“International Relations” has not published a special issue on Southeast Asia for more than half a century since the publication of Vol. 16 in 1961. Even if we take a shorter period and count the years since the publication of Vol. 84, sub-titled “Southeast Asia”, more than 30 years have elapsed with no publication on Southeast Asia. Such a long interval does not, however, necessarily denote the insignificance of this region.
This Introduction has 3 purposes: 1) to give an overview of changes in Southeast Asian countries since the end of the Cold War, 2) to identify recent research trends in the light of important research results, and 3) to summarize each article in this special issue.
Since the end of the Cold War, Southeast Asia has faced various challenges, such as globalization,regionalization (ASEAN integration), democratization and anti-democratization, terrorism, and so forth. In this region, domestic politics and foreign policies are closely inter-related. On the one hand, the international environment acts as a constraint on domestic politics, and on the other hand, foreign policy should be considered as an extension of domestic politics.
Political, economic and social transformations in Southeast Asian countries since the end of the Cold War are summarized by each country. The countries are divided into 4 groups: 1) countries with experience of democratization (Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand); 2) countries with experience of authoritarian regimes (Malaysia and Singapore); 3) countries that have suffered from civil war or control by a military regime (East Timor, Cambodia, and Myanmar); and 4) one-party Socialist countries (Vietnam and Laos).
Factors such as increased urbanization, the popularization of higher education and change in industrial structure are likely to result in different political outcomes in each country depending on its domestic political regime. Various problems facing Southeast Asian countries can be divided into the following: political transformation and democratization, political parties and elections, decentralization, local governance and political stability, integration and secession. New issues include peace-building,responsibility to protect, non-traditional security, and trans-border migration. Important research results are also referred to.
Finally, summaries of the six articles on Southeast Asia published in this special issue are listed in the order of the issues mentioned above.
While quantitative research continues to be important in Southeast Asian Studies, an Area Studies approach is still relevant for research on politics and international relations in Southeast Asia
I would like to consider conflict resolution and peacebuilding in Southeast Asia and its boundary areas. Specifically, I would like to take up two cases regarding the conflicts of Southern Thailand and Mindanao in the Philippines. The Southern Thailand Conflict is an ongoing conflicts in these areas. The international society became aware of this conflict since the 2004 incidents. On the other hand, the Mindanao conflict reached a peace agreement in March 2014 between the Philippine government and Moro-Islamic Liberation Front; MILF is one of the armed forces against government.
First of all, in this paper I confirmed the historical background of both conflicts, from the Islamic kingdom before western colonialism and the nation-state building after independence. There are several common characteristics and different aspects between them. The Muslim population in both conflict areas is around 5%. Therefore, both governments sometimes enforced Muslims to obey their national identity but not ethnic identity from a economical and socio-political point of view. On the hand, the Islamic armed forces in both areas are more or less against the government policies based on assimilation of education, customs, and law. I analyzed them in different approaches and in several points.
I also considered the role of outside mediating actors. Especially, I focused on Islamic Malaysia as an ASEAN member and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation; (OIC). In addition, I paid attention to bad socio-economic aspects of both areas. I examined them from the indicators on Human Development Index; (HDI) using the Human Development Report in Thailand and the Human Development Report in the Philippines. I could observe the lowest levels of education, employment, and income of all provinces in Thai and the Philippines.
In conclusion, I would like to point out several factors for conflict resolutions and peacebuilding. Firstly, I suggest the role of third party mediators, especially Islamic actors like Malaysia, Indonesia, and Islamic organizations because Islamic or ethnic identity is very important for conflict parties in terms of reconciliation. Secondly, they seem to ask for special autonomy but not separation or independence of a nation-state like Aceh in Indonesia. Finally, people in both areas keep a peaceful daily life and they ask for true justice and equality on the political participation as well as socio-economic positions. Ultimately, both governments have to secure the human rights of people in conflict areas without marginalization and discrimination.
The year 2015 will be remembered by Singaporeans for its grand celebration of the nation’s 50th year of independence, as well as the demise of founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. It was also the year the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) recaptured its electoral domination in Singapore’s 12th general election,which saw the PAP receiving a popular vote of 69.9%. In the 2011 general election, it received only 60.1% of the popular vote, the lowest since the nation’s independence. This paper analyses the unexpected results of the 2015 election and considers its impact on the authoritarian political regime.
