Past Events

Anatomy of Failed States: Where and Why

There are about 20 or 30 countries around the world in perpetual conflict. Once they are in this state, they seldom get out of it quickly and a vicious cycle of violent conflict, disruption of livelihood activities and education, poverty, hopelessness and despair usually sets in. Large numbers of idle young men are easy recruits for gangs and terrorist groups.

What are the causes and characteristics of failed states? Where are they? The presenters will provide an analysis of the common indicators leading to this tragic state. The presenters feel that because of globalization including the globalization of organised crime and terrorism, that everyone should be concerned and try to understand these phenomena.

Why did the so-called “Arab spring “ morph into the “Arab nightmare” or the “Arab winter” that seems to have no end in sight? Could one have predicted that such a massive regional upheaval was in the making in 2010 that led to the overthrow of so many “strongmen” governments? Yes, in fact …in 2002. Learn more…

The speakers will provide both political analysis and anecdotal observations from their many years spent in the field.

Date: 2 March 2020, Monday
Time: 8.00pm – 10.00pm (Doors open at 7.30pm)
Venue: Conference Hall, Penang Institute, 10-12 Brown Road, 10350 George Town


Judy Cheng-Hopkins
Dato Judy Cheng-Hopkins, a Penangite, worked for over 36 years in the United Nations, ending her career as Asst Secretary-general for Peacebuilding and as Asst. High Commissioner for Refugees. She took up a position as Adjunct Professor at Columbia University thereafter. She was listed by Forbes as “one of the 10 most powerful women in the UN “ in 2011. She is currently involved in the Asian women’s leadership university project which hopes to set up such a university in Penang in near future.

Dr. Thomas J. Hopkins
Dr. Thomas J. Hopkins is a former strategic planner with the United Nations and prior to that, taught for many years at Columbia and Fordham Universites in New York and University of Zambia in Lusaka. He has direct experience with many fragile and failing states such as Yemen and Somalia.


Liew Chin Tong
Liew Chin Tong was appointed as Deputy Defence Minister on 17 July 2018 after being sworn in as a Senator. He was first elected Member of Parliament for Bukit Bendera (2008-2013), and was subsequently the Member of Parliament for Kluang (2013-2018). Since 1999, Chin Tong has served DAP in various capacities and is now a Member of its Central Executive Committee, serving as the National Political Education Director.

Chin Tong is the Chairman of Research for Social Advancement (REFSA) since 2012 and was the Executive Director of Penang Institute from 2009-2012. He was also formerly a Visiting Research Fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS), Singapore.


Dato’ Dr Ooi Kee Beng, Executive Director of Penang Institute