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|Other titles||Contemporary Southeast Asia (Online), CSEA|
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Publications in this journal
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ABSTRACT: Courts have become an increasing focus for political contestation in Southeast Asia. Yet little is known about the basis of their political power and legitimacy. Drawing on recent scholarship in the field of judicial politics, and presenting a case study of the Philippine Supreme Court after the transition to democracy in 1986, this article explores the conditions under which the Court has exercised its powers in the context of a democratizing state such as the Philippines. More specifically, it will show how strong public support has enabled the Court to exercise its judicial review powers and its authority over contending political actors. In drawing attention to the understudied link between public support and judicial assertiveness, the paper aims to advance existing scholarship by going beyond existing indicators of judicial independence and to provide new insights into the dynamics of evolving constitutional practice in the region through the interaction of the courts with the public.Contemporary Southeast Asia A Journal of International and Strategic Affairs 01/2014; 36(1):128-158. DOI:10.1355/cs36-1f
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ABSTRACT: How do you organize a regional grouping in the most diverse region of the world? This question has bedeviled Southeast Asian leaders since the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was established in 1967. It has often been said that regionalism requires shared values to facilitate cooperation and to reduce the misunderstandings that frequently arise from cultural and political differences. Unlike Europe, which shares a common Christian foundation of sorts, Southeast Asia has had no similar sense of common bonding. It was understood not as a region but a crossroads for Indian, Chinese, Muslim and Western civilizations. The idea of Southeast Asia as a region is of recent origin and its general acceptance was a product of regionalism, ASEAN and its predecessor, the Association of Southeast Asia. Nevertheless, despite the lack of cultural and political commonalities, ASEAN not only managed to survive but to expand, both in terms of membership and function, to the point where it became a model for similar enterprises in other regions. ASEAN has succeeded because of the common bonds that were created between the political elites of member states, and in particular their foreign ministries. Leaders would work together in the “ASEAN way” according to which decisions were made by consensus avoiding any interference in each other’s domestic affairs. They played golf to get to know each other and sang karaoke in carefully managed events to promote personal ties. They demonstrated that regionalism in Southeast Asia could work in a culturally dissimilar context, unlike Europe. Constructivists would claim that norms of cooperation were established between the political elites, strengthening regional cooperation and overcoming the barriers created by political and cultural diversity. Constructivists understand ASEAN as a grand norm building project in which declarations are made by the leaders which stimulate cooperative behaviour and promote the region’s steady integration. Realists, however, cringe at what they regard as ASEAN rhetoric and critically examine the empirical record to assess its success or otherwise. Christopher Roberts’ detailed study of ASEAN is the latest in a long line of works on the topic that include Arnfinn Jorgensen-Dahl (1982), Michael Leifer (1989) and Shaun Narine (2002). In the first part of the book Roberts strongly reflects the exuberance of the Constructivists and their buoyant enthusiasm for the ASEAN norm building project. In the second part Roberts takes on the role of a Realist as he identifies the great gap between declaration and performance. Roberts utilizes two related concepts to trace ASEAN’s recent development and to assess its performance. One is Karl Deutsch’s idea of a “security community” which emerges as a major theme in his work. The notion was adopted by Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry when it proposed an ASEAN “security community” and was incorporated in the Bali Concorde II Declaration of 2003. This declaration set the goal of an “ASEAN community” which would be composed of economic, socio-cultural and security communities. The deadline was 2020, but later it was brought forward to 2015 in the hope that a shortened timeframe would stimulate greater efforts. According to Roberts, a security community is created when political, economic and security cooperation reaches a very high level where there are “dependable expectations of peaceful change” (p. 32). The second concept is “complex integration” which is understood as a high level of political, economic and cultural integration. The two concepts are interchangeable as one can be understood in terms of the other; complex integration is achieved when a security community is created. After this Constructivist/Liberal Institutionalist beginning, Roberts examines ASEAN’s performance utilizing the results of extensive fieldwork — he conducted 150 interviews and two surveys with 919 respondents. When Roberts tests ASEAN in this way he finds it “high in ambition and low in performance” (p. 101). One major problem with ASEAN, as explained in chapter five, is the authoritarian-democratic divide in ASEAN which widened with the democratization of Indonesia after 1998. Democracies such as Indonesia and the Philippines lined up against authoritarian members, such as Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia in pressing for participatory regionalism, and the involvement of civil society in the drafting of the ASEAN Charter. The ASEAN Charter was accepted at the 13th...Contemporary Southeast Asia A Journal of International and Strategic Affairs 01/2014; 36(1):162-164.
