Young Academics

Celebrating Muhammad’s Birthday in Yogyakarta

The festival of the birth of the Prophet in Indonesia begins on the sixth day of the month of Mawlid and ends on the twelfth day. It is one of the most important religious festivals in the world’s largest Muslim country. This religious celebration is held in three Indonesian royal courts: Yogyakarta, Surakarta, and Cirebon. My paper is a brief ethnographic account of the Muhammad’s birthday [...]

Legitimacy and Military Rule in Today’s Thailand

Amidst a wave of recent studies on the global decline of democracy and the concurrent resurgence of authoritarianism (Diamond 2008; Diamond 2015), the Thai case stands out because unlike authoritarian regimes elsewhere, Thailand since May 2014 has been the only country under full-fledged military rule in the world (Barany 2015: 88). Previously believed to be out of fashion, military rule made a [...]

Reel Justice: Filipino Action Movies in a Time of Killing

This year saw the premiere of Itumba ang mga Adik (Kill the Addicts) in the Philippines. Shot in streets across the country, from narrow alleys to cramped rooms, the controversial film stars vigilantes, (suspected) drug users and dealers, crime syndicates, and innocent civilians. It has been a bloody tale of crime and punishment. There is a dark sense of deja vu about this spate of killings, for [...]

The Colour-Coded Movements as a Space to Enhance Women’s Political Power

This article derived from a dissertation entitled “Women’s New Political Space in Thailand: A Case Study of the Red and Yellow Shirt Movements”, which set out to explore the extent of women’s participation in the Red and Yellow Shirt Movements in Thailand during the period of the vibrant protests (2006 – 2014). 1 The selected subject of the study was women, from both political camps, [...]

The rise of mass-mobilizing politics in Indonesia

Indonesia prepares for “war!” The glorious time of the “peace dividend” following the 2005 Aceh conflict settlement seems to be over (Honna 2008). The “enemy” has succeeded in weakening the country’s political, economic and social structure with continuous terrorist threats, youth radicalization, the resurgence of communists, and by foreign companies extracting Indonesia’s natural [...]

Misunderstanding the Internet, Misunderstanding the Users: Cases from Thailand

The Internet led to exciting claims and predictions about how it could change the world, one area of which was in terms of democratisation. Academics in the 1990s predicted that with its decentralized, uncontrolled and anonymous nature, the Internet would help liberate people living under autocratic regimes. The prospect of the Internet as a liberating tool was hyped during the Arab Spring and [...]

The Production of Shared Space: Notes on Indonesian Migrant Workers in Hong Kong and Japan

Our modern world is often characterized as fluid, in which the flow of capital, the stream of people and the flood of products follow multiple paths to keep the pulse of our modern life beating. Mobility of people and objects is clearly linked with the process of globalization. Migration and globalization are indeed twin processes that have transformed the production of space. This means that the [...]

An Arms Race in Southeast Asia: The Claims and Realities

This paper sets out to challenge the conventional wisdom that structural factors consist of the China threat, and that the ongoing South China Sea disputes are the prime factors in the current military build-ups in Southeast Asia. Structural explanations such as these are insufficient to explain the full account of regional military dynamics. Instead, this research argues that military build-ups [...]

The good child’s duties: childhood in militarized Thailand

The Thai national children’s day (wan dek), the local version of the International Day for Protection of Children, is celebrated in Thailand on the second week of January. For the occasion, various government offices, including major military installations, are open to children and their families. On wan dek in 2014, I went to the Bangkok headquarters of the Royal Thai Armed Forces on [...]

Revitalising Cooperatives of Agricultural Communities: OTOP Organisations in Thai Villages

Thailand’s OTOP (One Tambon One Product) project was initiated in 2001 in line with the government’s policy for encouraging economic growth in local communities. Since farmers and other agriculturalists in rural areas basically rely on the support of municipality and central government (Rigg and Ritchie, 2002), the OTOP project was aimed to expand economic activities of rural people to earn [...]

The Constitutional Court in the 2016 constitutional draft: A substitute King for Thailand in the post-Bhumibol era?

On 29 January 2016, the Constitution-drafting committee presided by Meechai Reechupan issued the official draft of a new constitution. This draft is the third since the 2014 coup took place on 22 May 2014. The most controversial issue in the first and second drafts was the creation of unelected organs given special powers allowing them to take over the administration or impose legislation under [...]

Vietnam’s Urban Middle Class: Rapidly Growing, Slowly Awakening

Approaching the three decades anniversary of the introduction of the Doi Moi reforms, Vietnam is often presented as a poster-child of economic development. Vietnam’s successes like poverty alleviation and one of the highest growth rates in the region have been internationally acknowledged. As a result, the Vietnamese people not only were saved from the famine that was looming in the 1980s, [...]

“Family” making in Sino-Thai Relations

This article is to set a broad proposition about examining the Sino-Thai relations through cultural linguistic aspects. In this regard, today it is common to hear leaders from China and Thailand frequently express their close ties by stating that “the Chinese and the Thais are the same family” (中泰一家親). The frequent explanation of this intimacy normally refers to their mutual [...]

Myanmar Oil and Gas: Managed by the People for the People

“We want to use the EITI to ensure that these resources (Myanmar’s petroleum resources wealth) are developed and managed in a transparent manner for the sustainable benefit of our people”.President Thein Sein of Myanmar, speaking 10 December 2013 1  Analysing the President’s statement above, this paper finds that the management of Myanmar’s oil and gas wealth is no longer the preserve [...]

