Since 1970, as a consequence of Malaysia’s New Economic Policy (NEP) and its integration into the global economy, the development achievements and per capita GDP growth of the resource-rich state of Sarawak have been impressive—although not without problems. Since timber and petroleum resources are exhaustible, and there is a concern with finding new sources of growth and revenue, the federal and state governments advocated industrial diversification in 2008 via the development of a multibillion-ringgit regional development corridor called the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE). Central to the success of the huge developmental corridor was cheap hydroelectric power (HEP). For the Sarawak government, SCORE’s launch and eventual success were based on the availability of abundant water resources and suitable hydropower dam sites in the state. Yet, SCORE is likely to contribute to further environmental degradation and impact negatively upon the livelihoods and welfare of local communities. This paper examines this recent development trend and its consequences. Specifically, it examines the role of the Sarawak state government in advocating the construction of numerous HEP dams, the role of foreign and local investment in SCORE, and their collective impact upon the environment and local communities. What this paper reveals is the nexus of close relationships that binds key politicians in the state administration with crony businesses associated with foreign-linked contracts that has proven to be destructive socially and environmentally.
Resource-rich Indonesia has been promoting massive infrastructure development projects involving billions of dollars in the aftermath of the Seoharto era. One area of intense focus is in Kalimantan which required infrastructure development for extractive industries, particularly coal. Since the early 2000s, the central and local governments as well as foreign companies have been interested in embarking on the first-ever railway construction projects for transportation of coal in Kalimantan. However, the projects have experienced several setbacks including changes to its original plans and delays to approvals. This paper explores the reasons why the local development projects could not progress smoothly from a political viewpoint. It argues that Indonesia’s democratization and decentralization have brought about unremitting struggles over power and resources among local political elites. Sometimes national politicians and even foreign investors are embroiled in the struggles of the local leaders when venturing into such development projects. The coal railway projects in Kalimantan highlight how local government leaders deal with the central government and foreign investors in their attempt to secure their position politically and financially in the venture, which would give them an edge over their rivals. This paper reveals the strategy of local power players who project themselves as defenders of local communities and the environment although a gap exists between their rhetorics and the realities on the ground in Kalimantan.
A rare earth elements (REE) extraction plant was built and began operating in Gebeng, Malaysia (near the city of Kuantan), from early December 2012. This plant, slated to be the world’s largest when it operates at full capacity, is very controversial in Malaysia. Various factors appear to have influenced the setting up of this foreign-owned REE extraction plant, although the source of its raw material is thousands of kilometers away in the desert of Western Australia. This article examines and discusses the reasons why the Malaysian authorities approved the highly controversial project despite the fear of the local community that it would have significant negative impacts on the environment and the health of the public, and despite major protests (some of which were nationwide) against the project. The decision by the Malaysian authorities to approve it was probably due to factors such as the importance of rare earth metals in high-technology production; geopolitical considerations, with China dominating and supplying most of the market; high rare earth prices because of actions taken by the Chinese authorities; differences in environmental laws and their enforcement between Malaysia and Australia; and poor governance and lack of citizen input into public decision making in Malaysia. This article demonstrates how a seemingly local issue—specifically, strong objection by local residents to an industrial project—is linked to broader issues such as governance, regional and national politics, and the geopolitics of access to critically important mineral resources. It also discusses various ethical issues in relation to the controversial project.
This article offers a brief overview of the problems in representations of the Vietnam War and the Vietnamese people, in Vietnamese, American, and Vietnamese American literatures. Each literary corpus ideologically politicizes collective and individual memory about the war to serve a certain political agenda. Bao Ninh’s The Sorrow of War and Dang Thuy Tram’s Last Night I Dreamed of Peace—two narratives written from the perspective of the Vietnamese victims of the war—which are selected for textual analysis in this article, with an emphasis on traumatic memories and suffering, debunk the myth of the just cause of the war claimed by the United States and decenter the Euro-Americacentric view on trauma and human suffering, thus challenging the common, one-dimensional perceptions about the Vietnamese and the Vietnam war in American cultural politics and memory.
This paper demonstrates how constructivism is applicable to the rationale for the growing trend in international relations. The case to be examined is disaster management cooperation in the Southeast Asian region, although there are now 13 regional organizations around the world implementing concerted regional efforts to respond to and reduce the risk of natural disasters. This paper suggests that national interest is not the sole motive for member states to support this agenda; there are also norms that dictate how states recognize the appropriateness of a behavior. Member states believe that establishing regional disaster management is an appropriate behavior. In an attempt to discuss how the norms for disaster management were adopted in the Southeast Asian region, this paper underlines the importance of international dynamics of norms in the formation of the ASEAN regional disaster management architecture. Ideas travel from one mind to another, and this happens also in international politics. Hence, this paper uses the norm life cycle framework to track the journey of international disaster management norms. The idea of disaster management norms emerged and was promoted by norm entrepreneurs on the international stage, and from there international organizations introduced the idea to the Southeast Asian region.
This article is centered on the life story of a Mien upland leader in Laos and later in the kingdom of Nan that subsequently was made a province of Thailand. The story was recorded in 1972 but primarily describes events during 1870–1930. The aim of this article is to call attention to long-standing networks of highland-lowland relations where social life was unstable but always and persistently inclusive and multi-ethnic. The centrality of interethnic hill-valley networks in this Mien case has numerous parallels in studies of Rmeet, Phunoy, Karen, Khmu, Ta’ang, and others in mainland Southeast Asia and adjacent southern China. The implications of the Mien case support an analytical shift from ethnography to ethnology—from the study of singular ethnic groups that are viewed as somehow separate from one another and from lowland polities, and toward a study of patterns and variations in social networks that transcend ethnic labels and are of considerable historical and analytical importance. The shift toward ethnology brings questions regarding the state/non-state binary that was largely taken for granted in studies of tribal peoples as inherently stateless.