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ABSTRACT: One key component of modern constitutions is the representative system. The often-contested codification of this system over time in democratizing political orders depends on a number of factors, such as the existing institutional setting, the power relations of important political actors, and the ideational resources, or political culture, available to the constitution drafters. This article examines the ideational resources drawn on by the members of Thailand’s 2007 Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) in debating and deciding the shape of the National Assembly’s upper house, the Senate. This is mainly done by analysing the word-by-word minutes of their meetings. The respective processes of the 1997 CDC are described more briefly in order to provide background on an area of constitutional contestation that found its latest expression in November 2013, when the Constitutional Court invalidated the National Assembly’s constitutional amendment, which would have reintroduced a fully elected Senate. The article contextualizes these developments by reference to mass protests against the “Thaksin regime” that had been organized since November 2013 by the so-called People’s Democratic Reform Council (PDRC).Contemporary Southeast Asia A Journal of International and Strategic Affairs 01/2014; 36(1):51-76. DOI:10.1355/cs36-1c
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ABSTRACT: This article analyses eleven cases of constitution-making in eight Southeast Asian countries since 1986. It investigates design choices and actors’ interests, the link between the form of the political regime and the extent to which process designs matter for the legitimacy of the constitutional orders in the region. In doing so, the article demonstrates that the link between the form of the political regime and the extent to which constitution-making is inclusive or participatory is less clear-cut. While we would expect better opportunities for public participation and broader inclusion of extra-parliamentary actors in constitution-making in democratic environments, the empirical evidence is mixed. If and how this matters for public support for a constitution and the social acceptance for the constitutional order is not clear. In fact, the Southeast Asian experience seems to indicate that procedural legitimacy is less relevant for the acceptance of a constitution than the legitimacy that derives from the “day-to-day plebiscite” by citizens and elites.Contemporary Southeast Asia A Journal of International and Strategic Affairs 01/2014; 36(1):23-50. DOI:10.1355/cs36-1b
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ABSTRACT: The seemingly intractable disputes in the South China Sea have become something of a modern day Gordian Knot which cannot, it seems, be untangled without a game changer or the swing of a sword, metaphorically speaking. The complexity of the disputes can be attributed to a number of factors: multiple (i.e. six) claimants; competing claims to sovereignty of the atolls; rivalries over fisheries and hydrocarbons; China’s economic and military growth; and, increasingly, the interests of external powers such as the United States, Japan and India. While the authors have done a good job of explaining the roles of the central players they could have delved deeper into the nature of the conflict as a backgrounder to the book. Raine and Le Miere focus a lot of attention on the policies and actions of the various players, particularly China (Chapter Two). They make the point that Beijing has to juggle managing domestic problems, wielding its new found economic and military power as well as relations with rival claimants (p. 39). While the authors have painted a generally positive picture of China, its recent actions in the South China Sea such as its continued presence at Scarborough Shoal, increasingly frequent intrusions into Malaysia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) (including the much publicized excursions to James Shoal in 2013 and 2014) and the passage of domestic fisheries laws seem to suggest that, as the authors note, China may have decided that it is the master of its own fate in the South China Sea (p. 97). Notwithstanding China’s rising power, the other claimants either individually or collectively through ASEAN have sought to manage the dispute and prevent it from turning into a full blown conflict. 2002 ASEAN-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DoC) was seen as a major step towards improving conflict management, and despite the perceived failure of that agreement to curtail the destabilizing activities of the claimants one can argue that the full suite of cooperative opportunities offered by the DoC in areas such as marine scientific research and prevention of crime are still largely unexplored. However, the DoC is not the solution to the disputes but merely a tool to better manage them while the claimants work towards a more permanent solution in the form of a Code of Conduct for the South China Sea (CoC). While the CoC has been touted as a possible game changer, negotiations are expected to be protracted given the wide range of contentious issues that need to be addressed as well as differing interests among the various players. The important role of ASEAN in managing the South China Sea disputes cannot be denied. However it is important to recognize the fact that ASEAN is made up of ten members with disparate priorities, policies and levels of development. As the authors rightly point out, there are divisions within ASEAN over the dispute (pp. 113-28) and because ASEAN works on the basis of consensus, in principle the non-claimants have as much say on the South China Sea as the claimants themselves. This situation has allowed Beijing to sway the opinions of non-claimants which are dependent on China for economic and development aid such as Cambodia, thus frustrating ASEAN unity. This suggests there is a need for the four ASEAN claimants (Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam) to form a caucus to work on the issues at hand before bringing it to the wider ASEAN grouping. The divisions within ASEAN has also allowed China to stall discussions on the CoC in favour of “full implementation” of the DoC. Unfortunately, the authors neglect to mention ongoing dispute management efforts at the track two level, such as the long running “Workshop on Managing Potential Conflicts in the South China Sea” which were hosted by Indonesia starting in the early 1990s. The workshops should be praised for their role, at least in its early years, in bringing together the disputing parties and for germinating the idea for a CoC. Herein lies the important role of Indonesia as a non-claimant and a potential honest broker (at that time) of the disputes. However, Indonesia’s position may have...Contemporary Southeast Asia A Journal of International and Strategic Affairs 01/2014; 36(1):159-161.
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ABSTRACT: Raja Mohan’s book is premised on three inter-related assertions: first, the persistence of Sino-Indian rivalry; second, the “spill-over” of their traditionally land-based rivalry into the maritime domain; and third, the emergence of the Indo-Pacific as a new geopolitical space. While there is some validity in each of these assertions, all three are open to some scrutiny. The first — the persistence of Sino-Indian rivalry — is probably the least controversial. Mohan is right to note that “since the emergence of modern independent states in China and India during the middle of the last century … the dynamic between the two nations in Southeast Asia has been a competitive one” (p. 31), though this competitive dynamic has been somewhat tempered by semi-institutional ties, such as the recent conclusion of a Border Defence Cooperation Agreement in October 2013. However, the unresolved territorial dispute between the two countries in Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin remains a thorn in the bilateral relationship, one that has fuelled a climate of mistrust, as demonstrated most recently by tensions in the Depsang Valley of Eastern Ladakh in April 2013. Despite official rhetoric claiming otherwise, there remains a propensity for misunderstanding between both states that is fuelled by limited people-to-people contacts and rising levels of nationalism, which is reflected in jingoistic media reporting in both countries. Mohan notes that “while the political leadership repeatedly affirms that they (China and India) are not a threat to each other and that Asia is large enough to accommodate their aspirations and simultaneous rise, the strategic communities on both sides have nurtured adversarial images of each other” (p. 204). There is also evidence of the second assertion of Mohan’s book that Sino-Indian rivalry has “spilled over” into the maritime domain from being a traditionally continental competition. The maritime domain has emerged as an increasingly important theatre of interaction for both countries amid their emergence as major trading and resource-consuming powers. In China, this growing dependence on imported resources has prompted concerns over a so-called “Malacca Dilemma” while India maintains ambitions to develop, in the words of Admiral Nirmal Verma, the former Chief of Naval Staff of the Indian Navy, “a brand new multi-dimensional Navy” with “reach and sustainability” (Times of India, 21 December 2011). As such, Mohan’s thesis is correct to the extent that it captures both countries’ growing maritime interests and ambitions. However, the idea that growing maritime competition has supplanted their longstanding land-based rivalry may be taking it too far. In both India and China the navy continues to play second-fiddle to the army when it comes to forging military doctrines and strategies. Furthermore, both countries’ growing maritime interests do not automatically translate into rivalry and competition. Mohan asserts that “as New Delhi and Beijing define their maritime approaches in terms of the US Monroe Doctrine, the two would seem bound to step on each other’s toes” (p. 205). To be sure, the naval discourse in both countries increasingly reflects Mahanian thinking — with an emphasis on sea-control and competitive naval diplomacy — thus moving away from a traditionally defensive maritime posture. In China, debates over maritime strategy have moved beyond the first and second “island-chains” and increasingly into the realm of “farsea operations” while New Delhi has declared — in its 2007 India’s Maritime Military Strategy — that its maritime interests extend “from the north of the Arabian Sea to the South China Sea”. Mohan also notes the potential for China and India’s growing maritime interests to move onshore as India counters China’s “string of pearls” with its own so-called “necklace of diamonds” (p. 135). This alludes to both countries’ ambitions to develop a forward naval presence through the development of transhipment hubs along maritime trade routes. However, China and India’s growing naval power projection capabilities need not be a source of mutual insecurity. For instance, humanitarian assistance/disaster relief operations have emerged as a catalyst for India to expand its maritime influence; this includes Indian relief operations following the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami and the cyclone that struck Myanmar in 2008. Similarly, China’s rhetoric of maintaining “harmonious oceans...Contemporary Southeast Asia A Journal of International and Strategic Affairs 01/2014; 36(1):165-167.
