Journal of Contemporary Asia

Published by Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Online ISSN: 0047-2336
Publications
Article
A new way of urbanization has emerged in China where farmers are urbanizing the rural areas instead of migrating to the large cities. This article addresses the question of why current urbanization takes this direction in which surplus labor has been transferred from agriculture into the industrial and service sectors without leaving the rural areas. The findings indicate that continual population pressure and reform policies in post-Mao China have resulted in strategic development of small towns in the rural areas. In this development, township and village enterprises have been the locomotive of rural urbanization. Institutional constraints could be moved, created, or utilized in a way which can be conductive for social development. The rural urbanization in China could be significant for many developing countries.
 
Article
China has undergone spectacular economic growth in the last 15 years. Concomitant to this growth has been a rising standard of living. This article looks at various social indicators to gauge the extent of social development in China. Compared to other developing countries, China has made great srides in the United Nations Human Development Index. However, China is still beset with problems such as absolute poverty and growing income disparities. Social development is plagued by problems of inadequate social spending, inflation, and urban bias. The vulnerability of groups like women and rural migrants is also worring. It is argued here that such problems could be dealt with by the central government since it has deep financial reserves and political power. It remains to be seen if the government will do so, since the political will to redress these problems is obviously undermined by an increased acceptance of a neo-liberal approach to social policy which gives primacy to market and family support over state interventions.
 
Article
Three women were brought to the Singapore General Hospital, each in the same condition and each needing a blood transfusion. The first, a Southeast Asian was given the transfusion but died a few hours later. The second, a South Asian was also given a transfusion but died a few days later. The third, an East Asian, was given a transfusion and survived. That is the X factor in development.Lee Kuan Yew at the University of Singapore, 27 December 1967, as reported by Chandra Muzaffar in his letter to the author, 14 August 1996.
 
Article
This focus of this paper is not Surabaya's increasingly free-flowing streets, but the people those streets displace. Based on research in a low-income neighbourhood, or kampung, of Indonesia's second largest city, this paper shows how the street facilitates displacement and exacerbates the marginalisation of underemployed kampung men. This argument is set against the struggles over the use of public space between Surabaya's kampung residents and the municipality since independence and is grounded through the biographical detail of seven kampung men over the ten years since the economic crisis of 1998.
 
Article
In the last decade factory owners, in response to brand-name Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) parameters, have joined associations that verify (through a monitoring and audit system) that management does not exploit labour. There have been no reports of violations of codes of conduct concerning Malaysian workers but for foreign workers on contract there are certain areas that have been reported. These areas, including trade union membership, the withholding of workers' passports and unsuitable accommodation, generally escape notice because auditors who monitor factory compliance do not question the terms of contracts as long as they comply with national labour standards. This paper is based on research with foreign workers in Malaysia and argues that despite the success of the anti-sweatshop movement in a global context, the neo-liberal state in Malaysia continues to place certain restrictions on transnational labour migrants which breach garment industry codes of conduct. Available evidence does not support the assumption that CSR practices provide sufficient protection for both citizen and foreign workers on contract in the garment industry.
 
Article
In a market economy, there is always a pressure on cultivators to produce more by making productivity-raising investments, so they can pay their bills. However, whether this pressure is realized and how it is realized are contingent. From the mid-1960s, the pressure to produce more could be realized by the use of the Green Revolution technology. Yet, given the availability of the new technology, whether it will in fact be used in a place is contingent on ecological and historical conditions as well as political conditions including state intervention. But these conditions are not favourable everywhere. Hence, there is the spatial variation in the Green Revolution.
 
Article
This article examines the changing patterns of poverty in Singapore. As Singapore's population ages, the poor increasingly includes the elderly. It appears that ascribed factors, such as gender and race, have significant influence on financial security at old age. As the population ages, the adequacy of existing anti-poverty policy is challenged.
 
Article
Two common features of poor agrarian economies widely discussed in the literature on peasant economies are the sharecropping tenurial system and the interlinkage between land, labour and credit markets. This paper constructs a general model of sharecropping along with interlinkage between the three markets. Contrary to existing models of pure tenants, the present model incorporate a realistic feature of an agrarian economy with landed tenants who cultivate not only their own piece of land but also leased-in land. Under some structural and institutional conditions, results confirm that efficiency is achievable, which benefits both the landlord and the tenant; the landlord could even gain more under other conditions.
 
