Democracy & Participation

Articles on Democracy & Participation

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

Southeast Asia: Time for a Pushback in Media Spaces

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.

By Johanna Son

Southeast Asia: Open Season for Professional Media?

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.

By Johanna Son

Publications Democracy & Participation

For Democracy

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In the last six decades all over the world autocracies and military dictatorships were overthrown and initial steps toward democracy were taken. But over the years it has be-come clear that the transition from autocracy to democratic rule is difficult and by no means guaranteed. The authoritarian developing state – as an alternative to democracy – has gained massive momentum. Even in its ostensible strongholds democracy is un-der pressure today in many parts of the world. Institutions of democracy assistance like the Heinrich Böll Foundation and pioneers of political freedom have been struggling against a significant headwind for some time now. However, supporting democratic en-gagement worldwide is a core concern of the Heinrich Böll Foundation. Human rights, democracy, and ecology – this triad stands at the center of the Foundation’s interna-tional work. The present publication “For Democracy” outlines and analyzes the state of democracy worldwide as well as the possibilities of democracy assistance. At the same time, the publication provides concrete insights into the Heinrich Böll Foundation’s political work for democracy. In addition, four essays approach the subject democracy assistance in a basic and passionate manner.

Computercrime? Impact of the Computer-related Crime Act 2007 and State Policies on the Right to Freedom of Expression

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The new publication by Sawatree Suksri, Siriphon Kusonsinwut and Orapin Yingyongpathana from iLaw aims to explore implications of the enforcement of the Computer Crime Act (CCA) since it came into force in July 2007 until December 2011 vis-a-vis sate policies as well as public reaction towards he law and its enforcement in comparison to the situation abroad. It includes key findings and recommendations.

All publications

What We Do

Democracy and civic freedoms have come under increasing pressure in Southeast Asia over the past years. Under the pretense of ensuring stability, national security and public order, regional governments continue to severely curtail fundamental political, as well as economic, social and cultural rights of its citizens.  Unregulated investments, facilitated by rent-seeking governments, in particular in the poorer ASEAN-countries, increasingly disenfranchise and deprive local communities of their livelihoods at a large scale.  

In dealing with these trends, the Democracy & Participation Program strongly commits to the promotion of human rights, democratic participation and gender equality. Among others, we support civil society organizations that engage in the protection of freedom of expression, media freedom and digital rights, a particularly important issue in times of increased digital censorship and surveillance by state authorities across the region. As the ongoing ASEAN integration will be essentially defined by the movement of people across borders, the program will also engage in activities related to the rights of refugees and migrants. Overall, the aim of the Democracy & Participation Program is to assist partners and civil society organizations in creating public space for dialogue and open debates as well as developing adequate strategies for their respective advocacy campaigns. This encompasses (I)NGOs, alternative media, think tanks, scholars, youth activists, artists, LGBT and women’s organizations.

The Future of Civic Space: What are the Realities of “Shrinking Space”

DOSSIER: SQUEEZED – SPACE FOR CIVIL SOCIETY

Photo: Niklas Hughes. Creative Commons License LogoThis image is licensed under Creative Commons License.

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