« What has gone wrong in Cambodia ? » by Milton Osbourne, 19/07/2018, The Interpreter (Lowy Institute)
Concerns ahead of Cambodia’s elections on 29 July centre on the judgement that under Prime Minister Hun Sen the country has become increasingly authoritarian in political character while the government – through a range of parliamentary and judicial actions, and backed by absolute control of the forces of order – has eliminated any viable political opposition to ensure its electoral return.
How did we arrive at this state of affairs in which there is now very little external actors can, or will, do to prevent Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party staying in office? Even if an unlikely election result occurs, with Hun Sen’s government voted out, it seems certain he would use all means, including force if necessary, to remain in power.
A brief review of Cambodia’s political history since the UN-supervised elections of 1993 is needed to understand the present situation.
The “original sin” that led to this set of circumstances occurred when the international community stepped back from involvement in Cambodia’s affairs and allowed the CPP to remain the dominant political force in the country, despite having lost the popular vote in the UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC)–supervised elections in 1993. With Hun Sen and the CPP refusing to accept defeat, the compromise arrangements that were cobbled together left all real power in their hands.
As David Chandler notes of the political opposition at the time in his A History of Cambodia, “The royalist party soon lost its voice in decision making as well as its freedom of manoeuvre.”
Tired of the problems in Cambodia that had been exercising Western governments for more than a decade, no external players intervened to change the course of events. Similarly, there was never any sign at that stage that Moscow and Beijing had any interest in becoming directly involved in opposing the CPP’s actions.
The complex political history of the period from 1993 to 1997 is well documented in David W. Roberts’ Political Transition in Cambodia: Power, Elitism and Democracy. A disclosure: I reviewed this book for Pacific Affairs in 2001 and commented that it could be read as a justification for Hun Sen’s political behaviour. But I found persuasive, then and now, his endorsement of a view offered by long-term observer of Cambodia Steve Heder that the key players of the period – Sihanouk, Sam Rainsy, and Ranariddh – were all characterised by “deeply illiberal, anti-democratic and anti-pluralist tendencies”.
This lack of action in 1993 was followed by the unwillingness of external players to take any measures that mattered after Hun Sen’s brutal coup de force in July 1997 that saw the CPP overwhelm Prince Ranariddh’s FUNCINPEC.
Podcast : A New Malaysia? #1: Meredith Weiss and Ambiga Sreenevasan, 17/07/2018, New Mandala
In this podcast, New Mandala’s editor Liam Gammon talks to Prof Meredith Weiss about whether Malaysia is witnessing “democratisation through elections”, and Dr Ross Tapsell, Director of the ANU Malaysia Institute, speaks with Dato’ Ambiga Sreenevasan about how civil society can hold the new government to its promises of reform.
Podcast : A new Malaysia? #2 : Media with Boo Su-Lyn and Zurairi Abdul Rahman, 26/07/2018, New Mandala
In this podcast, Dr Ross Tapsell, Director of the ANU Malaysia Institute, speaks with Boo Su-Lyn and Zurairi Abdul Rahman about what has and hasn’t changed about the way the media reports politics and policy after Malaysia’s 14th general election.
Podcast : A new Malaysia? #3 : Reform roadblocks with Bridget Welsh & Shamsul AB, 16/08/2018, New Mandala
In this podcast, New Mandala’s editor Liam Gammon talks to Associcate Professor Bridget Welsh about how the institutions Pakatan Harapan inherits from BN complicate reform efforts, and ANU’s Dr Ross Tapsell talks to Prof Shamsul AB about the social and ideological constants that GE14 didn’t change.
2018 Malaysia Update – Regime change in Malaysia: how, why and the future, 12 October 2018, Weston Theatre, JG Crawford Building (132), Lennox Crossing, ANU
The ANU Malaysia Institute will hold the 2018 Malaysia Update conference on Friday, 12 October. The conference provides an opportunity to examine the recent momentous changes in Malaysia, including the first regime change since independence in 1957, attempts to establish a new democratic nation, and its regional impact.