Article
The new technologies have inspired both hopes and fears, resulting in opposite “boom” versus “doom” scenarios. In the development debate, similar polarized viewpoints are to be found. Nowhere is the disparity between the so-called First and the Third Worlds more pronounced than in the area of technological development. Many developing countries try to make up their backlog in a way that creates more instead of less dependence. Though they understand the importance of technology to their development, they are hindered from exercising real choice in formulating their policies and strategies for technology transfer. Thailand is no exception to this rule. The central argument of this article is that the transfer of technology could play a role, albeit limited, in the development process.
 
Staff and Factory Workers in the TSC (1946-47) 
Ethnic Composition of the TSC's First-rank Supervisors 
Article
This article explores Taiwan’s worker activism in the early postwar era (1945–55) in the attempt to revise the received perception of labour quiescence under high authoritarianism. Rather than a passive victim of state repression, workers mounted two rounds of resistance, first in the form of factory-defending worker-militias during the February 28 Incident of 1947 and later in the subsequent clandestine communist movement. With the case of sugar industry workers, it is argued the postwar ethnic domination was the triggering factor for worker resistance, which was severely repressed. Their consecutive failures as well as the lure of the privileged status of state-owned enterprise employees eventually persuaded them to accept a subordinate role.
 
Comparison of land ceilings proposed by the Badal Commission in 1995 and the Basnet Commission in 2010 
Article
In a rural agrarian economy like that of Nepal, land has traditionally been a primary source of livelihood and security, as well as a symbol of status. Thousands of poor farmers are completely dependent on land for their livelihoods, yet not all of them have access to or control over this fundamental resource. Negotiation for access to land has been a lengthy and complicated process. It remains so in the changed political context of Nepal, where increasing numbers of emerging actors need to be considered, often with conflicting claims and counterclaims. In this context the traditional ways of thinking need to be revised, both with regard to the negotiating process and the mechanisms of land reform, to accommodate the country’s recent and ongoing massive socio-economic transformation.
 
Article
The concept of accountability enjoys wide and growing appeal, its advocates submitting both normative and functional arguments for institutions limiting discretionary powers of political and economic elites. This development is seen as facilitative of democratisation, especially in post-authoritarian societies. Yet it has gone almost unnoticed that not all authoritarian regimes have dismissed accountability reform and some are adopting reforms in its name. This article contrasts the patterns in Malaysia and Singapore on a specific accountability institution - human rights commissions - offering explanations for why the former has established one and the latter not. It is argued that intra-state conflicts associated with Malaysian capitalism have created pressures and opportunities for accountability reform not matched in Singapore where there is a more cohesive ruling elite. Moreover, the PAP's acute ideological emphasis on meritocracy concedes no space for horizontal political accountability.
 
Article
Among many problematic issues surfacing in reformist Myanmar is a citizenship crisis with four main dimensions. First, in a state with fragile civil liberties, skewed political rights and limited social rights, there is a broad curtailment of citizenship. Second, Rohingya Muslims living mainly in Rakhine State are denied citizenship, and other Muslims throughout the country are increasingly affected by this denial. Third, designated ethnic minorities clustered in peripheral areas face targeted restrictions of citizenship. Fourth, the dominant Bamar majority concentrated in the national heartland tends to arrogate or appropriate citizenship. The result is growing social tension that threatens to undermine the wider reform process. To examine this crisis, the article sets Myanmar in a comparative context. In particular, it considers how multicultural states in the developed world have sought to manage a political switch from racial or ethnic hierarchy to democratic citizenship. Drawing on global experience with multiculturalism and enabling civic integration, it advances a series of policy options focused on rights, duties and identity. It argues for domestic political leadership, backed by global political support, to address Myanmar’s citizenship crisis.
 
Article
A noteworthy lacuna in the voluminous literature dedicated to the "globalization" phenomenon has been sustained discussion of the position of organized labor. This article attempts to remedy this deficit by considering the experiences of two geographically adjacent, but very different nations: Australia and Indonesia. Concentrating on the last twenty years or so, when the general restructuring of international economic activity gathered pace, the article analyses the separate experiences of each country's labor force, before considering what such a comparative analysis reveals about labor's over-all position in a global economy. It is suggested that while the outlook for organized labor is generally bleak, contingent national circumstance remains an important determinant of labor's developmental trajectory.
 
