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East-West Center Fellow Spotlight: Ming-Li Yong

Dr. Ming Li Yong

We are excited to welcome a new East-West Center Research Fellow, Dr. Ming-Li Yong to our UHCSEAS ‘ohana! Read her story below: 

I am from Singapore, where I majored in Geography at the National University of Singapore and completed my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. I then joined The University of Sydney in Australia where I completed my Ph.D. degree in 2019. After this, I worked at The School for Field Studies, where I was a faculty member based at one of their centers in Siem Reap, Cambodia. During this time, I also taught at Pannasastra University. I then briefly taught at the National Institute of Education in Singapore, and joined the East-West Center in January 2022.

Research and Teaching Experience

My research has largely revolved around transboundary water governance and hydropower development in the Mekong River Basin, with the majority of my fieldwork taking place in Thailand and Cambodia. My research has centred on the opportunities and challenges relating to community-based natural resource management, civil society movements, public participation in transboundary environmental governance, and the institutional arrangements that influence the politics around water resource development. I have also taught courses on environmental ethics, development, sustainability, and food. My teaching experience has included the running of field trips and field studies programs in Thailand and Cambodia. 

As a young Geography student, I found the case study of the Mekong River extremely interesting in terms of competing claims that various countries had on its water resources. I got to see (and dip my toes into) the Mekong River when I participated in an intensive field studies program to Thailand as an undergraduate, and the program played a key role in shaping a strong interest in understanding community perspectives in relation to natural resource management, state-led development, and environmental change.

During my time with The School for Field Studies in Cambodia, I also helped to liaise with the Siem Reap Provincial Department of Environment, the Fisheries Action Coalition Team, and Kampong Khleang Commune Office to identify priority research areas around the Tonle Sap Lake. The research results from our small-scale research projects around climate change vulnerability and solid waste management were later shared with these stakeholders.

Recent Publications

I recently published a paper titled “Transboundary environmental publics and hydropower governance in the Mekong River Basin: A contested politics of place, scale and temporality” in the journal Environmental Policy and Governance, which discusses how the limitations and opportunities for public participation in Mekong hydropower governance can be understood through the differing ways in which transboundary environmental publics are formed by state and non-state stakeholders, and how these are created through multiple definitions of place, scale, and temporality. An earlier article of mine also analyses the significance of community-based conservation initiatives in transboundary environmental governance and how these emerged in Northern Thailand.