The conference will feature world-class expertise from leading academics of Malaysian Studies. Attendees will include academics within the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific, as well as government representatives and policymakers, diplomats, students, and the general public. The aim of the conference is to providing fresh thinking about the ways forward for the study of Malaysian society in scholarship as well as reflect on recent changes in Malaysia’s politics, economics and society which may reflect policy-making decisions.
Speakers include :
Meredith Weiss, State University of New York
Terence Gomez, University of Malaya
Amanda Whiting, The University of Melbourne
Vilashini Somiah, IMAN Research
Hew Wai Weng, Institute of Malaysian and International Studies, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia
Serina Rahman, ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, Singapore
Sophie Lemiere, Harvard University
James Chin, University of Tasmania
Bridget Welsh, John Cabot University
The full conference program will be available in August. Registration is free but essential via Eventbrite.
Broad strokes : Indonesian art and 20 years of Reformasi by Erin Cook, 22/05/2018, The Interpreter, Lowy Institute
This month, Indonesia commemorates 20 years since the fall of strongman Suharto and two decades of the Reformasi era. Today, the strife of 1998 serves as inspiration for the country’s burgeoning contemporary arts.
Suharto’s New Order period was marked by mass-centralisation of powers in Jakarta, from which Indonesia’s cultural and artistic industries were not exempt. By the end of the Suharto era, any performance or exhibition needed the express permission of no less than four separate offices, including police and military, to go ahead. Cultural researcher Jennifer Lindsay has written that events at the time could be shut down “immediately if considered to have transgressed limits of tolerated political comment, or to have insulted ethnicity, religion, race, or inter-group relations”.
This environment, paired with the government control of all art schools in Indonesia, gave the Suharto administration immense control and influence over works of art produced during this period. Lindsay notes that this control also led to weariness among private citizens who would otherwise be strong patrons of the arts, leaving the country’s artists to navigate the minefield of acceptable subjects, or to look overseas for support.
Suharto’s demise not only freed the nation’s politics but also changed its art scene dramatically. Today, both Yogyakarta and Jakarta are developing reputations as contemporary art hubs in Asia, and Indonesia’s best artists are regularly showcased across the world. For the generation of artists who came of age in 1998 and are now reaching the top of their field, the days of the New Order continue provide ample inspiration, as well as cynicism.
Eko Nugroho is one of the leading artists of that generation. His bright, colourful sculptures, installations, wall art, and embroidery pieces deal with pertinent political issues, from corruption to the environment, and have been exhibited internationally. As a postgraduate student at Yogyakarta’s Indonesian Institute of the Arts in 1998, Nugroho’s work gradually became more political.
“The year was a starting point and a trigger to develop my works, so it was a kind of inspiration,” he told me.
I am part of the generation of artists post-Reformation, which means I am aware of the particular phenomena that took place in this country, and I can scrutinise their development. In those transition times, Indonesia chose democracy, but the Indonesian version of democracy … This idea of having our own version of democracy I find interesting and I often try to raise it in my works. We see and understand democracy through our society, our dynamics, and through the background of our political history, which have all shaped the current situation we are in.
The dark days of the 1965–66 anti-communist purges are a favourite subject for Indonesian artists. Pre-election promises from President Joko Widodo have failed to come to fruition, leaving the hard questions to be asked by practitioners such as Tintin Wulia, whose futuristic installation Not Alone reimagines the conflict 100 years in the future.
Questioning the legacy of the 1965 purges, talk of which was banned under Suharto, through art has become a lightning rod for conflict between the progressive community and conservative civil society groups and police. Yogyakarta, a city proud of its reputation as a place of tolerance, representative of the multiple identities found in Java, is a particular hotspot for protests, prompting an existential crisis.
Still, Nugroho never finds himself short of inspiration, echoing the oft-heard criticism of the Reformasi-era – how different is it really to before?