Article
The paper outlines changes in agricultural production and rural policies in Cambodia since 1953, when the country gained independence from France, and considers whether current rural conditions are different from those that existed during the 1960s, prior to the Khmer Rouge insurgencies. Economic and political reforms begun in 1989 by the Khmer People's Revolutionary Party government have not yet created a sound economy and acceptable living conditions for the majority of Cambodians. About 85 percent to 90 percent of Cambodia's population continues to live in rural areas, mostly as household cultivators, but that food security for peasants is not guaranteed. Persistent agricultural problems might lead to distinct socioeconomic polarization between an increasingly impoverished peasantry and an upwardly-mobile tourism and service-based urban sector supported by the majority of foreign development aid.
 
Article
This article outlines the labour impacts and social consequences of the 1997–98 Asian financial crisis and 2008–09 global financial crisis on Southeast Asia. Both had adverse consequences on output, employment, income and poverty in the region, although the impact of the global financial crisis was much less severe compared to the Asian financial crisis. Economies recovered quickly from both crises. However, labour markets continue to be characterised by informal, vulnerable and precarious employment. The crises and the ensuing efforts of employers to resort to increased flexibility in labour hiring in both crisis and recovery periods fanned labour protests despite the diminutive size of the trade union movement and the underdeveloped system of industrial relations in most countries. In turn, these protests have triggered national and regional debates on rules for labour contracting, minimum wage adjustments and social protection. These debates have remained unresolved even as the region is gearing up for fuller economic integration in 2015 labelled as the ASEAN Economic Community.
 
Article
This article examines the desacralisation of royal charisma in contemporary Thailand. Over the past few years an underground discourse has emerged among critics of royal ideology and supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra that directly confronts the power of the monarchy. The images, metaphors and linguistic devices used in the process are difficult to study because they rarely appear in public. This article focuses on an unprecedented demonstration of rage against the monarchy on September 19, 2010, when red-shirted demonstrators painted anti-royal graffiti on a construction hoarding at Ratchaprasong intersection in downtown Bangkok. In analysing the Thai political crisis as a battle of different charismatic groups, the article will present the September 19 event as the first open strike against the sacred charisma of the Thai monarchy. This charisma has hitherto been protected by royalists from all walks of life who were “working towards the monarchy.” With their attacks on the monarchy the red-shirts were challenging a legitimacy-conferring system which had benefited wide sections of the Bangkok populace in the past. At the same time, a competing charismatic movement has emerged around Thaksin, who himself has to take into account the charisma he conferred upon his followers.
 
Article
This essay examines the dynamics and outcomes of Indonesia's first-ever direct local executive elections in a case study of the gubernatorial election in the Riau Archipelago. Specifically, the essay examines the election process, identifies the major issues before, during and after the elections, and assesses voters' participation. The essay then examines the ways direct local executive elections have affected the dynamics of local politics in the country. Overall, this essay aims to further develop our understanding of political dynamics in the Riau Archipelago and grasp the practical significance of local political change in Indonesia more broadly.
 
Article
Despite the deleterious impact of the 2008–09 global financial crisis, which seriously undermined mainstream economists’ claims that the world economy has matured enough to prevent the return of a global depression, policymakers are still grappling with unchartered territory to insulate their economies from debilitating regional and global contagions. This article provides the introduction to a special issue targeted at dissecting the experience of the Southeast Asian market economies in confronting comparatively the Asian financial crisis of 1997–98 and the global financial crisis of 2008–09.
 
Article
The financial crises of 1997–98 and 2008–09 each had a debilitating effect on Southeast Asian market economies because of the dominance of exports and foreign ownership. However, the 1997–98 financial crisis positively impacted electronics exports, production and employment, due to a booming US economy. The contraction in demand in the US during the 2008–09 crisis reduced electronics exports from Southeast Asia with the exceptions of Indonesia and the Philippines, which were shielded by regional linkages with Singapore, Malaysia and China. Foreign labour repatriation and fiscal stimulus packages helped Malaysia and Thailand rebound quickly from the 2008–09 crisis. In the Philippines, the 2008–09 crisis expanded further the casualisation of labour as retrenched workers from Malaysia and Singapore returned home. State grants encouraged upgrading in Singapore and to some extent in Malaysia, but the liberal approach of Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand limited them to low-value-added activities. However, Singapore’s and Malaysia’s transnational-based strategy failed to reproduce the technological leapfrogging experience of South Korea and Taiwan. Also, Malaysia’s ethno-patronage policies discouraged upgrading in national firms.
 