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ABSTRACT: On 11 November 2013 the International Court of Justice (ICJ) handed down its verdict concerning the interpretation of its 1962 judgement on the temple of Preah Vihear on the Thai-Cambodian border. The Court ruled that Cambodia’s ownership of the temple entitled it to sovereignty over the promontory of the site, as shown on the map Cambodia bases its border claims on. The ICJ made clear, however, that the judgement concerned the promontory only, and did not affect the boundary line between Thailand and Cambodia. While the ruling allowed both sides to claim at least a partial victory on details of the interpretation, ironically enough, it was Thailand’s deepening political crisis that lessened the danger of a widely feared outbreak of violence along the border. The Guide to the Preah Vihear Conflict is a joint effort by two Thai and one Cambodian scholar to explain the context of the dispute and how conflict might be avoided in the future. In a sense a critique of the political manipulation of Thai and, to a lesser extent Khmer nationalism, the book offers a well-balanced account of the complex relationships between the various stakeholders in the dispute. The compact volume builds on previous work by the authors and is divided into four rather loosely integrated chapters which attempt to unravel the differing historical narratives that dominated the crisis between 2008 and 2011. In addition, the authors offer a set of practical guidelines to manage the simmering conflict. According to the authors, the revival of contested claims to an area of roughly four square kilometers surrounding the Preah Vihear temple was primarily the result of political infighting in Thailand, and specifically, “part of a plot to remove the government of Samak Sundaravej” (p.25). Subsequent developments are interpreted through the lens of domestic power struggles in both Bangkok and Phnom Penh. The first two chapters of the book provide the historical background to the events that culminated in military clashes in early 2011, when fighting spread to two smaller temple complexes located 150 kilometers from Preah Vihear. Regrettably, however, the period between the ICJ’s 1962 ruling and the first decade of the twenty-first century is somewhat sidestepped, and the reader is left wondering how the still rather obscure past of the no-man’s land surrounding the temple fits into the historical account. Nevertheless, the authors do an excellent job of highlighting the inconsistencies in the versions of the temple’s history advanced by both countries. According to the authors, it is surprising that, given the similarities between the two peoples, relations “should be characterized by deep-seated ignorance, misunderstanding, and prejudice” (p.4). It is precisely the many similarities between the two peoples, however, that explain why territorial nationalism and the remembrance of past wars constitute such central elements to their respective national identities and render the ambiguities along the common border as destructive sources of potentially violent conflict. In focusing on nation-building, it is unfortunate that the authors refrain from problematizing the challenges posed by the ongoing project of state-making, to which their description of contemporary events alludes. In 2003 Jean-Marc F. Blanchard coined the term “adolescent state”; that is a state that is yet to find its identity and to consolidate the institutional processes ensuring predictable and prudent, in short adult behaviour. Uneven development and an excessive concern with status and position in foreign policy increase the functional pressures on the borders of the adolescent state. The failure to build societal consensus and extreme fragmentation among the elites, especially in the Thai context, effectively raised the political, economic and emotional value of the Preah Vihear temple. Such a perspective calls in particular for a closer examination of the role played by the Thai military. The claim that it were members of the armed forces that successfully pushed for the militarization of the dispute is alluded to in several passages of the book, yet more could have been done to show the extent to which different actors were able to assert their preferences. The second part of the book reflects on the viability of the different bilateral and multilateral mechanisms the conflicting parties have...Contemporary Southeast Asia A Journal of International and Strategic Affairs 01/2014; 36(1):168-170.
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ABSTRACT: The East Asian region is both complex and unique. As has often been pointed out, one of the salient features of the region is the persistent discrepancy between the progress in de facto and de jure economic integration. Indeed East Asia has long been said to be the champion of loose regional economic integration, with deepening intra-regional trade and investment linkages in the absence of any formal cooperative scheme. At the same time, however, institution-based regional cooperation has been more conspicuous in the security sphere, with the creation of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) as early as 1994. In the environmental realm, regional cooperation is both more recent and far less advanced. As a result, East Asian regional integration varies deeply from one area to another and cannot be analysed from a single perspective. To add to the complexity of the overall picture, there is no obvious leader in East Asia, with China, Japan and ASEAN all claiming to play such a role. Moreover, the two major economic and diplomatic powers, namely China and Japan, are for the first time in recent history engaged in what can be seen as a direct form of competition, which further compounds the leadership issue in the region. Moreover, the bilateral relationship is marked by deep mistrust. This specific situation leads to the persistence of contradictory forces prevailing in the region, with tensions/competition on the one hand and cooperation/integration on the other. Lastly, the influence of the United States can still be felt in the region in a number of fields, spanning from security to economics. The uniqueness and the complexity of the East Asian region makes a thorough analysis of regional integration a particularly challenging endeavour but also a necessary one, in particular for European analysts who tend to see the European experience, if not as a model to be replicated elsewhere, at least as a point of reference. As a result, there remain substantial doubts in Europe as to East Asian countries’ willingness and ability to achieve deeper regional integration. In this context, the publication of this volume is particularly welcome. It is also perfectly timed since ambitious projects of regional integration are currently being discussed in East Asia (in particular in the form of an East Asian Community or an Asia-Pacific Community). The volume is organized in three parts: the first provides theoretical perspectives on Asian regional integration, and discusses the effectiveness of alternative approaches to explain the development of the phenomenon in East Asia. The second examines the state of play of regional integration in East Asia in a number of fields, including economics, security, energy, the environment and education. The third broadens the analysis by offering a longer-term perspective. It assesses the evolution of regional integration in East Asia starting in the pre-Second World War period and examines the contribution of each of the three main players in the region, Japan, ASEAN and China. This volume has four major assets. The first is the deliberate choice of a multidisciplinary approach (theoretical, historical, empirical). The second is the fact that it covers a wide range of issues, encompassing security, economic, cultural, environmental as well as energy issues. The multifaceted nature of the analysis clearly sets the volume apart from many others which tend to focus exclusively on economics or security. Also, in contrast to other publications on the same issue, the objective of this volume is to examine the evolution of the regional integration movement throughout time rather than to focus exclusively on latest developments. The third is its high degree of coherence (reinforced by a well-structured introduction), a characteristic not often found in such edited volumes. The only weakness pertains perhaps to the exclusively Japanese perspective, but the richness of the approach easily makes up for this bias. Lastly, all chapters are written with clarity, making the volume a particularly easy and pleasant read. The comprehensive index also makes it an excellent reference tool for all those interested in the history and progress of regional integration in this part of the world. Françoise Nicolas is Senior Research Fellow and Director, Center for Asian Studies, French Institute of...Contemporary Southeast Asia A Journal of International and Strategic Affairs 01/2014; 36(1):171-172.