Even though Indonesia chose this new system, not many things have actually changed. The ways of thinking of those who run the country is still similar to [the New Order regime]. Twenty years is a short time. Those active in the New Order are still in power now.
That spectre influences the contemporary arts scene in Indonesia, Nugroho says. While Indonesian artists are less likely to be imprisoned for political works – a risk still faced by artists in neighbouring countries – there is a widespread and growing sense of self-censorship.
Nugroho believes this is because successive governments have been focused on the economic and political development of Indonesia, leaving fringe elements of civil society to rise unchecked. Younger artists in Indonesia were only children at the time of the upheaval in the late 1990s, and a division between them and artists of older generations has emerged.
Past fears are still brought up by senior artists, while the younger ones use political messages in more obvious ways. But the threats actually come from around us, from the society itself.
Nugroho points to extremist groups such as Jamaah Ansharut Daulah, a local affiliate of the Islamic State, as the “real censors”. Attacks such as those this month in Surabaya “create terror, fear, and anxiety”, and in turn give the government more scope to intervene in the name of security.
While that in itself is not unique to Indonesia, the relative newness of the country’s democracy creates pressure. Nugroho says:
[In Indonesia] everyone is still euphoric about being able to speak out, to criticise, or comment. Everyone talks, but it doesn’t mean they are ready for criticism. Everyone closes their ears. They want their own version of truth. We minimise research and data, and express our ego and personal opinions.
These teething pains have come to define much of Nugroho’s work and Indonesia’s global reputation in recent years.
This sort of democracy becomes interesting for me to observe, translated in my series of works with masks, although not in an obvious way. My works represent the stories I create which I wish the public can understand in their own ways and connect with what they’ve personally experienced, or with events they know.
Ward Berenschot, « The Political Economy of Clientelism: A Comparative Study of Indonesia’s Patronage Democracy », 19/03/2018, Comparative Political Studies
What kind of economic development curtails clientelistic politics? Most of the literature addressing this relationship focuses narrowly on vote buying, resulting in theories that emphasize the importance of declining poverty rates and a growing middle class. This article employs a combination of ethnographic fieldwork and an expert survey to engage in a first-ever, more comprehensive comparative study of within-country variation of clientelistic politics. I find a pattern that poorly matches these dominant theories: Clientelism is perceived to be less intense in rural, poverty-prone Java, while scores are high in relatively wealthy yet state-dependent provincial capitals. On the basis of these findings, I develop an alternative perspective on the relationship between economic development and clientelism. Emphasizing the importance of societal constraints, I argue that the concentration of control over economic activities fosters clientelism because it stifles the public sphere and inhibits effective scrutiny and disciplining of politico-business elites.
Podcast Malaysian’dreamings: Islamist politics and political survival in Malaysia with Clive Kessler and Norani Othman, Sidney Southeast Asia Center
The rise of using Islam for political survival in Malaysia as its ruling party and leadership are mired in a multi-billion dollar global corruption scandal. And how the long-term agenda of the Islamist Pas party crashes into the secular founding of Malaysia, and the threats to the Federal Constitution and the future of the nation. Speakers, in order, are: Professor Clive Kessler, emeritus UNSW; and Professor Norani Othman, emeritus UKM and co-founder Sisters in Islam. Introduced by Dr Lis Kramer, moderated by Kean Wong. Hosted by Sydney University’s SouthEast Asia Research Centre, and globalbersih.org.
ANU Indonesia Project Blog : Indonesia Update 2017 : Globalisation, Nationalism and Sovereignty, 15-16/09/2017, The Australian National University
Today, globalisation is more complex than ever. The effects of the global financial crisis and increased inequality have, in many countries, spurred anti-global sentiment and encouraged the adoption of populist and inward-looking policies. Discontent has manifested in some surprising results: Brexit, Trump, and possibly more to come. In Indonesia, it has led to rising protectionism, a rejection of foreign interference in the name of nationalism, and economic policies dominated by calls for self-sufficiency. Meanwhile, human trafficking and the abuse of migrant workers have shown the other side of globalisation.