Article
The automotive industries of Southeast Asia have grown significantly but unevenly. Thailand has outperformed its neighbours in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines with regard to production and, most notably, export volumes. But the Thai auto industry has not exhibited the level of local (indigenous) technology capacity and input growth seen in South Korea, Taiwan and, increasingly, in China. The 1997–98 and 2008 financial and economic crises generally reinforced pre-existing national automotive strategies, but to different degrees: They strongly accelerated an earlier Thai move to exports whose very success weakened pressures for upgrading; encouraged more moderate automotive liberalisation in Indonesia and, to a lesser extent, in the Philippines; but promoted only minimal changes to Malaysia’s relatively protectionist national car strategy. The fact that the crises served more to reinforce than to reverse existing tendencies reflects a broader set of political economy factors that influence national perceptions of crises severity and alternative responses.
 
Article
Housing has played a central role in both the Asian and global financial crises, a decade apart. While there are major differences with respect to these roles, there are also similarities, the most obvious being the links with the banking system. The impact of these crises on the housing sector has been extensively researched, but findings have been overwhelmingly based on aggregate or sector data. Using firm-level data from Malaysia on the Asian financial crisis, this article argues that such findings can yield a distorted picture of what actually occurred in real estate markets where contextual factors played a major role. A study of ethnic Chinese businesses, which dominated the Malaysian housing sector, show that the severe impact was primarily on businesses that were over-leveraged and/or that speculated on housing in the expectation of reaping quick returns. They were small compared to the large property businesses that, though affected, survived. Non-residential real estate continued unaffected, fuelled by manufacturing to meet healthy export demand. This, and a political/economic environment accentuated by affirmative action which drove ethnic Chinese businesses toward real estate development, speaks powerfully to the importance of context in understanding specific housing markets during crises.
 
Article
Borderland zones in Southeast Asia have become sites of increased economic investment for developing country firms, intra-regional and transnational corporations. As a result of deregulation, these investment opportunities have led to the exploitation of natural and human resources in an unsustainable and unjust way. This article argues that the flows of people and natural resources across borders are connected intimately and that this has been facilitated politically by the acceptance of the porosity of territorial boundaries by all governments in the region and the imperative to export environmentally degrading development projects into neighbouring countries where political mobilisation on environmental issues is much less effective. Conveyed through a series of cases studies (on resource extraction, dam and reservoir construction, and working conditions in apparel companies), this article explores how developing country companies comply with the codes of conduct on corporate responsibility on human rights, labour standards and environmental sustainability) within the context of the governance of the global supply chain.
 
Article
This study uses a micro set of Chinese city-level data to understand the varying choices taken by municipal officials in their distribution of a minimum livelihood scheme. It explores the variation in the apportionment of allowances offered to disparate types of poor groups in poor versus wealthy cities. The paper argues that in China, where profits, modernisation, competition and globalisation have become significant to leaders at all levels, there is a logic undergirding welfare allocation that has nothing to do with the calculus that spurs its delivery in democracies, and yet that is more nuanced than stylised models of dictatorship/authoritarianism presume. The paper also demonstrates that, where lower echelons of governmental administration have the authority to make rules about the rationing of social assistance, urban finances appear to have an impact upon (or at least to correlate with) administrators’ allocational decisions to groups among the poor. This influence of municipal financial health is exerted directly in the case of poor places, by enticing officials to attempt to save on funds; it also seems to operate indirectly in wealthier municipalities, by disposing richer cities’ authorities to design their urban areas as showcases, in the hope of attracting tourism and foreign investment.
 
