A p r i l - J u n e 2 015
Center for ASEAN Studies Newsletter Chiang Mai University
I M AG I N I N G ASE AN
Center for ASEAN Studies Newsletter Chiang Mai University
Center for ASEAN Studies Chiang Mai University 239 Huay Kaew Road, Tambon Suthep, Amphoe Muang, Chiang Mai 50200 THAILAND Tel: 0-5394-3595-6 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Editors:
Chayan Vaddhanaphuti Samak Kosem Mat Carney Kanchana Kulpisithicharoen Nuttamon Kongcharoen Panitan Phambanyang Designed by
IMAGINING A S E A N
Publication design: นับวงศ์ ช่วยชูวงศ์ >> email@example.com >> tel. 0814721400
Luang Prabang Night Market, Laos PDR. (2014) by Samak Kosem
Conte nt s
Dr Chayan Vaddhanaphuti
Thailand’s unique relationship with ASEAN
Fighting Invisibility: The Struggle of Indigenous Peoples in ASEAN for their Recognition
Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact
Participation, Mobilisation: The Karen Peace Dividend
Is Cambodia’s Freedom of Expression at risk after the 2013 elections?
ASEAN Connectivity 19 19
Dreams of the Island Nation: Democracy, Lee Kuan Yew’s legacy and modern-day mythmaking
ASEAN Youth 29
The ASEAN Puzzle and its challenges
No Land’s Man: Stateless man who fell from the ASEAN train
Expectations of ethnic identity and Thai people’s perception of ethnic groups in ASEAN through media: the case of Nong Nan, waitress at Larb/Northeastern Thai restaurant, Chiang Mai 37 Somkid Saengchan
Lucy McGarvie (Phillips)
ASEAN Economics 44 The AEC in 2015: What’s going to happen— and what’s not Pariwat Kanithasen
ASEAN Research 56 Smog Problem and Rubber Boom: An Adaptation of Land Management in Upland Areas
ASEAN Roundtable 60 Project Southeast Asia Symposium - Kuala Lumpur 2015. 60 Mat Carney
CMU Focus 61 First International Conference on Salween-Thanlwin-Nu Studies “State of Knowledge: Environmental Change, Livelihoods and Development”
Rethinking Development Studies in Southeast Asia: State of Knowledge and Challenges
ASEAN Activities at CMU
Architectural Project Exhibition in Luang Prabang, Lao PDR Family Snaps: Photography in Southeast Asia Chiang Mai Group Exhibition 7 - 14 Nov 2014 “Re-imagining Myanmar: Making Sense of the Transition” Collaboration Signing Ceremony between Chiang Mai University and Mandalay University
63 63 64 66 67
ASEAN Scape 68 Burmese Migrants in Samut Sakhon: An essential workforce neglected by government
ASEAN art update
From GMS to ASEAN: an extension of possibility on art and culture?
ASEAN Geo-Politics 40 ASEAN and Regional Integration
ASEAN: Contains Effectiveness.
Cultural sensitivity in multicultural society: Knowledge management plan to overcome ethnic myths and disintegrate territorial borders between Southeast Asian nations
ASEAN Critical 51
Andrew Alan Johnson
Illegitimate Romance: The Love of Shan Migrants
Niseiy Sao Phal
AEC in the Enigmatic Locality: Politics and Cross-border Trade between Mae Hong Son and Southern Shan State, Burma
Dr Ashley South
Hydropower Dams - Transboundry Concerns of ASEAN
Cambodia: Business, Human Rights and the Environment in ASEAN: The Implications of the Koh Kong Sugar Plantation Case in Cambodia for Due Diligence and Remedies Thai Mekong Communities Oppose Laos Dam
Dr Patrick Jory
ASEAN Environment 47
ASEAN book reviews by Mat Carney
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Editoria l N ote
Imagining ASEAN by Dr Chayan Vaddhanaphuti Center for ASEAN Studies, Chiang Mai University
ASEAN is in the process of transformation, constantly evolving and developing into that of a dynamic regional organisation and integrated collective of states. States, governments, local communities and minorities are all individually trying to find their place within the process of regional integration.This process is commonly referred to as the ‘Process of Becoming’, thus we have appropriately named our quad-annually English edition newsletter, ‘Becoming’. ASEAN, its societies, and its people are in the middle of the becoming process. The first English language edition of ‘Becoming’ with be titled ‘Imagining ASEAN’. This unique and specific title reflects what ASEAN means to individuals throughout ASEAN. To often ASEAN is discussed in the realm of ‘government’ and ‘geo-politics’, thus we endeavour to draw light on local communities their daily struggles with integration and the process of regionalisation. We constantly ask the question; what do you imagine and desire ASEAN to become? With the ASEAN Economic Community coming into effect at the end of 2015, it is important individual ASEAN citizens become aware of what integration will mean for them. Border communities will be affected as borders becomes less important, potentially opening up more trade opportunities, however this could also mean more control from state authorities. In this edition of ‘Becoming’ we will hear from individuals who live, interact and research border regions, understanding their perspective and opinions. Articles include interviews and discussions with scholars, humanitarian workers, activists, locals, and researchers, in order to paint a holistic picture of ASEAN at a state, community and local level. A general theme throughout all articles is the struggle local communities have with the process of regionalisation and economic development. Local communities throughout the border region are constantly in a state of protest again state and private development. Issues include; the building of large hydropower dams throughout the Salween and Mekong regions and deforestation for economic and ASEAN fire management purposes. Ethnic groups are constantly in a struggle for recognition by the state they inhabit, and to be included in the fast evolving crossborder economic process. Issues include; the struggle of indigenous people for their recognition, the desire to be accepted and understood, ASEAN integration and cross-border development, xenophobia and misunderstandings, and education and local development. Other articles explain ASEAN at a state level, such as Thailand’s relationship with ASEAN and ASEAN’s effectiveness and legitimacy in an ever increasing globalised world. Through a deeper understanding of local issues, ASEAN will be encouraged to act, implement and understand issues that effect local ASEAN citizens. By ‘Imagining ASEAN’ to be an all-inclusive and dynamic region, all ASEAN citizens can play a part in assisting in the transformation of this vibrant, multiethnic and fast-paced region. At the Center for ASEAN Studies (CAS) we will specifically concentrate on listening to local voices in how an ever-changing-ASEAN will affect their daily lives, how state development and the process of integration impacts border regions, and how mobility will assist and affect ethnic and indigenous groups. By a holistic understanding of ASEAN at a local level, all ASEAN citizens can play a part in the process of regionalism.
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A S E AN Inter view
Dr Patrick Jory: Thailand’s unique relationship with ASEAN University of Queensland
2015 is a big year for ASEAN, after years of planning the AEC community officially st becomes active on the 31 of December, new Presidents and Prime Ministers have been appointed or ceased appointment, the process of democratisation both develops and stalls, and there have been economic slow downs. In order to understand Thailand’s evolving position within Thailand, Mat Carney asked his former lecturer, Dr Patrick Jory from the University of Queensland, about Thailand’s unique relationship with ASEAN. 1.
Can you briefly discuss Thailand’s relationship with ASEAN and how it has developed throughout the years?
Of all the nations in Southeast Asia I think Thailand has one of the closest, perhaps the closest, relationship with ASEAN. Thailand was one of the five original founding members of ASEAN. The “Bangkok Declaration” of 1967 was ASEAN’s founding charter. In the 1980s Thailand played a crucial role in ASEAN when the organization was involved in lobbying the international community to resolve the “Cambodia problem” - Vietnam’s occupation of Cambodia. And the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA), set up in 1992, was also a Thai initiative, following the end of the Cold War. More recently, Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, former Minister of Foreign Affairs and a leading figure in the conservative Democrats Party, was ASEAN’s former Secretary General, which attests to the importance that the Thai establishment currently gives to ASEAN.
he AEC is proposed to come into practice by the end of 2015. How do you think this T will effect Thailand?
It is too early to tell. But I think we need to see AEC within the broader context of the globalization of Thailand’s economy. I think many people underestimate the globalization and dynamism of Thai capitalism. Today you will find Thai economies investing all over the world - even in my country, Australia, where PTT has investments in oil and gas exploration. Big Thai companies like PTT, Charoen Phokphand, SCB, Bangkok Bank, Siam Cement, and others already have considerable investments in Southeast Asian countries. On the other hand, Thailand’s labour market is also increasingly globalized. There are millions of Burmese, Cambodian and Lao labourers in Thailand. In Bangkok you can find Burmese women selling Som Tam. With the AEC this trend is likely to continue. To a certain extent, the AEC is only formalizing a trend which is already happening.
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Arguably ASEAN receives more interest and intrigue in Thailand than elsewhere in ASEAN, why do you think this is the case?
Yes, I think that is true. I have been quite surprised by the level of government support for ASEAN in Thailand. In the mass media it receives a huge amount of attention. Thailand’s education system also gives an increasing amount of attention to the geography, society and history of Southeast Asia. Arguably there are more university courses in Southeast Asian Studies or “ASEAN studies” in Thailand than in any other Southeast Asian country. There are thousands of Thai university students studying Indonesian, Malay, Vietnamese, Khmer, Burmese and other Southeast Asian languages. This is to due to the strong support from the Thai universities. When I worked in a Southeast Asian Studies program at Walailak University for nine years I always felt that we received strong support from the university and from national funding bodies. Here we must also mention Prof. Charnvit Kasetsiri, former Rector of Thammasat University, who has been a tireless promoter of Southeast Asian Studies in Thailand. But the interest is certainly not purely academic. I think that there are also powerful economic interests behind the scenes who are lobbying for favourable market opportunities in Southeast Asia through the ASEAN Economic Community. As I said earlier, Thai companies are looking for new markets, resources and cheap labour, and the markets closest to home - the lesser-developed economies of Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos especially are especially attractive. And of course, Thailand has a long history of relations with these countries. Because Thailand is the most powerful economy on the Southeast Asian mainland, its corporate sector has much to gain by opening markets in that region. Another element of the AEC is, of course, the desire to create an economic counter-balance to China. The US and Japan are particularly interested in this dimension, as are other Southeast Asian countries worried about the excessive economic influence of China. Despite the current rocky period in Thailand’s relations with the US, Japan and Europe, my guess is that the US and its allies are counting on Thailand being a powerful player within ASEAN.
Is ASEAN strategically more important to Thailand than other ASEAN members and will economic growth and political stability within states such as Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines hinder Thailand’s position within ASEAN?
I think that everyone knows that ASEAN is ineffective as a strategic organization, although the ASEAN Regional
Forum provides a useful forum for dialogue between the “great powers” of Asia - the US, China, Japan and Korea, and the Southeast Asian nations. As everyone is aware, Thailand has been preoccupied with its own internal political crisis. In this respect it resembles Indonesia somewhat after the collapse of the New Order in 1998. For the next four years ASEAN was more or less paralysed because Indonesia, which is the real leader of ASEAN because of its size, was preoccupied with resolving difficult internal political and economic problems. Nevetheless, I think Thailand will retain its prominent position within ASEAN. It is still Southeast Asia’s second largest economy, and the largest economy in mainland Southeast Asian, which, apart from Vietnam, is one of the least developed regions of Southeast Asia. Thailand is likely to retain this status well into the future. 5.
Within the new proposed constitution ASEAN is heavily featured. Do you think there is a specific reason for this and is the Thai Government trying to use ASEAN to produce more legitimacy?
It suggests that the drafters are conscious that Thailand needs to keep up with the huge economic changes currently taking place within Southeast Asia and in Asia more generally. ASEAN began and remains an “elite” project. So, given that the current proposed Thai constitution is very much an elite creation, it’s not surprising that ASEAN should feature. Over the years ASEAN has been criticized as being a talkshop for authoritarian regimes. Although in recent years ASEAN has attempted to repair this image, this is difficult when the regimes it represents are military dictatorships (Myanmar until recently, Thailand since 2014), virtual one-party states (Singapore), communist regimes (Vietnam and Laos) or absolute monarchies (Brunei). The interesting thing right now is that while the economies of Southeast Asia have had 40 years of economic modernization, by and large the political regimes of these countries have not evolved, and in the case of Thailand, have in fact regressed. If you look across Southeast Asia, with the exception of Indonesia, which underwent a major political transition in 1998, the ruling elites which formed after independence are now under enormous pressure to open up. In Malaysia and Singapore the ruling parties (UMNO and PAP respectively) are receiving a declining proportion of the vote. In Thailand the party of the “establishment”, the Democrats, can not win elections. My guess is that joining the ASEAN Economic Community will put even more pressure on Thailand to open up its political system.
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Fighting Invisibility: The Struggle of Indigenous Peoples in ASEAN for their Recognition Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact
The Association of South East Asian Nations [ASEAN] aims to “realize an ASEAN Community that is peoplecentered and socially responsible”, one that tries to “achieve solidarity and unity among the nations and peoples of ASEAN by forging a common identity and building a caring and sharing society, which is inclusive and harmonious, where the well-being, livelihood, and welfare of the peoples are enhanced”. Alas, for indigenous peoples in South East Asia, this goal remains empty rhetoric. Photo: Samak Kosem
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An estimated 100 million indigenous peoples live in Southeast Asia. This, however, is a very rough approximation, as the identities of indigenous peoples are not taken into account during the conduction of national censuses. There is no data disaggregation on indigenous peoples in the region which greatly affects their access to basic social services.
Meeting for Indigenous Rights in Chaing Mai Photo: Samak Kosem
Only in the Philippines is there a national law that recognizes its indigenous peoples and their collective rights but the implementation of which has been very weak. There are some recent positive developments on the recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples in some ASEAN member states but in general indigenous peoples in ASEAN continue to be part of the most marginalized sector of society and are being divested of their lands and resources in the name of development. Despite this, indigenous peoples in the region continue to assert their identity as indigenous peoples with collective rights.
Who are Indigenous Peoples? Jose R. Martinez Cobo, the Special Rapporteur of the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, provides a working definition of Indigenous Peoples of which: â€œIndigenous communities, peoples and nations are those which, having a historical continuity with pre-invasion and pre-colonial societies that developed on their territories, consider themselves distinct from other sectors of the societies now prevailing in those territories, or parts of them. They form at present non-dominant sectors of society and are determined to preserve, develop and transmit to future generations their ancestral territories, and their ethnic identity, as the basis of their continued existence as peoples, in accordance with their own cultural patterns, social institutions and legal systems.â€? Many member states of ASEAN disregard indigenous peoples often claiming that there are no indigenous peoples in their country or that everyone is indigenous. The term Indigenous Peoples is likewise a foreign term for many indigenous groups as they collectively identify themselves with the name of their group passed on to them by their ancestors. Some
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governments in Southeast Asia, however, use names to refer to indigenous peoples collectively like “ethnic minorities”, “hill tribes”, “native people”. There are also the names given by outsiders, some of which are not appreciated by indigenous peoples themselves, since they often imply notions of cultural inferiority, being “primitive” or “backward”. Examples are chuncheat (meaning “ethnicity”, or literally “national people” in Cambodia) or sakai (literally meaning “slave”) used in Thailand for some hunter-gatherer groups. Indigenous peoples have their own distinct language, culture, customary laws, and social and political institutions that are very different from those of the dominant ethno-linguistic groups in their countries. Self-identification is crucial for indigenous peoples. When they call themselves Indigenous Peoples, they do not mean to claim to be the only people native to their countries. In most cases they were the “aboriginal” or “native” people in the lands they live in before other people arrived to settle there and before colonization or the establishment of the nation-state. They have also lived side-by-side with other peoples, native to their own lands, who however do not call themselves Indigenous Peoples. These are usually the dominant people, who have the economic and political power in these ASEAN countries. While we find an enormous diversity among Indigenous Peoples, common to all is their strong cultural attachment and their dependence of their livelihoods on land, forests or the sea and the natural resources therein. Their ways of life, spirituality and identity is very much attached to their territories, and their displacement from their territories does not simply lead to the loss of their livelihood but their identity which threatens their existence as peoples.
Common Issues Indigenous Peoples in South East Asia have parallel histories of struggle for the recognition and affirmation of their identity as distinct peoples with their own particular world views, lifestyles, social, cultural and political systems. In varying degrees but certainly similar in experiences is the thread of common issues that bind them in their continuing endeavour against marginalization and discrimination and for the recognition and protection of their rights and welfare. Despite the favourable vote of all Member-States of ASEAN for the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) by the United Nations General Assembly in 2007, several of these Member-States have different interpretations of the applicability of the concept of indigenous peoples in their countries. Some claim that the lack of definition in the UNDRIP on who are indigenous peoples, prevents a clear understanding of who the Declaration applies to, thereby concluding that their nations do not have indigenous peoples, or that all their citizens are equally indigenous. This attitude has led to the violation of the collective rights of indigenous peoples to their lands, territories and resources, and their right to the practice of their distinct cultures and to pass this on to future generations. The economic growth-led national development plans and the on-going ASEAN economic integration is directly impacting on the enjoyment of the individual and collective rights of indigenous peoples. Indigenous peoples across ASEAN have a common narrative: corporations, through licenses from governments, have arrived at their communities to clear their lands and forests for agro-industrial plantations, dams, mines and/or tourism projects without their free, prior and informed consent. Governments themselves have declared national parks in indigenous territories without taking into account the role and rich traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples in natural resource management. Indigenous peoples all over the ASEAN member states suffer severe violations of their rights due to large scale mining operations, the construction of large hydroelectric dams, oil and natural gas extraction, deforestation, over-fishing and the conversion of land to industrial plantations for export crops or agribusinesses.
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Projects implemented by corporations currently pose the main threat to indigenous peoples and their survival. Developing states generally welcome international corporations and are willing to cooperate with them, even at the expense of the environment and local populations, because they view further involvement with these corporations as a means to advance their own country’s economic development. In Asia, the negative effects of such projects are compounded by the complete lack of indigenous recognition and effective participation within such processes. Land use policies are designed to attract development projects and are frequently linked with the assimilation of indigenous communities into the general population. Indigenous peoples currently face severe restrictions in the exercising of their traditional activities, mainly because of the exploitation of rich natural resources by the state and transnational corporations. South East Asian states have repeatedly stressed the value of economic development as a priority over human rights. South East Asian governments refuse to allow indigenous practices, which have a far smaller impact on natural resources. For example, the practice of indigenous shifting cultivation is regarded as unacceptable, because it is environmentally destructive. As a result, indigenous peoples are pushed to engage in fixed cultivation. Indigenous forest management is not recognised as a viable practice for wildlife and environmental conservation. The need to ‘eradicate’ shifting cultivation, has been used to justify the forced resettlement of indigenous peoples throughout the region. Often, development or environmental conservation programs result in the resettlement of indigenous communities. In other cases, where indigenous lands are declared national parks or watershed reserves, indigenous communities living in these areas are displaced.
Assertion of Indigenous Peoples and their Rights The analysis of the rights of indigenous peoples in South East Asia reveals a clear gap between the existing situation and the standards of international law. While many Asian governments are party to various international human rights treaties, conventions and the UNDRIP, the recently adopted ASEAN Human Rights Declaration fails to recognize indigenous peoples and their rights and make it consistent with international human rights standards. Even with this bleak reality, indigenous peoples in ASEAN are not giving up in demanding recognition of their indigenous identities and collective rights and pushing for the implementation of the UNDRIP and other international standards. The Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), a regional organization of indigenous peoples in Asia, initiated the formation of the Indigenous Peoples Task Force on ASEAN (IPTF- ASEAN) to coordinate the participation and engagement of indigenous peoples within ASEAN. Since its formation, the IPTF-ASEAN has launched activities including information dissemination, trainings and workshops for indigenous peoples and dialogues with ASEAN officials and their governments. In recent years, several South East Asian states have recently demonstrated their willingness to improve the situation of their indigenous peoples. New legislation in Cambodia and the Philippines abides by international standards and provides indigenous peoples with a wide range of land rights. In Indonesia, a recent court ruling declared that customary forests of the “masyarakat adat” are not state forests. It is also currently in the process of drafting a law to recognize the rights of indigenous peoples. In Malaysia, the National Human Rights Commission has completed and sent its recommendations to the state on the result of its national inquiry on the Native Customary Rights of indigenous peoples. In Thailand, indigenous peoples are now in the process of engaging their government for the recognition of an indigenous peoples council that will pave the way for addressing the issues of indigenous peoples in the country and pushing for the recognition of their rights. The failure of the ASEAN to address the plight of its Indigenous Peoples despite its expressed commitment to human rights and social justice is a shortcoming that needs to be urgently corrected. Unless Indigenous Peoples are fully recognized as a integral part of a culturally diverse ASEAN, and unless Indigenous Peoples’ collective rights and identity is respected, ASEAN’s goal of development with equity, democracy and respect for human rights will never be achieved.
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Photo: Si Thu Lwin/The Myanmar Times
Participation, Mobilisation: The Karen Peace Dividend Dr Ashley South Research Fellow at the Centre for Ethnic Studies and Development at Chiangmai University
This article is derived from AshleySouth, Participation, mobilisation: The Karen peace dividend, published in The Myanmar Times, 8 April 2015
The draft Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement negotiated over the past two years between the Myanmar government and Army, and the majority of the countryâ€™s Ethnic Armed Groups (EAGs), represents an important step along the road to st peace. On 31 March the two sides agreed a draft common text, which now must be endorsed by senior leaders. However, a number of serious issues remain unresolved, including whether the powerful military will be willing to engage in discussions to bring about a federal union in Myanmar - the key demand of most ethnic stakeholders. For the peace process to result in a substantial and sustainable process of peace-building will be difficult, given the long history of mistrust among key stakeholders. In the meantime, the clock is ticking toward elections scheduled for November, which will likely displace peacebuilding efforts from a central position on the national political agenda.
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Beyond peace talks between the leadership on both sides, the situation on the ground is both complex and contested. In areas where ceasefires are holding, conflict-affected communities have experienced some of the benefits of peace. At the same time, however, ethnic nationality communities have been exposed to an increase in land grabbing and other threats. Nevertheless, ceasefires in southeast Myanmar have created the space within which the Karen National Union (KNU) and other stakeholders are mobilising a vibrant Karen political community.