Againts this background the ANU Indonesia Project held its 35th Indonesia Update conference on 15 and 16 September in Canberra. As usual, the coference kicked off with the updates on politic and economic development. Then centered on the theme “Indonesia in the New World: Globalisation, Nationalism and Sovereignty”, fourteen papers were presented to the audience of more than 500 during the one-and-half-day event. The topics included the historical dynamics of Indonesia’s engagement with the global world, its stance in the South China Sea, and the emergence of new nationalism. Speakers also examined nationalism in practice (for example, food sovereignty and resource nationalism) and the impact of and response to globalisation, as well as poverty, inequality, and gender issues.
Following the Canberra conference, we held two “Mini Indonesia Updates” on 18 September, in Sydney (in collaboration with the Lowy Institute) and in Adelaide (in collaboration with the University of Adelaide’s Institute for International Trade).
The papers presented in the conference will be published in the Indonesia Update book series and will be launched next year, in collaboration with the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS)/ Yusof Ishak Institute, Singapore.
Vous trouverez sur cette page les vidéos des conférences suivantes :
Political Update : Indonesia’s year of democratic setback: toward a new era of deepening illiberalism? by Vedi Hadiz (University of Melbourne)
Economic Update : Effectivity of policy reform in democracy and regional autonomy regime by Raden Pardede (CReco Consulting)
Globalisation, nationalism and sovereignty: the Indonesian experience by Anthony Reid (ANU), Edward Aspinall (ANU), Shafiah Muhibat (Nanyang Technological University) with an Overview by Mari Pangestu (Universitas Indonesia)
Nationalism in practice by Jeffrey Neilson (The University of Sydney), Eve Warburton (ANU), Yose Rizal Damuri (Centre for Strategic and International Studies)
Poverty, inequality and gender issues by Arief Anshory Yusuf (Padjadjaran University), Peter Warr (ANU), Janneke Pieters (Wageningen University), Robert Sparrow (Wageningen University)
The human face of globalisation by Anis Hidayah (Migrant CARE), Dominggus Elcid Li (Institute of Resource Governance and Social Change)
Response to globalisation by Manggi Habir (Bank Danamon Indonesia), Titik Anas (Presisi Indonesia)
Concluding remarks: navigating the new globalisation by Hal Hill (ANU), Deasy Pane (ANU), Danny Quah (National University of Singapore)
« Getting out of Thailand’s political cul-de-sac » by Thitinan Pongsudhirak, 06/10/2017, Nikkei Asian Review
For ruling elites, quest for legitimacy could prove a trap of their own making
Thailand has come full circle again. The kingdom’s 12-year pattern of a political juggernaut being elected to office and later abusing power before being ousted by his or her opponents still holds. This time, as determined by the country’s highest court, the outcome is a five-year jail term for former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on charges of negligence over her government’s flawed rice subsidy scheme that ran from Thailand’s last poll in July 2011 until the latest military coup in May 2014.
While this cycle of a popular mandate being overturned by judicial and military maneuvers repeats itself, the persistent conundrum for Thailand is whether those who rule without electoral legitimacy will perform well enough to stay in power — or whether calling the shots from the sidelines will lead to another (and possibly more damaging) round of internal conflict and turmoil.
First, it is instructive to put the Yingluck trial in perspective. Like her eldest brother and former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was re-elected by a landslide in 2005 only to be toppled by a putsch the following year, Yingluck led the Pheu Thai party to a resounding win in parliamentary elections and became the country’s first female head of government. The Shinawatras’ popularity derived from concrete policies that pandered to poorer rungs of society, particularly rural constituencies. When Thaksin had his turn earlier, his platform featured a universal health care that guaranteed treatment for just 30 baht, or about $1 — and a microcredit scheme that bestowed 1 million baht on each of about 77,000 villages. For Yingluck, Thaksin’s inner sanctum on policy contrivance similarly decided on numbers that are easy to remember. Farmers were guaranteed 15,000 baht per ton of rice, undergraduate degree holders 15,000 baht monthly salary, and wage earners 300 baht a day.
