The Southeast Asia Law and Policy Forum at UNSW Law Faculty aims to foster and support research on law and politics in the Southeast Asia. UNSW Law Faculty has a wealth of experience in the region, both in terms of comparative expertise, country-specific expertise, and capacity building. This initiative includes occasional seminars and workshops, research collaboration, and trainings in the region including East Timor, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar and the Philippines. The Forum is part of a wider network of over 60 scholars working on Southeast Asia at UNSW.
Indri Saptraningrun is an experienced legal researcher, human rights advocate and PhD candidate at the Law Faculty of the University of New South Wales, Australia. Her thesis is entitled ‘From Government to Governance: The Politics of Indonesia’s Digital Content Policies post- 2008.’ Indri is the former Director of the Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (known as ELSAM), a prominent civil society organization based in Jakarta, Indonesia. She is a recipient of the prestigious Australian Awards Scholarship and The British Chevening Award. She has been the author of the Indonesia chapter of the ‘Freedom on the Net Report’, Freedom House (2016–present). She has contributed to numerous research reports, including the Report on the Performance and Establishment of National Human Rights Institutions in Asia (2008); A Gender Responsive Parliament: A Handbook on Gender Mainstreaming in the Legislature (UNDP Indonesia, 2008), as well as numerous other policy papers.
Milda Istiqomah is a PhD Candidate at the Law Faculty, University of New South Wales, Australia. Her PhD thesis is ‘Factors Contributing to Terrorism Sentencing Decisions in Indonesia.’ Milda obtained an undergraduate degree in law from Brawijaya University, Indonesia, before continuing her studies, completing a Master of Transnational Crime Prevention from the University of Wollongong, Australia. Milda is also a senior lecturer at the Faculty of Law, Brawijaya University, Indonesia, teaching criminal law and criminology. She also researches on terrorism, deradicalisation programs, countering violent extremism as well as sentencing patterns and trends in terrorism offences, with a specialisation in Indonesia.
Milda has been awarded numerous grants and awards, including Master Program scholarship from the Ministry of Higher Degree and Research of Indonesia as well as PhD Program scholarship from the Ministry of Finance of Indonesia. Milda was the Chief Investigator on a Ministry of Higher Degree and Research Grant on ‘Deradicalisation Program in Indonesian Prisons: Reformation on the Correctional Institutions.’ (2012 – 2015). Her work has been published in a range of peer-reviewed journals including US-China Law Review, and Indonesia journals such as Arena Hukum, Jurnal Media Hukum as well as Risalah Hukum. Milda is the deputy director of the Centre for Transnational Crime and Terrorism (Frontier), Brawijaya University. She is also a member of the Centre for Crime, Law and Justice, UNSW Law, member of ANZSOC (Australian New Zealand Society of Criminology) and member of ASAA (Asian Studies Association of Australia).
Chhunvoleak is a current PhD student at the University of New South Wales. Her research is titled “Case Management and Access to Justice for Commercial Litigation in Cambodia”. Voleak has extensive experience in the Cambodian judicial system. From 2009 to 2014, Voleak worked at the Kandal Provincial Court, before being promoted to the Appellate Court in 2014. The Appellate Court is responsible for all cases appealed from the municipal and provincial courts, and the military court. In her court work, Voleak engaged in handling, processing, judicial decision making, enforcing judgments in a range of court cases, including civil and criminal cases. Her work also involved closely monitoring court administration, as well as participation in the judicial reform project.
Lena Hanifah is currently undertaking her PhD at UNSW Law on ‘Islamic inheritance law in Indonesia: The experience of women'. She is an academic from the State Islamic University of Banjarmasin, Kalimantan
Natasha Yacoub is a Doctoral candidate at the University of New South Wales and affiliate of the Andrew & Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law. Her thesis is titled: ‘Rethinking the history of refugee protection in Southeast Asia: Law, policy and practice’. Ms Yacoub is presently on leave from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, where she has been posted since 2001 in conflict and non-conflict settings in Egypt, Sudan, Ireland, United Nations Headquarters New York, Myanmar, Australia and the Pacific Island States. She also served as a decision-maker on the Refugee Review Tribunal and Migration Review Tribunal in Australia from 2012 to 2014. Her research interests are 'regional refugee protection', refugee status determination, statelessness, protection of civilians and the protection of refugee women and girls.