Energy Security in Southeast Asia? Let’s start with the Future

The Fukushima nuclear disaster demonstrated the magnitude of devastation when energy security is prioritized over human security. No doubt, the task of balancing the two needs is immense and difficult trade-offs need to be made at different times. But policy decisions in these two domains cannot be made without adequate consultation with the public, consideration for their preferences, and a [...]

“Arrested Development” Why and how the Thai junta disciplines labor

Since the National Council of Peace and Order (NCPO) has taken control of the Thai administration, criticism of its handling of the economy has been widespread. While critics have focused on the junta’s lack of expertise and the short-term outcomes of its economic policies, there has been little attention on its distinctive strategies. This paper focuses on the conjuncture in Thailand’s [...]

The Real Crisis of Philippine Democracy

The Philippines is one of the poster boys for democracy’s disintegration in Southeast Asia. Current President Noynoy Aquino’s successive blunders, from pork barrel scandals to the Mamasapano incident, are the latest episodes in the story of a decaying political system. Competition for power remains confined among the elites and political dynasties at the expense of the marginalized poor. [...]

Enticing Patriotism: Thai National Anthems and Elites’ Political Interests in the 1930s

In May 2014, a video clip of an illegal Myanmarese immigrant singing the Thai national anthem with native-like proficiency at the order of the Thai police went viral, becoming an ironic spectacle for Thai citizens, who often assume only they can accurately sing the song. From this presumption, officers have used the singing of the anthem as a test to determine whether a suspected immigrant is a [...]

Civil Discourse and Civil Society: The dysfunctional culture of Thai academia

It is a strange irony that in Thailand a small group of people can take over the country at gun point, yet no one can turn round and tell them to f*ck off without somehow occupying the moral low ground. Many times, after making ‘strong’ statements about the junta, or about social and political issues in general, I have been told by Thai colleagues, typically academics, that it is [...]

China’s Three-Pronged Strategy on Regional Connectivity

Since the BRICS summit in July 2014 in Brazil, when five developing member countries announced the establishment of the New Development Bank (NDB), there has been widespread media coverage on regional connectivity. One major step forward was in October 2014, when 21 Asian countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) [...]

Ugly Americans, Ugly Thais

On January 26, 2015, the assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, Daniel R. Russel, delivered a speech at Chulalongkorn University, urging the end of martial law throughout the country and the removal of restrictions of speech and assembly. 1 In the following days Thai Prime Minister, Prayuth Chan-ocha, lambasted the speech, and said martial law would not be lifted as it [...]

Uncertainties for Malaysia’s Opposition after Nik Aziz’s death

On Friday 13th January 2015, thousands gathered at the Pulau Melaka Mosque to pay their last respects for Tok Guru Nik Aziz Nik Mat. The Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) spiritual leader, who was also Kelantan Chief Minister from 1990 to 2013, died at the age of 84. His death was a blow to Malaysia’s opposition coalition Pakatan Rakyat (PR), especially when it came two days after the Federal Court [...]

The Challenging Circumstances And Future Prospects For Thai Rice Farmers

The general question of Thai rice production, and its prospects – as a problem, or series of problems, requiring and necessitating further investigation – interlinks with a number of other important ongoing questions, factors, and considerations. More specifically, the main concerns constituting this problem are, today, essentially strategic for all of the key rice production [...]

Chiangmai: the Future of the Creative Economy in Thailand

Since the early 1990s, Southeast Asian governments have turned their attention to a new kind of economic activity, sometimes dubbed the “creative economy.”  At the center of this movement are those innovative industries that are at the crossroad of technology, arts, culture, and business. The creative economy can be highly transformative in terms of generating income, providing jobs and [...]

Buddhist Women As Agents of Change: Case Studies from Thailand and Indonesia

While in Thailand the majority of its population are adherents of the Theravada Buddhist ‘tradition’, in Indonesia, Buddhism is a minority religion with the Theravada Buddhist ‘tradition’ embraced by the majority of Buddhists. However, the development of the Theravada tradition in Indonesia is much influenced by its counterparts in Thailand. Consisting only of men, the Theravada Buddhist [...]

ASEAN Integration: Translating A Vision into Reality

As 2015, the date set for accomplishing an integrated regional community, looms near, for members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), there is much debate and discussion on how much has been accomplished. The date for announcing the single ASEAN Community, 31 December 2015, still leaves an additional calendar year for ASEAN members that might be rushing to meet commitments made [...]

Contesting for EMB Reform in Three Southeast Asian Authoritarian Regimes

Electoral authoritarian regimes are authoritarian regimes that hold periodic but nominally democratic elections. In recent years, political scientists have examined the various ways in which electoral authoritarian regimes utilize elections to legitimize themselves, display dominance, distribute patronage, gain information about their supporters and opposition, or split the opposition by [...]

Along Came the Junta: The Evolution and Stagnation of Thailand’s Local Governance

Since the early 1990s, Thailand has experienced two decades of movements toward more decentralization—i.e. the transfer of authority, responsibility, and resources from the central government to local ones. While local development is flourishing, there are a number of challenges impeding the moving to more local governance, noticeably the central government bureaucrats’ attempts to maintain [...]
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