Background Non-Burman communities make up at least 30% of Myanmar’s population. During the pre-colonial period, ethnic identity was diffuse, with ethno-linguistic characteristics being one among several markers of socio-political position. The political salience of ethnicity became reinforced during the colonial period, so that by the time of independence in 1948, ethnicity had become a defining category of political orientation. In the lead-up to independence, ethnic nationality elites sought to mobilise communities, in order to gain access to political and economic resources, demanding justice and fair treatment for the groups they sought to represent. Burman and minority elites having failed to successfully negotiate a pacted transition to independence, the late 1940s saw widespread outbreaks of violence. By the time the KNU went underground in January 1949, the country was on the course of a civil war which lasted more than six decades. Armed conflict in Myanmar has been marked by serious and wide-spread of human rights abuses on the part of both the Myanmar Army (Tatmadaw) and - less systematically – EAGs. For more than half-a-century, ethnic nationality-populated, rural areas of Myanmar have been affected by conflicts between ethnic insurgents and a militarised state, widely perceived to have been captured by elements of the ethnic Burman majority. For decades, communist and dozens of ethnic insurgents controlled large parts of the country. Since the 1970s however, armed opposition groups have lost control of their once extensive ‘liberated zones’, precipitating further humanitarian and political crises in the borderlands. For generations, communities have been disrupted, traumatised and displaced. There are an estimated 500,000 Internally Displaced People IDPs in the southeast alone, plus some 150,000 predominantly Karen refugees living in a series of camps along the ThailandBurma border, for whom “durable solutions” displacement have yet to be found.
A previous round of ceasefires in the 1990s brought considerable respite to conflict-affected civilian populations. These truces (some 25 agreements in total) provided the space for civil society networks to (re-)emerge within and between ethnic nationality communities. However, the then-military government proved unwilling to accept ethnic nationality representatives’ political demands. Therefore, despite some positive developments, the ceasefires of the 1990s did little to dispel distrust between ethnic nationalists and the government. The election of a military-backed, semi-civilian government in November 2010 represented a clear break with the past. Although opposition groups (including most EAGs) continue to object strongly to elements of the 2008 constitution, this has nevertheless seen the introduction of limited decentralisation to seven predominantly ethnic nationality-populated States. In late 2011 and through 2012, the new government under President (and ex-General) U Thein Sein agreed, or re-confirmed, preliminary ceasefires with 10 of the 11 most significant NSAGs, representing the Wa and Mongla, Chin, Shan, PaO, Karen, Karenni, Arakan/Rakhine and Mon. Despite such positive developments, in June 2011 the Myanmar Army launched a major offensive against the KIO, the main Kachin armed ethnic group in northern Myanmar, breaking a 17 year ceasefire. As a result of this resumption of armed conflict, at least 80,000 people were displaced along the border with China, with tens of thousands of more IDPs in the conflict zones and governmentcontrolled areas. This resurgence of armed conflict included some of the most significant battles of Myanmar’s 50-plus year civil war.
Leadership-level peace negotiations Despite ongoing armed conflict across much of northern Myanmar (including with Ta’ang and more recently Kokang armed groups), the government and EAGs have continued to negotiate a Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement, in addition to the bilateral ceasefires which exist between the government and most (but not all) EAGs. When talks resumed in Yangon on March 30th, both the government’s Union Peacemaking Work Committee and the armed groups’ Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team were keen to move forward quickly – and neither wanted to be seen as delaying progress toward an agreement. Therefore, some important but still contested elements were removed from the draft text, for discussion at a later stage. These included arrangements which are necessary to consolidate existing ceasefires, such as establishing credible monitoring mechanisms.
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As a result, substantial and sustainable political dialogue is unlikely to begin before early-to-mid 2016. Further, future political negotiations should involve a wide range of stakeholders, including not only the government, Tatmadaw and EAGs, but also political parties (or their representatives in parliament) and civil society actors. These talks are likely to be quite protracted.
One important breakthrough that allowed the draft ceasefire to go ahead was the government side’s acceptance of “interim arrangements” regarding the authority of ethnic armed groups in areas substantially under their control, and the status of their governance and service delivery systems, which remain the most effective ways of providing health and education in many conflict-affected areas. These non-state service delivery systems, which in some cases are quite extensive, need to be supported during the probably lengthy period between the agreement of preliminary ceasefires and achievement of a comprehensive political settlement. Unfortunately, however, there is a danger of the opposite happening. In some areas, the peace process is serving as a vehicle for the militarised state to push into previously inaccessible, conflict-affected areas – sometimes with the collaboration of international aid agencies. Finalisation of the nationwide ceasefire may unblock progress toward political dialogue around issues which have structured half a century of armed conflict in Myanmar. Key stakeholders have started to talk about restructuring statesociety relations in, exploring options and positions. Some progress has been made in agreeing a framework for political dialogue. While exploratory trust-building talks are welcome and necessary, it seems unlikely that a concrete mechanism for political dialogue can be agreed during the run-up to elections, when the government will be increasingly regarded as a ‘lame duck’ administration. Key actors are unlikely to hand such a political prize to the president at this stage in the game and will not want to commit to a binding framework for dialogue this side of the polls.
The window of opportunity for ethnic armed groups to leverage their positions to maximum advantage is therefore closing. If the elections are seen as free and fair, the next government will enjoy high levels of domestic and international legitimacy. There is no guarantee that the next government will accord armed groups the same privileged negotiating status they have enjoyed since 2011. Indeed, some key actors regard the groups as little more than warlord organisations, with suspect economic motives. While there may be some truth to such perceptions, it would be unfair to ignore the significant political legitimacy that several ethnic armed groups enjoy among the ethnic communities they seek to represent.
The situation on the ground Since 2012, most – but not all – of the country’s ethnic armed groups have negotiated bilateral ceasefires with the government. These individual agreements contain a number of broad but often vaguely defined commitments, action on which has largely been side-tracked during the past two years by negotiations toward a nationwide ceasefire. Hopefully, progress in multilateral negotiations will encourage the government – and particularly the Tatmadaw – to move forward in implementing bilateral ceasefire agreements with key armed groups, such as the KNU. In areas where ceasefires are holding, conflict-affected communities have experienced significant ‘peace dividends’ but have also been exposed to new threats. Villagers report reduced fear and human rights violations, improved freedom of movement and access to their fields and to markets, and greater freedom of association and expression. Nevertheless, many problems remain, including widespread land-grabbing in con-
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flict-affected areas, in the context of increasing natural resource extraction and large-scale agriculture plantations. If negotiations can begin to address some of these concerns – and also other issues, such as language rights and usage in schools and government administration – this could deliver benefits to conflict-affected communities and demonstrate the potential of the peace process. It could also help to restore the KNU as a potent political force in Myanmar. The KNU was a political party in the mid-1940s, before going underground as an armed movement in 1949. The story of the next 60 years was one of gradual retreat to the Thai borderlands. It is a tribute to Karen insurgents and communities’ tenacity that the KNU and allied groups were able to hold on for so long. Nevertheless, for at least two decades it has been obvious that the movement was in serious trouble, pegged back to a few areas of control and the refugee camps in Thailand. The real political challenge facing the organisation has been how to ‘get back into Burma’ and connect with the great majority of Karen people living in government-controlled areas – including non-Christians and non-Sgaw dialect speaking groups. The KNU leadership sees the peace process as an opportunity to reform the organisation, re-connect to the Karen community “inside” Myanmar and rediscover its original identity as a panKaren political movement. In this context, it is as important for the KNU (and by extension other ethnic armed groups) to demonstrate a commitment to issues of concern to ethnic communities – such as natural resource management and development projects in ethnic areas – as it is to maintain their governance and service delivery regimes. The importance of recognising and supporting ethnic armed group administrations and health and education systems during the interim between ceasefires and a political settlement in Myanmar cannot be neglected but potentially more important is the KNU strategy of political mobilisation.
Karen unity and diversity In the Karen context, discussions of political mobilisation often focus on calls for ‘unity’. In the past, this has generally been equivalent to demands for different members of the diverse Karen community – Christian, Buddhist, animist and even a few Muslims; speakers of a dozen different dialects; those living in towns, the countryside and the jungle – to submit to the leadership authority of a single organisation. As history has demonstrated, this has never been a realistic project. It is noteworthy that the current KNU leadership puts
less emphasis on demands for unity under the KNU. Instead, the KNU seeks to cooperate with other stakeholders – including the six other Karen ethnic armed groups, and Karen political parties and civil society actors – and collaborate on a range of issues of concern to Karen communities. This approach may be termed ‘consociational’, inasmuch as political coherence derives from an alliance of leaders from different segments of the community, rather than a single unified command structure. The approach is exemplified in the work of the Karen Unity and Peace Committee (KUPC). Established by Karen civil society and political leaders in the context of the peace process, over the past two years the KUPC has undertaken more than 40 consultations in Karen-populated parts of the country, ranging from southern Tanintharyi Region to western Ayeyarwady Region. The KUPC has also convened meetings where community members can engage with, and express their concerns and aspirations to, both KNU and state officials. These meetings would have been unimaginable before the peace process, and constitute a real ‘peace dividend’ for the Karen community. They demonstrate the potential of the KNU policy to use the peace process to open up space for political participation and mobilisation. For the first time since independence, Karen leaders and “ordinary” citizens can come together to discuss key issues and begin to define their identities, interests and positions in relation to the political, social and economic questions of the day. What is also noteworthy is that the KNU has participated fully in the KUPC consultations, while not demanding the leadership role. While the KNU is – and will likely long remain – a key political organisation for the Karen, with a unique history and special legitimacy derived from decades of armed struggle, it does not now claim to be the only political actor representing this community. By adopting this more mature and realistic position, the KNU is reinventing itself, and using the peace process as an opportunity to reinvigorate the Karen political community. Over the past two decades, since the fall of its old headquarters at Mannerplaw, the KNU has been in ‘survival mode’. While the peace process remains problematic, it is providing opportunities for the KNU and other ethnic political leaders to adopt new strategies in the long struggle for selfdetermination in Myanmar.
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Hydropower Dams Transboundry Concerns of ASEAN Premrudee Daoroung Towards Ecological Recovery and Regional Alliance (TERRA)
It is hard to deny, nowadays, that ASEAN seems to be a ‘hot’ topic to talk about. Government offices, universities, local communities and farmers in all ten member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations see the issue of ‘regionalisation’ as the centre of interest. Working together across the border as a ‘regional community’, however, the member states of ASEAN, civil society and the people of the region need to review their own interests on existing cross-border issues and the associated impacts. This article discusses environmental and natural resource issues, especially hydropower dams, to point out their sensitivity and importance as transboundary issues among ASEAN states. The article also questions how concerns with the environment and hydropower dams could be addressed within the ASEAN platform.
ASEAN in perspective The 10 members of Association of South East Asia Nations (ASEAN) can be categorized into 2 groups: the founder states of ASEAN and the ‘new’ ASEAN states. Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines and Singapore together, are in the group that helped set up ASEAN four decades ago. Brunei joined in this group soon afterward, while Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam came aboard later in the second group. Despite the different political, social and economic systems among the members – including the amount of existing natural resources in each country – all 10 member countries committed themselves under one set of ASEAN framework, allocated by the ASEAN Charter. Its platform is composed of three pillars; Political/ Security pillar, Economic pillar, and Social/Cultural pillar. At present ASEAN’s next and the most important milestone, which is to be achieved by the end of 2015, is to tie all three pillars together and connect all ASEAN nations together as one “ASEAN Community”. When looking at all three pillars of this community, however, it is quite clear that this region pays more attention towards the
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building of the Economic Pillar and not others. In fact, since long before, it might be possible to say that the business sector had not been waiting for the ASEAN platform but rather set itself at the heart of regional ‘development’ through the open market economy scheme. Starting from the end of 1980s, the ‘new ASEAN’ group such as Laos and Vietnam, announced clearly that they would adopt the open market economy system while still remaining in their socialist political sphere. Open market economy therefor set the new face of the region where political conflicts and ‘communism’ used to be seen as major threats to its security. Presently, it is clearer than ever that among ASEAN countries the economic pillar is viewed as the cross-cutting pillar – and probably the only pillar to overcome many differences, limitations and conflicts among the political, security, social and cultural problems in the region. As ASEAN directs stronger attention towards the economic pillar, concerns arise that it may choose to automatically avoid addressing urgent cross-cutting issues that need immediate solutions such as environmental, natural resources and livelihood problems. A few characteristics or perceptions of ASEAN and ASEAN strategy might explain more on how this regional organization operates and its economic interests. The first is how the ASEAN strategy works to transform the region by promoting “international integration on trade.” It aims to integrate a regional economic system into an international one by pushing for more “cross-border investment”, which means that all resources across border can be shared to make up a larger size of business. It also means that it would adopt a new way to determine Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by elevating it into a “regional level” of 600 million people. However, such an integration on trade and investment would not only target shared human resources but also natural resources such as rivers, forests and lands. Its geographical advantage as being a region of “strategic locations” between India and China or the “Gate to the Near East” also foretells that these resources would be shared not only within the region but to the world. In order to follow the above economic strategy, the member states of ASEAN are now focusing on “infrastructure” development. With an exception to Singapore, a country known as a “city state”, the investment in infrastructure became the key tool in ASEAN integration in many countries. Thailand is now putting a lot of emphasis in developing and improving its rail systems, Laos is struggling to connect and reach the sea, while Vietnam is also active on developing its own infrastructure
system including seaports along its coastline. Even for the Mekong delta, there are plans to sacrifice the ‘rice basket’ in order to add more infrastructure and foster urban expansion rather than conserving its most fertile agricultural lands. The economic trend of ASEAN can result in various things, but one obvious result will be the huge “migration” throughout the region. Apart from looking at migrant labor across multiple countries, ASEAN should also be able to recognize that ruralurban migration also means a loss of rural livelihoods and the loss of natural resources that the rural communities rely on. Migration, in this sense, is not only the starting point of ASEAN’s economic development, but the result of the negative change that now occurs across the region. Another issue that is in conflict with the aim of ASEAN on becoming an independent economic platform is the issue of “Power”. Both China and the United States still exercise their power in this strategic region. The power game has been related directly to all the above strategic ASEAN perceptions. This ‘power’ playing role of being the agent for international integration on trade is derived from ASEAN’s unique geographical characteristics and its direct involvement in infrastructure development in both a national and regional level.
Large scale hydropower dams Transboundary concerns of ASEAN China started building the first dam, Manwan dam, on the Mekong mainstream in China in 1986 without paying attention to the people living in the lower Mekong countries. None of the lower Mekong mainstream countries, which are also ASEAN member countries, could really react or question China. This power play is one of the key indications of how weak ASEAN states are in protecting themselves from the threats on their environment, natural resources and the people’s livelihood. Today, China has already finished six out of eight planned dams, but the problems of China dams remain unsolved. On top of that, another 12 dams are being planned along lower Mekong mainstream. Xayaburi dam is now being built in Lao PDR by Thai investors and followed by Don Sahong dam, presumably a Malaysian investment, also on the Mekong mainstream in Laos. Energy needs and regional economic growth are claimed to be the key reasons behind these large scale hydropower dam developments. Despite experiences from large scale hydropower dams such as Bakun dam in Malaysia or Pak Mun dam in Thailand, the negative impacts on environment, natural
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resources and the people’s livelihoods still remain unrecognized by many ASEAN states. After four decades since ASEAN’s establishment, the region’s natural resources have changed from rich to lacking. The integration of the ASEAN community could place even more pressure on the unequally distributed resources among member countries. Unfortunately, while the ‘original ASEAN’ countries are already facing crisis on their limited natural resources, the ‘new ASEAN’ countries seem to lack the ability to protect their remaining resources. Environmental issues have been almost ‘hidden’ under the Social and Cultural Pillar of ASEAN’s three cooperation pillars. For the past several years, ASEAN has been paying more attention to natural disasters and relief work, and joining in climate change negotiations, rather than tackling large scale projects in which can create similarly detrimental effects, or more, on people and the environment in the region. One clear example is the impact of hydropower dams on the Mekong mainstream in Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand. It is known that 12 percent of Cambodia’s GDP comes from freshwater fishery, mostly coming from areas around the Great Lake or Tonle Sap. 70 percent of Tonle Sap fish are migratory fish from the Mekong mainstream. The Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) conducted by the Mekong River Commission (MRC) stated that, if all 12 dams on the lower Mekong mainstream were built as planned, at least 880,000 tons or half of the Mekong freshwater fish would be lost every year. Based on this estimation, Cambodia’s economy and its people would greatly suffer. Similarly, direct impacts would occur in Vietnam, where the country’s rice basket depends directly on one line of Mekong mainstream and its sediment system. In Thailand, local families living along the Mekong riverbank can make 70,000100,000 THB (around 3,000 USD) per year from agriculture along the Mekong during the dry season. This income would be completely lost by the permanent changes of Mekong water levels that could inundate the river banks after the dams are built. With these reasons, ASEAN needs a new perspective and vision on energy and economic development. Along with other large scale projects in the region, the 12 dams on the Mekong mainstream and a set of dams along the Salween River – the two major rivers of the region – need to be reviewed.
A call to ASEAN While civil society networks and local people continue calling for greater attention on environmental issues, another possible tool to bring ASEAN back to the ground level could be through a human rights mechanism. In 2012, in an event within ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN People Forum (ACSC/ APF), civil society networks in ASEAN together with a network of local people gathered the most serious human rights abuse cases. What they found was that large scale projects, from mining to large scale plantations to hydropower dams, pose the greatest threat to the region. The report of these selected cases has now been released under the title Corporate Accountability in ASEAN: A Human Rights-Based Approach. The common reflections from all over the region show that environmental and human rights issues are closely connected. This is the time for local people and Civil Society Networks in the region to stand together and create a real change. Since 2008, Civil Society groups in the region are together calling for a fourth pillar, called, ‘Environment in ASEAN’. The March 2014 ACSC/ARF in Yangon Myanmar, was the most successful ever with over 3,000 people in attendance. The ACSC/APF released a statement; “Establish an Environmental Pillar in ASEAN which includes an independent monitoring mechanism, a regional framework on the transboundary utilisation and sharing of natural resources, protect all peoples’ rights including indigenous peoples’ rights and resolve cross border impacts, stop all destructive hydropower dams and promote sustainable renewable energy alternatives”. Learning and upholding the issues of the environment, natural resources and livelihoods of the people through ongoing problems like hydropower dams and other large scale projects should be an immediate task of ASEAN. The voice of affected people should be heard. The existing ASEAN mechanism needs to be opened, working closely with the civil society network and the people. Without alleviating serious situations imposed by ASEAN’s preference to boost economic, development without recognizing the basic rights of the people to their resources and livelihoods, the possibility to see ASEAN become a peaceful, secured and people-centred region by the end of next year might be too thin.
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Is Cambodiaâ€™s Freedom of Expression at risk after the 2013 elections? Niseiy Sao Phal Royal University of Phnom Penh
After holding its first democratic election in 1993, press freedom and the right to freedom of expression were guaranteed by the 1993 Cambodian Constitution. The Royal Government of the Kingdom of Cambodia, which was established after the first election, also ratified numerous international conventions on human rights asserting its obligation to protect, respect, and fulfil its obligation in the promotion and protection of human rights in the country. Photo: HRW.org
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murder, in an environment of impunity. There are only few suspects that have been brought to justice for killing journalists.
However, human right abuses still exist in Cambodia and freedom of expression and press is still under threat. Reporters Without Borders remained quizzical on Cambodia’s press freedom. The freedom of the press and various mechanisms on the protection of ‘freedom of expression’. in Cambodia, are still amongst the lowest compared to other countries. Also, human rights violations still remain a grave concerns among observers. Between 2013 and 2014, Cambodia was rocked by mass demonstrations, riots, and police crackdowns. Workers gathered on the streets demanding higher minimum wages while the opposition party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), organized a protests during its boycott of the National Assembly. This was to express its dissatisfaction of the result of the national election, which provided a narrow victory for the ruling party, allowing incumbent Prime Minister Hun Sen to stay in power for another fiveyear term. To ensure stability and social order, the government violently dispersed the protestors, leaving some people injured or dead, and the crackdown lead to a number of arrests from among the protesters. Peaceful demonstration and the right to peaceful assembly were strictly controlled and even prohibited by the authorities.
In 2014, a survey of 180 countries on the index of the annual Reporters Without Borders report, Cambodia fell from 179th to 44th in 2012. This indicated that press and freedom of expression in the country is still need to be largely improved and protected by state institutions. Cambodia still considers freedom of expression and of the press as a threat to public order and social security. The government believes that the media and general citizen’s practice of the ‘freedom of expression’ undermines popularity of the ruling elite and is a threat to the status quo in Cambodian politics. Those who speak against the Kingdom’s elites’ interests will be threatened and prosecuted by the authority through intimidation by using poorly drafted laws. Cambodian authorities still manage to use restrictive laws including the Penal Code to curb expressive rights and other related rights, which is unconstitutional. The sensitive issues such as corruption, nepotism and illegal logging, have all became a taboo topic for Cambodia’s press and public discussions. People have to be careful not to be overtly critical of government activities and dealings or the act will spin trouble with the authorities. Journalists in Cambodia face difficulties with their safety, especially arrest, repression and prosecution as well as
The government also tries to regulate media institutions, controlling this sector to preserve the positions of its politicians in power. Cambodia’s media organizations, including most of the television and radio stations are aligned to the ruling party, the Cambodian People Party (CPP). These media groups have been working to promote the popularity of the government, and there is no criticism allowed to be made against the government or any elite groups in politics. The government, for many decades, enjoyed the huge support from its people because it cunningly controlled most of the media outfits in the country and effectively used these institutions to gain popularity during elections.
Freedom of expression to change status quo in Cambodian politics Alternative media has challenged the hegemony of state-controlled mainstream media. In the 2013 national election, the ruling party CPP lost up to 22 seats in the national assembly due to the rise of social media users within the Kingdom. It was the biggest lost for the ruling party in 15 years. While the government controls mainstream media for its political interests, the opposition party gradually started reaching out to Cambodians, specially young citizens, through utilizing social media platforms, particularly Facebook and Twitter. According to the figures of Open Development Cambodia, there were about 2.7 million internet users in Cambodia in 2013 while Facebook users in Cambodia reached more than 1 million. Facebook has become the most import-
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ant source of information for Cambodians in the recent years. Citizens have started to use social networking platforms to express their criticism of the government’s actions and policies. Social networking sites became a tool where information on sensitive issues, particularly illegal logging, human rights violations, corruption, social inequalities, social justice, and failed decisions and interventions by the government were discussed freely through viral sharing on the platform. Facebook, as it turned out, is not subjected to government controls Freedom of speech seems to be widely exercised by most Cambodians through the internet, and social media has also become the battleground for the election campaigns. Now the government realizes the influence of social media and the freedom of expression on political development and maturity in Cambodia. Officials are also frustrated with the exercising of freedom of expression on social networking sites.
Newly drafted Cyber law curtailing freedom of expression? The Royal Government of Cambodia covertly drafted the Cyber Crime Law after its announcement of the plan in 2012. The law aims to silence the critics and then control the expressive rights of people in the internet .There has been no consultation with the public or civil society groups during the drafting process, and the law has been seen contradicting international laws and other domestic laws that it undermines democratic processes and institutions in the Kingdom. The new law proposed by the government to control cyber activities has been criticized by human rights activists and NGOs, claiming that some articles
can be used to harass and repress the rights of expression through legal proceedings. According to a British-based freedom of expression advocacy group, the drafted law leaked to the public, stipulates that in Article 19, that if anyone displeases the government by damaging social and cultural values as well as undermining the country’s sovereignty and integrity, will be punished with a three-year jail time. The newly drafted law, inevitably, grants more power to the authorities for a crackdown and puts control on the people who exercise their rights, particularly the freedom of expression in cyberspace. In March, the National Assembly of Cambodia, joined by MPs from the both parties, passed controversial laws, leading to criticisms from the public. The new election law, which is seen as undemocratic, consists of a provision banning NGOs, rights groups and civil society groups from criticizing political parties during the election campaign. The move of the national assembly to enact vague laws, indicates that freedom of expression is under threat in the Kingdom.
