Malcolm Cook

Visiting Senior Fellow, ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute

Dr Malcolm Cook is a Visiting Senior Fellow at ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore. From 2003 to 2010, he was the inaugural East Asia Program Director at the Lowy Institute for International Policy in Sydney and then the inaugural Dean of the School of International Studies at Flinders University in Adelaide. Before that, he was a lecturer at Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines. Malcolm has worked in Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Australia and Singapore. He was awarded a joint honours Bachelor of Arts degree by McGill University in Montreal, a Masters degree in International Relations by the International University of Japan in Niigata-ken and a PhD in International Relations by the Australian National University in Canberra.

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden delivers remarks during a Voter Mobilization Event campaign stop at the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal in Cincinnati, Ohio, 12 October 2020. (Tom Brenner/REUTERS)

A Biden presidency: Revenge of the 'Asia-Pacific' over the 'Indo-Pacific'?

The much-ballyhooed “Indo-Pacific” term has gained much traction in the region in recent years. It is believed that the term helps to expand the regional framework to include India as a major power, and balance against China’s growing influence. The new Democratic Party platform, however, pointedly excludes the use of the term, and touts the older “Asia-Pacific” instead. Is this Biden’s attempt at getting at Trump?
US President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden participate in their first 2020 presidential campaign debate held on the campus of the Cleveland Clinic at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, US, 29 September 2020. (Brian Snyder/REUTERS)

Trump vs Biden: Who makes a better choice for Southeast Asia

US President Donald Trump did not meet a single leader from Southeast Asia since November last year. Despite his administration's seemingly disengaged approach, US relations with key Southeast Asian states including Vietnam and Thailand have improved. ISEAS academics Ian Storey and Malcolm Cook look at the Trump administration's engagement data with Southeast Asian countries over the past year, the party platforms of both the Republicans and the Democrats, as well as recent developments in the region, as they give their take on the possible regional geopolitical environment after the presidential election.
HMAS Parramatta (C) breaks away from USS America (R) and USS Bunker Hill (L) on completion of officer of the watch manoeuvres in the South China Sea, in this 18 April 2020 handout photo. (Australia Department Of Defence/Handout via REUTERS)

Australia boosting security relations with Southeast Asia and the US in the face of heightened threats

Australia’s recently-released defence update may be the most consequential document yet in terms of Canberra’s defence relations with Southeast Asia. Australia is asking its Southeast Asia partners to do more, while offering them more in return. It is also boosting its military self-reliance and its alliance relationship with the US.
Two girls wearing face masks ride a scooter past a mural reading "whatever Indonesia" in Tangerang on 23 May 2020. (Fajrin Raharjo/AFP)

Beyond ASEAN: More 'no-superpower coalitions' needed as US-China rivalry upsets global interests

With China more aggressive and the US more unpredictable, and both more unilateralist, the US-China rivalry has ended the post-Cold War order that benefited Southeast Asia and ASEAN. ISEAS academics Malcolm Cook and Hoang Thi Ha note that Southeast Asian states should consider joining more or establishing minilateral informal coalitions that do not include China and the US.
George Washington is seen with printed medical mask on the one Dollar banknotes in this illustration, 31 March 2020. (Dado Ruvic/REUTERS)

AIIB, ADB or World Bank: Which is the bigger lender to Southeast Asian countries?

In the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, various countries have extended support to nations in need, including those in Southeast Asia. There has been talk about possible shifts in the international balance of power. In terms of funding provisions to Southeast Asian countries at least, the pandemic does not seem to have made big dents to long-established patterns. The more established multilateral development banks — the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank — are still ahead of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, but this could change in the near future with the latter stepping up its efforts in the region.
A mural featuring US President Donald Trump (R) and Chinese President Xi Jinping wearing face covers in Berlin on April 28, 2020. (John Macdougall/AFP)

Unfavourable views: Southeast Asia's perceptions of China and the US worsen amid Covid-19

Even amid the coronavirus, US-China rivalry has not eased, but has been ramped up instead. This has not helped the image of either country. ISEAS academics Malcolm Cook and Ian Storey look at how negative impressions of both countries have been reinforced in Southeast Asian countries.
China is having difficulties in translating its growing hard power into soft power. (David Gray/Reuters)

China has a major soft power problem in Asia

Based on findings from not one, but three recent opinion polls, ISEAS senior fellow Malcolm Cook finds that there is a serious level of distrust of China in Asia.
The AIIB or ADB? Countries have options. (Brent Lewin/Bloomberg; AIIB)

China's AIIB vs Japan's ADB: Which is more powerful?

ISEAS senior fellow Malcolm Cook does a quick comparison between Asia's two leading multilateral lenders, the China-led Asian Infrastructure Bank and the Japan-led Asian Development Bank. Which is more powerful and influential?    
Banana farmers are benefiting from President Rodrigo Duterte’s personal embrace of China. (iStock)

What is President Duterte gaining from China?

Since taking office, Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte has been pursuing improved relations with China. ISEAS academic Malcolm Cook looks at what the Philippines has gained over the past three years.