Several reasons can be attributed to the improved showing of the PAP: (1) the PAP’s adaptability in the forms of pragmatic policy shifts including policy responses to xenophobic sentiments among citizens and the integration of foreigners, and attempts to increase the healthcare budget, (2) municipal concerns in relation to the alleged mismanagement of a town council run by the Workers’ Party (the biggest opposition party which won 6 seats in the 2011 election and won the by-election in 2013), (3) the “SG50 effect”—Singapore’s year-long celebration of her 50th year of independence and the “Lee Luan Yew effect”—the mass mourning and subsequently yearning for the late Mr. Lee Kuan Yew’s memory, (4) the PAP’s better, effective and well financed use of social media, and (5) international factors such as the economic downturn in China and political instability in Thailand and Malaysia. These factors must have pushed Singaporeans to turn back to the safety of the only party they had known.
The 2015 general election shows that the PAP’s dominance and its authoritarian governance remain very much entrenched. For the foreseeable future, general elections will not be about replacing the PAP as the ruling party but more of a national referendum about the PAP’s performance. Still the PAP government has to tackle several issues it has neglected or avoided for long time. These include improving the economic and social conditions of the Malay community in Singapore and re-examining the government’s top-down manufactured ethnic identity (CMIO classification) precisely because many citizens have started to display hints of a popular nationalism and discuss how to forge their own sense of identity and nationalism. The government also needs to pay more attention to greater desire for freedom of expression while it has to find the right balance in managing the internet in recent years. It will endeavor to allow a relatively free flow of ideas while still censoring contents that it sees as a threat to the government.
This paper argues that the Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand, Buddhist Era 2540 (1997 Constitution) required nationalization of party and catchall party, and that Thaksin Shinawatra (Thaksin) and his Thai Rak Thai (TRT) party won the majority in the 2001 and 2005 elections because he could succeeded in making the TRT catchall party. The nationalization of party and catchall party nationalized Thai politics which replaced the previously atomized political space in Thailand.
Thai politics have become unstable and authoritarian since the 2001 election. Mass politics have emerged and linked to elite politics, which previously were separate from the masses including farmers. However, most studies on the 1997 Constitution and Thaksin politics have focused on the ways that the 1997 Constitution helped Thaksin and the TRT win the elections, which allowed them to challenge the traditional political powers. Focusing on elite politics is necessary, but it is not sufficient to explain current Thai politics, which have essentially changed in response to mass participation in national politics. Before the 2001 election, the electorate was atomized regarding candidates or a district’s Puak (informal political groups) through patron-client relations and influence peddling. Elections were limited to individual candidates, and the brands of political parties and their platforms were not important to election campaigns. Therefore, the electorate was not engaged in national politics even when it was highly aware of those politics because the political structure was a fragmented political space.
The 1997 Constitution established a system for elections in single-member districts, a party list system, and a powerful prime minister. The new institutional changes required the nationalization of party and, which, in turn, provided strong incentives to implement social policies that spread benefits throughout the country. TRT was able to respond to the changes using Puak politics, social policies, and image-oriented election campaigns to win the national majorities. However, TRT did not build a strong national-level party organization because Thai society lacks strong mid-level groups connecting the electorate to political parties, such as labor unions, agricultural cooperatives, and civic groups.
As a result of the nationalization of party and advent of social policies, the farmers, large part of electorate, began to demand political citizenship and social citizenship, which promoted the nationalization of political space. The middle class, as part of the masses, and the elite, such as the junta, the bureaucrats, and the monarchy, oppose the nationalization of politics because they feel it challenge their interests.
Malaysia used to be categorized as one of the “High Performing Asian Economies” for its track record of high economic growth and macro-economic stability, among others. However, recent debates on the Malaysian economy point to slowing growth, being caught in a middle-income trap, persisting income inequality, budget deficit, and increasing government debt after the Asian Financial Crisis. To overcome these problems, the Malaysian government launched an economic-fiscal-distributive reform package called the New Economic Model (NEM) in 2010. However, the implementation of the NEM has been faced with a series of compromises and deadlocks. This is surprising given the prior characterization of Malaysia as a “strong state.”
This paper aims to reveal the weakness of the state of Malaysia by shedding light on the persisting budget deficit. Based on federal budget documents, the paper argues that the expanding public expenditure is attributed to the increase in the following: (i) redistributive programs, such as subsidy for gas and oil and cash transfers to the lower-income group as a means to earn electoral support; and (ii) particularistic distributive programs that are often allocated by the Prime Minister, benefit Bumiputera businesses and cronies of the dominant governing party, the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), and consolidate the intra-party power basis. In addition, the Government’s failure to strengthen the revenue base given the fear of losing votes can be regarded as another driver of the persisting fiscal deficit.
In spite of the NEM’s target of a balanced budget by 2020, the Malaysian government has been failing to implement fiscal reforms. The paper argues that this is a result of the lack of autonomy of the Prime Minister vis-a-vis the voters and the intra-party constituency. Malaysia’s leadership has been increasingly sensitive to the demands of its broad and internal constituents owing to increasing electoral competition since the Asian Financial Crisis, glaringly manifested in the 1999, 2008 and the 2013 General Elections. Such a weak state is a historical by-product of a strong state in the 1990s that marginalized intra-UMNO opposition and laborers in order to implement development policies, and eventually brought about a face-off between the governing party that keeps cohesion through distribution of rents, on one hand, and opposition that expanded its support by exploiting the issues of lack of transparency, freedom and equality, on the other.
