Singapore hazy


Environment and Politics in Southeast Asia: Presentations by the awardees of the SEAC Research Fund

Hosted by the Saw Swee Hock Southeast Asia Centre


Dr. Tom Smith

Dr. Tom Smith

Associate Professor in Environmental Geography, LSE SEAC Associate

Felicia Liu

Felicia Liu

Research Associate, University of Oxford Sustainable Finance Programme

Dr. Omar Mcdoom

Dr. Omar Mcdoom

Associate Professor, Comparative Politics, LSE


Prof. Hyun Bang Shin

Prof. Hyun Bang Shin

Professor of Geography and Urban Studies and SEAC Director

This SEAF event showcased two presentations from awardees of the SEAC Research Fund, who discussed some preliminary findings regarding a) the emerging social construction of the 'haze season' in Singapore and b) professional intermediaries as the accomplices of kleptocratic elites. More information on the Research Fund scheme can be found here.


Research Fund Presentations

Dr. Tom Smith and Felicia Liu

Seasonality in the Anthropocene: On the social construction of southeast Asia’s 'haze season'

Widespread burning of tropical peatlands is now considered to be an annual event in equatorial southeast Asia. The fires cause poor air quality (‘haze’), affecting the health of millions and lead to diplomatic disputes between places that burn and the places downwind that suffer in the smoke. Our project focusses on the emerging social construction of the ‘haze season’ in Singapore.

Seasonality is a conceptual tool for societies to make sense of their surrounding environment. The expectation of recurring seasons allows people to organise their livelihoods around these environmental changes. We discuss preliminary analysis of news media, with a focus on the emergence of the haze season and how it has been defined by society. The research seeks to evaluate the extent to which a new seasonality may lead to normalisation (e.g. desensitisation) of the phenomena and how this has impacted haze mitigation efforts (e.g. activism) and adaptation behaviours (e.g. wearing masks, staying indoors). We will discuss future plans for extension of this analysis using social media and surveys.


Dr. Omar Mcdoom

The Kleptocrat’s Accomplice: Professional Intermediaries and the Plunder of Poor Countries

High profile investigations by journalists exposing the 1MDB, Luanda Leaks, and Panama Papers scandals, have highlighted the part played by professional intermediaries, sometimes internationally-branded firms operating in major financial centres, in enabling kleptocratic elites move, launder, and protect ill-gotten gains. This project examines the role played by lawyers, accountants, and other professional service providers in the transfer of illicit monies out of economies in the Global South and into the financial systems of the Global North, often via the world’s many offshore secrecy jurisdictions. The project aims to help strengthen the accountability of professional intermediaries by examining the role of incentives, values, and networks in shaping the decisions of professional intermediaries as they manage the tension between the pressure to bring in new client revenue and the obligation to comply with increasingly stringent anti-money laundering requirements. It compares intermediary behaviour in four jurisdictions: London, Dubai, Singapore, and Hong Kong. Dr. McDoom will present preliminary findings from the project’s pilot phase as well as the research design for the full project.


Speaker and Chair Biographies

Dr Tom Smith (@DrTELS) is Associate Professor in Environmental Geography and LSE SEAC Associate.

Felicia Liu is a Research Associate for the  Sustainable Finance Programme at the University of Oxford.

Dr Omar Mcdoom (@omarmcdoom) is Associate Professor in Comparative Politics in the department of Government, LSE.

Prof. Hyun Bang Shin (@urbancommune) is Professor of Geography and Urban Studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science and directs the LSE Saw Swee Hock Southeast Asia Centre. His research centres on the critical analysis of the political economy of speculative urbanisation, gentrification and displacement, urban spectacles, and urbanism with particular attention to Asian cities. His books include Planetary Gentrification (Polity, 2016), Neoliberal Urbanism, Contested Cities and Housing in Asia (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019), Exporting Urban Korea? Reconsidering the Korean Urban Development Experience (Routledge, 2021), and The Political Economy of Mega Projects in Asia: Globalization and Urban Transformation (Routledge, forthcoming). He is Editor of the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, and is also a trustee of the Urban Studies Foundation.


A video recording of this event can be found here.

Banner photo by Paul Wetzel on Unsplash


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