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ABSTRACT: Since the normalization of Sino-Vietnamese relations in 1991, Vietnam’s China policy has been shaped by a combination of approaches which can be best described as a multi-tiered, omni-directional hedging strategy. The article argues that hedging is the most rational and viable option for Vietnam to manage its relations with China given its historical experiences, domestic and bilateral conditions, as well as changes in Vietnam’s external relations and the international strategic environment. The article examines the four major components of this strategy, namely economic pragmatism, direct engagement, hard balancing and soft balancing. The article goes on to assess the significance of each component and details how Vietnam has pursued its hedging strategy towards China since normalization.Contemporary Southeast Asia A Journal of International and Strategic Affairs 12/2013; 35(3):333-368. DOI:10.1355/cs35-3b
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ABSTRACT: Singapore’s post-independence leaders perceived the country’s vulnerability in terms of its miniscule size, lack of resources and hinterland, fragile ethnic harmony and geo-strategic location surrounded by larger, and potentially hostile, neighbours. Given such odds, Singapore sought to become a global city by tapping into international flows of goods and trade. Becoming a core node in the global economy also enhanced Singapore’s strategic relevance, upping major powers’ interest in its survival. However, due to its global connectivity Singapore’s exposure to rapidly spreading global risks, such as pandemics and financial crises, has become increasingly noticeable. This paper seeks to uncover a paradox in Singapore’s ambition to become a global city as new vulnerabilities emerge from its highly globalized status. Through a discourse analysis of policy-makers’ statements and speeches, it reveals that a recurrent theme of perceived vulnerability today relates to the extensive global maritime, aviation and financial flows on which Singapore’s continued prosperity depends. The paper concludes that the critical infrastructure that underpin its global connectivity — its airport, maritime port hub and financial centre — can also unwittingly circulate and import global risks such as pandemics, Weapons of Mass Destruction proliferation, financial contagion and terrorist financing, adding a new dimension to how its leaders perceive vulnerability.Contemporary Southeast Asia A Journal of International and Strategic Affairs 12/2013; 35(3):423-446. DOI:10.1355/cs35-3e
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ABSTRACT: This article explores the involvement of a range of diverse for-profit actors in providing port and border security in Indonesia. Using the port of Belawan, Medan, as a case study, the article demonstrates the critical, albeit controversial, role that private security providers play in security governance in Indonesia. After a discussion of port security and the notion of ports as borders, the paper provides an overview of the large number of state and non-state actors involved in providing security in the port of Belawan. Among the for-profit actors are guards hired by the state-owned port operator Pelindo I; Private Military and Security Companies (PMSCs) with links to the Indonesian military; and members of Pemuda Pancasila (PP), known to be involved in illegal activities in the port they help secure. The article argues that while some private actors do contribute to port security, the involvement of so many different types of state and non-state agencies has actually lessened security in Belawan. This is in part due to the nature of some of the agents involved — particularly the members of PP — and the problematic relationship and lack of cooperation between the different state and non-state actors.Contemporary Southeast Asia A Journal of International and Strategic Affairs 08/2013; 35(2):163-187. DOI:10.1355/cs35-2b
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ABSTRACT: Tackling illegal fishing through traditional state-centred approaches has proven difficult and largely ineffective in the extensive maritime environment of Southeast Asia, and particularly in the archipelagic state of Indonesia. This article focuses on the involvement of a new for-profit actor — a private tourism dive operator — in addressing illegal fishing in a small island archipelago in eastern Indonesia. The case study demonstrates that the dive operator has been able to employ conventional enforcement methods such as patrolling and the capture of illegal fishers, in combination with alternative approaches to addressing the root causes of illegal fishing. It also explores the relationship of the dive operator with civil society actors, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and various state agencies involved in maritime security and conservation governance in the area. With a particular focus on the dive operator’s relationship with government agencies, the case study shows that local governments are collaborating with private actors and providing opportunities for new kinds of enforcement agents since they themselves lack sufficient resources to patrol waters effectively. The dive operator, however, operates only within a space granted by the district government, and must invest considerably in this relationship to maintain his position.Contemporary Southeast Asia A Journal of International and Strategic Affairs 08/2013; 35(2):188-214. DOI:10.1355/cs35-2c
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ABSTRACT: According to the author, a “technological state” is one with “a political economy that is largely structured by a macro vision of socioeconomic transformations which places a strong emphasis on state-led rapid technological development” (pp. 9–10). He posits three essential features of the technological state that differentiates it from the developmental state: first, a high degree of technological supremacy, not economic growth, is the measure of success; second, the state institution in charge of technological advancement is relatively protected from external factors such as market forces; third, accomplishment is proven by presenting sophisticated technological accomplishments to the public, and not necessarily by improving their welfare. This book examines the New Order’s love affair with high-technology, and especially the career trajectory of German-educated engineer B.J. Habibie who went on to become the third President of Indonesia after the downfall of “the father of development”, President Soeharto. Soeharto — who’s New Order regime ruled the country with an iron fist from 1965 to 1998 — had ambitions to put Indonesia on par with developed countries. Soeharto’s successful attempt to lure Habibie home from an impressive career in the aeronautical industry in Germany exemplifies the intersection between high-tech advancement and the authoritarian state: “We have to bring about some reforms and changes in science and technology, but please Rudy [Habibie’s nickname], don’t bring about any social upheavals” (p. 45). On his return, Habibie immediately set about transforming Soeharto’s dreams into reality, mainly through an ambitious project to design and construct aeroplanes at the state-run Indonesian Aerospace Industry (IPTN). The author combines historical description and sociological analysis in an