Malaysia, it has been observed, is currently experiencing a "revival" of "Malaykingship" with the growing importance of "proactive and participating constitutionalrulers." In fact, modern Malaysia has since independence been characterized by monarchy—by a multiplicity of Rulers and elaborate royal ceremony and hierarchy—as well as by its "plural society." But the modern monarchs—though they havenever become quite "constitutional Rulers"—cannot be seen as merely "traditional," because the institution of monarchy was transformed in a fundamental way during the British colonial period. Monarchy continues to be an underexamined feature of the Malaysian polity, and when it is discussed there is a tendency to focus on issues of power and to neglect its sociocultural role. One pre-colonial dimension of monarchy that continues to be significant today—though in a manner less psychologically profound than before—is its identity-giving role. The principal concern of this article is to determine—through a process of hermeneutic retrieval—if this role is merely relevant to the Malay community, or does it possess more inclusive possibilities? Are the Rulers of Malaysia essentially "Malay Rulers" or has the institution a nation-building potential that has so far not been fully utilized? The question is important for a country that many see as becoming increasingly divided.
The 2006 return of the body Phạm Công Tắc, one of the founding spirit mediums of Caodaism and its most famous 20th century leader, re-awakened controversies about his life and legacy among Caodaists both in Vietnam and in the diaspora. This paper argues that his most important contribution lay in formulating a utopian project to support the struggle for independence by providing a religiously based repertoire of concepts to imagine national autonomy, and a separate apparatus of power toachieve it. Rather than stressing Tắc's political actions, which have been well documented in earlier studies (Blagov 2001; Bernard Fall 1955; Werner 1976), I focus instead on a reading of his sermons, his séance transcripts and commentaries, histories published both in Vietnam and in the diaspora, and conversations with Caodaists in several countries when the appropriateness of returning his body was being debated.
This paper attempts to identify the major factors associated with some of the failures and successes of integrated watershed management policies and projects with a particular emphasis on the uplands of mainland Southeast Asia. It argues that many policy measures have been misguided by failing to acknowledge the multidimensional facets of sustainable watershed management and putting too much emphasis on command-and-control approaches to resource management and onesize-fits-all conservation models. Attempts to introduce soil and water conservation measures, for instance, have largely failed because they concentrated merely on the technical feasibility and potential ecological effects, while neglecting economic viability and socio-cultural acceptance. The production of agricultural commodities, on the other hand, has mostly been market-driven and often induced boom and bust cycles that compromised the ecological and social dimensions of sustainability. Purely community-based approaches to watershed management, on their part, have often failed to address issues of elite capture and competing interests within and between heterogeneous uplands communities. Drawing on a review of recent experience and on lessons from initiatives in along-term collaborative research program in Thailand (The Uplands Program) aimed at bridging the various dimensions of sustainability in the Southeast Asian uplands, this paper discusses how a socially, institutionally and ecologically sustainable mixof agricultural production, ecosystem services and rural livelihood opportunities can be achieved through incentive-based policies and multi-stakeholder partnerships that attempt to overcome the (perceived) antagonism between conservation and development in upland watersheds of Southeast Asia.
This paper argues that ordinary people often contest rather than submit to the powerful elites to gain material interests and political favoritism. Ordinary people are both shrewd and critical in making judgments and evaluations on politicians as well as the (unequal) relation of powers. Based on fieldwork interviews in the Philippines, this paper identifies the perception of (local) politics from ordinarypeople's point of view in a seemingly mundane political environment. If the political economic imperative of tulong, or help, is decoded to include its social meanings, functions, and cultural connotation, it reveals the Janus-facedness of patron-client ties that allows for a negotiation of power relations between clients and patrons.
Severe acute respiratory syndrome, a previously unknown emerging infectious disease,spread to multiple locations across continents in 2003 without being initially identified as a life-threatening infectious disease. The Republic of Singapore, in Southeast Asia, was one of the countries/areas affected by the global outbreak. With almost no existing procedures on how to deal with an emerging epidemic of such severity and rapid transmission, the country managed to formulate and implement policies to support countermeasures against this infectious disease. The interventions by the Singapore government covered of social and economic issues beyond the scope of public health, and promoted the involvement of governmental bodies and the general public. This example set by Singapore has been well recognized by international communities as the employment of successful containment measures. By scrutinizing public health measures deployed by the country, this paper identifies a political will that was embodied in a total governmental approach toward thee merging infectious disease in 2003; analyzes the origin of governmental intervention in health matters in the Republic; and shows why this country must choose to fiercely fight against health threats.