Ashraful Azad is a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Law, University of New South Wales. He completed BSS and MSS in International Relations from the University of Chittagong and MPhil in International Law from Monash University. He is also an assistant professor in the Department of International Relations, University of Chittagong (currently on study leave to pursue PhD). His experience also includes working as a UNHCR protection staff in 2011-12 and as a research consultant with Equal Rights Trust, UK in 2015 where he wrote a report on the legal status of Rohingya in Bangladesh. Ashraful’s main research interests are Rohingya refugees, irregular migration, and labour migration in Bangladesh. His PhD research focuses on the migration of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar and Bangladesh to Malaysia and the response of states towards such migration. This research analyses the irregular migration of stateless people and connects the mobility between South Asia and Southeast Asia.
Ashraful has published several peer-reviewed papers including in the Journal of Human Trafficking, Griffith Journal of Law and Human Dignity and Chittagong University Journal of Social Sciences. He has also published short pieces in the Conversation and OpenDemocracy and commented in various media including Guardian (UK), Equal Times (Brussels), the Independent and Bangladesh Post (Bangladesh), ABC radio and TV (Australia), TRT World (Turkey), and Channel NewsAsia (Singapore). He also works as a Country of Origin Information expert for Bangladesh enlisted with the Rights in Exile Programme (IRRI) and has provided expert reports in several asylum cases.
Katherine Chork is an undergraduate law student at the University of New South Wales. She is in her penultimate year of combined Bachelor of Arts/Law. She works as a Research Assistant to Associate Professor Melissa Crouch at UNSW Law. In her Arts degree Katherine completed a major in Hispanic Studies, as well as a minor in Advanced French studies. She was recognised by the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Deans List in 2014, 2015 and 2017 for academic excellence. In 2016, she was a recipient of the UNSW International Student Exchange Scholarship and undertook a semester exchange at La Universidad Pontificia Comillas in Madrid, Spain. During this time she completed courses in a diploma in International Relations from a Spanish Perspective. Katherine’s legal interest include both commercial and public interest fields. In 2016, she was a winter clerk at Marque Lawyers, continuing as a paralegal assisting the corporate and commercial teams in 2017 and 2018. In 2016, she contributed to a submission by the UNSW Law Society for the Senate inquiry into the conditions and treatment of asylum seekers and refugees at the regional processing centres in the Republic of Nauru and Papua New Guinea. She was also named on the Faculty of Law Dean’s List in 2017, achieving first place in Law and Social Theory, for which she wrote a research essay applying Giorgio Agamben’s theory of the camp to Australia’s asylum seeker policy.
Natasha Naidu is a BA/LLB (Hons I) graduate from the University of New South Wales, Australia. Her research interest focuses on the rule of law in South and Southeast Asia. Currently, she is a research assistant to Associate Professor Melissa Crouch at UNSW Law. In 2017, Natasha worked as an intern on defence of an alleged Khmer Rouge genocidaire at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC). Since then she has published journal articles on political interference at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC). Her commentary on the ECCC has been published in academic blogs such as New Mandala. Further, she works as a case analyst at the Oxford Reports on International Law where she specialises in publishing headnotes on ECCC decisions. Since returning from Cambodia, Natasha has been involved in activism together with the Australia-Cambodian diaspora and other Australian citizens concerned about the political climate in Cambodia. These actions have been covered by media including the Phnom Penh Post and Voice of Democracy (Khmer). Natasha also has an interest in gender empowerment in South and Southeast Asia. Currently, she assists Dr Crouch on a project which focuses on women’s empowerment and gender equality among the legal profession and the judiciary in Asia. Natasha will soon return to Cambodia where she will take up a legal consultancy working for Project Expedite Justice, an NGO litigating on behalf of victims of mass atrocities such as human trafficking. She has published in New Mandala, the UNSW Law Journal, and Court of Conscious. Natasha can be found on Twitter and LinkedIn.
Sai Myint Aung is a final year JD student at UNSW Law. He is a research assistant for Associate Professor Melissa Crouch and a peer tutor at UNSW Law. He has also worked as a paralegal in Financial Restructuring and Insolvency Team at Norton Rose Fulbright, Sydney Office. Prior to commencing his law degree, Sai was an operations manager at Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ), Myanmar Branch, overseeing payment and cash operations as well as markets operations. Previously, he was a project manager in the project to establish the Myanmar Branch of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Limited (ICBC). He was born and brought up in Taunggyi in eastern Myanmar and has a bachelor’s degree in economics from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and Master of Professional Accounting from UNSW. His research interests include law and development, law and society, and comparative constitutional law.