To regain fiscal balance, the Malaysian government is faced with a dilemma. Decreasing budgetary allocation for the lower income group or the intra-UMNO interests will further weaken the government. Likewise, tax raise will turn away voters who are skeptical about the way their money is used. While the promise of fiscal accountability may persuade some of the skeptical taxpayers, vested interest groups would continue to resist such moves.
Regarding viewpoints on threat perception and civil-military relations, theoretical analyses have generally concluded that under a high internal threat, civil-military relations are unstable and that a high external threat and low internal threat brings about stable civil-military relations. However, Indonesia’s experiences do not support these analyses. During the war of independence era, under the high external security environment, Indonesia’s civil-military relations were unstable because of the disagreements between the government and military concerning negotiations and the guerrilla warfare against the Netherlands. During the Suharto regime, high internal threats caused stable civil-military relations because the threat perception of the military coincided with that of the government.
This paper hypothesizes that it is not external threats and internal threats that influence the stability of civil-military relations but whether or not the government and military share the same point-of-view on threat perception. I will prove this hypothesis by analyzing the threat perception of the government and military in Indonesia during the democratization era.
After the decline of the Suharto regime, the military officers resigned from political and administrative posts and abolished business activities during the democratization process. The government and military met with domestic threats (e.g., separatist movements, terrorism, and communal violence). While the government tried to solve separatist movements peacefully, the military urged the government to suppress them forcefully. As a result, the difference in the threat perception between the government and military deteriorated the civil-military relations.
However, domestic threats almost ended by 2005, and Indonesia began to deal with external threats. One of them was a territorial dispute with Malaysia. In 2002, Indonesia lost two small islands near the border of Malaysia based on the decision of a judge from the International Court of Justice. After the court decision, Malaysia attempted to expand its claim over the oil-rich sea area, which included the Ambalat block near the islands. The Indonesian government as well as many Indonesian citizens resented the expansion and began to view Malaysia’s territorial claim as an external threat. The military also shifted their threat perception focus from domestic conflicts to the defense and management of the border areas. Another external threat that Indonesia has had to deal with is the territorial conflict over the South China Sea. Since 2008, Chinese fishing boats have often entered the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of Indonesia around the Natuna Islands in the South China Sea; in 2010, Chinese military ships threatened Indonesian patrol ships that had captured Chinese fishing boats and ordered the Indonesian patrol ships to release the fishing boats.
In the latter half of the 2000s, the government and military came to share viewpoints on and perceptions of the external threat to Indonesia’s territorial integrity concerning the territorial dispute with Malaysia and the South China Sea conflict. This contributed to an increase in the military budget and stabilized the civil-military relations in Indonesia.
This paper examines the development of judicial system building in post-1999 East Timor. Central to the following discussion is an examination of the frictions, overlaps, and interactions between the newly introduced system and locally-maintained laws and social orders. When the judicial system building process commenced, security in local communities was largely maintained by local ‘traditional’ leaders, and conflicts were solved primarily through local conflict resolution mechanisms. Was the local social orders taken into account in the process of judicial system building? If so, how? And how did the local population, living within local social orders, respond to a judicial system built under international intervention?
The discussion commences by critically examining the conventional approach to understanding liberal peace-building and state-building. The mainstream literature of international peace-building and statebuilding has often regarded Western democracies as a normative goal of governance, assuming that the construction of liberal-democratic state institutions would, inherently, bring peace and stability to conflict-ridden societies. Such literature tends to overlook the locally-grown ‘traditional’ forms of law,and, moreover, regards the local society and its population as passive objects of the liberal peace-building rather than active participants in the process. Consequently, these conventional approaches tend to fail to appropriately grasp the nature of contemporary state-institution building.
Taking local actors and their legal culture seriously, the subsequent sections of this paper examine the development of legal order in post-1999 East Timor. First, the formation of local social orders in Timor-Leste are placed in a historical context that highlights how encounters with external forces, such as Portugal and Indonesia, have resulted in a state of legal pluralism, where a variety of ‘traditional’ and ‘modern’ laws coexisted in one society. Attention then turns to the judicial system building in post-1999 East Timor. Led and supported by international actors, state-builders tended to focus on ‘modern’ institution building, while overlooking legal plurality, or dismissing the local legal system in East Timor. At first this modern legal system faced difficulties engaging with the local population; the formal courts were rarely used for the purpose of conflict resolution because people continued to rely on local community mechanisms to solve their day-to-day problems. However, in recent years efforts to provide access to justice—such as legal support and financial assistance—have increased interaction between the formal judicial system and the local population. As such, local law and order practices are now in a dialogue with the new institutions, and a process of constructing and reconstructing local legal orders is underway.
