Migration Crisis on Southeast Asian Shores: Individual or Regional Responsibility?

Memo #338

By Kazi Fahmida Farzana – fahmida [at] uum.edu.my

Farzana_Migration Crisis_photoOn May 10–11, 2015 some 2,000 new Rohingya migrants from Myanmar landed in Malaysia and Indonesia. Many others are believed to have lost their lives in this desperate journey, while hundreds are still drifting on the high seas. By seeking asylum on the shores of Southeast Asia the displaced ethnic… Continue reading

Third Culture Kids and the Rise of a Cosmopolitan Ethos in the Asia-Pacific

Pacific Prospective features the research of graduate students.

Memo #289

By  Grégoire Legault – gregoire.legault [at] alumni.ubc.ca

The world is changing, thanks in great part to unparalleled levels of migration. According to the United Nations, more than 230 million people were living outside of their countries of birth in 2013, many of them originally born in Asia… Continue reading

Migrant Labour in Asia: Singapore’s Recent Riot

Memo #260

By Wajihah Hamid – wajihah.hamid [at] gmail.com

Riot, angry mob? Surely unheard of in Singapore? But on Sunday, December 8, 2013, a fatal traffic accident involving a migrant worker in Singapore’s Little India sparked an angry reaction from the area’s low-waged migrant workers that morphed into a riot.

Temporary labour migration is the most… Continue reading

The Complexity of North Korean Migration

Just imagine you’re a North Korean living in a small village. You have no one to compare your condition with. One day, you hear about people who’ve fled to China who are now well off. Some even go to South Korea, a place you know about from smuggled DVDs. You know that if caught, you could be sent to prison and beaten by guards. If successful, such migration promises a better life. Continue reading

Is ‘Safe Migration’ Along the Thai-Lao Border Truly ‘Safe?’

Memo #157 – Since the late 1990s, international organizations and NGOs have engaged with labour migrants in the Mekong region. This includes either advocating for migrants’ rights, or launching anti-trafficking programs. More recently, the term “safe migration” has surfaced within policy circles and the broader aid community with several organizations implementing “safe migration” programs. Continue reading

Regulating International Student Mobility – Agents and Markets in New Zealand

Memo #151 – International student mobility is a huge industry. 3.3 million students studied outside of their country of citizenship in 2008. In some countries like Australia and New Zealand, international students represent about 15 per cent of total post-secondary enrolments. Student mobility is often conceived as a straightforward exercise in demand and supply. Students willing to pay the costs of overseas study represent the demand. Educational services provided by post-secondary institutions – many facing reduced state funding – represent the supply. This free market model ignores the multitude of mediating actors involved in student mobility. Continue reading

Japan’s Failure to Enfranchise its Permanent Resident Foreigners

Memo #145 – Over 500,000 Koreans, many who were born and raised in Japan, have become disheartened since Japan’s historic change of government in 2009. In March 2010, the Japanese government failed to submit the long-awaited bill to give voting rights to permanent resident foreigners. Enfranchisement is a major political issue in Japan and the political rights of permanent resident foreigners are ignored. Continue reading

Why do Chinese Migrants Have to Pay so Much to Work Overseas?

Memo #135 – Unskilled workers from China have to pay exorbitant costs to work abroad in Japan, Singapore, and South Korea, their top three choices. Fees, averaging 8,000 USD, are not charged by human smugglers but licensed employment intermediaries. In fact, transnational labour migration through legal channels costs significantly more than illegal migration. This is not unique to China. Across Asia, the percentage of legal migrants is increasing – more than 800,000 Chinese by the end of 2011 compared to less than 60,000 in 1990. Why is the cost increasing? Because Asian states rely on intermediaries. Continue reading


Memo #135 – 日本,新加坡和韩国是目前接纳中国非技术劳工最多的三个国家;中国人去这三个国家打工,要付8,000美元的中介费。这些钱不是给人贩子,而是给有正规执照的中介机构。事实上,通过合法途径出国打工的成本要明显高于非法迁移。这并不是中国特有的现象。在亚太地区,合法移民的比例在增加——2011年底有80多万中国人在境外就业,大大高于1990年的6万人——但是成本也大幅度增加了。其原因就在于,亚太国家依赖于中介机构管理跨国劳动力流动。 Continue reading

Filipina Immigrant Girls’ Lived Experience in Japan

Memo #134 – Filipina women, who entered Japan as “entertainers” or as the spouses of Japanese men, sometimes left children behind to be raised by relatives in the Philippines while they built economically viable lives in Japan. More and more, the teenage children of these migrant women are entering Japan, entering Japanese schools, and entering society as an important and recent immigrant youth population. These youth are being reunited with their mothers, beginning lives with unknown step-families, and struggling to learn Japanese – which is often their third or fourth language. Most scholars focus on how immigrant youth are victimized by an assimilationist-oriented education system, with its Japanese-only language policies and hyper-competitive high school entrance exams. But this focus allows only a small glimpse of their lived experience. Continue reading