engaging way, and his analysis of the intersection between high-tech development and authoritarianism is reflected throughout the book. Chapter 1 illustrates the comprehensive backdrop against which authoritarian politics and technological development intersected. Chapter 2 depicts the close personal relationship between Soeharto and Habibie. Chapter 3 discusses the practices of strong technocracy, which constituted the New Order’s authoritarian governance. Chapter 4 examines Habibie’s influential concept of “leapfrogging” and its insidious influence on the logic of the New Order’s development, which led to the establishment of the technological state. Chapter 5 looks at how the transformation of IPTN from a small-scale concern into a world-class aircraft maker became the prime manifestation of the logic of the technological state. Chapter 6 describes “take-off”, depicting an important stage in the accumulation of knowledge and technical capabilities of the technological state, taking the N250 aircraft as a case study. It describes in detail the maiden flight of the N250 in August 1995, an event that evoked a tremendous sense of pride among Indonesians, many of whom watched it live on television with a sense of admiration. Chapter 7 goes on to describe how the New Order’s high-tech ambitions fell victim to the 1998 financial crisis, during which IPTN was forced to produce cooking pots to help finance the moribund N250. The author highlights the political aspects of Indonesia as a technological state, though Habibie was often regarded as apolitical. The author describes two ways in which Habibie influenced the political dynamics of the New Order. First, he acted as a bridge between Soeharto and Muslim modernists through his role in the establishment of the Indonesian Muslim Intellectual Association (pp. 51–56). Second, Habibie invited the self-declared opposition group Petisi 50 — which consisted of disgruntled former prominent officials and generals — to visit IPTN. The leader of the group, Ali Sadikin, “was even brought to tears when he delivered a speech at IPTN in which he expressed his deep admiration and pride for what IPTN was able to achieve in high technology development” (pp. 112–13). The author concludes that “This suggests that the impressive psycho-political effect of high technology encouraged the Petition 50 to end their oppositional stance against the New Order as they came to acknowledge the importance and significance of the New Order’s high technology accomplishments” (p. 113). The author’s application of the technological state to analyse the intersection between the authoritarian state and high-tech advancement using Indonesia as a case study makes a...Contemporary Southeast Asia A Journal of International and Strategic Affairs 01/2013; 35(1):132-134.
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ABSTRACT: This volume examines one of the most critical and forward-looking initiatives in Japanese foreign policy towards Southeast Asia: the Fukuda Doctrine. Named after then Prime Minister Fukuda Takeo, the initiative was introduced in a speech delivered in Manila during a tour of Southeast Asian countries in 1977. The doctrine comprised three principles: Japan will never pose a military threat to Southeast Asia; Japan will foster “heart-to-heart” relationships with Southeast Asian states; and Japan will develop an equal partnership with ASEAN and its member states, and contribute positively to regional stability. This volume is a collection of essays prepared to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary (in 2007) of the doctrine and, more importantly, to analyse its impact on the development of Japan-Southeast Asia relations. As clearly outlined in this volume, the Fukuda Doctrine was a visionary initiative that transformed Japan’s relations with Southeast Asia. Its implementation created a new context, both materially and normatively, that significantly improved Japan’s image in Southeast Asia, enabled Japan to contribute politically to Southeast Asian affairs and laid the foundations of the strong Japan-Southeast Asia relationship that we see today. All the contributors to this volume recognize the significant contributions of the Fukuda Doctrine in shaping Japan-Southeast Asia relations, and argue that it continues to be relevant today. In fact, some of the authors also suggested that Japan should implement a similar doctrine towards Northeast Asia. There are many positive aspects to this volume. It does an excellent job in analysing the various aspects of the Fukuda Doctrine, such as its guiding principles, origins, impact and continued relevance. The chapters are written by prominent analysts from Japan and Southeast Asia, including a chapter by Edamura Sumio who was actually involved in the drafting of the Fukuda Doctrine itself and offers readers a rare insider’s account of its genesis. The chapters in this volume cover a wide range of perspectives related to the Fukuda Doctrine: theoretical and historical (Chapters 1 and 2); Great and Major Powers (Chapters 3 and 4); Sino-Japanese relations (Chapter 5); Japan-ASEAN relations (Chapter 6); and regional architecture and institution-building (Chapters 7, 8 and 9). The importance of understanding the impact of the Fukuda Doctrine on Japan-Southeast Asia relations is especially critical today. China’s rising power and the accompanying weakening of Japan due to two decades of stagnation have created a new strategic context for East Asia. From the late 1990s, China’s growing economic and political profile in Southeast Asia posed a challenge to Japan’s influence in the region. Only recently has Japan sought to regain its former position by strengthening economic, political and even security relations with Southeast Asian countries. Key measures have included aggressive economic engagement with Myanmar, the signing of strategic partnerships with the Philippines and Vietnam, and actively supporting US efforts to “pivot” towards Asia, in which Southeast Asia occupies a central position. To understand contemporary Japanese foreign policy towards Southeast Asia, it is important to return to the Fukuda Doctrine. In this regard, this book does an excellent job. If there is one criticism of this volume, it concerns the continued relevance or application of the Fukuda Doctrine today. One could argue that the doctrine was a product of a specific historical context. When the doctrine was announced during the Cold War, Japan was in a unique position: it was the strongest economic power in Asia, ASEAN and China were relatively weaker entities and reliant on Japan and the United States for economic growth and political and strategic stability, and ASEAN, Japan, China and the US had shared strategic concerns related to the spread of communism in Indochina supported by the Soviet Union. Within this structural context, Japan was successful in the implementation of the doctrine and achieving its goals. Today the situation is quite different: a weakened Japan is faced with a stronger China; ASEAN has completed its expansion to ten members; Southeast Asia relies on China as much as Japan for economic growth; and there are new strategic challenges to address, most notably the re-emergence of contentious territorial disputes. Due to this altered structural context, Japan and the region are faced...Contemporary Southeast Asia A Journal of International and Strategic Affairs 01/2013; 35(2):295-297.
