Welcome to this podcast by the Heinrich Böll Foundation. It is part of the ’State of Democracy in Southeast Asia’ series, and this is your host, Johanna Son. In this episode, we take a look at the elections lined up in the region. Can democratic mechanisms like elections lead to more authoritarian rule? We step back to look at what this trend says about the quality of the democracies in our midst.
Vacancy Announcement - Program Coordinator Ecology and Social Justice (1 position): The Heinrich Böll Stiftung Southeast Asia Regional Office in Bangkok (hbs) is currently seeking one Program Coordinator for our component of "Ecology and Social Justice" starting at the earliest possible date. Application is open until November 23rd, 2018.
This article reveals hidden solutions for the haze problems known to terrorize some ASEAN countries through a less-discussed perspective: business-oriented solution. After showing the attempts to solve this problem from the global, regional, local, and business levels, this article shows the gross results of each method.
While observers of the state of democracy agree that democracy has been in decline in the recent years, its trajectory in the Southeast Asian region has at least shown mixed results. Elections are still treated as the ultimate yardstick for “democracy” in Southeast Asia.
Island Southeast Asia is well-known as a hotbed of mega-biodiversity. But where rainforests meet thriving marine habitats is exactly where numerous large developments are built. Ranging from luxury homes to resorts to industrial areas and ports, coastal infrastructure projects often require dredging, reclamation or the complete destruction of coastal habitats.
A revolution took place in Malaysia on May 9, 2018. It was a silent and peaceful one, amazingly achieved through the ballot box, and is therefore not noticed for what it is. But it is a revolution nevertheless, and the effects of it are moving like a strong undercurrent throughout the nation—cutting down old structures, be these mental ones, social ones or political ones. A sense of jubilation and disorientation now permeates the country, and will do so for a few weeks yet, if not months.
On 2 December 2016, about 800,000 Muslim protestors hit the streets of Jakarta to demand the arrest of the Christian-Chinese governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, aka “Ahok”. The largest in a series of such protests since October 2016, it was labelled “Defending Islam Acts”. The crowd accused Ahok of blasphemy, alleging that a speech he made in September 2016 had insulted Islam. As the result of this protest Ahok, who at the time was running for re-election, saw his polling numbers drop significantly. Conversely, the hard-line Muslim groups and politicians driving the protest enjoyed new heights of public attention.
In recent years, voters have increasingly chosen populist leaders from the left and from the right. An increasing number of elected populist leaders can be found in countries with long democratic traditions and history. It might be less surprising to find populist leaders in countries that are purportedly democratic but without necessarily having strong liberal democratic traditions. While some have argued that the reason for this rise is the failure of globalization and the lack of inclusive growth. For the segment of the population that have not benefited from the borderless economy, there is understandably, a cynicism that makes populist rhetoric appealing.
Digital, online and social-media avenues undoubtedly offer an alternative or complementary channel for news, because of the inherent difficulty in censoring these spaces. Their wide reach and levels of engagement have saved lives during disasters or emergencies.
Journalists sued for espionage in Cambodia, and for using drones or supposedly violating the official secrets act in Myanmar. News outlets faced with financial penalties steep enough to cause them to go under, as it did in Cambodia. Media organizations in the Philippines repeatedly described as ‘fake news’ outlets by government officials chafing at critical reporting.