Madelene Wonders is a Juris Doctor graduate from UNSW and a Master of Human Rights and a Bachelor of Arts (Philosophy) graduate from the University of Sydney. She is a research assistant on Melissa Crouch’s ARC Discovery Project on Constitutional Change in Authoritarian Regimes. Her other research interests include law and social theory, and human rights issues such as modern slavery and economic and social rights. In 2018, Madelene represented UNSW at the International Criminal Court Moot Competition addressing the issue of human trafficking within corporate supply chains, and prior to her legal studies she was a project officer for the Aurora Education Foundation, an NFP focused on supporting Indigenous education. Madelene will commence as the 2019-20 Human Rights Fellow at Legal Aid NSW later this year where she will be working with the Legal Aid Human Rights Committee.
Bhatara Ibnu Reza completed his PhD at UNSW Law in 2019 on ‘The development of the state-sponsored militia as the implementation of the total people's defence and security system in Indonesia’. He was formerly a senior researcher at Imparsial, a prominent legal NGO in Jakarta, Indonesia. He comments frequently in the media on issues of law and human rights in Indonesia. He now works as an academic at a university based in Jakarta.
Dr Melissa Jardine was awarded her PhD at UNSW Law in 2019. She is on the Board of Directors for the Global Law Enforcement & Public Health Association and Gender Advisor & Communications Manager for the Centre for Law Enforcement & Public Health. Melissa was a Victoria Police officer for 10 years (2001-2011) working at the frontline and in criminal investigations and is a current member of the Strategic Planning Committee for the International Association of Women Police (IAWP). In Victoria Police, she worked in general duties, criminal investigations, the Asian Squad (disbanded), drug taskforces and trained as an undercover operative. In 2005, she was the recipient of a scholarship to study Vietnamese in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, from the Victorian Multicultural Commission while working for Victoria Police. Her PhD was on policing in Vietnam. In 2018-2019, Melissa is a consultant to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and UN Women in relation to gender, policing, border control and transnational crimes in ASEAN. Melissa has written and delivered a range of international police training packages regarding HIV prevention, harm reduction approaches to drug use and sex work, and police-public health leadership. In 2017, Melissa was selected as an Asia 21 Young Leader by the Asia Society .
Fritz Edward Siregar is an alumni of UNSW Law and in June 2017 was a visiting fellow at UNSW Law. In 2017, he was appointed by the President of Indonesia to an important post on the Indonesian Elections Supervisory Board (2017–2022). Fritz completed his LL.B. from the Faculty of Law, the University of Indonesia. He holds a LL.M degree from the Erasmus University of Rotterdam and the University of New South Wales. In 2016, he completed his SJD at UNSW on judicial behaviour and judicialisation of Indonesia Constitutional Court, receiving the Australian Leadership Award. From 2004–2009, Fritz was part of the founding generation of staff on the Indonesia Constitutional Court as a Justice Assistant to Justice Maruarar Siahaan. In 2006, he was selected as the first foreigner to work as an intern as Judicial Associate at the High Court of Australia. He also previously worked at the International Monetary Fund’s project on legal reform in Indonesia. Fritz has been a lecturer at several institutions, including the University of Indonesia, Indonesia Jentera School of Law, Swiss German University and the Christian University of Indonesia.
Fritz has a particular interest in election studies, which began with his involvement in the Election Supervisory Committee in 1999. In 2004 Fritz joined the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), where he undertook the role of rule of law project officer. Fritz currently serves as Commissioner of Indonesia’s Election Supervisory Body (Bawaslu), an independent body responsible for supervising the election process, and disputes regarding the election process and administrative violations. Fritz coordinates Bawaslu’s legal division, which handled legal drafting related to the Bawaslu Regulations and the election result disputes in the Constitutional Court.
