Photo of the flags of the ASEAN member states

Politics in Action 2022

Political updates from across Southeast Asia
Our annual Politics in Action forum brings political updates from Southeast Asia to researchers and practitioners from across the disciplines and beyond.

When: Friday 6 May 2022
Where: Lecture Theatre 1050, Abercrombie Business School, The University of Sydney, Camperdown Campus - see campus maps

Drawing upon expertise from around the world, these presentations will provide up-to-date information on developments in Southeast Asia relevant to scholars, students, practitioners and the general public.

In this one-day public forum, invited experts will provide an analysis of the current political situation in Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Timor-Leste and Vietnam, and discuss the broader implications of events in these countries for our region.

In 2022, our exciting lineup of speakers includes:

  • Indonesia – Dr Ken Setiawan (The University of Melbourne)
  • Lao PDR – Dr Andrea Haefner (Griffith University)
  • Malaysia – Dr Azmil Tayeb (Universiti Sains Malaysia)
  • The Philippines – Assistant Professor Maria Elize H. Mendoza (University of the Philippines Diliman)
  • Timor-Leste – Professor Michael Leach (Swinburne University)
  • Vietnam – Nguyen Khac Giang (Victoria University)

Each of our country-specialists will present for 15 to 20 minutes, followed by a short Q&A session. They are instructed to pitch their talk to an interested, but not necessarily academic, audience so the talks are able to be enjoyed by a wide range of people. These talks should be particularly valuable to non-political scientists working in one or more Southeast Asian countries.

All videos recorded as part of Politics in Action 2022 will be made available for public viewing on our Facebook page and our YouTube channel after the event has concluded.


Time (AET)





Registration and morning tea. Please arrive for 10:30am start.


Welcome and opening remarks

Prof Michele Ford

Sydney Southeast Asia Centre, The University of Sydney



Dr Azmil Tayeb

Universiti Sains Malaysia



Dr Andrea Haefner

Griffith University



Professor Michael Leach

Swinburne University

12:00 Lunch

The Philippines

Assistant Professor Maria Elize H. Mendoza

University of the Philippines Diliman



Nguyen Khac Giang

Victoria University



Dr Ken Setiawan

The University of Melbourne

Wrap-up and concluding remarks

Prof Michele Ford


Sydney Southeast Asia Centre, The University of Sydney
14:50 End of Event



The speakers

Dr Andrea Haefner is a Lecturer at the Griffith Asia Institute and has over 15 years of experience working with academia, government, and international organisations across Australia, Germany, and Southeast Asia, especially the Mekong region where she lived and worked for four years in Laos. Andrea's research focuses on transboundary river basin, geopolitics, and governing civil society in the Mekong region. Besides publishing several peer-reviewed articles, Andrea's book on Negotiating for Water Resources - Bridging Transboundary River Basins was published with Routledge in 2016. Besides focusing on impact research and policy relevance, Andrea also works on several projects on the ground and regularly leads capacity building programs. In 2021, Andrea received the ABDC Award for Innovation and Excellence in International Education.

Michael Leach is a Professor in Politics and International Relations in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia. He has written and researched widely on the politics of Timor-Leste and is a regular public commentator on the topic. He is also a co-founder of the international area studies network, the Timor-Leste Studies Association.

Maria Elize H. Mendoza is currently an Assistant Professor at the Department of Political Science, University of the Philippines Diliman. She obtained her BA (magna cum laude) and MA degrees in Political Science under the BA-MA (Honors) Program of the Department of Political Science. She has taught an introductory course to Philippine politics, a course on Philippine local politics, and a course on social, economic, and political thought. Her research interests include Philippine local politics, electoral politics, and the politics of social media.

Nguyen Khac Giang is a PhD candidate at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. He was formerly Head of the Political Research Unit of the Hanoi-based Vietnam Institute for Economic and Policy Research (VEPR). His academic work appears in, among others, the Asian Journal of Political Science, the Constitutional Political Economy, and the Asia & the Pacific Policy Studies. He also writes extensively for major Vietnamese and English news outlets, including the VnExpress, Saigon Times, the Diplomat, and the East Asia Forum. He is a frequent commentator on political developments in Vietnam and has been featured in the Economist, Financial Times, Reuters, BBC, AP, and other international news media.

Dr Ken Setiawan is Lecturer in Indonesian and Asian Studies at the University of Melbourne's Asia Institute. She is also an Associate at the Centre for Indonesian Law, Islam and Society (CILIS) at the Melbourne Law School. Ken’s research interests include globalisation and human rights, as well as historical violence and transitional justice. Her current research projects focus on civil society, gender and decoloniality. She has widely published on the politics of human rights in Indonesia, including in the Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences of Southeast Asia, Journal of Contemporary Asia and Human Rights Quarterly. Her most recent book, co-authored with Dirk Tomsa, is Politics in Contemporary Indonesia: Institutional Change, Policy Challenges and Democratic Decline (Routledge, 2022).

Dr Azmil Tayeb is a political scientist who has done extensive research on political Islam, social movements and local government politics, particularly in Indonesia and Malaysia. He is the author of Islamic Education in Indonesia and Malaysia: Shaping Minds, Saving Souls (Routledge, 2018). He received his PhD from the Australian National University.

Watch the event videos below:  

Indonesia Update

Laos Update

Malaysia Update

Philippines Update

Timor-Leste Update

Vietnam Update

COVID information:

To be eligible to attend the in-person sessions of the event, you must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and able to show proof of vaccination.*

* A fully vaccinated person is a person who has received the number of doses required for a complete course of a COVID-19 vaccine. For further information on vaccination requirements please visit the Australian Government website.


In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre reserves the right to cancel this event on short notice. The Sydney Southeast Asia Centre will be closely monitoring the situation and following NSW Health Advice to assess all risks associated with the event, and will notify participants of any changes to the program. In participating in this event, all individuals will be required to follow social distancing and good hygiene practices so as to reduce the risk of infection with COVID-19.