These numbers were designed to woo the electorate, and were not based on rationally calculated policy programs with logical and longer-term policy objectives. But whether and how much the rice-pledging led to billions of dollars in fiscal losses — as claimed in the legal charge leveled against Yingluck — is a different matter. Thaksin’s policy bet through the Yingluck premiership was premised on cornering the world rice market by accumulating Thai rice and paying farmers handsomely right away. If the accumulated rice could be sold on world markets with higher prices, then a handsome profit would accrue. If not, corresponding losses would be incurred. As it turned out, Thailand quickly discovered it was no longer the only major rice exporter. The rice-pledging scheme was a profligate gamble and a policy disaster. Its exact losses can only be valued when all the stored rice is sold with proceeds compared with originally purchased prices.
« Is Indonesia sliding towards a ‘Neo-New Order’? » by Tim Lindsey, 04/10/2017, Indonesia at Melbourne
On 16 September, police broke up an academic discussion at the offices of renowned activist NGO the Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation (LBH). The topic was the killings of alleged leftists in 1965 and 1966 in the wake of the failed coup that brought former president Soeharto to power, public discussion of which has often raised the ire of anti-communist mobs.
This event was more significant than it seems at first glance. LBH has always been critical of government and unafraid to address highly controversial issues. Despite this, security forces have never before broken up a meeting at its offices – not even under Soeharto’s authoritarian New Order, when LBH was often the most vocal opposition voice in the country.
The trouble started when protesters gathered outside LBH, claiming the meeting supported communism. They included prominent Islamist ginger groups like the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) and others involved in recent mass rallies against former Jakarta governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama. As is so often the case, the police gave in to the mob. They surrounded LBH, forced their way in and closed the event down.
Discussion of the mass killing or imprisonment in 1965 and 1966 of Indonesians supposedly associated with the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) may still be controversial in Indonesia but it is hardly novel. There have been many similar events in recent years (including at LBH) and even public conferences, some endorsed by the government. Likewise, Joshua Oppenheimer’s dramatic documentary about the killings, “The Act of Killing” has been screened in Indonesia and covered widely in the media. Every Thursday, survivors and supporters protest outside the palace to remind President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) of his broken election promise to resolve past violations of human rights, including the massacres of 1965/6.
In this context, having police break into LBH to halt a private meeting seemed extreme and heavy-handed, so LBH organised an artistic event the next day to protest. The mob gathered again, using social media to spread rumours it was a secret congress of the PKI, and pelted those trying to enter with stones. This time, police held protesters off but activists were trapped inside LBH for hours before being evacuated to the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM).
The idea that communism might be resurgent is ridiculous in a country that doesn’t even have a leftist political party. Although the PKI was violently obliterated in the mid-sixties, and communism is a dead letter globally with has no popular support in Indonesia, it is alive and well as Indonesia’s No. 1 bogeyman. Jokowi helped legitimise this in May, responding to claims that he is from a former PKI family by calling for communism to be “crushed” if it rose again. Communism remains the label of choice to smear progressive opponents, as Islamist groups showed in their highly effective attack on LBH.
Civil society leaders like those at LBH are, in fact, the intellectual engine of the reform movement that delivered democratisation in the years immediately following Soeharto’s fall in 1998. For them, the attacks on LBH are another marker of what they see as Indonesia’s slow slide away from liberal democratic reform, towards what they are now calling the “Neo-New Order”.
