POL202(3) Pol Dev SEA

POL202(3) Pol Dev SEA - POL 202(3): Political Development...

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POL 202(3): Political Development in Southeast Asia - Bureaucracy, Authoritarianism, and Elite Government in Southeast Asia The term bureaucratic polity or bureaucratic-authoritarian regime is often used to describe the elite-dominated political order in Southeast Asia Justification of authoritarian rule by the bureaucracy is that it alone can provide the stability necessary for economic development The term was originally used to describe politics in Thailand - the end of absolute monarchy with the coup in 1932, implemented by a small group of civilian bureaucrats and military officers While Thailand’s new power-holders talked of constitutional rule and allowed for elections to the parliament, parties and other political groups were compelled to adopt behavior that did not threaten bureaucratic dominance. This is the authoritarian feature of bureaucratic government A second feature of bureaucratic government was the extent of cooperation between the bureaucratic and military elites, mainly of Thai descent, and the economic elite, mainly ethnic Chinese. Bureaucrats and generals often serve on the boards of Chinese businesses, providing protection in exchange for a share of the profits The third feature of bureaucratic government was that it is characterized by corruption and inefficiencies. Hence bureaucratic politics are primary concerned about serving the private interests of politicians and public officials, rather than the goal of national development These three features of bureaucratic or elite government – authoritarian rule, mutually beneficial relations between native civilian/military bureaucrats and Chinese businessmen, and money politics – can be found in most Southeast Asian states, especially Malaysia and Indonesia Malaysia: The Politics of Ethnic Accommodation Malaysia is a federation of 13 states incorporating former British territories on the Malay Peninsula, and Sabah and Sarawak on the island of Borneo 1
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Malaysia is a constitutional monarchy The state assemblies select members of the upper house of the federal parliament. The lower house is directly elected by voters, and it chooses the prime minister and votes on the budget The ruling party is the Barisan Nasional (National Front), a coalition of the United Malay National Organization (UMNO), Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), and other smaller parties. This multiethnic coalition, in which UMNO is dominant, has been in power since Malaya gained independence in 1957 The Ethnic Bargain At the time of independence, a bargain was struck between the Malay majority and the Chinese and Indian minorities. In return for granting the “immigrant” minorities the right to
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POL202(3) Pol Dev SEA - POL 202(3): Political Development...

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