Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung

Welcome to HBS Southeast Asia

Messages in the Social Media Bottle

In the Southeast Asian region, the Philippines tops the list as the highest in terms of remittances from their exported labor. In 2015, the country received more than US$30 billion in remittances — which makes it the third highest in the entire world. While many of the emerging economies as well as industrialized nations rely on these remittances and foreign workers, many stories filter out from certain nations of exploitation and abuse inflicted upon these migrant workers.

By Jose Santos P. Ardivilla

Recent Articles

Malaysia’s Reformasi Movement Lives Up To Its Name

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.

By Ooi Kee Beng

Nationalism and Islamic Populism in Indonesia

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.

By Ihsan Ali-Fauzi

Eroding Institutions and Exploiting Resentments: Populism in the Philippines and Southeast Asia

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.

By Cleo Calimbahin

ASEAN explained in 5 Minutes

50 Years of ASEAN - Still Waiting for Social and Ecological Justice

Within 50 years of existence, ASEAN has made progress on environmental policies – at least on paper. On the ground, paradigms around economic development and growth still shape realities of the people who find it literally harder and harder to breathe.

Forest fires and the haze, daily traffic routines and large-scale industry make the extent of environmental damage in Southeast Asia visible. In this podcast series, we look behind ASEAN´s promises to be sustainable and people-oriented and find that the institution still falls short of social and ecological justice.

Recent Publications

Perspectives Asia #6: DigitalAsia

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Over the last years, Asia has undergone an impressive digital transformation. Large parts of the continent have turned from the world’s factory into a creative industry.The different contributions across the continent highlight both the opportunities and risks of digitalization in Asia.