Phyo Mouk is an alumni of the University of New South Wales, where he obtained a Masters of Laws in Dispute Resolution, specialising in corporate and commercial law. Since returning to Myanmar, Phyo now works as a Judicial Officer in the Supreme Court Union of Myanmar in the Law and Procedure Department. He is currently heavily involved in the Supreme Court Project, including as a member of the working group for the implementation and introduction of the Court-Led Mediation Program. He is also involved in the discussion on the reform of arbitration in Myanmar, attending numerous seminars and workshops in this area. Phyo was also involved in the drafting of Myanmar’s new intellectual property law. In addition to his work as a judicial officer, Phyo is involved in promoting public awareness of mediation as an alternative dispute resolution mechanism in Myanmar, such as the creation of promotional media for Court-led mediation programs. In 2020, Phyo will commence his PhD in Japan.
Yin Myo Su Hlaing is an Assistant Director form the Union Attorney General’s Office (UAGO) in Myanmar. She graduated from Monywa University with LLB in 2004. After that, she obtained a LL.M from Yangon University in 2007 with a specialization in International Law. In 2017, she also obtained a Master of Laws from University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia with a specialization in Human Rights and Social Justice. She had the professional prosecutorial experiences to the Courtrooms because she served in Yangon Western District Law Office as a Deputy Staff Officer and Mayangon Township Law Office in Yangon as a Deputy Township Law Officer from 2009 - 2012. In 2013, she had been promoted to Staff Officer in the International law and ASEAN Legal Affairs Division at the UAGO in Nay Pyi Taw. In 2016, she was promoted to Assistant Director in the above Division. She was also conferred the medal for prevalence of law and order. In addition, she obtained a certificate of Advocate from the Supreme Court of Union in 2019. She is a member of the working group to implement the functions of Union Coordination Body (UCB) for Rule of Law Centre and Justice Sector Affairs, a member of the research team of the UAGO and a member to upgrade the English-Myanmar Law Dictionary.
Nyi Nyi Kyaw was awarded his PhD by UNSW in international and political studies in 2015. He also has two master’s degrees in international political economy and human rights and democratisation (Asia Pacific). Since completing his PhD, he was awarded a postdoctoral research fellowship at the Law School, the National University of Singapore. Since 2019, he has been a visiting fellow in the Myanmar Studies Programme at the ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore. He specialises in issues of identity, religion, Buddhist-Muslim relations, nationalism and populism, with a specialisation in Myanmar. His research has been published or is forthcoming in the Review of Faith & International Affairs, Journal of Immigrant & Refugee Studies, Social Identities, and the Chinese Journal of Comparative Law. He has also contributed to several edited volumes on religion, constitutionalism, and citizenship.
Women in Asia Conference 2019
With the Institute of Global Development, UNSW is hosting the 12th Women in Asia Conference in June 2019. This event is organised by Melissa Crouch, Felix Tan, Louise Edwards, Tanya Jakimow, Minako Sakai and Carmen Leong. More details are available here.
Professional Legal Education in Commercial and Corporate Law in Myanmar
This project involves a team that is led by Melissa Crouch (2016-2019) and is funded by the Asian Development Bank. The focus of the project is on improving legal education and skills integral to the transactional practice and adjudication of commercial law. The project includes developing a training program for the practical legal training needs of private lawyers, government lawyers, prosecutors and judges in commercial and financial law.
Australia-Myanmar Constitutional Democracy Project
The Australia Myanmar Constitutional Democracy Project began in 2013 as a joint enterprise of a number of Law Schools: including the University of Sydney; the University of New South Wales (UNSW); the ANU. UNSW is currently the institution responsible for the Project. The Project aims to directly increase the capacity of local actors to participate positively in the process of constitutional reform in Myanmar. It will do this by expanding the constitutional vocabulary of different groups within society (ethnic communities, grass-roots organisations, political leaders, members of the media) so that they can contribute to political discourse. In the long term, the Project’s objective is to expand the democratic political space during a critical time in Myanmar’s transition towards constitutional democracy. The Project aims to support increased constitutional stability, leading to an environment where there is greater prospect for peaceful and equitable development. The Project also strengthens linkages and networks between scholars and members of civil society in Myanmar and Australia. The Project has held 10 workshops since 2013 in various locations in Myanmar. Past sponsors of the Project include Rotary Australia; the Australian embassy in Yangon; Konrad Adenaur Stiftung; the University of Sydney; the University of New South Wales; the Australian National University; the National University of Singapore; KOICA and the Community of Democracies.
