers aim to do it by encouraging productive dialogues with key stakeholders, and actions in raising greater policy and diplomatic awareness amongst Malaysian policymakers, federal and state-level officials, journalists, students, and academicians.

The activity will increase the awareness and visibility of the EU Indo-Pacific Strategy (including those of its member states) and open up dialogue on its implications for Malaysia. With that, it aims to generate intellectual debates on Indo-Pacific strategy amongst policymakers at the federal and state levels as also among students and academicians.


Time Activity
2:30 pm Registration & Arrival of Guests
3:00 pm Introduction
3:10 pm Introductory comments by the Moderator, Dr Rahul Mishra, Director of CARUM (Centre for ASEAN Regionalism Universiti Malaya) AEI, Universiti Malaya, Malaysia
3:15 pm

Dialogue Session:

  1. ASEAN in the emerging Indo-Pacific order: 
    Prof. Amitav Acharya, Distinguished Professor, School of International Service, American University, Washington, DC, USA
  2. Indo-Pacific discourse: What’s in it for Malaysia:
    Elina Noor, Senior Fellow, Asia Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington, DC, USA
  3. EU’s Indo-Pacific Strategy: 
    H.E. Michalis Rokas, Ambassador and Head of the EU Delegation to Malaysia
  4. How did ASEAN manage great power rivalry in the past and is it equipped to do that now?:
    Dr. Johan Saravanamuttu, Adjunct Senior Fellow, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
4:15 pm Q&A Session
4:45 pm Photo session
5:00 pm End of Session followed by Hi-Tea


Seats are limited to 80 participants. Please register only if you are confirmed to attend.

Fill up the registration form here: https://bit.ly/ipdkualalumpur

Or scan the QR code here:

Contact Information

Any enquiries, please contact:

Madam Marsha Prema Priya - +6 03 7967 6921 - marsha.pp@um.edu.my