Is it the right time for Cambodia to have a Cyber law? In regards to the new draft law on Cyber Crime, The government officials claimed that many countries already adopted this law and it is time for Cambodia to have it too. It still remained questionable whether Cambodia should have the Cyber Law. However, rises in cases of cyber crimes within the society has become major concern for the authorities, and the rapid transformation of social, cultural, economic and political landscape in Cambodia indicates that Cambodia is in need of the Cyber Laws. But this law should be drafted and should be transparent to the public.
The law drafted by the government was passed without having meaningful consultation and engagement with citizens and activists to ensure that the law will not run counter to existing international and domestic laws. Freedom of expression in Cambodia is still being challenged and needs to be examined, and institutions that support this freedom should be established or empowered. This can be improved as long as the Royal Government of Cambodia takes the recommendations of NGOs and civil society constructively, to protect human rights and freedom of expression. The first step is an amendment of the country’s poorly drafted law. These laws were abused and misused by the authorities to repress and intimidate human rights defenders and activists. Second, the government, which was formed through a democratic election, has to put in effort and commitment towards ending the culture of impunity, and make mainstream the protection and promotion of the human rights in accordance with the international and domestic laws. Third, importantly, that the government and related public institutions should be committed in working with media groups and NGOs working on human rights, to make sure that NGOs and rights groups’ voice can be heard by the government, and that they have easy access to public and formal democratic institutions. Last but not least, Cambodia, which is a member of a regional organization known as ASEAN and party to numerous human rights conventions, should comprehensively implement international legal instruments on human rights.
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A S E AN Connectivit y
AEC in the Enigmatic Locality: Politics and Cross-border Trade between Mae Hong Son and Southern Shan State, Burma Busarin Lertchavalitsakul PhD Candidate - The Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research
Photo: Busarin Lertchavalitsakul
After the initiation of the ASEAN Economic Cooperation (AEC) had been circulated as the national policy from the central government to the local levels, the provincial Mae Hong Son government responded to it with positivity and enthusiasm, with the high expectations of future economic prosperity. The district of Mae Hong Son entirely borders Burma/Myanmar, with 483 kilometres of border, 326 kilometres of land-border demarcation, and 157 kilometres of river-border demarcation, of which 127 kilometres is with the Salween River and 30 kilometres with the Moei River. Consequently, the Mae Hong Son government has been trying hard to upgrade its five border channelsâ€”Huay Pueng and Nam Pieng Din in Muang district, Huay Ton Noon in Khun Yuam district, Baan Sao Hin in Mae Sarieng district and Ban Mae Sam Lap in Sop Moei districts into permanent or international border checkpoints as gateways to connect with Burma. Consequently, the Mae Hong Son province aims for the AEC to heighten cross-border trade, tourism and other cooperation with 1 Burma.
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However, the supposition of the Mae Hong Son government is much in contrast to the reality and current situations along the border, at the Huay Pueng border channel where I conducted my field research between 2013 and 2014. This border channel is a gateway to the Southern Shan State in Burma, so the local government hopes that the upgrading of this channel will expand border trade activities in the province. As it understands that the distance from the Thai border to Taunggyi, the capital city of the Shan State, is approximately 295 kilometres, and other commercial activities could be promoted in main townships on the way to Taunggyi. However, it is not about the reachable distance between Mae Hong Son and Taunggyi across the border. Why?
Political complexity First, the political landscape of this border area presents the contestation of four political entities, both states and not-states. They are both the Burmese and Thai states, one Wa family, and the independent movement, the Shan State Army-South (SSA-S), whose headquarters is located on Loi Tai Leng, opposite Mae Hong Son’s Pang Ma Pa district on Thai/Burma border. Mae Hong Son province is one of the original settlements of Shan people from Burma since the mid nineteenth century,2 however, understanding the current border politics of the people here is superficial and mainly attached to historical periods. The border politics nowadays has developed to become more complex and has numerous different layers, since the ethnic insurgency in Burma that started in the 1970’s. The Huay Pueng border channel was officially established in 1996, which appeared much later than considerable flows of Shan’s migrations and long-distance trade during the frontier regimes between Burma and Thailand. The southernmost Shan State which covers the eastern bank of Salween River, stretching from the area in the west to east, opposite to Muang Mae Hong Son and Pangmapa districts has Homong acting as an administrative center. (So I will call this area in general as “Homong” or Homong zone henceforth.) This described area is currently controlled by Maha Ja, one of the former aids of the notorious drug warlord Khun Sa, together with his late brother Maha Hsang, who founded one rebel and insurgent group named the Wa National Army (WNA). Although it was not stated officially by the Burmese government, it has been acknowledged by people along this border that Maha Ja is controlling the zone, not long after Khun Sa surrendering himself to the Burmese army in 1996.3 At the present, Because of his age and health, recently he handed power down to his approximately 30 year old oldest son, Chao Nu. (I call the most charismatic political entity in this borderland the “Wa Family” as people perceive this family as the ruler controlling this zone with the admission of the Burmese army. Maja Ja and his son do not continually maintain its political power with army troops or insurgent movements, therefore the Wa National Army seems to be extinct in the area. Instead, under the authorization of the Burmese government,4 the Wa Family established its own company named Shan State South
or SSS with their former soldiers-turned-to militias and with civilians turning into company employees. Although the Burmese army permitted the Wa Family and its militias to administrate the area, it has not been the case since the SSA-South is still active, despite its leader signing ceasefire agreement with the Burmese regime in November 2011. The Burmese army settles its bases in the Wa familycontrolled zone, with the headquarters in Homong and other bases in two other villages, one of which is opposite to the Huay Pueng border channel. Despite agreeing to a ceasefire between the Burmese government and SSA-S leaders, clashes between soldiers of both sides in different areas have still been reported.5 The power contestation between the Burmese soldiers and the SSA-S is noticeable and affects the mobility of people and cross-border traders. For instance, the movement of people from different towns in upper southern Shan State, especially those located on the western bank of the Salween River, could be considered a risk to Burma’s national security. Around early February 2013 the ferry crossing on the Salween River operated mutually by the Wa Family and the Burmese authorities was temporary out of services. People, who aimed to travel between Thailand and Burma, were obstructed to go further from both sides. Rumour was spread that the Burmese army was behind the plot in hindering Shan people from the upper region of the Salween River to travel to Loi Tai Leng to celebrate the Shan’s National Day on the 7th of February. It still believed that these Shan people, both men and women, could be convinced to be drafted to strengthen the SSA-S troops to fight against the Burmese regime.6 The relationship between the Wa Family, whose leaders were once allies of Khun Sa, who then led the Mong Tai Army, and the SSA-S, is considered negotiable and more friendly. This is because the SSA was once an ally with Khun Sa, both politically and economically, through illegal tax collection from long distance traders in the area. Although, the Burmese army took the power, it never gains absolute power from the Wa family because it still needs the Wa family to balance the power and to be a mediator between it and the SSA-S. Representatives of the Wa Family and the SSA-S regularly met informally in a Mae Hong Son town. Meanwhile, the Thai government still maintains its friendship with its Burmese counterpart but also acknowledges the power of the Wa Family, which shows more charisma than the Burmese authorities to the local people. The Thai government’s behaviour has been constant from the 1970s to 1990s in which it befriended ethnic insurgent groups to use them as a proxy to secure its territories from Burmese attacks. Besides, it unofficially supported logging concession deals between Thai businessmen and leaders of insurgent groups, including Khun Sa, since the latter partners also benefited from the business deal to finance their movements. At present, the Mae Hong Son government continues this strategy, although logging concessions along the border is not permitted by the Burmese government.7 However, the cross-border trade, which
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Photo: Busarin Lertchavalitsakul
is considered small-scale, is still conducted by traders of both sides. Who does exactly benefit from the border trade now? And why does the AEC become the hope of the local government? I attempt to answer this question in the next section.
Small-scale cross-border trade One chief of Mae Hong Son customs, on his post during 2011 to 2012,8 accepted that the volume of cross-border trade through Nam Pueng channel is not considered largely profitable to the Thai government, compared to volumes of trade through Mae Sai border checkpoint in Chiang Rai province and Mae Sot in Tak province. However, the aim to keep this border channel is to maintain trade linkage of both sides’ communities who are also tied with kinship. Besides the key demand of Thai products and other goods are from people living in the Homong area in which Thai Baht had become the main currency rather than Burmese Kyat, including townships and villages not far from the Salween River’s western bank where the closest route must be taken from the Huay Pueng checkpoint. The dependence of Thai goods by people in Homong zone was even more obvious when the Huay Pueng border channel was immediately closed after the 22nd May 2014 coup. Goods were not permitted to be traded or transported across the border. It was reported that Chao Nu of the Wa Family had signalled to the Mae Hong Son government to allow the opening of the border due to shortage of foods and goods. Then the Thai border channel was opened three days a week and came back to full operation about a month after the coup. In the current trade flows, the majority of cross-border traders in term of ethnicity are Shan which can be roughly categorized as Shan traders from the Shan State and Shan trad-
ers on the Thai side whose parents or earlier generations had migrated to Thailand several decades to a century ago. These traders have been involved in cross-border trade activities since the 1980s who saw the demand of foods and goods was economically prosperous. Some traders on the Thai side are northern Thai, Yunnanese Chinese and other ethnic groups such as Kareni. There are approximately 200 traders registered to Mae Hong Son’s ‘Soon Sang Karn Chain Dan’ on the Thai border command center’s system and they are also required to register themselves on the system. On both sides traders work in partnership across the border, while some of traders on the Thai side are distributors for goods that are in high demand, such as beer, whiskey, construction materials and equipment and gasoline. Some of these traders are nominees for Shan traders on the Shan State side when the latter have no proper documents or are not eligible to do cross-border trade. However, the system created by the local government is not strictly enforced and strong partnership is based on long-term involvement in trade activities that were established before the border channel. The initiation of the AEC therefore becomes the hope of the local government in Mae Hong Son, in order for it to upgrade its status from that of a second-class province to be more attractive province. It could also utilize its position as a border province to receive a larger allocation of the budget and receive more incentives. Prior to the intensive promotion of the AEC scheme by the national government, the Mae Hong Son government had tried hard to create cross-border economic activities. One of the schemes created at a border checkpoint was a Talat Chaidaen, or border market. This project was first launched when Direk Kongkleep governed Mae Hong Son, between October 2005 and September 2007. It was aimed
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to boost the border trade and investment for traders in both countries. The Mae Hong Son government office chose the area called Rong Heang, a former military base during the ethnic insurgency. Once this project was implemented, the area was cleared of landlines as it was planned to be a venue for both countries’ traders to trade, and for quarantining cattle from Burma, before transporting them to Mae Hong Son.9 However the project was deemed unsuccessful by villagers, since there were not a lot of traders from Burma who regularly come to the market to trade. Nonetheless, Mae Hong Son’s new governor later attempted hard again to try to re-open the border market. Although whenever a governor attempted to rekindle the project, all they did was travel to Rong Haeng to preside over the opening, so they could appear on the media and receive gratification. After that there were no activities, as traders on both sides did not see the possibility of opening stalls at the site. The practicality is Thai goods, especially consumer’s products are in high demand by the Shan people in their home towns and are received through the transportation of Shan cross-border traders. Meanwhile, those who demand products in Shan state or throughout Burma, see it more convenient by just going to the central market in Mae Hong Son where goods are available by the same group of cross border traders.
Border communities’ ambivalent expectations As described, the high expectation towards the implementation of the AEC is mostly from the national government, local governments or local officers, and business people who are not really apart of border communities. National officials also lack a full understanding about geopolitics within the border area, where the Wa Family is more powerful than the Burmese government. However, on the Thai side they still express much over-expectation in investing in Burma through this border channel. This is what people said after groups of Thai government officials signalled their interest to meet Chao No through mediators from the border communities. Chao No always gave his agreement towards any development projects that the Thai
government offered which implied that he had no problem as long as the Thai government initiated and gave financial support, especially improving the road condition in Homong. This was seen as contradiction while the Burmese government started to improve its road condition in the remote areas, including the southern Shan State, but it has not yet reached Homong zone, because it considered Homong was under the Wa family’s administration. However, the real implementation of any projects by the Mae Hong Son government never occurs since this type of policy would never been agreed between state and nonstate polity. The newest event that the Thai state attempted to demonstrate possibility and potential of the AEC was a tree plantation project initiated by the Thai local government.10 This event’s information seemed to be not widely circulated before, as there were no local news media report this afterwards. From some photos I witnessed from one villager, Burmese army representatives also showed up. The Thai government side included the police and other civilian officials, besides the Thai army which was normally the most crucial agency present there. Considering the cross-border communities have been engaging in small-scale trade for almost a half century, in the beginning of the AEC project, information was spread throughout the region. They expressed excitement and hope that more cooperation of the two countries from this project would lead to freer mobility and the intensification of trade investment and cooperation. At the same time, they have ambivalent feelings towards the projects that more capitalists would replace them when the cross-border trade and other activities are promoted to be more state authorized. In addition, they realized that this might not be beneficial for them as they could not control and manage their own rules that have been practiced since the ethnic insurgency period where state regulation was ineffective. This is in contrast to expectation of cross-border traders on the Shan State side. They dream that the AEC might lead to a more relaxing of the border crossing, which will lead to paying the authorities less bribes for them to be able to cross the border.
References 1 2 3 4 5
http://www.prachachat.net/news_detail.php?newsid=1331305216 See Wilson, Constance M. and Hanks, Lucien. 1985. The Burma- Thailand over Sixteen Decades: Three Descriptive Documents. Ohio: Ohio University, especially page 34-36. See Pathan, Don. 2002. “Border Blowout” Irawaddee Magazine, Border Blowout MAY, 2002 - VOLUME 10 NO.4, and http://www2.irrawaddy.org/article.php?art_id=1730&page=8 See Military Authorized logging, Wednesday, 27 February, 2008 For instance, on 19 March 2012, the clash between the Burmese soldiers and militia of the Shan State Army-South broke out in Mongyawng Township, Shan State (Lawi Weng. “Govt Troops Clash with SSA-South Despite Truce”, Irrawaddee Magazine Online, 22 March 2012 http://www2.irrawaddy.org/article.php?art_id=23248. Another incident took place on 5 January 2013 in the area informally named Doi Naka, opposite to Ban Rak Thai village on the Thai side, about twenty kilometres from Mani Township [Tahan Bhama-Tai Yai RCSS/SSA Patakan Klai Chai Daen Thai” (Burmese-Shan RCSS/SSA Clashes near Thai Border), 5 January 2012 <www.khonkhurtai.org>]. Lastly, between 22 and 24 February 2013 in Kho-Lam Sub-district in the Shan State (“Thirty Burma Army soldiers killed in clashes with SSPP/SSA”, Shan Herald Agency News), 26 February 2012 <http://www.english.panglong.org/index. php?option=com_content&view=article&id=5277:thirty-burma-army-soldiers-killed-in-clashes-with-ssppssa&catid= 86:war&Itemid=284> 6 Fieldwork in early February 2013. 7 At present, teak and timber concessions along the border have been suspended due to an agreement between the central Burmese and Thai governments which stipulates that all logs and timbers must have a certificate of origin (CO) associated with it, as issued by the central Burmese government. Therefore, those logging agreements that involve the ethnic groups around the border are not covered, and so their timber is not certified. 8 Name must be anonymized 9 For example, Mrs Narumol Palkawat was opening the market on the 18 October, 2012; and recently Mr Suraphol Panas-amphol was presiding the opening of the market on the 6 August, 2014. 10 I did not observe the situation myself, but obtaining information from villagers participating in the event.
Dreams of the Island Nation: Democracy, Lee Kuan Yew’s legacy and modern-day mythmaking Andrew Alan Johnson Assistant Professor, Anthropology Yale-NUS College
Singapore city. Photo: Rachel Namdarian
After Lee Kuan Yew’s death, thousands of Singaporeans came out to mourn. World leaders from Thailand, the US, Europe and elsewhere came to praise Lee’s legacy and remark upon the impact that he had upon Singapore and the larger world order. In India, a father even named his newborn “Lee Kuan Yew” (Straits Times April 7, 2015). Singapore-based political scientist Rahul Sagar described Lee Kuan Yew as the “Last Great Man” (Sagar 2015). Most touching were the scenes of everyday Singaporeans mourning over the death of the man who has become synonymous with modern Singapore. Elderly Phua Soo Yong wept as he said: “We were a small fishing village. We could have drowned and no one in the world would know. But we are now a vibrant, thriving nation” (Channel News Asia, March 25, 2015). The narrative here is one that most of us living in Southeast Asia and many of us abroad have heard before. Singapore, a country that “should not exist” (New York Times, August 29, 2007), in Lee’s own words, with no natural resources and caught between two hostile neighbors, nonetheless emerged to become one of the richest countries in the world, boasting the world’s 2nd most competitive economy (Yahya 2014). Lee described (incorrectly1) the transformation as moving “from third world to first” (Lee KY 2000).
The overall image is of a continual march into a better future. Growth, increase, investment – the country is capitalism made real. The conversation surrounding the reasons behind “the Singapore miracle” takes one of two forms. On one hand, Singapore’s success is attributed to an inner quality of Singaporeans: their ingenuity or their hard work (Lee HL 2009). Lee, Prime Minister of Singapore from 1959 – 1990 (and holding subsequent positions as “Senior Minister” and “Minister Mentor” until 2011), went a step further and attributed much of these qualities to the Confucian heritage and inherent, genetic superiority of Singapore’s Chinese majority (Barr 1999). On the other hand, observers often attribute Singapore’s success to Lee himself and his People’s Action Party (PAP) and its willingness to sacrifice personal liberties (or at least put these on hold) in the name of economic prosperity (see Mahbubani 2009, Zakaria 1994). Even now, Singapore maintains a tight grip on freedom of speech, restricting political assembly to Hong Lim Park and recently banning To Singapore With Love, a film critical of Singapore’s repression of political dissidents.
Many in Southeast Asia dream of their country emulating Singapore. The glass-encased downtowns of other ASEAN countries, with their massive luxury shopping malls interconnected by skywalks evoke Singapore more than they do Tokyo or Seoul’s winding alleyways or London or New York’s historic stone centers. Singapore changes, too, on a daily basis, as new, expensive construction: a sports stadium, the iconic Marina Bay Sands, etc., alters the built environment. 1
“First World,” while it is commonly used to mean something like “economically affluent,” is a Cold War term that referred to an alliance with the United States. The “Third World” were those countries that preferred to remain unaligned. Thailand, for instance, was never “Third World,” nor was Communist Laos or Vietnam.
Tom Pepinsky (Assoc. Prof., Cornell University), tompepinsky.com, reproduced with permission.
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choose Andorra, Hong Kong, Monaco, or Dubai.3 These states are, along with Singapore, havens of wealth, places where the rich rest their capital and which gain increasing importance as financial markets grow more and more digital and decentered.
But let us stop for a moment here to think, an action that might be difficult over the sounds of the hammering of concrete or the hiss of a welder’s torch, in the heady forward rush of riches. How much of Singapore’s success owed to the actions of Lee and his People’s Action Party (PAP) – in other words, what is the role of “greatness” in Sagar’s sense versus the accident of geography and history? Is it fair to say that Singapore is a country entirely lacking in natural resources (except for the cleverness of its inhabitants)? Was Singapore truly a “poor fishing village” before Lee Kuan Yew took it into his hands? We will answer these questions in reverse order. Was Singapore a “poor fishing village?” Was it, as the national newspaper The Straits Times put it, “a tiny slum-ridden trading post” (Straits Times, March 29, 2015)? Certainly not. Singapore was the central node in British trade in Southeast Asia, the jewel of the Straits Settlements, and, in Winston Churchill’s words, the “Gibraltar of the East” before British Malaya separated from the Empire in 1963. Two years later, Singapore separated from Malaysia and became independent. But it was hardly insignificant. According to political scientist Tom Pepinsky, Singapore’s GDP upon independence looked far more like that of the UK or US than Malaysia (and certainly far above that of Indonesia or Myanmar) (Pepinsky 2015). It rose not from poverty to prosperity, but from prosperity to prosperity.2 Secondly, let us address the question of natural resources. It is true that Singapore has no mines, it imports nearly all of its food, and its drinking water is waste water sent to Malaysia, processed, and re-imported. With this in mind, surely Singapore could not survive modeled after nation-states such as Thailand or Vietnam, surely not only its survival but its success in the face of these obstacles are signs of some genius at work? Again, our question contains within it incorrect assumptions. We are comparing Singapore to nation-states with farmlands and peasantry, with rural poverty and ore-rich mountain ranges. We should be comparing Singapore to citystates, states with tiny land masses, or cities with a great deal of political independence. In other words, instead of choosing Malaysia or Indonesia as a point of comparison, we should 2
Such a system of trade-centered city-states is certainly not unknown to the region. In pre-colonial insular Southeast Asia, power rested in particular trading posts: Johor, Melaka, Patani, etc., and control over merchant networks, instead of being, as it was in the mainland, based around the ability to mobilize agricultural labor. In modern-day, “resource-poor” Singapore, the lack of a hinterland means that unskilled labor is largely imported. And having politically fractured and war-torn neighbors in turn means that Singaporean companies are able to labor costs down to a razor’s edge – indeed, with no minimum wage and poor labor laws, migrant workers are often the targets for exploitation and scams, some of them illegal, and some of them perfectly legal (see Au 2013, Transient Workers 2014)4. When these workers return home, Singapore bears no responsibility for them. It does not need to educate their children nor care for them in their old age. Should they fall sick or get pregnant or otherwise be unable to work, they return home. So, assuming that one has a wide range of sources for labor – and Singapore does, importing workers from Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, the Philippines, India, Indonesia, and Bangladesh – one can demand ever lower wages and thereby dramatically increase profit margins. While Singapore’s expulsion from Malaysia meant that it was politically cut off from any larger nation, at that moment in 1965, hanging at the twilight of worldwide colonial empires, Singapore was perfectly poised to capture the birth of a new, de-centered, neoliberal economic order, one founded on networks of corporate capital rather than state power. Whereas the old empires of Britain and the Netherlands (among others) worked on capturing and occupying land, new empires based in Washington and Tokyo (among others) projected their power through the market, and Singapore rode upon this latter wave. Singapore thus must be understood as not an island city whose borders end at the open water, but as a conglomerate that includes wide swathes of South and Southeast Asia, a node in a network of cities in the region (Bunnell 2014). With these two points in mind: the prosperous (not impoverished) start that Singapore had in 1965 and its
Qatar, Kuwait, etc., or the Vatican, which has its own character. Critics may point out that I group states which are semi-autonomous (e.g. Hong Kong, Dubai) with those that
Singapore’s GDP sees a sharp spike in the early 2000s, a spike that allows Singapore to surpass the GDP per capita of the US and UK. This is owing to the policy of allowing
I deliberately leave out small states with large petroleum reserves: Brunei, Abu Dhabi,
are truly independent (Monaco, Andorra). 4
It should be noted that Alex Au, whom I reference here, has also been the target of a
citizenship to wealthy foreigners who agree to place a certain amount of their savings in
lawsuit pressed by the Singaporean authorities owing to his criticism of the judicial
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5 advantageous (not precarious ) status as a tiny city-state in th the late 20 century, let us address greatness. When Mr. Phua thinks of a “small fishing village,” my guess would be that he is speaking of Temasek, the Malay fishing town that Sir Stamford Raffles took over from the Sultan of Johor, where the British decided to found Singapore in order to compete with Dutch possessions in Southeast Asia. It is a conflation that makes a great deal of sense. Both were strong men (and strongmen). Both made difficult moral decisions. Both had as their ultimate goal the promulgation of business, the search for wealth above all else. It is only natural that Phua should conflate the two. History, not Lee nor Raffles, transformed Temasek into Singapore.
