Malaysia and Singapore share a history of suppression of youth activism by the state, and as a result, this has led to the depoliticisation of young people, who are often labelled as apathetic. However, the changing realities of both countries, such as the instability of the economy, has led young people to engage more in political discussions in recent years. However, the rise of youth activism also entails rising harassment and state suppression of youth activists through surveillance, arrests and threats to future employability.
Populism, nationalism, and an intensifying rivalry between the United States and China are testing the cooperation within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). As its 10 member States battle the effects of Covid-19 amid political and territorial crises, the group has struggled to overcome internal differences and address profound external challenges.