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ABSTRACT: The region’s major security stories recently have focused on the rise of China and America’s so-called “pivot” or rebalancing of military forces towards Asia. A related story, which is arguably as important but not mentioned nearly as often, has been Japan’s gradual moves to “normalize” its defence posture. The recent re-election of Shinzo Abe as Prime Minister in Japan might, according to a number of senior commentators, reinforce this trend as evidenced by, for example, Japan’s tentative participation in operational tasks in Iraq, its active counter-piracy patrols in the Indian Ocean and off the coast of Somalia, attempts to redefine Article 9 of its Constitution, and moves to develop military links beyond those with its treaty ally the United States. It is against that final context that the present volume has been produced. It is the collected and edited papers of scholars who have been working since 2008 to assess the implications for regional security of the 2007 Australia–Japan Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation. In thirteen chapters plus an introduction and conclusion, the editors and contributors traverse the domestic issues related to a closer military relationship between Japan and Australia, the dynamics of their security relationship, and the regional and global ramifications of an intensified relationship. In the words of the editors, the “security relationship is proving to be adaptable to rapid and historical structural changes”, defence relations fit “with the emerging strategic doctrine of their mutual senior ally”, and these relations supersede “traditional post-war alliance politics by being less threat-centric and more nimble instruments of strategic reassurance” (p. 241). The book is timely. It provides a very useful background to this developing relationship and a range of insights concerning its utility. Part 1 of the volume — the interplay of domestic and international factors leading to the closer relationship — is, perhaps inevitably, backward looking and focuses heavily on Japanese politics. The three chapters contain a good deal of useful detail and alternative views, but only one is devoted to the debate within Australia, a reflection, perhaps, of the relative interest in the topic in the two countries. Part 2, which deals with bilateral dynamics, is more forward looking but is heavily descriptive. Eiichi Katahara argues that the relationship should be developed by building on the Trilateral Security Dialogue (TSD) involving Japan, Australia and the United States, ensuring it includes discussions on “common approaches towards China”, promoting information sharing between the TSD partners, widening the TSD process to include a whole-of-government approach, having the two countries continue to play a leading role in nuclear disarmament and arms control and undertake to build a “viable [regional] security architecture” (pp. 142–43). These are worthy aims, albeit limited, but they can hardly “represent the epitome of advancement for an Australian-Japan security dyad that has already exceeded the original expectations of those who have supported its development” (p. 143). Part 3 is perhaps the most thoughtful section of the book, in part because it lifts itself from the details of the relationship into a more conceptual realm in which the international context is given more space. Tow notes that the development of the bilateral relationship will “hinge significantly on how effectively US policymakers manage their own country’s strategic interests and behaviour” (p. 156). Why Japan and Australia cannot work together directly is not spelled out, but perhaps it is implicit. The implicit thought is almost picked up by Tomohiko Satake who notes each country’s redefinition of its relationship with America and the consequential increasing involvement in international security missions (p. 198). “Increasing involvement” is unlikely to be correct for Australia which has a long history of participation in international security missions. But in any case, rather than increasing involvement in U.S.-led missions, redefinition of the U.S.-relationship by each country could have led, but apparently has not except on the margins, to a closer relationship with each other purely in bilateral terms. Probably because of the relatively homogeneous backgrounds of the contributors (mostly political scientists), there is much overlap in content as each writer spends several paragraphs in contextual throat clearing before getting into the detailed...Contemporary Southeast Asia A Journal of International and Strategic Affairs 01/2013; 35(1):129-131.
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ABSTRACT: Located in the north-east of Peninsular Malaysia, Kelantan is well known to anthropologists. The state is where Malay, Thai and Chinese cultures meet, and where Muslims and Buddhists live side by side. Accordingly, it is a location of unique anthropological value (at least since the early 1970s, the locals have become aware that there is a profession called “anthropology”).1 Yet The Buddha on Mecca’s Verandah: Encounters, Mobilities, and Histories along the Malaysian-Thai Border is more than just another anthropological work on Kelantan: it is also what the author professes to be “an exercise in reflexivity” because he was “among friends, relations, and strangers”. It is a place where his mother, a Kelantanese-Thai, grew up and, one that Johnson visited numerous times (p. ix). And as an academic, Johnson is well-equipped to help us understand the Malaysian state: he speaks several languages, including English, Standard and Kelantan Malay, Central, Southern and Kelantanese-Thai, and has a Ph.D. in anthropology from Harvard University. The book begins with the history of Kelantan, a marginal place located on the Thailand-Malaysia border, where, for hundreds of years, traders, smugglers, thieves, officials and religious teachers have crossed each other’s path. Ban Bor On, where Johnson conducted his research, is “one of Kelantan’s largest Thai villages”. Its history was inextricably linked to the province of Narathiwat in southern Thailand long before the border was imposed by the British, and the “Long periods of Thai and Malay interaction have resulted in lexical convergences in both directions, with the Kelantanese Malay vocabulary incorporating a number of Thai words and the Kelnatanese Thai lexicon including many Malay loan words” (pp. 12–13). Although many villagers are market gardeners, they seem quite mobile. Cross border travel is common, but crossing into Thailand to patronize the local sex industry, especially for younger men, can be risky or even deadly (p. 72). Over the decades, Ban Bor On’s residents have experienced many changes, some of which were introduced by tourists, Buddhist monks and government officials from Thailand. This is not simply the story of a Thai village located in the Malay world: it is about what ordinary people encounter in their daily lives and how they choose to live those lives. It is about how different ethnic groups coexist. And it is also about the rise of Thailand’s religious-cultural influence. In the 1970s, contacts between Thai villagers in Kelantan and people from Thailand were minimal. For the former, Central Thai was a different language and, Thai cuisine foreign. Even in Sungai Golok, the nearest border trading town in Thailand, Kelantanese-Thais felt “much more like foreigners than in Kelantan” (Golomb 1978, p. 25). Many villagers even equated the “bars, dancing parlours, and houses of prostitution” in that town as “urban commercial sin”, which they did not wish to be associated with (Winzeler 1985, p. 91). Thirty years later, as Johnson points out, Thailand is no longer perceived as a very different country and Central Thai culture is no longer alien. Kelantanese-Thai villages have become tourist destinations for Thais, where the locals sell “cold drinks, rice salad (khao jam), spicy green papaya salad, and fresh coconut juice” (p. 89). Others, including “academics, monks, journalists, and elite members of Bangkok’s standard Thai-speaking bureaucracy” also travel to Kelantan in search of another Thai identity outside of Thailand (p. 79). When Kelantan’s chief monk died in 2005, Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, daughter of King Bhumipol, contributed five sets of monk’s robes as part of Thai royal sponsorship of the funeral. In the past, such a ritual would have been a purely Kelantan affair (p. 134). Monks from Thailand have also been active spreading Buddhist teachings to the locals. Thammathut2 monks established a Pali school in a local temple “sometime between 1973 and 1974” (p. 150) and the Dhammakaya3 are among the newcomers of Buddhist monks from Thailand, who are involved in the teaching of Thai Buddhism and culture. Apparently, more Kelantanese-Thai villagers, especially the younger ones, are learning about Thailand, Central Thai culture and language. (In 2010 when my friends and I visited a Thai village...Contemporary Southeast Asia A Journal of International and Strategic Affairs 01/2013; 35(2):301-304.