Paring away the layers of myth-making and discarding the notion that Lee singlehandedly saved Singapore from obscurity or poverty, let us examine the legacy that we can definitively attribute to Lee. Bringing Lee into comparison with other “authoritarian” leaders in the region, from Suharto in Indonesia to Marcos in the Philippines to Sarit in Thailand, the difference shines out clearly as one of a particular style of authoritarian rule. During the mid-20th century, most governments both Communist and capitalist in Southeast Asia relied upon a combination of military bravado and ethno-nationalism (see Bowie 1997), blaring national anthems and rewriting history to tell the story of the “great Thai race,” “noble Indonesian heroes,” “heroic Lao kings,” et cetera. Tanks rolled in the streets in predictable patterns. Soldiers strutted with puffed-up chests under improbable amounts of medals. Lee did none of these things - indeed, having little myth with which to work, he could not do these things. Lee’s legacy is not Singapore’s ascendance on the world stage: that was destined the moment that Malaysia cast Singapore off. Instead, Lee’s legacy is a model of corporate governance: undemocratic, intolerant of dissent, but uninterested in the frivolous pomp of nationalist histrionics. Modern-day Singapore does not send soldiers in the middle of the night to carry off dissidents – this is the tactic of 20th-century style military autocracy. Rather, Singaporeans who speak out are fired from their jobs (Chun 2013) or sued for defamation (Ngerng 2014). Such is the model of corporate-style rule. And it shows little sign of decline, as the recent arrest of 16-year-old Amos Yee for criticizing Lee online demonstrates. Indeed, while military dictatorship along Sarit’s lines in most places seems passé, Lee’s style of corporate authoritarianism has admirers across the world, especially in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (Judah 2015). Lee’s legacy may indeed be to offer up a new kind of authoritarianism, one more palatable to a 5
For those who might argue that Singapore lay trapped between two powerful neighbors, Indonesia and Malaysia, both of which might desire to possess the wealthy island, I might counter that such a position is in fact a blessing rather than a curse.
post-democratic world6. Those abroad often ask me what will happen to Singapore now that Lee Kuan Yew is dead. The response is, of course, “nothing.” Personality, charisma, what the Thais term barami never applied here. Instead, Singapore exists because of markets, because of its position vis-à-vis Southeast Asia and the world financial system. If we are looking for angels who will bring Singapore up or demons to bring it down, it is in the networks of capital, not in individual persons, where we will find them. Instead, the legacy of Lee offers to be one that extends far beyond his life and far beyond the shores of his island nation.
Works Cited Au, Alex. 2013. “Woolim, Part 1: How Low Can a Salary Go?” Transient Workers Count, Too. http://twc2.org.sg/2013/12/24/woolim-part-1-how-low-can-a-salary-go/ Barr, Michael D. 1999. “Lee Kuan Yew: Race, Culture, and Genes” in Journal of Contemporary Asia 29(2), pp 145-166. Bowie, Katherine. 1997. Rituals of National Loyalty: An anthropology of the state and the Village Scout movement in Thailand. New York: Columbia University Press. Bunnell, Tim. 2014. “City Networks as Alternative Geographies of Southeast Asia” in TRaNS: Trans – Regional and –National Studies of Southeast Asia 2(1), pp 155. Channel News Asia, March 25, 2015. “We were a small fishing village…” Post on Facebook.com: https://www.facebook.com/ChannelNewsAsiaSingapore/ photos/a.106297597933.96699.93889432933/10152764387042934/ Chun Han Wong. 2013. “Singapore Professor Denied Tenure, Sparks Academic Freedom Debate” in Wall Street Journal. Accessed April 11, 2015. http://blogs.wsj.com/ indonesiarealtime/2013/03/01/singapore-professor-denied-tenure-sparks-academicfreedom-debate/ Judah, Ben. 2015. “The Curse of Lee Kuan Yew” in Politico, March issue. Accessed April 11, 2015. http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/03/lee-kuan-yew-legacy-116317.html#. VSjr3hOUdPI Lee Hsien Loong. September 2009. Speech presented to the Singapore Human Capital Summit. Speech presented at Raffles City Convention Centre, Singapore. Lee Kuan Yew. 2000. From Third World to First: The Singapore story 1965-2000. New York: Harper. Mahbubani, Kishore. 2009. Can Asians Think? 4th Edition. Marshall Cavendish International. New York Times. August 29, 2007. “Excerpts from an Interview with Lee Kuan Yew” Accessed April 11, 2015. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/29/world/asia/29iht-lee-excerpts. html?pagewanted=all Pepinsky, Tom. 2015. “Singapore: From Third World to First?” Posted on Tompepinsky.com. Accessed April 11, 2015. http://tompepinsky.com/2015/03/23/singapore-from-third-worldto-first/ Ngerng, Roy. May 19, 2014. “I Have Just Been Sued by the Singapore [sic] Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong,” posted in The Heart Truths. Accessed April 11, 2015. http://thehearttruths. com/2014/05/19/i-have-just-been-sued-by-the-singapore-prime-minister-lee-hsien-loong/ Sagar, Rahul. 2015. “The Last Great Man?” Rector’s Tea, Yale-NUS College. April 6, 2015. Stephenson, Neal. 1992. Snow Crash. New York: Bantam. Straits Times, April 7, 2015. “Dad in India names his baby after Lee Kuan Yew”. Accessed April 11, 2015. http://www.straitstimes.com/news/singapore/more-singapore-stories/story/ dad-india-names-baby-after-lee-kuan-yew-20150407 Straits Times, March 29, 2015. “The Singapore Lee Kuan Yew Built”. Accessed April 11, 2015. http://www.straitstimes.com/news/singapore/more-singapore-stories/story/the-singaporelee-kuan-yew-built-20150329 Transient Workers Count Too. 2014. “TWC2S Response to the COI Report on the Little India Riot.” Transient Workers Count Too. http://twc2.org.sg/2014/07/03/twc2s-response-to-thecoi-report-on-the-little-india-riot/ Yahya, Yasmine. 2014. “Singapore retains spot as second-most competitive economy” in Straits Times, September 4, 2014. Zakharia, Fareed. 1994. “A Conversation with Lee Kuan Yew.” Foreign Affairs. 18 Oct. 2014. Web. 18 Oct. 2014. <http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/49691/fareed-zakaria/aconversation-with-lee-kuan-yew>.
Should Malaysia make a move, Indonesia would be sure to counter it, and vice-versa. In addition, examples of 20th-century city-states losing their independence are difficult to find – Hong Kong’s recent political troubles come to mind as an example of just how
Here, one might be reminded of Neal Stephenson’s “Mr. Lee’s Greater Hong Kong,”
difficult it would be to turn a city-state into a part of a nation, even if one has the political
an imagining of a Singaporean-style, corporately-governed city-state gone into
authority to do so.
international franchise mode, in his science fiction novel Snow Crash (1992).
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A S E AN Connectivit y
The Love of Shan Migrants
Thirayut Sangangamsakun Department of English, Faculty of Humanities, Chiang Mai University
“I will tell thee, as the flame of love kindleth. How ardent my passion, thou choice of my soul! If in a great pool, I should see thee there drowning, I in it would plunge, thou reckless of life, or if in a deep well thou shouldest fall tripping, I would rush to thy rescue, as no other man. It is fate that our stars must come in conjunction, like Sam-law and U-pym, the lovers who dwell in the sky. So harken I pray, and make thy decision, then early we’ll set, the glad wedding-day.” Shan at Home, Leslie Milne (2001)
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A rattling motorbike arrived with the groom on the back. He soon slid off the bike and greeted the guests, smiling. Looking around, I guessed the wedding expected about fifty guests. It was noon, several tables were set, packed with chairs, but only a few guests were there. I knew none of them. The morning ceremony was over. It was being held at the temple nearby the house and it was mainly being attended by relatives of the groom and bride who had come back from maung nok (home abroad). More guests were expected to come in the late afternoon, perhaps evening, the time when most of them were supposed to finish work, though it was Sunday. I didn’t know the bride and the groom in person, but I’d been invited by one of my Tai friends (friends from Shan state, Myanmar) to attend the ceremony, as I’d once told him that I wanted to see a Shan wedding. Anyway, I guessed I was not the only one to whom an invitation hadn’t been addressed. I noticed some of the guests take their friends along with them and introduce each other over the feast. At that moment, I wouldn’t have known that it was a wedding if I hadn’t been told before. A couple of months prior to the wedding I was told by my Tai friend, the one who took me to the wedding, that he was also getting engaged and married. However, in his case, no wedding ceremony was held, only a party for close friends and relatives. At the time he didn’t even tell his Thai boss about the change in his marital status. Only when his wife was pregnant a year after the party did everyone know that he was no longer single. Was it a matter of keeping private life secret? Thinking about the marriage of Tai people in Thailand, whether they have a wedding ceremony or not, there are key differences: their marriage is not fully recognized by people around them and, of course, not under the Thai legal system. It makes me wonder what makes them decide to really get married. In other words, what does having a relationship, falling in love, and living as a family mean to Tai migrants in the transborder context? To satisfy my curiosity, I made an appointment to interview my Tai friend about marriage among Tai people. My friend brought along Prim (pseudonym), a lady originally from Shan state, to give me more insight. With light make-up and goldenbrown hair, Prim looked like a typical Thai teenager at twentysomething, modern and confident. Prim has been living and working in Thailand for about ten years. She’s been an MC at several Tai events, such as festivals and anniversaries and, at the time of interviewing she was working for a modelling agency. Though she has not yet got married herself, she was once invited to be a maid of honor at her close friend’s wedding
when she went back home for a visit at 18 years old. She recalled her experience like this: “My hometown is considered a rural area, where all the villagers know each other. Though traditional wedding ceremonies can last for three days, it still depends on the family’s economic status. My friend’s wedding took about two days.” Richer families might spend the first day preparing, the second on the ceremony, and the last day having an extended party and celebration. However, for those who cannot afford the three-day run, they can do it in one or two days. Talking about those migrants now living in Thailand, Prim mentioned that they normally spend only a day having the wedding, and it doesn’t have to be a formal or traditional wedding. “Usually, the couple goes to the temple together, does the ceremonial tying of their hands with sacred thread, and they might later throw a party at the end of the day. In some cases, they don’t see a need to have a party at all,” Prim said. The main reason that they do not organize a really formal wedding is because of a lack of space to set one up: “some of us are still living in a small rented room,” she explained. Although the form of the wedding can be altered in the transborder context due to such economic and contextual factors, gaining recognition and permission from the couple’s parents or guardians still plays a vital role in Tai marriages. “We have to inform our parents and ask for their permission,” Prim said. “Some couples even find out at that point that they are actually relatives and they cannot get married. In that case, they normally turn out to be good friends,” she added. Back in Shan state, the parents normally ask the village headman to accompany them to the bride’s house, where they will ask for the bride’s hand. Nevertheless, money is still the key factor influencing whether a couple will organise a formal wedding or not. Prim told me that in Tai culture if the groom moves into the bride’s house after getting married, the groom doesn’t have to give a dowry- he himself is the so-called “body-dowry”. If the bride moves into the groom’s house, however, a dowry must be given to the bride’s family as compensation for their loss. On the other hand, when such couples get married in Thailand, where the house does not officially belong to either of them, a dowry is often transferred to the bank account of the bride’s family. This situation, however, still depends on the agreement made by the parents from both sides. Not only does entering a relationship require parental permission, getting out one requires it too. If a couple want to get divorced, they will make khan dok, a silver bowl decorated with flowers, and will present it to their family and ask for their permission to stay apart. Regardless, most families rarely encourage their children to get divorced.
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Besides the permission of the parents, what about a marriage certificate? Do they really need it? “Not really, especially in very rural areas like my hometown, where there is no electricity and we have to use a bamboo pipe to draw drinking water from the nearby stream,” she said. In that context, a marriage certificate means nothing to people. However, as Shan state starts growing and becoming more modernized, perhaps the richer or more middle-class families will want to guarantee the security of their married life. They might need the certificate to ensure their well-being.
Sam-law were thereafter reborn as stars in the sky, but they remain separated by three stars lined between them. Only once a year will their stars come in conjunction. “You can look up in the night sky. If you see the three stars in line and the other two stars shining on both sides, there, they are U-pym and Samlaw,” Prim said. “You can visit the grave of U-pym and Sam-law in Shan state, too, if you go there,” she added. Besides the stars and the graves, the story is re-told and passed on to the next generation in the form of songs and TV dramas so that Tai people continue to know and remember the story.
With or without the marriage certificate, parents still have a strong influence on the married life of their children in Tai culture. This is reflected in the Tai folk story of U-pym and Sam-law, a tragic love story. As I quoted above, “It is fate that our stars must come in conjunction, like Sam-law and U-pym, the lovers who dwell in the sky.” I asked Prim to share the story as she remembered it. “It is a story of steadfast and faithful love, but it is a very sad story,” Prim mentioned. With help from my friend, they both piece the story together. Sam-law was a rich cattle-trader who fell in love with the beautiful, but relatively poor, U-pym. Though Sam-law’s mother arranged another woman, named U-pam, for him to marry, and she disdained U-pym extremely, they still managed to marry. U-pym moved into Sam-law’s house, where she was frequently humiliated and victimized by his mean mother, and soon gave birth to a child. One day, when Sam-law was away, the mother intentionally poured oil all over the steps and asked U-pym to come downstairs. U-pym rushed down a couple of steps unawares, slipped, fell off, and hit her head on the ground. As she could foresee what would happen to her and her baby, she gathered her last strength, picked up the child and ran away for her home. The pain from her injury grew stronger and stronger, until she knew she could not bear it any longer. Finally, she left the child with a raven, asking it to take care of her child. (I added that this is quite similar to a lullaby in Thai culture portraying a raven taking care of a baby.) After leaving the child, on the way back home, she died of pain, bleeding all over the place, alone in the forest. As soon as Samlam got back home, seeing no sign of U-pym but the blood beneath the stair case, he rushed out to find her. Finally, he found her body, lying in a pool of blood, without breath nor soul. With confusion, rage, and love, he pulled out his knife. The tears streaming down his face, he held U-pym’s body tight and cut his throat deep, killing himself. Sam-law’s mother followed and found him dead with U-pym in his arms. In her final act of authority, she separated the bodies and placed mai-kansam-ta (a stick with three branches) between them. U-pym and
Starting a relationship is always complicated, and it seems even more complicated for those people who are away from their homeland. Such commitment requires several levels of recognition and acknowledgement to initiate, maintain, or even end a couple’s marital status, such as being recognized by peers and people in the community and/or being recognized and protected under state law. In the transborder context, the first case is somewhat questionable, since the definition of their community has changed completely. Though the latter case—the legal recognition—is relatively absent, it was actually not really needed in the first place anyway. Therefore, without parents’ close supervision, can they simply stay together without getting married? Why do they have to get married? “Well, many teenagers here stay together without letting their parents know. But, at a certain point, they will consider getting married. In our culture, we believe that if we live together without getting married, we will not be successful in our business life,” Prim asserted. For love and romantic relationships, the guise of marriage is still seen as the crucial milestone for many people’s lives. Apart from taking their love to the next level—the most serious or long-term relationship—marriage is also seen as a great way for economic consolidation, which will help the couples survive in the transborder context. As I was listening to their version of Tai life and love stories, some strange feelings sprung up. I felt like I could, in some way, get closer to them. At that moment, it was not necessary to question whether their stories were true or false, nor whether they were being refracted through a middle-class point of view. I was interested in finding the correct version of the story, but only later. Instead I just listened and admiring the way they tried to get me understand their stories. I respect all stories. For me, it is probably the very first step to recognizing their being—not only their existence, but their voices, their lives, and their loves.
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Photo: Samak Kosem
A S E AN Youth
Cultural sensitivity1 in multicultural society: Knowledge management plan to overcome ethnic myths and disintegrate territorial borders between Southeast Asian nations Thanapong Meunsan Chiang Mai University 1
This article uses “ความแวดไวทางวัฒนธรรม” as a translation of “cultural sensitivity” while the word “ความอ่อนไหวทางวัฒนธรรม” contains a passive sense. The word “แวดไว” was first used by Samart Srijamnong, lecturer at Faculty of Education, Chiang Mai University at the Seminar “Education and cultural sensitivity” on Saturday, 21 September 2013 at Room 30 years, Faculty of Education, Chiang Mai University.
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Globalization and neoliberalism in the 21 century are important factors that lead to the shrinking of information between societies and the expansion of international markets. It has also increased the interconnection between people from different cultures, creating societies with various interactions, and “global citizens” who vary in race, religion and culture. They form themselves both at a macro-level, such as economic communities and international political pacts, at regional and sub-regional levels, and at micro-levels, such as borderlands between two nations where there are the migration of people and labours, as well as marginalised or stateless people. Thailand is one of the countries that benefits from this change whilst also facing negative impacts such as social and cultural conflicts. This came to be at the same time as the realization of nationhood under the concept of ‘international boundary line’ of modern states which reproduces modern state ideology as a “newly produced history” and uniting social consciousness of “good governance”. The outcomes of good governance, however, includes the production of ‘otherness’ that pushes ‘stateless’ people to the margins of society, followed by prejudice, stereotype, ethnocentrism, ethnic myth, ultra-nationalism etc. These set of ideas reflect the problem of “cultural insensitivity” which hinder Thailand’s readiness preparation to enter the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), which has the goal of regional economic integration by 2015. Therefore, in the 21st century Thai economic paradigm plays an important role in eliminating the cultural insensitivity and promotes cultural awareness through modern education, as education is an agent of socialization and transmits the cultural model. This article proposes that “cultural sensitivity” needs to be integrated in school curriculums and in knowledge management plans because it promotes understandings for students to overcome ethnic myths and eliminate social conscious on nation state border. It also goes in line with multicultural education management in the 21st century, which will reduce conflicts and overcome cultural prejudice and ultra nationalism, which are a hindrance into Thailand’s integration to the AEC.
Cultural sensitivity and multicultural education: meaning, importance, and guidelines Efficient education management in multicultural societies needs to be based on mutual understandings. Cultural sensitivity within multicultural education is an important individual factor that will drive ‘learner-centered instruction’, that will enable teachers and instructors to understand individual differences of learners. Therefore, “culturally sensitive education” is the education system that realizes the differences and similarity amongst cultures, which will also affect the value and learning behaviour of learners. Teachers and instructors need to encourage learners to realize that there are other cultures that are different from theirs and that they must be aware not to have condescending views toward other cultures. At the same time, learners also need to be flexible in their interaction with other
people and familiarize themselves with some parts of other cultures’ history, values and beliefs, and behaviours of people from other ethnic groups who live with us in the same society2. There are several ways to create cultural sensitivity; from interacting with different cultures and traditions with respect, learning language and correct pronunciation, speaking slowly and clearly whilst listening patiently, being sensitive to each other’s feeling about their hometowns, being sincere in offering friendship and most importantly never being judgmental based on cultural differences. At the same time, culturally sensitive education also goes in line with the argument from Neo-Marxist educational theorists (Michael Apple, 2000; cited in Nongyao, 2551:119), who said that cultural studies is the study to understand the root of unequal power amongst member states in the global community and the economic effects of being second class citizen and being marginalized students. In other words, it aims to educate learners about power, position, spaces and meaning of gender, ethnicity, race, religions, citizenship and citizenship of migrants. This argument expands the boundary and position of “unequal diversity” from a nation state level to a global community level. It challenges the conventional education system and promotes unity and territorial familiarity to respond to a community that transcends the concept of nation state. Moreover this education system also interweaves social bond from different relationships, from every dimension, that will transform ideas and behaviours of people to overcome prejudice and ethnic myth, that was constructed to serve the modern state, which dominates paradigm as well as the center of power.
Replacing prejudice with knowledge One of the arguments from an American critical pedagogy theorist (Peter McLaren, 1998; cited in Shivarak 2551: 7476), states that critical pedagogy needs to be the voice of the people in the community while it also need to be mindful of context and relation between critics and social actions. It investigates spatial dimension of humans, both in urban and rural areas as well as investigating gender and racial dimension. Thus it’s three-dimensional learning i.e. space, knowledge and power, which as a result, he argued that most importantly the learners must be anti-racist, anti-discriminative, and anti-sexist. The burden of managing education in such a critical way falls on teachers/instructors. It is very important to shift the education paradigm toward cultural sensitivity. It needs to create situations where students are aware about cultural sensitivity and leads to changes in individual behaviour as well as social actions. This is the result from their learning in the context of a multicultural society. Education management in the 21st century needs to incorporate the concept of cultural sensitivity into their curriculum and action plans, in order to create change 2
Excerpt from the debate topic “Cultural sensitivity: Meaning, Importance and Process to Its Realization” by Samart Srijamnong, Faculty of Education, Chiang Mai University. It was first quoted at the seminar “Education and cultural sensitivity” on Saturday, 21 September 2013.