Article
This article analyses the process of economic development and associated political transformations in South Korea since the mid-1960s. It claims that, as in the rest of East Asia, capital accumulation in South Korea has revolved around the production of specific industrial goods for world markets using the relatively cheap and highly disciplined local workforce for simplified labour processes, as appendages of the machine or in manual assembly operations. This modality of accumulation resulted from changes in the forms of production of relative surplus value on a global scale through the development of computerisation and robotisation, and the concomitant transformation in the productive attributes of the collective worker of large-scale industry. The article identifies the main characteristics of the political and economic relations through which the structural transformation of the Korean society came about throughout the period studied, as a form of realising the global unity of the process of capitalist development. This analysis not only supports the claims made about the specific characteristics of the East Asian processes of capitalist development. It also shows the intrinsic unity of seemingly diverse political-economy processes, as forms of realisation of the transformations of Korean society.
 
Article
J.B. Jeyaretnam was Singapore's most celebrated opposition leader when his career came to an abrupt end in 2001, but he is better known for the injustices he has suffered at the hands of the People's Action Party regime than for anything he has achieved or said. Bankrupted, imprisoned, deprived of his livelihood and expelled from Parliament twice, he has acquired the aura of martyrdom, yet little is known about his life, his ideas or his motivations. Drawing on interview and archival research, this article studies him with a view to better understanding both the man himself and — probably of greater significance — what his experience can tell us about the dynamics of the Singapore policy.Why did he enter opposition politics and keep coming back for more in the face of persecution? Why did the government set out to destroy him with such vehemence? What does this tell us about the limits of political tolerance in Singapore, both today and in the past? What lessons can other opposition figures learn from his experience? And why has Jeyaretnam been treated so harshly while the government nurtures some other opposition MPs as responsible and courteous players?
 
Article
Fifteen years after the fall of Suharto in Indonesia, scholars still continue to disagree over why he fell and what the subsequent process of political transition has actually entailed. A review of the literature reveals two competing interpretations. In the liberal camp, scholars draw on transition theories and argue that the fall of Suharto was caused by a “people power” mobilisation. Other scholars in the oligarchy literature who adopt theories of political economy, however, question this interpretation and argue that the fall of Suharto entailed a reorganisation of patrimonialism. The latter has been criticised by liberals for underestimating the significance of changes in post-Suharto Indonesia, though little engagement has taken place between these camps, which now constitute two “parallel universes.” This article argues that while the oligarchy camp tends to emphasise continuity, it still provides us with important insights into changes in post-Suharto Indonesia which are not adequately recognised by liberals. This is largely because their different theoretical roots prevent meaningful conversations. By reframing the oligarchy literature using the language of transition theories, this article clarifies the difference in the nature of change these two camps are respectively concerned with in the hopes of stimulating more constructive engagements between them.
 
Article
Li Minqi, a professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Utah, has produced a new interpretation of China, The Rise of China and the Demise of the Capitalist World Economy (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2008) that deserves critical attention. In this review article, I acknowledge Li’s contributions and take up the implicit challenge of debating Marxism and China’s potential future(s) with him.
 
Article
Following the 1997 Asian financial crisis, the regulatory system involving governance of the corporate sector was subjected to major legislative and institutional reforms, primarily in response to exposures of serious cases of corruption and abuse in the financial sector by well-connected businesspeople. However, the 2008 global financial crisis indicated continued occurrence of irresponsible forms of corporate development and practices, underscoring structural weaknesses within the regulatory system in spite of these reforms. This article argues that the reforms that had been introduced ignored how state-business nexuses shape the way firms operate, a core reason for the persistence of unproductive and speculative forms of corporate development, grand corruption and cronyism. Utilising Malaysia as a case study, this article indicates that institutional reforms involving devolution of power to regulatory institutions are imperative to provide them with the autonomy to objectively institute prudential controls and indict errant firms that violate legislation overseeing corporate activities.
 