The Anniversary of a Massacre and the Death of a Monarch by Tyrell Haberkorn in The Journal of Asian Studies, vol. 76, n° 2 (mai 2017)
As part of this year’s anniversary of the October 6, 1976, massacre at Thammasat University, an outdoor exhibit of photographs of the violence and the three preceding years of student and other social movements was displayed upon the very soccer field in the center of campus where students were beaten, shot, lynched, and murdered forty years prior. Several of the photographs were printed on large sheets of acrylic and positioned such that the images of the buildings in the photographs were aligned with the actual buildings, which remain largely unchanged. The most striking of these was a photograph of hundreds of students stripped to the waist who were lying face down on the soccer field prior to being arrested and taken away. At the edge of the image was the top of the university’s iconic dome building, which lined up with the existing building. The organizers explained that their intention was “to reflect a perspective on the past through the eyes of people in the present in order to show the cruelty of humans to one another.” The proximity generated by the image was underlined by the fact that the fortieth anniversary of the massacre and coup in 1976 that led to twelve years of dictatorship was taking place under yet another dictatorship, that of a military junta calling itself the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), which seized power on May 22, 2014, in the twelfth coup since the end of the absolute monarchy on June 24, 1932. Suchada Chakphisut, founding editor of Sarakadee magazine and Thai Civil Rights and Investigative Journalism, who was a first-year Thammasat student during the massacre, began her autobiographical account of the day, written for the anniversary this year, by writing: “We meet every year when 6 October comes around, and with it an inexplicable sadness always takes hold of my psyche. It has grown even more devastating since the 22 May 2014 coup, in which we must face the news of the arrest and detention of activists and those who oppose dictatorship.” This was not a commemoration after dictatorship such as those of the same era held in Argentina or Chile during recent years of democratization, but memories of dictatorship in situ.
A Lexicon of Repression in Thailand by Tyrell Haberkorn, 14/06/2017, AsiaNow (AAS blog)
In an essay for the May 2017 issue of the Journal of Asian Studies (“The Anniversary of a Massacre and the Death of a Monarch,” currently free to download), I reflect on the fortieth anniversary of the 6 October 1976 massacre, when state and para-state forces brutally murdered unarmed students at Thammasat University in Bangkok. Unresolved questions about the possible role of the institution of the monarchy in the massacre have been a primary factor both ensuring impunity for the perpetrators and constricting public discussion about the massacre. The anniversary events, held under the military regime of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) and marked by calls for recognition of the humanity of those killed, directly challenged the ongoing impunity of the perpetrators of the massacre. One week after the anniversary, Rama IX, Bhumipol Adulyadej, died and the crown prince, Maha Vajiralongkorn, was named his successor as Rama X.
One of the primary features of the NCPO’s regime has been a sharp spike in prosecution of alleged cases of lèse-majesté, the very accusation used to catalyze the 6 October 1976 massacre. Rightists alleged that the students had staged a mock hanging of the crown prince. My JAS essay on the fortieth anniversary ends with what was then an open question about how the use of the accusation of lèse-majesté may or may not change during the reign of Rama X.
As another anniversary passes, the question is now a markedly less open one. On 22 May 2017, the third anniversary of the coup by the NCPO passed in Thailand. After three years of military rule and the naming of Maha Vajiralongkorn as Rama X, there are no signs of a return to democracy or a letup in the use of the accusation of lèse-majesté to quash dissent anytime soon.
The third anniversary of the 22 May 2014 coup by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) passed as the vast majority of nearly 70 million Thais went to work and school as usual and the several million tourists who visit each month continued to flow across the borders into the country. But the veneer of daily life hides the quiet battle taking place between the NCPO and those who want to see a return to democracy. Rather than the streets that figured in previous anniversary protests, the very lexicon used to describe the NCPO’s rule is the new terrain of struggle. The NCPO would like to erase the keyword most central to its existence: “coup.”
Truth and Fiction in the Age of the Strongman: Filipino Writers on Rodrigo Duterte’s Philippines, 05/06/2017, SOAS
Miguel Syjuco & Candy Gourlay
This panel discussion looks at the interconnections between Philippine Fiction Writing and Journalism in the time of “tokhang,” schizophrenic populism and Duterte’s unique brand of nationalism. Filipino writers in the diaspora will seek to interrogate the ideas of Post-modernist knowledge construction and its end-games, activism and protest in a post-truth world and the role of fiction in a democracy.