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at institutional and individual levels. At the same time, it also needs mutual effort from both institutional and individual levels to maintain a sustainable change3. ‘Culture’ is the ‘model’ for social norms, values, perceptions, behaviours, and actions. Therefore teachers, as the designer of teaching methods, need to learn about the ‘cultural model’ of their target groups (students) and create a culturally sensitive learning environment. This will help the teachers to understand about their student such as their perception or concept of numbers, the sun, animals, alms giving, Thai greeting (Wai) etc. Then the teachers can use those understanding as ‘input’ to design teaching methods. A good teacher needs to have understanding of his/her individual students’ cultural model and they must not generalize from their experience because the output of the education model will be a stereotype, which might not reflect the reality and be concealed within cultural ignorance and prejudice. To collect these information, teachers can use ‘classroom research’. As a result, the teachers will see the issues that will be important factors in designing their teaching plan to fit their target groups and serve the purpose of education management. In addition teachers and education administrators can also use this method to solve problems of relationships among their students, for example, ethnic ridicule or mocking - which usually happens in schools. Teachers need to intervene and replace ethnic prejudice with understandings so students can live together with mutual respect.
Overcoming ethnic myths and dissolving conscious on nation state borders through education management system One of the important problems in Thai society is our perceptions and low level of understanding of our neighbouring countries. This problem reflects a knowledge gap in our socialization through the education system, which was replaced by ethnic myths and prejudice that are different from reality. This problem contradicts with the interconnection among people in this region, who have been trying to enter the “borderless era” in economic investment, labour migration and media consumption. Thai people’s understanding and perceptions about neighbouring countries is based on old knowledge and imagination, which are the product of cold war era. A culturally sensitive education management will dissolve old misconceptions and overcome the notion that perceives neighbours as enemies. This notion of neighbours as enemies was created to served the interest of political groups. This new education paradigm points out that the process of creating the conventional notion started from writing ‘national history’ replenished with national consciousness and nationalism and transcended it to society through various methods. One of the important methods is through the education system managed by the state in education plans, methods, and curriculum. Consequently, it created a ‘(new) memory’ that believes in the superiority of the Thai people and discriminates on ethnic,
racial, and cultural grounds of neighbouring countries4. A guideline to enter the borderless era in the economic, political, and cultural sphere is to create a mutual learning space at the margin of society with a vision beyond borders where knowledge is not limited or trapped by the notion of nation states. For example; - Integrating sets of transborder knowledge such as a study on shared geographical features at the borders (river, mountain, vegetation etc.) - Learning about shared cultural aspects of people on the border areas such as Songkran festival celebrated by Thai and Myanmar people (Mon), the festival of the illuminated boat procession (Lai Reua Fai) on Mekong river celebrated by Thai and Laos people, or the custom of cross-border pilgrimage to pay respect to sacred places e.g. Laos-Thai cross-border pilgrimage to Phra That Panom Stupa in Nakorn Panom province, or traditions of Tai people from Shan state to rally up Phra That Doi Tung Stupa in Chiangrai province. - Learning about currency exchange for transborder trade as well as learning language of neighbouring countries for basic communication. The above examples are good input for effective education management, which can only happen when teachers are open to accept various different cultural models as part of teaching methods. Moreover, to go beyond the conventional education paradigm, this article proposes that we need to include local institutions and communities, who understand local context, to participate in education planning and management so that education will respond to the needs and expectation of local people.
Conclusion Culturally sensitive education management promotes understandings within multicultural societies. It also creates the sense of ‘they have us, we have them, we have each other5’ through socialization and transmits the cultural model which will dissolve ethnic myths and leads us to an era of the borderless world based on “hope for change” for the future of people and the wider Southeast Asian community.
Matichon, 2014. 5
Excerpt from Sunate Chutitranon et al. Thai nationalism in textbooks. Bangkok: Excerpt from the seminar “Etiquette we should know before knocking neighbours’
Cited in Paian Kiatchotchai. New Paradigm in 21st Century Education. Bangkok:
doors” by Somrit Leuchai and Auckkarapong Kamkun at Sirindhorn Anthropology
Center on 6 August 2014.
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A S E AN Youth
The ASEAN Puzzle and its challenges Nattida Tongkasem Faculty of Political Science - Chiang Mai University sulted from the harmony of healthy body, mind and intelligence, interconnecting individuals with families, communities, culture, environment, socio-economic, politics etc, and leads to development of individual capacity so that he/she becomes a valued member of society who lives with dignity from the moment of conception in their mother’s wombs, to every step of growing up, aging, and their last moments of their lives.
The ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) is the goal of regional economic integration among ten Southeast Asian states by 2015. This regional cooperation emphasizes security, sociocultural and economic integration. Among the worries and challenges ahead of AEC is ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC), which is the dimension that still has gaps of understanding among member states. This article aims to provide information that reflect the differences in public health and well-being among AEC members as well as reflect challenges in this region that need to be prioritized and improved. Modern concepts of development emphasizes ‘human-centered development’ and believes that the most important goal for every country is to have
Photo: Nattida Tongkasem
development strategies and policies that promote a better quality of life and the capability of individuals in their societies, including developing well-being and public health so people can live with each other with dignity and equal human rights. “Happiness” is desired and pursued by every human. It can be internal or external happiness such as good health, good relationship among people or good relationships between humans and environments. While happiness varies widely for each individual, there is a basic factor for human mutual happiness, which is balance between different dimensions such as balance between body and mind, balance in socio-economic and environment, which will lead to sustainable happiness. Therefore happiness is the harmonious state of relationships from individuals, the community and at the global level. Individual happiness leads to community happiness and societal happiness. For example, a peaceful society starts from the well-being of the general public which resulted from healthy body and mind of individuals. Well-being re-
Several researches proposed a change in studying happiness from concept to indicators so that it’s measurable and comparable which will be useful in measuring each factor of human happiness, following up on changes over time as well as comparing happiness of people from different countries or regions. New Economic Forum proposed the ‘Happy Planet Index: HPI’ which is the first set of indicators that is progressive and emphasizes the balance of physical and psychological happiness while also looking at the potential of the world in creating more happiness for people in society. HPI proposes some guidelines for having a happy life in a limited resource society. The Gross National Happiness survey in Southeast Asia found that Vietnam has the highest rank among SEA countries and the second highest rank from 151 countries in the world, with an index of 60.4. The following ranks in SEA are Indonesia with 55.5, and Thailand with 53.5 respectively. While Singapore has relatively better economic growth compare to other countries in the region, its happiness index ranks last in SEA, with 39.8 and ranks 87th from 151 countries around the world. ASEAN cooperation on public health is in the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Blueprint 2009-2015. Pro-
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Photo: Nattida Tongkasem
tection and social welfare comprises of 7 objectives; 1.) Poverty eradication, 2.) Creation of a network for social safety net and protection from negative impacts of ASEAN integration and globalization, 3.) Promotion of food security, 4.) Accessible public healthcare and promotion of welfare, 5.) Increasing ability in communicable disease control, 6) Creating a drug -free ASEAN and 7.) Increasing states’ emergency and disaster preparedness as well as creating a safe regional community. As member states of ASEAN are alert about entering AEC, their priority is to prepare the readiness of their citizens. Other priorities in their strategies to welcome the coming of AEC include “migration and mobility of medical professionals”, “migration-associated with communicable diseases” which needs a “comprehensive healthcare system”, “medical research and development of new medicine” as well as “improvement of food quality for export”. There are substantial measures in prevention and control of communicable diseases in SEA, which resulted from the regional cooperation to control the spread of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome). As it affected both the well-being of SEA citizens and regional economies, states have placed high priority in working together in health and disease control issues, especially cooperation amongst medical academic communities. Apart from SEA countries, China, South Korea and Japan also join with this medical cooperation. The study from the Network ASEAN Forum Lifting-The-Barrier Roundtable emphasized the methods of regional cooperation to create public healthcare system that take into account the bene-
fits for ASEAN citizens and how they can have access to substantial healthcare in ASEAN countries. However there are some challenges for ASEAN that might hinder their public health advancement, such as some countries cannot provide or receive medical aids from others due to their inadequate infrastructure, national laws that are not confirming to changes in healthcare systems, economic challenges, limited resources, especially a shortage of medical professionals and social expectations. Thailand has a relatively good public health system, with only 0.8 percent of population who has no social safety net. This is the result of Universal Health Coverage: UHC and the 30 Bath Healthcare Scheme, while most of the population in Laos, Cambodia and the Philippines have no healthcare or social safety net. Laos has the highest number of population without healthcare at 98.3 percent, followed by Cambodia at 96.8 percent and the Philippines at 92.5 percent respectively. Interestingly a country with high economic growth like Malaysia has a significant portion of its population without healthcare or a social safety net, as high as 85 percent. The timeframe for opening the ASEAN free trade zone for medical services by 2015 will encourage its member countries to improve their public health standard and consequently improve their competitiveness. Moreover ASEAN should also initiate a universal standard among members, starting from ratifying ASEAN Mutual Recognition Arrangements (MRAs). Lack of central policy to push for practice, together with strict domestic laws and internal conditions limit mobility of medical professionals as well as patients or medical service recipients. All these factors are a hindrance to the advancement of public health services in SEA. ASEAN has their agreements on healthcare services provisions, however, the enforcement is still low in many countries as domestic laws haven’t been changed to accommodate enforcement of those agreements. ASEAN free trade agreement in health services cannot
reach its highest potential benefit if member states do not increase their economic competitiveness, develop infrastructure for public health, ensure strong law enforcement, as well as adapt a migration policy that goes in line with the plan for public health development after entering AEC. The problem of ‘a braindrain’ of medical professionals from developing countries in SEA is going to increase, especially after May 1, 2015, which is the opening of the ASEAN free labour market following AEC integration. Development of healthcare and public health services in many countries might be halted as ASEAN has agreed on Mutual Recognition Arrangements (MRAs), which classifies doctors, dentists, and nurses in the list of 7 medical occupations with freedom of movement within ASEAN. The challenges for some countries will be the braindrain of skilled labour who could be bought by transnational corporations (TNCs) that could lead to a shortage of medical professionals to develop their countries’ public health system. On the other hand, some SEA countries are already facing shortages of medical practitioners, with just one doctor for every 100,000 people. The number from the Ministry of Health in 2011 shows that Thailand had a doctor per population rate at one doctor per 2,893 people. Governments need to have plans and strategies to prevent a braindrain of skilled labours to other countries because they have invested heavily in producing skilled labours in many occupations. Therefore governments should set a standard of wage and benefits for groups of skilled labours to prevent them from moving to other countries or even regions. More importantly, governments should invest more in the production of medical practitioners so that it’s sufficient for their citizens, while maintaining good quality medical services. Moreover ASEAN should set a policy to establish an organization to work on ASEAN’s cooperation plan on public health development as in the past, there was cooperation, but the role hasn’t been clear or concrete, as it should.
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A S E AN Youth
No Land’s Man: Stateless man who fell from the ASEAN train Khunnawut Boonreuk Faculty of Social Sciences - Chiang Mai University
>>> continue from page 33 Healthcare and public health is a challenging issue, which requires ASEAN cooperation for development in order to realize their slogan, ‘One Vision, One Identity, One Community’. More importantly, economic development needs to always go hand in hand with the development of public health and society. If ASEAN hopes to become a tiger economy in global community, we need to take good care of our public health systems; otherwise we will become a sick tiger waiting for foreign aids. These are the hopes and changes in healthcare and public health in SEA, in which no divine power could rule over the course of this change, but regional cooperation among SEA nations with members who are brave to have big dreams, and eager to join this international cooperation, like in the song of the ASEAN Way which says “We dare to dream, we care to share, for it’s the way of ASEAN”.
The current of change toward integration of ASEAN is like a big fast train running toward the destination of economic and social development. However this train is not for everyone. It’s moving fast toward development while leaving stateless people behind without any solution. As we all know the political situation in Myanmar is getting better but the conflict between Buddhist and Muslim populations still continue. While the situation in Myanmar is generally bad for Muslims, with social and political discrimination, the Rohingya people face even worse destiny. The 1982 citizenship law of Myanmar under General Ne Win refuses to grant citizenship to Rohingya people, resulted in crippling of their freedom. Without citizenship, Rohingya are forced to pay various types of special taxes, cannot have land ownership, driven out of their homeland, and subjected to widespread violence (Amnesty International 2004). With very limited to non-existent economic, social and political freedom, the Rohingyas are one of the most persecuted ethnic minority groups in Myanmar. Thousands of Rohingya fled from violent situations, famine, and grave human rights violations in Myanmar, risking their lives in the process to go to Thailand or Malaysia by boats. After entering Thailand, they are detained at the immigration detention centers or other state-designated centers. Thai government has refused to establish temporary refugee shelter for Rohingya. While Thai policy toward Rohingya refugees is deportation, the Rohingyas’ fear of punishment from the Myanmar government after their return due to their illegal departure, have driven them to try every means to stay in Thailand, even if they have to stay as illegal migrants (Human Rights Watch 2009).
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Chronic problem of Rohingya refugees
The chance to return to their homeland
There is a proposal from different parties to raise the issue of Rohingya refugees to a regional problem with the proposal to use ASEAN human rights mechanisms to cope with this issue. Thailand and other refugee receiving countries like Malaysia need to understand and realize that even if they try to arrest, deport, or push them back; Rohingya people can still sneak and flow into their countries through borders. More importantly, we should think about how to raise this issue to regional level rather than worrying about immigrant problems.
To raise the Rohingya issue to international level, we need cooperation from different parties. In early 2013, the Burmese Rohingya Association in Thailand mobilized support from the Thai government, with an emphasis on providing shelters as well as recognizing refugee status of Rohingya. They also called for support through ASEAN and other countries to pressure the Myanmar government towards political reform and to recognize Rohingyaâ€™s citizenship, of which the Rohingya still have hope that they will be able to return to their motherland.
I think the plight of Rohingya illegal immigrants should be the responsibility of ASEAN, especially Thailand and other related countries, who should recognize that the Rohingya enter their countries illegally and have a clear recognition of their legal status. Also the Thai government needs to cooperate with ASEAN and other neighbouring countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar, India, and Bangladesh to find a comprehensive solution to the issue.
In the future, the voluntary return of refugees can happen under a conducive political condition. Since 2014 the political situation in Myanmar seems to have improved after Myanmarâ€™s President, Thein Sein, started economic and political reforms. This helped in preparation for becoming ASEAN President in 2014, subsequently leading to the positive possibility for international cooperation to help refugees on Thai borders to safety and to voluntary return to their homeland. Therefore Thailand and other SEA countries, including third countries of potential resettlement and international organization, should work together to create measures and conditions for the safe voluntary return of refugees, while taking into account their
In general most refugee policies in SEA is a hoc policy. The main organizations responsible for this issue are usually organizations for security, ministry of internal affairs and immigration police who adjust their attitudes according to political changes. The policies toward refugees are usually based on assumption that refugees are economic refugees who will seek economic opportunities in receiving countries. This assumption leads to the migration-control oriented approach to refugees rather than a human rights approach. Nowadays many countries including Thailand have a policy for voluntary return or a policy to send some refugees to third countries. Malaysia set a good example policy toward local integration by allowing Rohingya from Myanmar to legally stay and work in Malaysia, however, this policy was later halted. Phot: Khunnawut Boonreuk
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safety, refugees’ livelihood and the reintegration back into their homeland. Re-integration is a process that links closely with the development of refugees’ homeland. It needs cooperative efforts to create conditions for development of infrastructure, public services, employment etc, because political condition alone cannot appeal to refugees in returning to their homeland. For example, many people fled their homeland with broken families and broken old communities (Long 2011). However ‘returning home’ is not an easy option for the Rohingya as it is for other ethnic groups. Returning to their homeland might not be feasible for the Rohingya because of their lack of citizenship and legal status so they have to wait until the Myanmar government amend the law and recognize the Rohingya as citizen who have equal right as other Myanmar citizen. This problem leaves the Rohingya with very limited options compared to other ethnic groups. They can only choose either to settle down in third countries or live clandestine lives in refugee receiving countries. In this sense, ASEAN needs to intervene and provide shelter and opportunity for the temporary settling down, however, if the situation doesn’t get any better, ASEAN needs to consider permanent settlement for Rohingya refugees.
The census: the emphasis on Rohingya’s otherness Nowadays Myanmar still has populations from many ethnic groups who don’t accept the population and housing census from the central government because they fear that they will have a lesser rights than the Burmese who are the majority population. At the same time, some ethnic groups still want to remain in the census system but don’t have evidence to affirm their citizenship so it is likely that the Myanmar government will just leave them outside the system because of lack of evidence for citizenship, even though many of them have housing and have lived there for a long time. As Myanmar government is rushing toward development, they overlook human rights of ethnic minorities without any effort to include minorities and ethnic groups into the system. The Rohingya fall into this category of marginalized populations in Myanmar even though they have evidence that they have resided in the area for a long time, they are still excluded from citizenship. “Bengali” is an ethnic group residing along the border of Rakhine state and in Bangladesh so Bengali is the name that Myanmar government use to call Rohingya in their recent registration in order to reproduce their otherness, and label them as illegal ‘aliens’. The Rohingya was seen as ethnic groups that moved to Myanmar during the British colonial era and doesn’t have a long history of settlement as they claim.
No land’s man Thailand and other ASEAN member countries should place a higher priority on refugee issues in the regional cooperation arena, however, not from the view that refugees are a threat
to security, but from a protection aspect and extend regional cooperation to find a sustainable solution by establishing an ASEAN cooperation scheme. First we need mutual understanding and awareness at a regional level to develop a cooperation scheme, starting from refugee verification and registration based on international law standards, setting standard procedures for the protection of asylum seekers and refugees among SEA countries. This will prevent the problem of relocating refugees from lower standard to higher standard countries, to creating a refugee database that exchanges information frequently. Moreover ASEAN needs to put in mutual effort amongst sending, receiving and third countries to find solutions to this issue with the main priority on the security and wellness of refugees. There are several international organizations that provide aid for the Rohingya such as United Nations High Commissioners for Refugees (UNHCR), International Organization for Migration (IOM), and International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). However as our region is moving towards the integration of AEC, ASEAN should play a direct role in solving this issue. Negligence or lack of efforts from ASEAN in finding solutions for refugee issues reflects the disunion of ASEAN members despite the fact that ASEAN has its ASEAN Human Rights Body (AHRB) and ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) whose direct mandates include the protection and promotion of human rights as well as the promotion of fundamental freedoms for ASEAN citizens in order for everyone to live together in peace and prosperity. The Rohingya’s illegal entry poses a direct challenge to the ASEAN cooperation scheme in how a committee from several member countries could work together to find a substantial solution to this issue. If every members of ASEAN supports the Rohingya from a human rights based approach by providing them with financial and human resources, it will help creating the conducive environment for strong ASEAN unity as members stick together to solve problems. However if there is no measure from ASEAN human rights mechanisms, it poses the question whether ASEAN is a community or just ‘political discourse’. In the meantime, the Rohingya still have no idea where and when their journey would end as well as whether this fast train will have enough seats for them. These are the challenges for stateless people and it all remains a puzzle.
