The Diaspora Network of ASEAN-5: Centrality Analysis and Implication on Diaspora Engagement


  • Kuk Fai Fok Universiti of Tunku Abdul Rahman
  • Ming Yu Cheng Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman
  • Hoi Piew Tan YPC International College



Highly skilled diasporas, global diaspora network, social network analysis, centrality, ASEAN


The highly skilled diasporas (HSDs) are increasingly recognised as the critical resources of the economic development of their home countries. Many countries have implemented diaspora engagement initiatives to outreach and connect with their HSDs. However, there is lack of understanding of the mechanism on how to tap the economic opportunities from the destinations of the HSDs. Using a novel approach based on the centrality metrics of social network analysis (SNA), this study quantitatively assessed the capabilities of Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand (ASEAN-5) to engage their HSDs through the global diaspora network (GDN). It was found that Thailand and Philippines are relatively more capable to channel overseas economic opportunities from heterogeneous destinations due to stronger connectivity in the GDN. The difference in connectivity suggests that ASEAN-5 should complement each other by establishing a collaborative platform to pool together the expertise and transnational networks of their HSDs.


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Author Biographies

Kuk Fai Fok, Universiti of Tunku Abdul Rahman

Fok Kuk Fai graduated from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) with a Bachelor degree in Economics (Statistical economics) in 1996 and from University of Malaya (UM) with a Master degree in Economics in 2004. Fok is currently a PhD candidate for the Department of Economics, Faculty of Accountancy and Management of Universiti of Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR). Among his major research fields include international mobility of highly skilled people, diaspora network, innovative network and industrial linkages of Belt and Road Initiatives (BRIs).


Fok is also the Executive Secretary of ASEAN Academy of Engineering & Technology (AAET), a prominent engineering and technology think tank and civil society organisation (CSO) affiliated to the ASEAN Secretariat. Before joining AAET, Fok had served as the Executive Secretary for the Malaysian Chinese Economic Consultative Council (MCECC), a think tank established by industrial leaders, business associations and politicians to lobby for the strategies of national economic development. He was also the former General Manager and Chief Editor of the ‘Business Network’, a prominent Chinese business magazine in Malaysia. Currently, Fok is also a business consultant for companies specializing in retail industry, international trades and agro-based products.

Ming Yu Cheng, Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman

Prof. Dr. CHENG Ming Yu graduated from Universiti Putra Malaysia with a BSc degree (Resource Economics) in 1996 and a PhD in 1999.  She is currently a Professor of Economics in the Faculty of Accountancy and Management at Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR), Malaysia.  At the same time, she is the Director of the Institute of Management and Leadership Development (IMLD), and Chairperson of the Belt and Road Strategic Research Centre (BRSRC) at UTAR.

Prof. Cheng was a Visiting Lecturer at the Graduate School of Business, University of Newcastle, Australia in 2002. She was granted the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Fellowship (JSPS) in 2002.  From September 2004 to May 2005, Prof. Cheng was a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at Washington State University, USA. She visited Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at National University of Singapore from 2007 to 2008 for her research on competitiveness studies and she was a Visiting Professor at National Taiwan University in 2012 for talent mobility and networking project. In addition, she has short term international teaching experiences in Iran, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Taiwan and Japan.

Prof. Cheng works on a number of projects related to economic development; such as social capital, globalisation, human capital development, and competitiveness studies. Her recent interests are on Science & Technology and industry linkages, STEM education and socio-economic aspects of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, as well as Belt and Road Initiative. She received research grants from organisations such as the Academy of Sciences Malaysia, Embassy of the People's Republic of China in Malaysia, and the HEAD Foundation based in Singapore. She focuses on ASEAN economies to examine how the ten countries in varying stages of economic development could develop and grow stronger as a group.

Prof. Cheng participated in a number of international organisations such as Sasakawa Peace Foundation, Japan, ABEST21, Japan and BMW Foundation’s Young Leader Forum, Germany. She is also a member of DAAD Alumni. In 2011, Ming Yu was honoured as a Young Global Leader (YGL) of the World Economic Forum. She also spearheaded the establishment of the Global Shapers Community Kuala Lumpur Hub as the Founding Curator. 

Hoi Piew Tan, YPC International College

Dr Tan Hoi Piew is presently Associate Professor with YPC International College, Malaysia. Dr. Tan was also Retired Associate Professor/Former Dean with the Faculty of Accountancy and Management, Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR), Malaysia. He has worked in the corporate and banking sector for 25 years and as an academic for 16 years before retirement from UTAR in April 2020. His corporate and banking career included company secretarial practice, banking operations and credit cards.




How to Cite

Fok, K. F., Cheng, M. Y., & Tan , H. P. (2021). The Diaspora Network of ASEAN-5: Centrality Analysis and Implication on Diaspora Engagement. Migration Letters, 18(4), 425–438.