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ABSTRACT: According to the author, Pak Nung Wong, this book is a historical ethnography, one that looks mainly at frontier “governmentality” (using a Foucauldian concept) as applied to the Philippines. He argues that “the gist of the Philippine post-colonial statecraft” hinges on how “frontier strongmen” are coopted into becoming the state’s ruling instruments, particularly in serving or subverting the centralizing state in “hegemonic processes of monopolizing physical force and symbolic violence” (p. 25). Looking at the cases of three strongmen in the Cagayan Valley in the northern Philippines, he concludes that — perhaps contrary to expectations — strongmen are not necessarily a threat to state rule, but may be “successfully contained” as well as “caught in the centralizing state’s governmental technologies and the ruled majority’s countergovernmental technologies” (p. xxvi). Frontier governmentality, Wong argues, involves diverse tug-of-war processes and multiple areas of contestation where, across the Philippine archipelago, the sovereign state has decentralized to strongmen the authority to generate internal revenue, pacify unrest, and resolve disputes and conflicts. They do so — oftentimes successfully and to the benefit of the central government — through implementing state laws such as in counter-insurgency, land reform, elections, and education (p. 26). The process entails techniques described by Wong through his case studies as networking, identity-switching and brokering, among others (94). In the case of the former military counterinsurgency expert–turned-governor-turned mutineer Rodolfo Aguinaldo, the strongman is co-opted and initially serves the objectives of the centralizing state, but he eventually does present a challenge to state-building when he declares secession of his province from the Republic. Revered as a legendary Robin Hood-like figure by the Cagayan populace when he served as governor from 1988–98, but loathed by others for his abuse of military power and then civilian authority, Aguinaldo exemplified both the local strongman’s critical role in capacitating the state to conduct discipline and surveillance, but also its need to maintain a careful balance between central and local power. Wong further explores the theme of discipline and surveillance in his discussion of the Mamba clan in the border town of Tuau, who belonged to the ethnic group Itawes. Fighting a communist insurgency, Cordilleran self-determination movement and vigilantes, the Mambas (with three generations involved in politics) employed governance techniques that further illustrate how frontier governmentality works. A second theme of the book is the important role of ethnic Chinese individuals and clans in the local economy and politics in some parts of the Philippines. As in much of Southeast Asia, capital-rich ethnic Chinese are, to the author, “most wanted frontiers” of the state, who, as transnational actors, are also expected to present a potential challenge to state sovereignty. In the Philippines, the launching of a land reform programme in the 1950s broke landlord dominance over the peasantry and gave way to new patron-client ties between tenants and Chinese capitalists (p. 35). Many of these Chinese had, however, intermarried with locals, and, in Cagayan, they counted among their kinsmen Ilocanos or even indigenous Itawes and Ibanags. When President Ferdinand Marcos allowed the ethnic Chinese to become naturalized citizens, they gained more access to political office. Here, Wong presents his readers with the interesting case of Delfin Ting, a former mayor of Tuguegarao City, who drew his influence in part from ethnic Chinese networks, business patrons in Manila and his family’s own participation in key economic activities such as rice milling and grain trading. Delfin launched his campaign against the other strongman Aguinaldo by moving to eliminate jueteng, a now-widespread illegal numbers game that had itself been brought by southern Chinese migrants into the Philippines but which later produced large slush funds for local officials, including Aguinaldo, who used it to fund counterinsurgency operations. Delfin Ting, the book tells us, used his “Chinese” credentials — being industrious, hardworking and a self-made businessman — in his campaign to be elected mayor of Tuguegarao. Those who opposed him tried but failed to have his election nullified on the grounds of his being a Chinese national, as Ting was declared to be a Filipino citizen after all. In the process of presenting his narratives on these three...Contemporary Southeast Asia A Journal of International and Strategic Affairs 01/2013; 35(2):288-291.