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A S E AN Youth
Expectations of ethnic identity and Thai people’s perception of ethnic groups in ASEAN through media: the case of Nong Nan, waitress at Larb/ Northeastern Thai restaurant, Chiang Mai Somkid Saengchan Faculty of Social Sciences - Chiang Mai University
“A recent frenzy on the beautiful waitress at a northeastern Thai food restaurant in Chiang Mai. With beautiful face and body, she does modelling as her hobby. She revealed that she migrated from Taunggyi in Myanmar to work in Thailand since she was 17. She has done many jobs from housekeeping to construction work. Later she met a photographer and started modelling. She frequently appears in magazines and local newspapers.1” “I believe many of you in the audience who had tried the food at Larb Ton Yang restaurant in Chiang Mai would stumble on this beautiful waitress. They say she is beautiful and let me repeat again, she is a waitress from Myanmar and she is already 25 years old2.” “Dear audience, today we will have a distant interview with Nong Nan, 1
Khaosod Online (http://www.khaosod.co.th/view_newsonline.php? newsid=TVRRd09EQTNNREF6TUE9PQ==§ionid=) (Accessed on 16 August 2014)
(Meunkwan Prasarnpanitch, reporter from Channel 7 Program – “This Morning at Mochit “on 15 August 2014)
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who is now in Chiang Mai…….Hello Nong Nan, Mingalaba (greeting in Burmese)…..and finally Nan, how do you say ‘Champ, go on!’…..’Champ, mia tra!’ (Nong Nan’s quote)3” Above are samples of news about the online viral pictures of a beautiful model, and after reporters went to interview her, they found that she is a waitress at a northeastern food restaurant in Chiang Mai. It went viral online and even broadcasted on television. While her fame is rising in Thai society, she is also very popular among the Tai teenagers and Tai Yai communities who have followed the news because she is a Tai Yai girl from Taunggyi (Tonti) in Shan State, Myanmar. At the beginning Tai Yai people shared her photos and admired her diligence, gratefulness, as well as her beauty. They were also proud that she is Tai. However there was criticism of her self-representation after she gave an interview that went on several websites4 and Tai Yai webpages5 that she lived in Tuanggyi city in Myanmar. Tai people criticized her for lack of Tai/Tai Yai ethnic consciousness because she did not tell the reporter that she is Tai and she also called the capital of Shan State, ‘Tuanggyi’ as in Burmese language instead of ‘Tonti/Toantee’ as in Tai Yai language. The situation declined after a Tai Yai news agency6 had an in-depth interview with her about the reason she didn’t say she was Tai Yai. Nong Nan explained that the news report was based on her ID card which is Myanmar ID and that she call the city, ‘Tuanggyi ‘ instead of ‘Tonti’ because she is more familiar with this word . However she insisted that she is Tai and proud to be Tai. Also that fact that she gave the interview in Tai Yai language and wore Tai costumes in most of her pictures online and on magazines help calming her critics. After that there was an attempt to make her the representative of Tai Yai people to promote Tai Yai culture. As a result, she became Tai Yai’s sweetheart and overnight most Tai Yai websites/ webpages cover news about her. Ignited by her fame, Chiang Mai photographer group, who used to take pictures of her and made her famous online, organized a photo-shoot activity under the theme “TaiYai girl with a genuine Thai heart” with three other Myanmar women from Chiang Mai, dressed in Tai Yai traditional costumes. The photo shoot was taken at Wat Phalad Temple in Chiang Mai, on the way up to Doi Suthep, with 4 beautiful Tai Yai models dressed in traditional costumes to promote Tai 3
Program “Champ Jadpai” on Channel 3 Family on Sunday, 24 August 2014. (http://www.frequency.com/video/shan- news-update-today-260820143/189551301?cid=5-2436)
4 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4NB2gl9tBo 5
culture in Thailand. This set of photos went viral among Tai Yai communities who welcomed it with pride and joy for this beautiful representation of Tai Yai culture. However the situation changed again not long after the channel 3 family TV program called “Champ, go on!” had a distant interview with Nong Nan. The reporter began the interview by greeting Nan in Burmese. Throughout the interview, he asked many questions about Myanmar from food to her hometown and at the end of the interview, he even asked her to say the program’s name in Burmese which she told him “Champ, miatra’. After this interview, there was a backlash against Nan again because she used Burmese the greeting instead of “Maiseungka” which is the Tai greeting and she also did not mention that she is Tai, which was seen as being disrespectful of her ethnicity. As a result, there was a wave of negative critics online, especially on a website called ‘Tai Community Online” which has over 20,000 subscribers, mostly Tai Yai teenagers from Thailand and Shan State in Myanmar. Not only on websites but negative criticism also appeared on many Facebook pages of Tai teenagers who criticized her for lack of representation of Tai Yai identity. Several days later, the website published an article, which was claimed as explanations from Nong Nan, pleading for understanding from her fans that her action was according to the program instructions that wanted the program to appear as a preparation for the coming of ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). The program instructed her condition as “…I (Nan) was born and went to school in Myanmar. The persons who taught me to become a good person, other than my parents, are Burmese teachers. It’s true that there are many bad people but I have met many good people…I am a Tai person who came far away from home to find job and everyday I still eat Tai food, listen to Tai songs and still love Tai-ness because we are Tai…”7 This led to a controversy among Tai people who came to express their opinions on the website. Their reaction varied from reproach, cheering and understanding, to resigned and pity for the lost opportunity for Tai Yai to have a public space to express their identity through Thai mainstream media. Even after that the website posted a message asking people to stop blaming Nong Nan, there were still many sarcastic messages online. Even at the time I (writer) am writing this article, it’s still a hot issue on the online community, which is the main channel for Tai people who migrated for work to communicate, build a network as well as exchange information and experiences with other Tai people both in Thailand and in their hometown in Shan State. Consequently, there is a huge online community of Tai teenagers and migrant workers who mostly express their pity
For example, Tai Community Online, Association of people who love Tai Yai girls, Sainamtengteungsamror & Shan News Update
7 https://www.facebook.com/www.Tairadio.net/photos/pcb.695692920511254/6956925 13844628/? type=1&theater
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and disappointment in the model (Nan). In this case, there are several interesting issues for public discussion before we enter the AEC such as understanding ethnic diversity of people in this region, the ethnic myth, and Thai people’s perception towards different ethnic groups which reflect the gap in the Thai education system that emphasize exclusively on national history rather than building an understanding about ethnic complexity. While AEC integration will lead to an open market, it will also inevitably lead to a crossing over among diverse cultures as people from different ethnic groups will enter the labour system, both in big industry and in the general labour sector. These labours will present their identities to show their cultures, their challenges, and problems through representation in the public media space, through different activities, including through online media such as Facebook, chat pages, websites and youtube. The trend about Nong Nan, the Tai Yai model, has led us to question the Thai media and Thai people about our inadequate understanding of our neighbouring countries and their social context. The majority of Thai still choose to perceive otherness and other ethnicities through the beauty of cultures and ethnic women. Thai people accept that culturally we are siblings of the Dai people, that consist of several ethnic groups, however when it comes to economic and security, Thai people are ready to exclude them and perceive them as the ‘other’, as a ‘social problem’ and ‘cheap labour’ with implicit disdain. For example, most Thai people will accept Tai Yai as a sibling from the same group of Dai people only when they are culturally and historically presented by beautiful images, costumes, with good food, but when it comes to the issue of labour migration, Thai media and Thai people often forget about their fraternity and demean them as mere Burmese migrant labours. In the case of Nan, it is clear that the media chose to present her as a beautiful Burmese migrant worker and model in order to play with Thai people’s conscious that view Burmese workers as not beautiful or not capable of becoming a model so Nong Nan’s case became extraordinary and attracted public attention. This case reflected Thai people’s perception and view on ethnic groups in neighbour countries, which mostly focuses on her beauty, not her other side as a labourer. On the other hand, the case of Nong Nan also reflected the ‘expectation’ of ethnic groups to express their identity and to gain social acceptance, rather than viewing them as just worker, marginalized people or a cause of social problems. Most of Tai Yai who migrated to work in Thailand tried to assimilate into Thai society to get acceptance. They often show their loyalty to the royal institution in many public spaces and events, reflecting
their attempt to connect with Thai people. Representation of Tai Yai identity, though partly done to get acceptance, it was also done under the nationalist idea that view Burmese as their competitor. As such, in this case of Nong Nan, a Tai Yai girl who grew up and went to Burmese school, has Burmese friends, teachers, and family, however still love and take pride in Tai Yai culture, was expected by a large number of Tai Yai people to represent the Tai Yai community rather than Burmese. While in fact, Tai Yai identity is more related and crossed with Burmese more than Thai i.e. language, cuisine, and even names of historical places, as Tai Yai people are usually more familiar with Burmese names. A large number of Tai Yai people can speak and write in Burmese better than in Thai language but in public spaces these issues become prohibited because these people want Thai people to understand and accept that they are different from Burmese and not Burmese. Modernization of Tai Yai identity can intermingle with other cultures such as K-POP music, Thai music, TV series and movies, western fashion, including the use of English or Thai. These foreign cultures are not even close with Tai Yai culture but it was welcomed and easily blended with their culture without any nationalist resistance. On the contrary, if there is any change that links to Burmese, even though it resembles Tai Yai culture, it won’t be accepted by the majority of Tai Yai people because they want to create their own identity that is as different from Burmese as possible. Therefore, recognition from Thailand - their neighbour who they perceive as sibling is very important and always expected by Tai Yai people. They try to create harmony with an underlying idea of Thai-Tai (Dai) while they believe that Thai people also see Burmese as an enemy. However, the coming of AEC will lead to great emphasis on economic relation so fraternal relation between Tai and Thai will be an inferior issue to international relations, which can affect the Thai economy. I would like to argue that to enter the AEC, it is essential to understand ethnic diversity, different cultures, and problems related to different ethnic groups. To unfold the ethnic complexity, we need to open public space for them to express their identity and cultures, including their opinions and perceptions. This space will also be a space for Thai people to learn about ethnic diversity and recognize different ethnic groups, in order to eliminate prejudice against marginalized ethnic people in Thai society as well as building mutual understanding among different ethnic groups.
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A S E AN G eo - P olitic s
ASEAN and Regional Integration Lucy McGarvie (Phillips) Graduate - Australian National University (ANU)
The increase in globalisation over the past century has resulted in a concurrent rise in regionalism as states seek to best manage the changes and challenges presented by the forces of globalisation. Regionalism in Europe has been heralded as a success as the European Union (EU) has grown to represent a supranational government for much for Europe. Asia has seen a growth in regionalism with the formation of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) but its progress has been surpassed by that of Europe over a similar time span. As a result ASEAN has been plagued with questions of its relevance, success and importance for the region. Constant comparisons to the European Union have served to assume that ASEAN desires to form supranational government in the form that the EU has established. However, Southeast Asia is a very different region to Europe, with numerous diverse cultures, types of governments and stages of development that complicate the process. The feasibility of an EU styled supranational government for Southeast Asia cannot therefore be assumed. The move to combat the adverse effects of globalisation through regionalism has proved to provide significant benefits to the region and holds great potential for Southeast Asia. Therefore, this essay will argue that increased integration could considerably enhance the ability of the region to manage potential threats to security, peace and stability; however a supranational government is not feasible in the foreseeable future for Southeast Asia without significant changes being made within the region.
Singapore affected by smoke from Indonesia. Photo credit - Straits Times
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Regionalism in Southeast Asia has been inhibited due to divergent cultural attitudes of the region and the subsequent lack of trust. A collective identity and sense of trust is vital for cooperation between states and without it minimal cooperation can be achieved1. Within Southeast Asia collective identity is minimal. According to Acharya, community requires a shared sense of identity or at least a commitment to work towards one2. Southeast Asia fails to have an established sense of community which prevents integration. As Roberts explains the European Union has a significant understanding of shared values and identity and have achieved a shared self-esteem that bind them together which ASEAN must strive for if it is to preserve its membership and avoid conflict3. Mutual identification of states within Southeast Asia is needed to allow for successful regionalism or the potential for supranational governance. While ASEAN elites have a strong commitment to forming this identity, it is not so evident in the grassroots of domestic societies within Southeast Asia. As stated in the ASEAN Security Community Plan of Action, ASEAN seeks to create a security community that would result in “a regional order that strengthens national and regional resilience” and would be “based on shared norms and rules of good conduct4”. Furthermore, the ASEAN Vision 2020 envisages an “ASEAN community conscious of its ties of history, aware of its cultural heritage and bound by a common regional identity5”. However, this does not reflect the current situation within Southeast Asia, as it has been described as diverse, fragmented and on the verge of conflict6. National identities in the region have been forged by colonialism, often forcing diverse groups together forming internal tensions7. As a result regional identity has largely been a project of the elite failing to accommodate the pluralistic societies Southeast Asia contains8. Furthermore, nationalism has been made strong within many Southeast Asian nations often serving as a barrier to potential engagement within the region. As a result, there is a lack of trust between nations which has resulted in key structural features of ASEAN that prevent further regionalism from occurring. As a result, attempts at regionalism through ASEAN have been inhibited by its own structure and commitment to the ASEAN Way. As ASEAN the organisation, has come to represent ASEAN the region, questions of democracy within the region and the organisation have risen9. Democracies within the nations of Southeast Asia are scarce and therefore attempts at democratisation within the ASEAN organisation has struggled10. According to Emmerson, ASEAN suffers from a lack of vertical democracy in which ASEAN leaders would be directly accountable downward to the people that live in the region11. Currently there is very little linking the decisions of the ASEAN political elites with the people of Southeast Asia. This has prevented the idea of regionalism from being realised and pursued by the people. However, democracy within ASEAN will not proceed without democratisation of the nation-states within the region. ASEAN has in the past, showed a strong reluctance to promote democracy within the region and has in some cases, even impaired 1
Christopher B Roberts, ASEAN Regionalism: Cooperation, Values and Institutionalization (Routledge: New York, 2012), p.23.
Amitav Acharya, ‘The Imagined Community of East Asia’, Korean Observer, vol.37, no.3, 2006, p.409.
Roberts, ASEAN Regionalism, p.25.
ASEAN Security Community Plan of Action, Jakarta, 13 February 2004, p.1.
‘ASEAN Vision 2020’, ASEAN Economic Bulletin, vol.14, no.3, 1998, p.327.
Gary Fuller, Alexander Murphy, Mark Ridgley and Richard Ulack, ‘Measuring Potential for Ethnic Conflict in Southeast Asia’, Growth and Change, vol.31, no.2, 2000, p.307.
Kristina Jonsson, ‘Unity in Diversity? Regional Identity Building in Southeast Asia’, Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs, vol.29, no.2, 2010, p.42.
Donald Emmerson, ‘Challenging ASEAN: A “Topological” View’, Contemporary Southeast Asia, vol.29, no.3, 2007, p.424.
10 Ibid., p.426. 11 Ibid., p.430.
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12 its progression . ASEAN has often denied democratic groups legitimacy and support13. ASEAN ascribes to a commitment to “strive for democracy as an ASEAN shared common value”14 but has failed to act upon this aspiration. Presented with an opportunity to promote democracy within Myanmar, ASEAN shunted responsibility and largely avoided the issue. Poor governance in Myanmar has resulted in human rights abuses, mass displacement, disease, poverty and a rise in crime. As the situation got progressively worse ASEAN has been slow to act. In 2003 it became obvious that the situation in Myanmar was affecting the credibility of ASEAN yet at the Bali Summit and at meetings since then, ASEAN has failed to criticise the lack of commitment to political change in Myanmar15. Significant action by ASEAN on the case of Myanmar has been prevented due to a commitment to non-intervention in domestic politics with any statements condemning Myanmar lacking significant weight to promote action. As a result, it will be difficult for ASEAN to work towards further regionalism without progress in democratization.
Furthermore, there are other structural elements of ASEAN that have prevented a move towards supranational governance, namely the ASEAN Way. ASEAN has a commitment to consensus based decision making16. However this consensus based decision making is made difficult with a lack of trust and sense of identity among ASEAN nations. ASEAN has been built off agreement of largely unrepresentative national elites that do not always reflect the societies of the region17. If ASEAN was to become the regional organisation of Southeast Asia and move towards further regionalism it would need to broaden its membership. This would challenge consensus based decision making with progress becoming slower and more difficult with more divergent opinions. Furthermore, preventive diplomacy has been a tool of ASEAN’s to maintain peace in the region. However, Emmers and Tan would argue that preventive diplomacy has been unsuccessful due to institutionalisation of the process18. ASEAN has become too institutionalised particularly in relations to their strict need for consensus and commitment to sovereignty, so much so that it has slowed the process of preventive diplomacy.19 As a result, further institutionalisation to form a supranational government would be counterproductive for Southeast Asia. The strict adherence of ASEAN to non-intervention may also come as a challenge to the success of ASEAN that will need to change for the organisation to be more productive. ASEAN has been inhibited
from further regionalism due to its strict adherence to norms and practices that, while they serve to unite the region, have also slowed progress. Although there have been many issues preventing further regionalism within Southeast Asia, the region would benefit significantly if increased cooperation were to occur within ASEAN. The ‘haze’ crisis of 1997-1998 posed a significant threat to Southeast Asia and challenged ASEAN.20 Further regionalisation and cooperation in the region could have managed the crisis a lot more effectively reducing the risk. Extensive fires frequently ravage the region of Southeast Asia and in 1997-1998 these fires were particularly prolific resulting in dangerous smoke pollution and high costs for the region21. These fires became widely known as the haze crisis. The fires were largely uncontrolled in Indonesia and resulted in life threatening air pollutants being recorded in parts of Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore22. Domestic issues within Indonesia have served to propagate these fires in the past with corruption allowing for an exploitation of resources and mismanagement of forest areas23. Indonesia’s response to the crisis24 in the face of ASEAN was to apologise formally but did not follow up this apology with any significant action to manage the crisis. As a result, Indonesia had prioritised domestic solidarity over regional cooperation.25 Mechanisms established within ASEAN failed to come into action to help manage the crisis26. As a result, Cotton argues that further regional engagement is required with a regional consciousness determined to keep governments accountable27. In 2002 the ASEAN Agreement for Transboundary Haze Pollution was instigated. However, between 2004 and 2010 this Treaty failed to produce any significant action on reducing the effects of the annual occurrence of the haze28. These issues require significant cooperation and action in order to better manage the crises. Furthermore, there has been a rise in new security issues with migration, ethnic conflict, environmental degradation, drug and human trafficking and terrorism which all require a transnational approach in order to manage them.29 According the Snitwongse and Bunbongkarn ASEAN was established with the intention to strengthen national resilience through strengthening regional resilience.30 However, in order to achieve this and manage increasing threats, ASEAN members need to relinquish some national sovereignty to enable successful cooperation.31 Furthermore, a sense of regional identity needs to be established in order for 20 Cotton, ‘The “Haze” Over Southeast Asia’, p.331.
12 Jorn Dosch, ‘ASEAN’s Reluctant Liberal Turn and the Thorny Road to Democracy Promotion’, The Pacific Review, vol.21, no.4, 2008, p.529.
21 Ibid., p.331. 22 Ibid., p.332.
13 Ibid., p.529.
23 Cotton, ‘The “Haze” Over Southeast Asia’, pp.334,340.
14 ASEAN Security Community Plan of Action, p.2.
24 Ibid., p.342.
15 Dosch, ‘ASEAN’s Reluctant Liberal Turn’, p.539.
25 Ibid., p.342.
16 Carolina Hernandez, ‘Challenges for Society and Politics’, in Simon Tay, Jesus
26 Ibid., p.343.
Estanislao and Hadi Soesastro (eds), Reinventing ASEAN (Institute of Southeast Asian
27 Ibid., p.348.
Studies: Singapore, 2001), p.103.
28 Nguitragool, ‘Negotiating the Haze Treaty’, p. 356.
17 James Cotton, ‘The “Haze” Over Southeast Asia: Challenging the ASEAN Mode of Regional Engagement’, The Pacific Affairs, vol.72, no.3, 1999, p.331. 18 Ralf Emmers and See Seng Tan, ‘The ASEAN Regional Forum and Preventive Diplomacy: Built to Fail?’, Asian Security, vol.7, no.1, 2011, p.53. 19 Ibid., 53.
29 Kusuma Snitwongse and Suchit Bunbongkarn, ‘New Security Issues and Their Impact on ASEAN’, in Simon Tay, Jesus Estanislao and Hadi Soesastro (eds), Reinventing ASEAN (Institute of Southeast Asian Studies: Singapore, 2001), p.149. 30 Ibid., p.160. 31 Ibid., p.160.
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states to feel confident in increased cooperation and integration mechanisms for the region. Finally, such a model of increased regionalism for the Southeast Asian region would not necessarily reflect a European Union styled supranational governance. Increased cooperation is required within the region of Southeast Asia, however, the challenging environment and different cultures of the region dictate that its own form of regionalism be formed. Rodolfo Severino, a past Secretary General of ASEAN, contended in a speech made in 2001 that comparing ASEAN to the EU can be troubling as “people tend to expect ASEAN to do what it cannot do and what it was never meant to do”.32 ASEAN was not established to be a form of supranational government and there is little aspiration in the region to achieve one. Wanandi argues that open regionalism is the best approach looking forward for ASEAN to achieve stability. Crucial to the success of open regionalism is the management of relations with the US in the region and an increase in community building for the region. 33 These factors will have a significant effect on the peace and stability of the region. ASEAN’s approach to regionalism has been highly informal in comparison to the highly institutionalised approach of the European Union.34 The informal approach has been more successful for ASEAN, particularly in respects to the use of preventive diplomacy. Furthermore, the ASEAN Way represents a mode of thinking that is very different to that of the EU. The ASEAN Way serves to unite the people of Southeast Asia but can inhibit cooperation and progress. As Tay argues, the future success of ASEAN requires change to occur for it to remain relevant and effective but not radical change that would see further institutionalisation and a move away from the core that ASEAN was built on.35 ASEAN needs to find a way to bridge the gap between aspirations and outcomes.36 And furthermore, it needs to find a way to translate the elite idea of community into a popular idea.37 If it can successfully do this, Southeast Asia could progress regionalism to ensure security and peace of the region. ASEAN has faced numerous challenges in establishing itself as an effective regional body and it will need changes to occur within the organisation for it to remain so in the future. Southeast Asia has divergent cultures, identities and histories that have served as divisive mechanisms for the region that need to be overcome before further regionalism can occur. Furthermore, the current structures of regional bodies in Southeast Asia, particularly ASEAN, have served to inhibit 32 Rodolfo Severino, ‘Will ASEAN be like the EU?’, in Remarks at the European Policy Centre, Brussels, 23 March 2001, cited in Rodolfo Severino (eds), ASEAN Faces the Future, (ASEAN Secretariat: Jakarta, 2001), p.23. 33 Josuf Wanandi, ‘Towards an Asian Security Community’, Asia Europe Journal, vol.3, no.3, 2005, p.324. 34 Jens-Uwe Wunderlich, ‘The EU an Actor Sui Generis? A Comparison of the EU and ASEAN Actorness’, Journal of Common Market Studies, vol.50, no.4, 2012, p.653. 35 Simon Tay, ‘Institutions and Processes: Dilemmas and Possibilities’, in Simon Tay, Jesus Estanislao and Hadi Soesastro (eds), Reinventing ASEAN (Institute of Southeast Asian Studies: Singapore, 2001), p.245. 36 Deepak Nair, ‘Regionalism in the Asia Pacific/East Asia: A Frustrated Regionalism?’, Contemporary Southeast Asia, vol.31, 1, 2009, p.110. 37 Ibid., p.114.
progress towards further regionalisation. The commitment of ASEAN to sovereignty and consensus based decision making has prevented the region from making significant steps towards democratisation and the use of preventive democracy in order to resolve conflicts. ASEAN and other regional bodies have become too institutionalised preventing the success of certain objectives. As a result, supranational governance is neither feasible nor desirable for the region. However, numerous potential challenges to the region exist that warrant the need for effective regional organisations to deal with increasing threats of mass migration, ethnic tensions, natural disasters, disease transnational crime and other growing threats. As a result, increased integration is needed for Southeast Asia and if ASEAN wants to remain relevant it needs to bring about changes to become more effective in managing the challenges the region will face in the future.
Bibliography: Acharya, Amitav, ‘The Imagined Community of East Asia’, Korean Observer, vol.37, no.3, 2006, pp.407-421. ASEAN Security Community Plan of Action, Jakarta, 13 February 2004. ASEAN Vision 2020’, ASEAN Economic Bulletin, vol.14, no.3, 1998, pp.325-328. Cotton, James, ‘The “Haze” Over Southeast Asia: Challenging the ASEAN Mode of Regional Engagement’, The Pacific Affairs, vol.72, no.3, 1999, p.331. Dosch, Jorn, ‘ASEAN’s Reluctant Liberal Turn and the Thorny Road to Democracy Promotion’, The Pacific Review, vol.21, no.4, 2008, p.527-525. Emmers, Ralf and Tan, See Seng, ‘The ASEAN Regional Forum and Preventive Diplomacy: Built to Fail?’, Asian Security, vol.7, no.1, 2011, p.44-60. Emmerson, Donald, ‘Challenging ASEAN: A “Topological” View’, Contemporary Southeast Asia, vol.29, no.3, 2007, p.424-446. Fuller, Gary, Murphy, Alexander, Ridgley, Mark and Ulack, Richard, ‘Measuring Potential for Ethnic Conflict in Southeast Asia’, Growth and Change, vol.31, no.2, 2000, p.305-331. Hernandex, Carolina, ‘Challenges for Society and Politics’, in Simon Tay, Jesus Estanislao and Hadi Soesastro (eds), Reinventing ASEAN, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore, 2001, pp.103-120. Jonsson, Kristina, ‘Unity in Diversity? Regional Identity Building in Southeast Asia’, Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs, vol.29, no.2, 2010, p.41-72. Nair, Deepak, ‘Regionalism in the Asia Pacific/East Asia: A Frustrated Regionalism?’, Contemporary Southeast Asia, vol.31, 1, 2009, pp.110-142. Nguitragool, Paruedee , ‘Negotiating the Haze Treaty’, Asian Survey, vol.51, no.2, 2011, p. 356-378. Roberts, Christopher, ASEAN Regionalism: Cooperation, Values and Institutionalization, Routledge, New York, 2012. Ruland, Jurgen and Nguitragool, Paruedee, ‘Does Regime Type Matter? Southeast Asia’s New Democracies and the Democratic Peace Thesis Revisited’, in Aurel Croissant and Marco Bunte (eds), The Crisis of Democratic Governance in Southeast Asia, Palgrave MacMillan, Basingstoke, 2011, p.230-250. Severino, Rodolfo, ‘Will ASEAN be like the EU?’, in Remarks at the European Policy Centre, Brussels, 23 March 2001, cited in Rodolfo Severino (eds), ASEAN Faces the Future, ASEAN Secretariat, Jakarta, 2001. Snitwongse, Kusuma and Bunbongkarn, Suchit, ‘New Security Issues and Their Impact on ASEAN’, in Simon Tay, Jesus Estanislao and Hadi Soesastro (eds), Reinventing ASEAN, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore, 2001, pp.148-162. Tay, Simon, ‘Institutions and Processes: Dilemmas and Possibilities’, in Simon Tay, Jesus Estanislao and Hadi Soesastro (eds), Reinventing ASEAN, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore, 2001, pp.243-272. Wanandi, Josuf, ‘Towards an Asian Security Community’, Asia Europe Journal, vol.3, no.3, 2005, p.323-332. Wunderlich, Jens-Uwe, ‘The EU an Actor Sui Generis? A Comparison of the EU and ASEAN Actorness’, Journal of Common Market Studies, vol.50, no.4, 2012, p.653-669.