Article
In recent decades, many countries have implemented decentralisation drives to increase efficiency and responsiveness. However, Malaysia is an exception. Its federal system is more than 50 years old and, rather than decentralising, the country has pursued a sustained centralisation drive. The cause dates back to the pre-independence period, when the nationalist elite, the British and the traditional rulers negotiated the structure of the future government. The first two parties wanted a strong central government, but had to factor in pre-existing political structures centred on the rulers. The result was a federal system with a powerful central government and state governments with diminished responsibilities. Since independence, the ruling coalition founded by the nationalist elite has remained in power at the federal level. Enabled by the constitution’s “top-heavy” design and its unbroken tenure, the coalition has implemented a continuous centralisation drive. Further catalysts – but not causes – have been the implementation of the New Economic Policy and creeping authoritarianism. The centralisation drive has been pursued through a variety of tactics, including: appropriating state government responsibilities; altering incentive structures; privatising state government-owned assets; and “organisational duplication.” Recent policies look to continue this, precluding the potential benefits of a functioning federal system.
 
Health indicators, 1990-2010
Education indicators, 1990-2010
General indicators, Vietnam and China, 1990-2010
Average household expenses on education per capita in the past 12 months (VND 1000)
Article
This essay examines the evolution of welfare regimes in contemporary China and Viet Nam. Specifically, it examines how the degeneration of state-socialist regimes and the evolution of new political economies in their wake have shaped institutional arrangements governing the provision and payment for education and health services and their stratification effects. A foundational assumption of welfare regimes analysis is that welfare institutions evolve interdependently with prevailing political and economic institutions. That is, historically emergent combinations of political and economic institutions that define a given political economy – and express the precise relation between state and economy – profoundly affect welfare and stratification. Analysing welfare regimes in China and Viet Nam raises interesting questions about the nature and dynamics of their political economies and more general questions about how welfare regimes evolve in the transition from one form of political economy to another. This essay argues that welfare regimes and stratification in contemporary China and Viet Nam may not be understood without appreciating their properties under state-socialism and how specific paths of extrication affected their degeneration and subsequent development under a new form of political economy.
 
Article
This article examines the macro-economic policy response of the three Southeast Asian economies most adversely affected by the Asian financial crisis – Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia – to both the Asian and global financial crises. While the Asian financial crisis culminated in International Monetary Fund packages for Thailand and Indonesia, design flaws in these packages inflicted a large cost in terms of the severity and duration of recession in these economies. Malaysia, however, chose capital controls as a tool of crisis management. While there is no consensus on whether capital controls resulted in a better outcome for Malaysia, they were able to forestall urgent economic reforms and prolong the policies of the incumbent ruling party to the present time. All three economies responded to the global financial crisis with fiscal stimulus packages. The findings point to a rich diversity in both the size and composition of fiscal stimulus and the challenges confronted.
 
Foreign holdings of US Treasury securities (US$ billion)
Share and contribution of various final demands to GDP growth (%)
US total government fiscal budget (2000-07)
Article
American politicians and policy makers have blamed China's exchange rate for the large US trade deficits. This paper explains why the USA treats its trade deficits with China as a security issue that have become a source of friction in Sino-US relations. The essay argues that this friction is a useful deflection from the politically difficult policy action needed to remedy the US economy and cannot easily be removed by the Chinese side alone. The structure of global trade and the reality of China's political economy, which forces Chinese leaders to develop policies for a “harmonious society” in the face of growing inequality also makes it difficult for China to respond positively to US pressure on the exchange rate. Yes Yes
 
Article
Scholars interested in the promotion of ‘‘good governance’’ and those interested in transnational advocacy networks both are concerned with the potential power of external actors to alter domestic political structures. This article analyses the networks promoting neo- liberalisation and democratic practices in Indonesia’s forestry sector as rival transnational net- works. The analysis finds that the Asian economic crisis and collapse of the Suharto regime provided a political opening for alliances between the two rival networks that helped to bring down the ruling oligarchy in timber, but the power of domestic oligarchs controlling the sector remains strong. In brief, there are limits to the power of both external networks vis-a` -vis domestic power relations. Given the financial resources and constraints on non-governmental organisations, they may be unable to alter the deep structures of capitalist accumulation and distribution based in Indonesia’s forest resources.
 
Article
In recent years increasing attention has focused on the Singapore government’s new attitude towards limited public participation in civil society. The women’s rights organisation the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) is one example of a nongovernment organisation (NGO) that is directly engaged in this newly emerging ‘civic’ society. AWARE’s activities are constrained, however, by a state demand that its objectives remain overtly ‘non-political’ and reformist in character. This has led some observers to comment that as a state-defined practice, feminism in Singapore is unable to address issues of structural inequality and difference.
 