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ABSTRACT: Denny Roy’s comprehensive survey examines the impact of China’s growing military and economic power through the lens of a “hegemonic transition” that Roy perceives to be underway in East Asia. This will not necessarily lead to war between the United States and China, but the cost of avoiding it would be “the abdication of America’s position as a great power in Asia” to permit “a hegemonic transition without a hegemonic war” (pp. 57, 140). Even if the two powers find a modus vivendi, China’s growing strength will increase domestic pressure on Beijing to act more assertively abroad (pp. 35, 258), and other nations will have to adjust to the reality of Chinese dominance. In any case, the book concludes, “China’s continued growth into a Great Power or a regional hegemon will likely lead to a net reduction in security for most of the world” (p. 262). Roy begins his analysis with distinctive elements of China’s worldview. First among these is lessons from China’s past: that China deserves to regain its position as the world’s greatest country; that China must not be divided, and therefore must regain lost territory such as Taiwan; and that the world’s other Great Powers are ruthless and exploitative and will oppose China’s rise (p. 15). Equally important is Chinese exceptionalism, the belief that China as a Great Power will not behave as others have done because it is acutely conscious of having been downtrodden, because it is an inherently defensive country that never makes war unless attacked, never seeks hegemony, etc. (pp. 24–26). Yet despite this self-image, Roy asserts, “Beijing’s desire and intention is to make eastern Asia … a Chinese sphere of influence” to be “the preeminent power and rule maker within the region” (p. 161). The volume alternates chapters analyzing broader issues — military power, risks of conflict, factors that mitigate such a risk etc. — with chapters examining how that affects China’s neighbours and the international system. The explicitly zero-sum analysis assumes that for one Great Power to have more security, the neighbouring Great Power must have less (p. 57). As the balance shifts in China’s favour, Vietnam is “acknowledging Chinese hegemony”, “bending to Chinese power but not breaking” (p. 117). China and India are locked in a struggle of containment and counter-containment, each seeking to limit the other’s influence (pp. 107–08). China’s rise is closing the space for Russia’s re-emergence as a Great Power, and may either re-kindle Sino-Russian tensions (p. 103) or force Moscow to accept subordinate status to avoid serious tensions with Beijing (p. 128). Japan is losing badly in the centuries-long competition for regional leadership (p. 89), but Roy does not take sides between those who think Tokyo will turn to appeasement and those who expect full rearmament and a cold war with China, the only two outcomes he considers (p. 102). These somewhat controversial judgments aside, the author does a good job outlining the issues at play in each relationship and in the overall strategic environment. The brief chapter on military modernization is a good introduction for those who have not considered the issue. The chapter on mitigating factors is a useful counterbalance to the Hobbesian power struggle depicted in other chapters, outlining the many constraints on China’s ambition. Among these are China’s unwillingness to take on all the responsibilities and burdens of a hegemonic leader (p. 146) and Beijing’s recognition that overly aggressive behaviour can be counter-productive, frightening the neighbours and helping the main opponent organize its anti-China containment strategy (pp. 147–56). Despite these mitigating factors, however, there is a persistent risk of conflict, as the author articulates in chapters on Taiwan, North Korea and the South China Sea. There are a few structural flaws that mar an otherwise excellent work. First is the lack of attribution for several strong statements about the motives of various actors. In a work of such breadth, it is inevitable that an author must rely on assertions without room to lay out the facts and analysis underlying them. But it is incumbent on...Contemporary Southeast Asia A Journal of International and Strategic Affairs 01/2013; 35(3):453-455.
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ABSTRACT: As this review was being written, Cambodia was preparing for its fourth general election since the historic elections sponsored by the United Nations (UN) in 1993. Those elections helped propel Cambodia from war to peace, and from autarky to global integration. As a result, the Cambodian economy has, since the turn of the century, experienced on average near double-digit annual growth, driven mainly by the tourism and garment sectors. Politically, Cambodia has held regular multi-party elections at the national and sub-national levels. Despite these developments, there exist diverse assessments of Cambodia’s political and economic trajectory, varying from the image of a glass half-full to half-empty. Public opinion surveys conducted by the International Republican Institute — a U.S. based agency that promotes democracy around the world — have consistently shown that over three-quarters of Cambodians shared a favourable view that Cambodia “is headed in the right direction”. Sophal Ear, an Assistant Professor at the Naval Postgraduate School in California, offers a glass half empty diagnosis. He suggests that while on the surface Cambodia appears to be headed in the right direction, closer scrutiny reveals signs for concern and that the country is “one broken government away from disaster” (p. 133). According to the author, Cambodia has become “a kleptocracy cum thugocracy” (p. 8) in which the political and economic elites have colluded to exploit the country’s natural resources and divert foreign aid for personal gain as well as to perpetuate the country’s patronage based politics. In the meantime, the quality of democracy has declined with an absence of inter-institutional accountability, deterioration of the rule of law and tightly restricted civil liberties as the long ruling Prime Minister Hun Sen and his Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) monopolize power. Ear postulates that Cambodia’s growth has occurred without development, signified by the country’s rising inequality, declining freedom and widespread poverty. Growth without development in Cambodia is attributable to the lack of good governance, a problem closely associated with the generous inflow of development assistance. Foreign aid is a hindrance to sustainable development for it enables the government to forgo tax collection, a condition that perpetuates the absence of governmental accountability and responsiveness. The author faults the Western donor community for being short sighted and self-serving, basing the continuation of their assistance on Cambodia’s political stability and Western interests rather than on promoting good governance and democracy. Donors, Ear rightly argues, equate democracy with elections and this equation has perpetuated the façade of democracy in Cambodia. In certain respects, Western governments face a dilemma in pushing for genuine democracy and good governance due to the emergence of alternative donors — particularly China — whose aid to Cambodia is not linked to improvements in human rights and democracy. Cambodia’s linkage to these non-traditional donors serves as a countervailing force to Western donors’ attempts at promoting democracy and human rights. The book devotes considerable attention to explaining the paradox of economic growth under conditions of weak governance by examining three sectors — garments, rice and livestock. Rather than an outcome of “good governance”, the garment sector’s growth has been made possible by three factors; first, the presence of a strong and unified Garment Manufacturing Association with a history of working with the Ministry of Commerce to reduce corruption and create predictability; second, the favourable external market under conditions of preferential treatment based on garment sector’s good labour practices that respect workers’ rights; and third, these good labour practices are the product of semi-corporatist arrangements involving producers, the government and the International Labour Organization. Generally, for the rice and livestock sectors, the “state has been a hindrance rather than an enabler” (p. 79). Although the rice sector has great potential given rising global demand and export preferences granted by the European Union under the “Everything But Arms” arrangement, it remains questionable whether its full potential can be achieved given the absence of collaborative bargaining on the part of rice millers, poor access to credit, the high cost of transport and storage, expensive, unreliable energy supply and high informal payments. The livestock sector is poorly developed due to an absence of trade...Contemporary Southeast Asia A Journal of International and Strategic Affairs 01/2013; 35(2):284-287.
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