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A S E AN Economic s
The AEC in 2015: What’s going to happen—and what’s not1 Pariwat Kanithasen Bank of Thailand
The ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) will be officially formed on the last day of 2015. Initiated in 2007, it aims to be a “single market and production base” for the ten ASEAN countries. Though this represents opportunities for members, there is no big leap forward as anticipated by many. The AEC should not be seen as a goal in itself but as a milestone of ASEAN integration which has taken place over twenty years. Some progress will be seen in the liberalization of goods in CLMV countries for all ASEAN countries. However, flows of services, investment, labor and capital—are not expected to be liberalized to the same extent. Hence a post-2015 agenda would need to be designed to address these elements. 1. Real efforts on economic integration in ASEAN only begun in the 1990s with the advent of the liberalization in trade in goods through the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA). Intra-regional trade has more than doubled in the past decade, and has thus become a backbone of ASEAN integration. Liberalization in other strands—services, investment, labor and capital— has attempted to follow and support trade through various strands of agreements in the years that followed. However, these strands were separate, implementation was uneven, and there were a number of other obstacles, such as non-tariff barriers and backtracking of liberalization commitments by some members. The idea of creating the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2007 was therefore realized to bundle these loose integration efforts of work and address remaining obstacles by agreeing on a clear-cut timetable with 2015 as a “goal to create a single production base and single market” and thus form one of the three pillars of the ASEAN Community, the other two being the political-security and socio-cultural pillars. 2. While significant progress has been achieved in the past two decades, the pace of ASEAN economic integration envisaged by the AEC is more or less dictated by the significant differences that exist among the membership. The AEC 1
This paper is a revised and updated version of Kanithasen P. and Watjanapukka, K. “The ASEAN Economic Community in 2015”, Bank of Thailand, 2011.
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has been compared to the European Economic Community (1955) as a precedent. While this may be valid on the surface, the obvious heterogeneity among ASEAN membership points towards a slower and less comprehensive integration than in Europe, as reflected in the countries’ relative size and income in the years prior to “integration”. Of particular note is the dichotomy of development that exists among groups of ASEAN countries which has had a direct implication on the pace of integration, particularly in institutional and infrastructure development, but also in human resources. This is why the ASEAN agreements accord gives “special and differential” treatment to CLMV countries, which imply, for instance, more lenient liberalization schedules for these countries. 3. The AEC’s primary goal is to create a single market and production base by 2015, which is to be realized through five core elements: free flows of (a) goods, (b) services, (c) investment, (e) skilled labor; and (d) freer flows of capital. This is to be complemented by other goals which aim to create a more competitive economic region, equitable development and integration into the global economy. The focus of this part is to take stock of achievements in the five core elements and to show that in fact goods and much of the services are liberalized while investment, labor and finance/capital are still dependent on members’ varied degree of development and domestic regulations.
Goods: Tariffs almost eliminated, non-tariff barriers remain 4. Liberalization of the trade of goods is the backbone of the AEC, and almost all items are now traded at zero tariffs ASEAN-wide. According to the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA), ASEAN members agreed to gradually reduce tariffs since 1993, where the commitment is for the tariffs to be reduced to zero by 2010 for ASEAN-6 and 2015 for the remaining CLMV countries owing to the “special and differential treatment”. Currently, average tariff rates on imports for ASEAN-6 countries are only at 0.04% and for CLMV countries 1.37%.
higher than 5%. A more stringent list is the “Highly Sensitive List”, in which countries can cap tariffs as agreed to specific items. Items included in this list are those most protected by member authorities, usually at the request of domestic industries concerned, though any inclusions or changes in the list would need the consent of other ASEAN members as well. 7. The AEC also aims to tackle existing non-tariff barriers (NTBs). These include quotas, custom surcharges, licensing and other technical measures. Members are committed to a reduction current NTBs, and to eliminate them according to a set timeframe, at the latest by 2018. However, progress in this front is very slow. This is not only because NTMs are difficult to identify, but countries tend to use NTMs as a trade barrier to protect their own markets once tariffs have been eliminated.
Services: Liberalization in targeted sectors determined by members’ different stages of development 8. Unlike goods, liberalization of trade in services in ASEAN is targeted at specific sectors, at different paces, with most service sectors having already allowed for foreign (ASEAN) equity holdings of up to 51% even in 2010. The ASEAN Framework Agreement on Services (AFAS) has been the main vehicle for service liberalization since 1995. Through five rounds of negotiations, it aims to eliminate barriers to trade in services beyond those undertaken under the WTO—but with “pre-agreed flexibilities” to facilitate smooth and orderly liberalization which depends on members’ readiness and economic development. These “flexibilities” specify which sectors—particularly financial services—are to be liberalized at what time and to what extent.
5. The key change we can expect in 2015 is the commitment of CLMV countries to reduce tariffs to 0%. This represents opportunities for exports from ASEAN countries to each of the CLMV countries, which have demands in household goods, machinery, construction equipment and vehicles.
9. Certain priority sectors have been put on a fasttrack towards liberalization, which implies that foreign (ASEAN) ownership limits in these sectors (as mode 3 commercial presence) are to be raised from 49% to 51% (already representing majority holdings) and even further to 70%. These priority sectors cover air transport, ICT, healthcare and tourism by 2010 and logistics by 2013. However, the pace of liberalization in services has not matched the deadlines set by the AEC Blueprints. Even in the priority integration sectors, many key ASEAN countries have not increased their foreign ownership shares to a level higher than the 49% threshold.
6. Exceptions to the liberalization commitments are goods on various sensitive/exclusion lists, which only amount to a handful of products. In the “Sensitive List”, tariffs of some products need not be reduced to 0% but cannot be
10. For financial services, liberalization strictly follows the “pre-agreed flexibilities” instead of binding commitments as in other sectors and includes several safeguard mechanisms. These reflect the differences in developmental
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stages of members as well as their domestic policies. There is a common understanding of members that more caution should be exercised in the liberalization of the financial sector than in other service sectors, as a result of the priority placed on financial stability and prudence in liberalization —consequences from the experiences during the Asian financial crisis.
Skilled labor: Recognition of professionals, but subject to domestic laws 11. Liberalization of labor (mode 4) would facilitate the production of goods and provision of services, yet labor remains a sensitive issue and much more would need to be done, especially in light of labor shortages (both skilled and unskilled). Thus far, ASEAN has signed seven Mutual Recognition Arrangements (MRAs) for professionals among members in the past years, yet this does not explicitly translate to free mobility even among these recognized professionals. MRAs only help facilitate the movement of professional services providers in the region by allowing the qualification of professionals to be recognized by the relevant authorities of members (e.g. medical boards). But these professionals are still subject to domestic laws and regulations as well as market demands.
Investment: Progress through a broader investment regime, but not much progress on liberalization 12. While ASEAN has recently upgraded its investment regime through the ASEAN Comprehensive Investment Agreement (ACIA), there has not been much progress on the extent of liberalization from previous agreements. The ACIA has essentially merged and improved on liberalization elements of the ASEAN Investment Area (AIA) of 1998 and protection under the Investment Guarantee Agreement (IGA) of 1987. The ACIA provides a broader investment regime—for instance, though benefits from existing or future agreements with non-ASEAN partners. 13. Despite this, a key improvement in the ACIA is that it automatically extends the Most-Favored-Nation (MFN) Treatment to all ASEAN countries. That is, preferential treatment granted by any ASEAN country under any existing or future agreement with other countries must be extended to all other ASEAN countries. A case in point here is that the rights of foreign ownership holdings of up to 60% in mining that Thailand extended to Australia under TAFTA will now be extended to other ASEAN countries, thus representing challenges to the sector.
Capital: Liberalization and market development depend on members’ readiness 14. The pace of capital account liberalization within ASEAN is subject to national agenda and readiness. While trade in goods and services have clear roles in the real economy, the role of capital is more ambivalent, especially in light of the liberalization experiences prior to the Asian financial crisis. Furthermore, there exist large gaps among members, which range from regional financial centers to those which have yet to liberalize their current account, which is why AEC’s goal has been set for a “freer” instead of “free” flows of capital. Currently, for allowing greater capital mobility, members have relatively open FDI regimes, and members are assessing rules for liberalizing portfolio investments. To strengthen ASEAN capital market development and integration, areas of facilitating nonresident bond issuance and facilitating cross-border investment are identified as the two highest priorities to be addressed in the short-medium term.
Conclusion Integration within ASEAN has come a long way but key gaps remain. ASEAN integration will not end in 2015—hence a clear post-2015 agenda will need to be drawn up. Key to this is not only to provide a longer-horizon plan for ASEAN integration, but also to tackle the shortfalls of the current AEC Blueprint (such as addressing non-tariff barriers, for instance). It is also important that such a post-2015 agenda is credible yet flexible enough to ensure that future work on integration will benefit not only the ten economies concerned, but will also take into account existing domestic considerations, whether they be financial stability or socio-environmental concerns.
References ASEAN Secretariat (2008): ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint (2008):Temporary Exclusion List and Sensitive List for Manufacturing, Agriculture, Fishery, Forestry, Mining and Quarrying Sectors (2008):Temporary Exclusion List and Sensitive List for Services Incidental to Manufacturing, Agriculture, Fishery, Forestry, Mining and Quarrying Sectors : Consolidated 2010 CEPT Package : ASEAN Tariff Database : Non-Tariff Barriers : Mutual Recognition Arrangement Das, S.B. ed. (2013) The ASEAN Economic Community—A Work in Progress, ADB and ISEAS. IMF: World Economic Outlook Database October 2010 Maddison, Angus: The World Economy: A Millennial Perspective (Paris: OECD, 2001) Plummer, Michael and Chia Siow Yue (2009): Realizing the AEC: A Comprehensive Assessment.
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A S E AN Environment
Cambodia: Business, Human Rights and the Environment in ASEAN: The Implications of the Koh Kong Sugar Plantation Case in Cambodia for Due Diligence and Remedies Daniel King Earthrights International firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo: Samak Kosem
“We had no warning- they came one day and began clearing the fields – they cleared my field and I want to know why.” Koh Kong Farmer
In Cambodia, forced evictions resulting from large economic land concessions (ELCs) being granted to business enterprises present a major human rights issue. This case study examines the case of an ELC for a sugar plantation and factory in Koh Kong, the most southwestern province of Cambodia, where a well documented forced eviction by state actors and business enterprises occurred in 2006. The case study is representative of the wider situation surrounding ELCs in Cambodia. It illustrates the state’s lack of transparency and involvement in violent evictions, business enterprises’ failure to implement human rights due diligence, including in their supply chains, and affected communities’ difficulties in accessing effective remedies when human rights violations have occurred. In this case, the communities, supported by national and international non-governmental organisations, have pursued national, regional and international remedies.
with the establishment and operation of the sugar plantation and factory in Koh Kong show the ELC has come at a high human cost and has not promoted sustainable development. The affected communities have spent six years pursuing the return of their land or adequate compensation; in the meantime the forced evictions have had lasting and severe effects on the livelihoods and economic opportunities of the communities. In addition, the business enterprises involved have faced a slew of complaints, community protests and negative media coverage.
Although the communities’ campaign to have the ELCs cancelled and their land returned has not yet been fully successful, they have managed to force Senator Ly Yong Phat, one of Cambodia’s richest and powerful men and an interested party in the ELC, to negotiate with them. In the context of Cambodia where access to justice in cases involving powerful political actors presents significant challenges, this is an important The well-documented human rights violations associated victory. However, the relevant business enterprises have yet
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to comply with the principles of human rights due diligence and there has not yet been an effective remedy to adequately address all the human rights violations suffered by the Koh Kong communities. This case study will briefly analyse each of the judicial and non-judicial dispute resolution mechanisms that have been employed in the case. It will also provide details of the complaint before the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand (NHRCT) that
the communities’ legal representatives have filed against the Thai business enterprise Khon Kaen Sugar Industry Public Co. Ltd. (KSL), which owns 70% of the Koh Kong sugar business. The acceptance of jurisdiction and a preliminary finding of fact by the NHRCT with respect to a Thai company operating in Cambodia has led the UN Special Rapporteur to call this “a landmark case for international advocacy in Cambodia.”
While the Koh Kong concessions were made to two separate companies with different corporate purposes (KKPT is a plantation company, while KKSI is supposed to process the sugar), the land is in fact a single contiguous plantation whose combined size is nearly twice the limit allowed for Economic Land Concessions under Cambodia’s 2001 Land Law. The two companies associated with the respective concession contracts occupy the same office and applied for the concession, received approval, and signed the concession contracts on the same days. The affected communities see these concessions as evidence of corruption, since they were orchestrated at the behest of a Cambodian Senator Ly Yong Phat, who previously had a 20% ownership interest in the two related companies, but sold his share to KSL. Although the Cambodian government is authorized to grant state-owned land to private developers for ELCs, the villagers whose land was granted to the Koh Kong sugar plantation have well-documented possession rights to the land pursuant to the Cambodian Land Law of 2001. Residence booklets show the villagers inhabited the land for more than five years prior to their forced removal. Moreover, maps produced in the course of a land-use mapping project in the area clearly show the land was being used as farmland at the time of the forced eviction and therefore not degraded land as alleged by KSL. Although the villagers had not yet obtained definitive title, the Cambodian Land Law prohibits interference with possession rights pending conversion into legal title. Although the law requires a public consultation, an environmental and social impact assessment, and a resettlement plan prior to the granting of an ELC, the villagers claim that none of these steps took place at Koh Kong. No public consultation regarding the plans for this large project or the seizure of these lands was conducted. In fact, the first time the Koh Kong farmers learned about the new project was when armed security personnel began clearing their farms. Even before the concession contracts were signed, the companies arrived in Koh Kong and began forcibly evicting villagers, in many cases destroying their rice fields, orchards, and grazing lands.
In Cambodia, state authorities have a responsibility to protect human rights, and business enterprises have a responsibility to respect human rights. However, as this case study illustrates, even in cases where human rights violations are well documented, effective remedies are not available to affected Cambodian communities. The unresolved human rights abuses in the Koh Kong case arise from the lack of continuing human rights due diligence systems applied by business enterprises involved in the supply chain and the absence of effective remedies at national, regional or international levels that covers all the transboundary corporate actors involved. No mechanism exists that connects the violations to the transnational companies involved and that enables affected communities to hold these enterprises accountable for breaches of their duty to respect human rights in their business operations. The Guiding Principles set out the core roles of states and business enterprises in protecting and respecting human rights, and offer a framework that sets out the specific responsibilities of each of the differing corporate actors within the ownership supply chain, to avoid impunity for human rights abuses. The framework provides important tools to companies to assist them in meeting responsibilities, including the requirements of human rights due diligence and ensuring access to remedial mechanisms by providing operational level grievance procedures or cooperation in judicial and non-judicial mechanisms. Conducting human rights due diligence will enable companies to recognize human rights violations when they occur and require companies to act on the information gathered. Improved due diligence practices could have shielded the companies involved in the Koh Kong case from risk to their reputations arising out of involvement in this case, and more importantly, could have protected the communities from human rights abuses. There is an urgent need for the Cambodian government to respect its human rights obligations in relation to land concessions and investment in agribusiness, and business enterprises operating and investing in Cambodia, in particular in the agribusiness sector to apply the Guiding Principles. In particular, the joint obligation for states and business enterprises relating to access to remedy must be fully implemented. To ensure affected communities across ASEAN are able to access effective remedies when human rights violations occur and cases such as Koh Kong are not repeated, a regional mechanism is recommended to investigate cases involving transnational business enterprises and ensure the Guiding Principles are applied across ASEAN, including in weak governance zones. The investigation by the Thai National Human Rights Commission in this case indicates the potential and need for such a mechanism, to examine and investigate transboundary cases, offer a forum for communities to voice their concerns and provide access to a remedy where other recourse is not available.
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A S E AN Environment
Thai Mekong Communities Oppose Laos Dam Tanasak Phosrikun Graduate in Sustainable Development studies at Chiang Mai University and an alumni of the EarthRights International School of the Mekong.
Photo credit - imekong
The Khone Falls. Photo: imekong
Loei Province, Thailand – ‘Chiang Khan’ is a Mekong riparian district located in Loei province, Northeastern Thailand. Chiang Khan is a new tourist hotspot, attracting a lot of tourists every year, specifically in the winter time due to its beautiful, naturalistic atmosphere. For the past year, the Chiang Khan community has been deeply concerned that Laos’ Don Sahong dam, if built, will do harm to the Mekong river as well as their livelihoods.The proposed Don Sahong dam is located in the lower Mekong River basin, the Khone Falls (Siphandone) area, Champasak province in Laos. The dam will potentially pose negative impacts to the environment and livelihoods along the Mekong River.
“Please calm down folks. The PNPCA process is for all the stakeholders to join the meeting as well as for you to share opinions and concerns. Then the department will collect all your concerns and synthesize them into our report. We’ll use the report to discuss with MRC,” explained Mr Jatuporn Burasaphat, the Director General Department of Water Resource.
The Lao government obliges to conduct a Procedure of Notification, Prior Consultation and Agreement process (PNPCA) required under the 1995 Mekong River Commission (MRC) Agreement, which aims to promote sustainable development and avoid disputes amongst Mekong countries. Although there is no national PNPCA meeting conducted by the MRC in Thailand yet, local communities along the Mekong River gathered and joined at the PNPCA in preparation for the official national PNPCA meeting in Bangkok.The latest two public consultation meetings that took place in Nong Khai and Loei Province, on 16th and 17th December, respectively, aimed to raise concerns about the Laos’s proposed dam.
However, “the last decision-making power is finally with the Lao government to decide”, said Mr Jatuporn. Even though the Thai authorities admitted that the Don Sahong hydropower project’s environmental impact assessment (EIA) is not complete, i.e., no clear data and findings about fish migration and mitigation plan, the local people have realized that dams are only going to cause difficulties and hard times for them. Witnessing Thai communities along the Mekong River in Loei Province, the local people have been suffering from the upstream dams in China since 2009, from a gradual decline in water quality and fish populations, and soil erosion. Locals are losing their agricultural livelihoods and income from selling fish. The latest unprecedented floods in December last year during the high season for tourism was the last straw for affected communities. “There are about 94 households in Baan Noi village, we all depend on Mekong seasonal fish yields especially in the
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dry season, including related business, such as shops and restaurants for tourists who come to visit the Kaeng Khud Khu rapids. Then the flood came, we lost our earnings. Flooding in the winter time? I had never experienced such a phenomenon in my life, since I grew up in the village,” said the headman of the Baan Noi village. “Since we all share the same river, the Mother Mekong, if the Don Sahong dam is built, even if it is far from Chiang Khan district, there would be negative impacts to the amount of fish species, fish population and migration. Decreased fish and food source will only make us suffer and hurt local tourism businesses even more,” said a Chiang Khan villager. Moreover, Mr Kan, a local community leader pointed out that Loei Province is rich in cultures with several ethnicities, e.g., Lao and Tai Puan. “As you were appreciating the performance this morning in the opening session, the show reflected that the local people here have their cultures, customs and beliefs, and they are practicing those things in relation to the Mekong River,” said Mr Kan. Upstream dams in Yunnan province in China, Xayaburi dam in northern Laos, or the lower Mekong River Don Sahong dam, all effect and will impact the flow of the river, where millions of people depend on fish as their major source of protein. Mekong locals participated in the public consultation at Chiang Khan District Convention Hall in Chiang Khan district, Loei Province. Photo credit - imekong “The people here who don’t want the Don Sahong dam, please raise your hands and sign your name to oppose building the dam,” asked the coordinator of the ‘Council Network of the Eight Mekong Province Communities’. She continued: “the Thai authorities should ask the MRC to halt the PNPCA meetings until we have sufficient scientific evidence about the impact of the dam. The MRC must halt the dam until all the consultation meetings have all groups of people, affected communities from all Mekong riparian communities attending the meetings, unlike the past four times of PNPCA (in Thailand)”. About 334 people attended the public meeting that day in Loei and all signed their names in strongly opposing the Don Sahong dam project. In the meantime, the Thai military government, known as the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), is trying to push forward their own ‘350 billion baht water-management scheme’ as well (about 10 billion US dollars).
As Northeastern Thailand (Esan area) has been experiencing drought for the past few decades, the Department of Water Resource has to deal with the water supply shortages. “There are about 60 million rai (9.6 million hectares) of agricultural land, but only 7 million (1.12 million hectares) rai have access to the irrigation system,” said the Director General Department of Water Resource. He added, “…there is a possibility to divert the water from the Mekong River to Esan. That will help to support the irrigation system of about 40 million rai (6.4 million hectares), specifically in Loei province”. The ‘drought discourse’ is active everywhere, regardless of the country you’re living in. ‘To solve the drought is to build a dam. To fix water shortages for agricultural purpose, we must build a dam. We need more electricity, then we need to build a dam, and so on.’ Nowadays, there are six dams already built in the Upper Mekong River in Yunnan Province, China and one more, the 1,285MW Xayaburi Dam in northern Laos, is under construction. The Mekong River Basin is the 2nd most abundant basin in terms of biodiversity following the Amazon River Basin in South America. There are more than 60 million people who depend on the Mekong River, in Yunnan Province China, Shan State in Myanmar, along the northern to the southern part of Laos, eight provinces in the north and northeast of Thailand, Cambodia and Mekong Delta in Vietnam.
