Overview

The Southeast Asia Field School is an intensive two-week course, taught in English, during which students will spend one week in each of two Southeast Asian countries. In 2013, the course will be held in Malaysia and Indonesia and will be jointly convened by Dr Salim Farrar (Malaysian and Islamic law specialist) and Dr Simon Butt (Indonesian law specialist). The aim of the course is to provide students with an introduction to the legal systems of both countries, with emphasis on features of those systems which differ from the Australian and other common-law legal systems.

The program is administered by the Sydney Law School and our two in-country partners: the Law Faculty, Universitas Gadjah Mada in Yogyakarta, Indonesia; the Malaysian component will be taught at the Head Office of Zaid Ibrahim and Co. in Kuala Lumpur, which is the largest and most prestigious law firms in Malaysia. Students will learn the fundamentals of the Malaysian legal system in the contexts of Malaysia's competing ethnicities, political and economic reform and the harmonisation of laws. A particular focus will be on the dual banking system and the role of Islamic law in the development of trade, banking and finance.

We often hear that Australia’s future prosperity is tied to its economic, social and political engagement with Asia. However, interest in Southeast Asia, located directly to the north of Australia, is often overwhelmed by interest in other Asian countries such as China and India. Yet Southeast Asia is home to almost 600 million people and offers significant economic and other opportunities, many of which are untapped, for those willing to engage with the region. According to some estimates, Indonesia alone will be the world’s sixth-biggest economy by 2030, eclipsing Britain, France, Mexico and Germany.

To effectively engage with our Southeast Asian neighbours, ‘foreigners’, including Australians, will greatly benefit from increasing and improving their understanding of Southeast Asia in all its diversity. There is significant current demand amongst the Australian public and private sectors (including commercial law firms) for lawyers who understand the region and, as trade increases between Australia and Southeast Asian countries, this demand will only increase. This course aims to equip students with the knowledge about legal systems, political environments and cultural practices they need to ‘operate’ in the region.