Article
This article discusses the promotion of economic "reintegration" programs among migrant domestic workers in Hong Kong. The programs include training migrants in savings and investment, business planning and entrepreneurship, with the immediate aim of helping them to achieve some steady income as an alternative to continued working overseas, and the longer-term objective of channelling migrant savings into national economic development "back home." The reintegration programs are analysed in the context of hegemonic hen-liberal or popular capitalism, which inter alia, encourages the transfotmation of citizens with rights into entrepreneurs who can be held responsible for their own failures. It argues that such programs discipline rather than liberate migrant workers and that despite good intentions on the part of progressive non-government organisations (NGOs), represent individualistic solutions to structural problems which may undermine campaigns like the campaign for the rights of migrant workers and their families
 
Article
This paper scrutinises the growing trends and tendencies toward nonstandard employment in Japan to understand the making of new risk profiles. Since the first signs of new risk profiles emerged prior to the bursting of the economic bubble, an analysis should not, as many have done, isolate the 1990s. Yet, few noticed that the growth of nonstandard employment had preceded the reversal of economic fortunes. Often, characterisation of the Japanese model extrapolated from relatively secure positions of one labour market segment in the highly regulated, coordinated governance institutions. For this reason, extant models have failed to anticipate growing risks in society as a whole. A review of employment regulation highlights the function of legal reforms in the making of new risk profiles. State-based regulations allowed for and codified unequal treatment of part-time and temporary work. As a result, nonstandard employment emerged as a distinct status with few of the benefits or the social protections associated with the corporate-centred, male-breadwinner reproductive bargain. By identifying the institutional logic of the corporate-centred male-breadwinner reproductive bargain, we can better understand the emergence of precariousness in the Japanese labour market.
 
GDI Values and FMRS for 16 Core States of India for 1991 with Ranks in Brackets 
Article
This paper analyses the different indices applied for the measurement of human development as constructed by the United Nations Development Program. Of special interest is the Gender Development Index (GDI), introduced in the 1995 Human Development Report and the Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM). In light of the mate bias in the Indian socioeconomic context, the application of the GDI and GEM acquires special significance. A critical appraisal of their theoretical base and their application has been undertaken in this paper. The conclusion is that GDI and GEM. although praise-worthy achievements on the part of the UNDP, do not adequately reflect or measure male/female disparity in the Indian context. Both indices suffer from the weakness of employing a pre-assigned value of the Gender Sensitive Equity Indicator. They also exhibit several other shortcomings, outlined here. GDI is a poor indicator of the relative deprivation of females as shown by our analysis of the relationship between the GDI and the female/male ratio for 16 Indian core states.
 
Article
This article provides an account of the recent introduction of a minimum wage in Hong Kong in 2011. Traditional welfare state theories had their origins in rich democracies. We refine the theoretical arguments in accordance with the semi-democratic nature of Hong Kong. We argue that the legislation was initiated reluctantly by the business-friendly government under unfavourable economic conditions. Any subsequent concessions to labour were not attributable to labour strength or political oppositions, which were very weak. Instead, multiple miscalculations by the politically dominant business side allowed the labour movement to gain limited grounds throughout the struggle. We also apply our arguments to the case of Singapore, illustrating how welfare state theories can be adapted to less democratic systems.
 
Article
In 2009, the Singapore state prosecuted a string of businesses for listing fictitious local workers on their books in order to stretch their foreign worker entitlement. These “phantom” worker scams, prevalent since the 1980s, appear out of place in Singapore – a country with a strong international reputation for its government’s efficiency and strict legal enforcement. This paper examines the state’s prosecutions of the phantom worker scams in the context of the exceptional economic and political stresses in 2009, when Singapore was most severely affected by the global economic crisis, in order to address the employment regime in Singapore. It argues that the belated efforts to tackle the phantom worker scams reflected the pro-business state’s reluctance to tackle illegalities crucial to facilitating employers’ otherwise unlawful access to wealth and resources in Singapore.
 
Top-cited authors
Kevin Hewison
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Rajah Rasiah
  • University of Malaya
Edmund Gomez
  • University of Malaya
Hyeongjun Lim
  • Seoul National University
Michael K. Connors
  • Monash University (Malaysia)