The project team includes: Martin Krygier, Theunis Roux; Melissa Crouch; Adam Czarnota, with Catherine Renshaw (ACU) and Wojciech Sadurski, University of Sydney.
ARC Discovery Project: Contemporary populism and constitutional democracy
This project aims to explain and evaluate constitutional populism, or regimes that have come to power in a global wave of ‘populist’ parties challenging traditional ones. The project will identify, reconstruct, and evaluate legal and constitutional aims of, and institutional solutions adopted by, such regimes. It will examine whether they respect the forms of democracy, or just pay lip service to, for example, principles of the rule of law and constitutionalism, while working to subvert such principles. The project will focus on what ‘new populists’ do with power once they have it, what the consequences are for a global view of democracy, and on informing Australia’s geopolitical engagement with such regimes. It includes a focus on the Philippines.
The project team includes: Professor Martin Krygier and A/Professor Adam Czarnota (UNSW Law), and Professor Wojciech Sadurski (Sydney).
A student-run society at UNSW focused on promoting knowledge on ASEAN
The Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII), which operates the Asian Legal Information Institute (AsianLII) and provides free access to legislation, case law and other legal information from all Asian countries.
Student Opportunities and Internships
Indonesian Law Practicum
Every January, a six-week Law Professional Practicum is run by the Australian Consortium of In-Country Indonesian Studies (ACICIS) , and there is often New Colombo Plan scholarships available for eligible students. Students should contact the UNSW International Office for more details and seek permission from the Law School internship coordinator. Students can also contact Melissa Crouch as a founding Advisory member of the Law Practicum for details of the program.
Institute for Global Development/Law School Internship
Melissa Crouch, as the Myanmar Academic Lead of the Institute for Global Development (IGD), has established and runs an internship program for law students. Students should apply through the usual internship application process.
Southeast Asia Law Reading Group – this group meets every second month during term.
Ethnography Reading Group - this is an interdisciplinary group of scholars and students from across campus that meets regularly to discuss key books on ethnography.
Subscribe to the Southeast Asia Law & Policy email list to receive updates on meetings for this group.
Conference: Women in Asia Conference
Date: 21 - 23 June 2019, at UNSW Sydney
Workshop: China's Presence in Mainland Southeast Asia today
Date: 21 June 2019, at UNSW Law
Workshop: UNSW Myanmar Development and Research Forum, Yangon
Date: 5 February 2019
Workshop on ‘The Law and Politics of Elections in Indonesia’
Date: 10 December 2018, at UNSW Law
Workshop on 'Constitutions and Peace Processes: Comparative Reflections from Asia'.
Date: 6-7 December 2018, at UNSW Law
Seminar: Why Religious Supremacy Clauses Don’t Work, Dr Ben Schonthal
Date: 6 July 2018
Workshop on 'Courts, Power and Legal Process in Indonesia: The Legacy of Dan S Lev'.
Date: 2 July 2018
Seminar on 'Explaining Myanmar's Hluttaw 2011-2016' by Dr Chit Win
Date: 11 December 2017
Roundtable discussion: "Indonesia's Election Supervisory Board: Working Towards Election Integrity". Guest speaker: Dr Fritz Edward Siregar, member of the Indonesian Elections Supervisory Board
Date: 29 June 2017
Seminar: Dr Thant on Publication Trends and Books in Myanmar
Date: 3 March 2017
Seminar: What is Buddhist Constitutionalism? Dr Ben Schonthal
Date: 13 September 2016.
Seminar: The Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII) and The Australia-Myanmar Constitutional Democracy Project invite you to the launch of Myanmar/Burma Databases on AsianLII.
Date: 23 May 2016. At the launch of the database, a guide on how to use the Myanmar/Burma online law database at AsianLII was also released and is available online .
Seminar and Book Launch: The Future for Myanmar’s Muslims: Implications for Australia and the Region.
Date: 6 April 2016
Workshop on The Business of Transition: Law Reform, Economics and Development in Myanmar
Date: 27 November 2015
Myanmar’s Elections November 2015: Forward to Democracy or Back to Militocracy?
Panel: Associate Professor Sean Turnell, Macquarie University Dr Nicholas Farrelly, Director of the Myanmar Research Centre, ANU Dr Melissa Crouch, Law Faculty, UNSW
Listen to the podcast here.
Date: 19 October 2015