Miguel Syjuco’s debut novel, Ilustrado (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010), won the Carlos Palanca Memorial Award for Literature, the Filipino Readers’ Choice Award, the Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction, and the Man Asian Literary Prize and has been translated into more than 10 languages. Miguel, who earned a PhD in literature from the University of Adelaide, was a writing fellow at the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard in 2013 and is currently a visiting professor in the Literature and Creative Writing department at New York University, Abu Dhabi. He is the literary editor of the Manila Review, a member of the Folio Prize Academy and regularly writes for the New York Times International.
Candy Gourlay is a Filipino author based in the United Kingdom. Her debut novel Tall Story (2010) won the National Children’s Book Award of the Philippines in 2012 and the Crystal Kite Award for Europe in 2011. Tall Story was shortlisted for 13 prizes, notably: the Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize and the Branford Boase Award. Her second novel Shine (2013) was long-listed for the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize. It won the Crystal Kite Award for the British Isles and Ireland in 2014. Candy was born and raised in the Philippines. From 1984 to 1989, she worked as a journalist in the Philippines, notably as a staff-writer and later associate editor of the weekly opposition tabloid Mr & Ms Special Edition, which played a significant role in the overthrow of the 21 year regime of Filipino dictator Ferdinand Marcos
Professionals and Soldiers: Measuring Professionalism in the Thai Military by Punchada Sirivunnabood (Mahidol University, Nakhorn Phatom, Thailand), Jacob Isaac Ricks (Singapore Management University, Singapore), Pacific Affaires, vol. 89, n° 1, March 2016
Thailand’s military has recently reclaimed its role as the central pillar of Thai politics. This raises an enduring question in civil-military relations: why do people with guns choose to obey those without guns? One of the most prominent theories in both academic and policy circles is Samuel Huntington’s argument that professional militaries do not become involved in politics. We engage this premise in the Thai context. Utilizing data from a new and unique survey of 569 Thai military officers as well as results from focus groups and interviews with military officers, we evaluate the attitudes of Thai servicemen and develop a test of Huntington’s hypothesis. We demonstrate that increasing levels of professionalism are generally poor predictors as to whether or not a Thai military officer prefers an apolitical military. Indeed, our research suggests that higher levels of professionalism as described by Huntington may run counter to civilian control of the military. These findings provide a number of contributions. First, the survey allows us to operationalize and measure professionalism at the individual level. Second, using these measures we are able to empirically test Huntington’s hypothesis that more professional soldiers should prefer to remain apolitical. Finally, we provide an uncommon glimpse at the opinions of Thai military officers regarding military interventions, adding to the relatively sparse body of literature on factors internal to the Thai military which push officers toward politics.
Why Are Gender Reforms Adopted in Singapore? Party Pragmatism and Electoral Incentives by Netina Tan (McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada), Pacific Affairs, vol. 89, n° 1, March 2016
In Singapore, the percentage of elected female politicians rose from 3.8 percent in 1984 to 22.5 percent after the 2015 general election. After years of exclusion, why were gender reforms adopted and how did they lead to more women in political office? Unlike South Korea and Taiwan, this paper shows that in Singapore party pragmatism rather than international diffusion of gender equality norms, feminist lobbying, or rival party pressures drove gender reforms. It is argued that the ruling People’s Action Party’s (PAP) strategic and electoral calculations to maintain hegemonic rule drove its policy u-turn to nominate an average of about 17.6 percent female candidates in the last three elections. Similar to the PAP’s bid to capture women voters in the 1959 elections, it had to alter its patriarchal, conservative image to appeal to the younger, progressive electorate in the 2000s. Additionally, Singapore’s electoral system that includes multi-member constituencies based on plurality party bloc vote rule also makes it easier to include women and diversify the party slate. But despite the strategic and electoral incentives, a gender gap remains. Drawing from a range of public opinion data, this paper explains why traditional gender stereotypes, biased social norms, and unequal family responsibilities may hold women back from full political participation.