U.S. nuclear cooperation policy has been based on programmatic prior consent that allows reprocessing of U.S.-origin spent fuel and use of plutonium only if a country has advanced peaceful nuclear program and poses no proliferation risks. This policy has facilitated cooperation among Western countries by balancing nuclear nonproliferation and peaceful use of nuclear energy. Until President Reagan adopted the policy as NSDD39 in 1982, however, Western countries experienced rough 4 years since the previous Carter administration insisted on ceasing all peaceful use of plutonium for the sake of nuclear nonproliferation. This article focused on how U.S. allies successfully pulled Washington back to more cooperative nuclear policy during those 4 years. At first, when President Carter proposed to halt peaceful use of plutonium, other industrialized countries opposed to such dramatic policy change and pointed out the need of reprocessing spent fuel, recovering plutonium, and reusing it as nuclear fuel. As U.S. officials failed to persuade its allies through bilateral talks and international experts meeting called International Nuclear Fuel Cycle Evaluation, they started to reconsider its policy during the second half of 1978. At that time, while Western European countries deny any negotiation with Washington since they can continue their nuclear energy programs without U.S. consent, Tokyo sought cooperation with Washington on this issue. The reason was the Japan-U.S. nuclear cooperation agreement that admitted U.S. veto over the use of plutonium extracted from U.S.-origin nuclear material in Japan. Thus, in response to more cooperative policy proposed by Washington on December 1978, Tokyo proposed a counter offer that would harmonize nuclear policies of both countries and give programmatic prior consent to Japan. Ambassador Gerald Smith, the czar of nuclear issues in Carter administration, welcomed Japanese proposal as leverage to gain support from Western allies. He insisted that the United States should agree with Japanese on tougher nuclear export regulations and limited use of plutonium in Japan, then reach a consensus with Europeans based on U.S.-Japanese agreement, and finally negotiate with emerging nuclear countries in the Third world. Although staffers in the Carter White House blocked such policy change, President Reagan defeated Carter in the presidential election of 1980 and adopted this idea in 1982. This policy enables successive U.S. administrations to tighten nuclear export regulations by admitting plutonium utilization in its closest allies. As a result, after 4 years of confrontation, Japan and Western European countries secured support from Washington regarding their peaceful use of plutonium by cooperation and opposition respectively. This paper shows that narrow-minded U.S. nuclear cooperation policy was not only a serious problem but a chance for Western allies to participate in reconstructing future international nuclear cooperation.
This paper aims to deal with the issue of how to limit abuses of power in global politics where there exists no global centralized accountability mechanism. In order to explore recent developments in pragmatic plural accountability mechanisms in global politics, this article examines the demand for accountability of the United Nations Security Council (hereafter, the Council) and its related reform initiatives.
It attempts to identify the historical transformation of sub-concepts of accountability demanded of the Council through its reform initiatives. In doing so, it will focus on the following two aspects: One is the transformation of actors involved who have demanded accountability of the Council, and the other is the transition of pragmatic plural accountability mechanisms envisaged by each actor to limit abuses of power by the Council.
The findings of this article are centered on the following three: Firstly, in the theoretical arena, in addition to the seven accountability mechanisms proposed by Robert O. Keohane and Ruth W. Grant in 2005, this article identifies three new pragmatic accountability mechanisms. These operate respectively to limit abuses of power by the Council, that is to say, a “procedural mechanism,” a “troop contributing mechanism,”and a “transparency mechanism.” Secondly, as far as the delegation model of accountability is concerned, no signs of improvement in accountability have been seen through the supervisory mechanism, although it is the most traditional and mainstream, since 1965 despite repeated reform challenges. On the other hand, in the delegation model of accountability, more innovative approaches such as the procedural mechanism and the troop contributing mechanism have succeeded in contributing to improving accountability since the 1990s. Thirdly, as it concerns the participation model of accountability, introduction of Arria Formula briefing was epoch-making from the point of view of establishing a relationship between the Council and civil society actors (to be classified as the public reputation mechanism). Such relationship has been further tightened by the efforts made by think tanks and NGOs active in disclosing information on Council activities to the wider public (to be named the transparency mechanism). It was even accelerated by a number of lawsuits claiming the unlawfulness of the targeted sanctions related to the 1267 sanction regime (called the law mechanism).
The author acknowledges that the demand for accountability of the Council is more and more not confined to the composition of the membership of the Council but rather extends to the construction of pragmatic plural accountability mechanisms. This quest is not only identified in the participation model but also even in the delegation model of accountability of the Council.