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A S E AN C ritical
Preah Vihear Temple, Thai/Cambodian border. Photo: Mat Carney
ASEAN: Contains Effectiveness. Mat Carney Center for ASEAN Studies (CAS) - Chiang Mai University
“…all states in the international system fear each other…they anticipate danger…there is no room for trust amongst states” (Mearsheimer 1994). Is the renowned International Relations scholar and realist John Mearsheimer correct? Do all states fear each other? Is there no room for trust? How about associations and unions, such as ASEAN, can they facilitate and enhance trust? How does a realist deal with groupings of states, especially groupings that contradict their view that the world is nothing more than a system of narcissistic and anarchical states? Since its founding in 1967, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has vastly changed from an organization that counterbalanced Cold War superpowers to that of a highly contested, multifaceted Regional Organization (IO) that incorporates ten Southeast Asian (SEA) states. ASEAN has developed and evolved to primarily concentrate on regional
integration, including; economic, security and social integration. However there is much debate over the effectiveness of ASEAN, with little consensus amongst scholars. Acharya states, “ASEAN remains an essentially contested institution with scholars and observers hotly debating the effectiveness of ASEAN (Acharya 2009:494). The purpose of this paper is to generally evaluate the effectiveness of ASEAN and aspects of scholarly research conducted on the organization, to demonstrate and determine that ASEAN does have aspects of effectiveness. The paper is the result of primarily only reading critical assessments of ASEAN, for over five years, in what I thought were almost all lacking an holistic analysis. By no means do I attempt to analyse everything, however I endeavour to demonstrate that ASEAN has and can be effective.
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At a recent Southeast Asian symposium in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah, the Sultan of Perak, made the argument that ASEAN is misunderstood by those outside of ASEAN, especially foreign scholars. Sultan Nazrin argued one must understand the values of ASEAN, local cultures and traditions, and what ASEAN has achieved so far. He also acknowledged ASEAN’s shortcomings and explained that progress was slowly being made. There was a loud applause after he explained why ASEAN was effective, vital and strategic, from the majority ASEAN audience. This created the question that perhaps scholarship outside of ASEAN lacks to fully understand some of the fundamentals of what ASEAN is.
Problems with the scholarship. The vast majority of scholarly literature on ASEAN concludes that ASEAN is either ineffective in its entirety or large portions of the organization are useless. Scholars that argue ASEAN is ineffective, although accurately signifying certain failures within ASEAN, lack a holistic approach where cultural and social norms are taken into account. This is primarily demonstrated when ASEAN is analyzed exclusively from an International Relations position. Not including social and cultural factors within scholarly research on SEA enables one to make inaccurate assumptions and conclusions. Scholars such as Mearscheimer (Mearscheimer 1994), Brandon (2002), and Jones (Jones 2007), all facilitate their argument within the field of International Relations, often comparing ASEAN to the likes of the European Union (EU), and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Contrasting ASEAN to that of other regional or international organizations, although at times a necessity, does not provide a complete and accurate evaluation. Member states of the EU have similar governmental systems and structures, however ASEAN has semi-democracies, democracies, dictatorships, absolute monarchies and other forms of systems, making comparison problematic. Jones, in comparing ASEAN to that of other organizations, argues, “the uncertainty among its (ASEAN) diplomats and its academic admirers about whether ASEAN is an organization, a discourse, or a community of various hues represents something of a puzzle (Jones 2007:149). It is here scholars from outside of ASEAN can find it difficult to fully understand the very nature and purpose of the organization. A dilemma many scholars find themselves in when discussing ASEAN is that of the organizations purpose. Brandon argues, “ASEAN’s sacrosanct policy of noninterference in the internal affairs of member states has created the impression that it is more interested in preserving the group and its processes than in actually trying to solve problems” (Brandon 2002). Mohamad explains a common problem found within scholarly research is scholars signalling out a single issue and then concluding ASEAN, in its entirety, is ineffective. Mohamad states, “…we find outsiders cynically commenting on the failure of ASEAN as an economic community, when in fact economic cooperation was not a prime objective of the early ASEAN leaders” (Mohamad 2004:15). There is a significant amount of
commentary arguing ASEAN and its institutions and forums such as the AFTA and the ARF are ineffective. However, again, by looking at a single issue, such as tariffs and protectionism traits, one neglects broader aspects. Incorporating factors, such as, the organizations history, its previous and current aims, the socio-cultural make-up of member states, and the ever-evolving geopolitical situation will further enhance ASEAN scholarship. Determining ASEAN is ineffective based on the organization not fitting any already formed formula or mold is problematic. ASEAN is intrinsically linked to a unique set of cultural and social values found within SEA, making it incomparable to that of other regional or international organizations. The non-confrontational and hierarchical respect driven culture needs to be taken into account prior to one formally evaluating ASEAN. Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad states, “…one of the characteristics of ASEAN meetings is that most of the work and the process of reaching consensus are achieved during informal get-togethers of ministers in the absence of their official advisors” (Mohamad 2004:19). By no means is ASEAN entirely effective, however future scholarship would be enhanced if it provided a greater understanding of the unique organization and embraced scholars and leaders such as Sultan Shah.
ASEAN’s founding. Although ASEAN is somewhat a different organization to that founded in 1967, in order to evaluate ASEAN’s overall effectiveness, it is imperative to understand why ASEAN was founded and what it was initially intended for. In the early 1960’s SEA was plagued by numerous problems that included, intra-regional ideological schisms, intra-state territorial disagreements, and weak socio-political unity throughout the region. There was a real fear within diplomatic circles throughout Asia that disputes and tensions between SEA states could collapse into armed conflict. Communism and the domino theory was causing great apprehension in Britain, the United States and throughout SEA. Communist governments within SEA, supported by China, were attempting to export their ideology to neighbouring states. Chinese supported communist insurgencies were found in Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia, and the USSR supported an insurgency in Vietnam (Lim 2009:9). SEA was a very complicated, problematic and dangerous region, with little hope of regional collaboration. The then US ambassador to Thailand, Ambassador Young, pessimistically stated, “…it is doubtful that political regionalism or area-wide defence will emerge to play a part in encouraging regional equilibrium or regional institutions for political collaboration or collective defense” (Acharya 2009:5). In 1966 the governments of the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia all became increasingly concerned about communism within their in individual borders, and through this concern formulated the belief in the importance of working together through regional cooperation and dialogue. On the 8th of August 1967 all five states created ASEAN through the Bangkok Declaration. Yuhuda states the initial goal was to
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foster the, “…utmost importance on encouraging peace and stability in the region”, and that “…the members committed themselves to strengthen the economic and social stability of the region” (Yahuda 2011:59). ASEAN was effective at opposing communism with none of the five original members succumbing to the political ideology. ASEAN’s initial goal of counterbalancing communism and preventing armed conflicted over territorial disputes between the original five members was effectively achieved.
Original aims. In order to make an effective judgment on ASEAN it is vital to assess the original aims of the organization. As determined at the Bangkok Declaration in 1967, ASEAN is founded upon seven guiding aims. Although somewhat fallible, the aims attempt to connect and foster a greater understanding amongst member states. The aims include; economic integration; peace and stability; collaboration and mutual support; education assistance; agriculture, economic development and industry cooperation; the improvement of Southeast Asian studies; cooperation with existing regional and international organizations. All seven aims are interrelated, demonstrating the importance of analyzing ASEAN in its entirety. Anthony expresses how the seven aims are regularly discussed, “ASEAN officials do not only get to know each other well, but also develop the awareness of the kind of sensitivities that involve certain political, economic, and security issues. It has been often said that to be apart of the association, one must be able to play golf, sing in karaoke sessions, and eat durians” (Anthony 2005:74). During the 1970’s and 1980’s ASEAN diverged from the majority of its aims in order to turn its attention to more essential issues. Numerous developments began to preoccupy the newly formed organization, such as, the consequences of U.S withdrawal from Vietnam, Vietnam’s regional objectives and the issue of Cambodia. Initially ASEAN’s economic and educational aims were significantly neglected, however in more recent years ASEAN has again attempted to focus on all seven aims. ASEAN’s aims are an effective way to direct and motivate the organization, however it is not entirely possible to deem them either effective or ineffective without discussing individual institutions within ASEAN.
The ASEAN Way. Arguably the most problematical institution within ASEAN is that of the ASEAN Way. The ASEAN Way was established during the time of ASEAN’s first great success, displaying unity and drawing international attention to Vietnam’s occupation of Cambodia. Many scholars primarily conclude their assessment on ASEAN based on its ability to formulate peace and security. Lim states, “Neighbourly disputes and civil unrest threaten and constantly challenge regional peace and security and people’s belief in ASEAN as a body capable of maintaining regional tranquility” (Yoong 2011:34). Regional security throughout SEA is based on a set of six norms, known as the ‘ASEAN way’.
The norms attempt to facilitate regional peace and security through informal meetings, consensus building, and nonbinding agreements, with Acharya stating the ASEAN way, “… is a mechanism for war prevention and conflict management” (Acharya 2009:58). The norms include; mutual respect and tolerance, quiet diplomacy, the non-involvement of ASEAN to address unresolved bilateral conflict between members, noninterference and non-intervention, renunciation of the threat or use of force, and sovereign equality. However ASEAN is often criticized for violating its own set of norms. Scholars point to situations where ASEAN has obviously violated the ASEAN Way’s most important principle, that of non-interference. In attempting to demonstrate interference, Ruland argues both Malaysia and Indonesia violated the norm by criticizing Burma over their treatment of Rohingya Muslims (Ruland 2000:439). Questions are then directed towards ASEAN’s overall effectiveness, with actions contradicting principles and norms. However in the case of Malaysia and Indonesia criticizing Myanmar, the contradiction can be deemed a positive. Although there are credible arguments demonstrating ASEAN’s failure in upholding the norms, some scholars demonstrate a convoluted understanding of the norms. Guan, in attempting to criticize ASEAN, argues that the ASEAN Way, “…provides a sense of regional identity only at the intergovernmental level” (Guan 2004:73). However Guan’s fails to appropriately address the set of norms, which primarily emphasize cooperation and communication at a governmental level. Frost incorrectly argues economics is a factor of the ASEAN Way, “…ASEAN’s sluggish, consensus based style of decision making, known as the ASEAN Way, cannot keep up with the rapid pace of economic change and should be reformed” (Frost 2008:136). Chan makes a pessimistic critic of the ASEAN Way, “…conflicts have been tentatively avoided but avoidance is also likely to develop into latent crises which might later become unpredictable clashes (Chan 2002:5). The ASEAN Way is problematic; it provides regional peace and security by ignoring bilateral tensions, and prevents conflict from being solved at an organizational level. The diversity of ASEAN’s membership makes coordinated development towards reform difficult. Leviter states, “Critics object that the ASEAN Way’s emphasis on consultation, consensus, and non-interference forces the organization to adopt only those policies which satisfy the “lowest common denominator” (Leviter 2011:159). The ASEAN Way is becoming increasingly challenged as regional stability has become more indeterminate and complex (Acharya 2009:87). With ‘other’ non-ASEAN regional powers exercising more dominance and leadership throughout SEA, and bilateral relationships increasingly becoming important, the ASEAN Way may be hindered. Amongst some Southeast Asian politicians there is the desire for reform, with former Thai Foreign Minister and ASEAN Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan stating, “…it is time to modify the principle of non-interference…or reach a new understanding on the principle which is too strict” (Anthony
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2005:209). However the majority of members declined the request for change, arguing it was against the ‘spirit of ASEAN’. There is also the concern amongst certain ASEAN members that the ASEAN Way could easily be violated by the growing influence of external powers. Thus certain members unofficially violate the set of norms themselves, failing to consult other ASEAN members of their actions (Acharya 2009:86). Haacke states, “In December 1995, Indonesia signed an unprecedented security agreement with Australia that betrayed a limited trust in prospects for China’s socialization as a regional good citizen who would respect the norms of the ASEAN Way (Haacke 2003:79). However a contradiction exists, as it is vital not to underestimate ASEAN’s security and diplomatic culture and its relationship to the principle of respect and regional socio-cultural norms. Any change or development runs the risk of violating regional cultural and social values. If respect is lost, there is the very real threat of conflict and the use of force. Haacke states, “The norm of non-confrontational behaviour, which is linked to the norm of allowing others to ‘save-face’, is an expression of the norm of respect, but in practice, it is also tied to the norm of quiet diplomacy” (Haacke 2003:7). Mahbabani explains, “… face, is important, and conflict can break out when it is lost” (Haacke 2003:117). In regards to solving conflict, the ASEAN Way provides little assistance, however no two ASEAN member states have been involved in large-scale conflict, demonstrating the potential effectiveness of the norms. If the ASEAN Way is to be compared or analyzed to that of western values and norms then it is easy to deem the organization ineffective, however when understanding socio-cultural values, and the fragile nature of the region, the ASEAN Way demonstrates elements of effectiveness. The set of norms enable all heads of government of member states to form relationships, facilitating trust and friendship, thus uniquely providing the fundamentals of peace and security.
The proposed community. Although it is not possible to assess the proposed ‘community’ that will come into existence at the end of this year, is it possible to review the current process that is underway within ASEAN in order to achieve the ASEAN Economic Community’ (AEC) desired outcomes. The AEC proposes regional economic integration through the following characteristics; a single market and production base, establishing a competitive economic region, regional and equitable economic development, and the further integrating of ASEAN into the global economy (ASEAN 2013). Although not officially stated, the preliminary focus of the AEC is to achieve closer economic assimilation in response to growing competition from the likes of India and China (Burton 2006). Former Malaysian Prime Minister Badawi stated, “If we do not hasten the creation of that regional single market, ASEAN may run the risk of losing its position as an important investment destination” (Burton 2006).
However similar to that of other institutions within ASEAN, the proposed 2015 Community is problematic. Burton states, “…doubts remain over whether the goal can be achieved given the wide economic disparity and conflicting national interests among the 10 ASEAN members” (Burton 2006). Although ASEAN is the world’s seventh largest market, the gap between poor and rich states within ASEAN is vast, creating challenges for the implementation of the AEC. Little attention has been given to building greater economic capacity within weaker ASEAN states, such as Laos, Burma and Cambodia (Ravenhill 2007). Disagreements also exist between more developed members such as Malaysia and Singapore over areas such as banking and land reclamation policy. However there is also potential for the poorer states to gain more investment, especially from the manufacturing industry, potentially at a detrimental cost to states such as Thailand. Although there is an obvious push by ASEAN at an organizational level there are many contentious domestic political economic procedures that are hindering ASEAN’s economic integration aspirations (Ravelhill 2007). However those quick to mock or criticise the AEC fail to mention areas of potential success. An area of success is the AEC open skies agreement, as it will completely open up the ASEAN aviation market, creating lower airfares, more direct routes and more competition. Criticizing the AEC before its conception is problematic, as time will tell if it can be deemed effective or ineffective. The challenge in formulating the AEC is considerable within such a dynamic region that lacks strong institutional foundations. However ASEAN does demonstrate aspects of effectiveness as it goes about implementing programs and changes that encourage integration, even if the progress is much slower than desired. The proposed community may also push less democratic states such as Thailand and Vietnam onto the road of democratisation due to the increased easement of moving business throughout the region. Government stability could potentially become increasingly important. A leading Burmese entrepreneur Thaung Su Nyein recently told the Guardian, “I don’t see AEC integration as a date, rather a natural economic and cultural evolution which takes place over decades: a fusing of geographically close neighbours, now accelerated by globalisation and technologies” (Hodal 2015).
The China problem. A legitimate problem within ASEAN, that scholars rightfully concentrate on, is that of bilateral relationships ASEAN members have with other states. As demonstrated ASEAN does have numerous effective aspects however if larger states are going to control members of ASEAN, problems will arise. China’s relationship with Cambodia has exposed divisions within ASEAN. At the 2012 ASEAN leaders summit in Phnom Penh ASEAN members failed to demonstrate unity over the South China Sea issue, with Cambodia siding with China’s claims. The issue caused a split within ASEAN over how to best deal with China, and blocked ASEAN from issuing a joint statement, the first blocked statement in ASEAN’s history (Hunt
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2012). Hunt states, “..the failure also sharply focus attention…on Cambodia’s cozy relationship with China and its desire to deal with any territorial disputes with members on a bilateral basis…” (Hunt 2012). Many scholars and leaders within ASEAN see Cambodia as ‘China’s voice’, with China significantly influencing Cambodian foreign policy. There is a great disparity in opinion amongst ASEAN members in how to handle China. For ASEAN to display disunity enables China more room to move within its bilateral negotiations with ASEAN member states. Baohui suggests, “…(China) has argued that any conflict is bilateral. To this end, Beijing has succeeded by using a few Southeast Asian countries to prevent the emergence of a united ASEAN agenda or strategy” (The Diplomat 2012). China deep-rooted and historical knowledge and understanding of the Southeast Asian region assists in its growing economic and diplomatic influence. However ASEAN has also been relatively effective in bringing both China and the United States, as well as other regional powers, together, peacefully. ASEAN needs both regional powers to support its norms and values in order to strengthen the organization. In recent years states such as Australia, Canada and the likes of the European Union are all lining up, eager to join numerous ASEAN forums and summits. Chan states, “regionalism provides a political umbrella for member states to negotiate with external powers so that individual members do not have to bargain with ‘Great Powers’ on their own (Chan 2002:5). Although ASEAN’s ability to assist in solving conflict is poor, forums and intra-state relationships ASEAN fosters, demonstrates an effective countermeasure.
Conclusion. It has been established that ASEAN in its entirety much be discussed before formulating any conclusion. What has been demonstrated so far is that ASEAN is a complicated and highly complex regional organization. ASEAN’s original aim of counterbalancing communism, ensuring regional dialogue, and preventing regional hostilities has been relatively effective. However a strong argument can be made that numerous problems within the organization exist, including, economic disparity, the growing influence of China, and the non-settlement of bilateral and regional disputes. ASEAN does effectively position itself with the fabric of regional social and cultural values and norms. Although reasonably problematic, both the ASEAN Way and ASEAN’s aims are arguably the ‘best possible outcome’ for such a diverse region. It has been established that for ASEAN to progress or redevelop itself to be deemed ‘more’ efficient and/or effective, could potentially hinder the very nature and reality of the organization. With ASEAN becoming more dominant on the global stage, and through the facilitation of regional dialogue ASEAN is increasingly becoming more effective. However, as demonstrated, ASEAN has numerous challenges. Having ASEAN has a regional organization, with its desires, goals and aims is effective in itself, even though certain aspects and institutions within ASEAN can arguably be deemed relatively ineffective.
Bibliography: Acharya, A. 2009. “Constructing a Security Community in Southeast Asia”. Routledge. London Anthony, M. 2005. “Regional Security in Southeast Asia”. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS). Singapore. st th Brandon, J. 2002. ‘”ASEAN needs to firm up: A Regional Forum that could do better”. The New York Times. 31 July 2002. Cited 10 May 2013. http://www.nytimes.com/2002/07/31/ opinion/31iht-edjohn_ed3__0.html
Burton, J. 2006. “ASEAN Aims for Single Market by 2015”. The Financial Times. 22nd August 2006. Cited 1st May 2013. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/d8b2cd1c-31f9-11db-ab06-0000779e2340. html Chan, R. 2002. “Development in Southeast Asia: Review and Prospects”. Alderhsot. Ashgate. th th Diplomat, The. 2012. “Is China Trying to Split ASEAN”. The Diplomat Online. 30 May 2012. Cited 10 May 2013. http://thediplomat.com/flashpoints-blog/2012/05/30/is-china-trying-to-splitasean/
Frost, E. 2008. “Asia’s New Regionalism”. Lynne Rienner Publishers. London. Guan, B. 2004. “ASEAN’s Regional Integration Challenge: The ASEAN Process”. The Copenhagen Journal of Asian Studies 20: 70-94 Haacke, J. 2003. “ASEAN’s Diplomatic and Security Culture: Origins, Development and Prospects”. Routledge Curzon. London. Hodal, K. 2015. “Opportunities and fears as ASEAN prepares for single market”. The Guardian. 3 asean-prepares-single-market
February 2015. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/03/opportunities-fears-
Hunt, L. 2012. “ASEAN Summit Fallout Continues”. The Diplomat. 20 th July 2012. Cited 10 th May 2013. http://thediplomat.com/asean-beat/2012/07/20/asean-summit-fallout-continues-on/ Jones, D. 2007. “Making Process, Not Progress”. International Security Journal 32(1) 148-184 Letiver, L. 2011. “The ASEAN Charter: ASEAN Failure or Member Failure”. International Law and Politics Journal 43 159-210. Lim, J. 2009. “The Land and its History: The Long Road Ahead”. World Scientific Publishing. Washington. Mearscheimer, J. 2004. “The False Promise of international Institutions”. International Security Journal 19(3) 5-49 Mohamad, M. 2004. “Reflections on ASEAN”. Pelanduk Publications. Malaysia. Ravenhill, J. 2007. “Fighting Irreverence: An Economic Community with ASEAN Characteristics”. Department of international Relations. Australian National University (ANU), Canberra. Rüland, J. 2000. “ASEAN and the Asian crisis: theoretical implications and practical consequences for Southeast Asian regionalism”. The Pacific Review 13 (3) 439. Yahuda, M. 2011. “The International Politics of the Asia Pacific”. Routledge Curzon. Oxon. Yoong, L. 2011. “ASEAN Matters: Reflecting on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations”. World Scientific Publishing. New Jersey.
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A S E AN R esearch
Smog Problem and Rubber Boom: An Adaptation of Land Management in Upland Areas Autsadawut Mongkolkaew RCSD Chiang Mai University Photo: wikimedia.org
Since the late 1990â€™s many areas in Southeast Asia have experienced increasing levels of smog resulting in a decrease in air quality. The problem is most prevalent in the mountainous areas on the mainland. The cause of the problem is being attributed to cultivation methods used by ethnic people, especially monoculture cash crops such as corn, cabbage and upland rice. For example, cleared land is required to prepare corn fields: the elimination of weeds is achieved through burning which adds to the smog problem, especially between January to April when many farmers clear their land. Although the burning happens predominately in the rural, mountainous areas, the problem of high levels and smog and low air quality impacts on the region as a whole â€“ with air pollution found in cities in many areas in Southeast Asia. Recently there has been an emergence of 1 joint strategies, and offers of assistance across ASEAN countries to resolve the problem as a regional issue.
Arrival of smog problem in Chiangmai in mid March 2015, there was support from the Singaporean Army with two helicopters carrying water to put out fires. The Thai media reported that ASEAN cooperation will solve the smog problem.
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This study analysed the adaptation of the Hmong ethnic group, living in upland areas in the north of Thailand, to the rubber plantation phenomena. The Hmong have faced pressure to burn as part of the process of the annual cash crop cultivation, such as corn, cabbage and ginger. Burning has long been a part of the Hmong’s traditional pattern of cultivation (Prasit, 2011). In more recent times however, it has been over used and is seen as one of the causes of deforestation and environment degradation, leading to the cultivation of long term crops such as longan, lychee and plum trees. However, there are many limitations of the new cash crops including their unprofitability, which led to an increase in livelihood instability. With the increasing levels of smog, over time the state authorities have introduced a new technology to monitor forest fires, especially in mountainous areas. The technology aims to prevent forest fires and thus reduce smog on the one hand, and regulate upland people’s cultivation on the other. This has raised awareness on environmental concerns amongst the Hmong, adding further pressure to ensuring sustainable livelihoods.
Upland Cultivation and the problem of smog Agricultural production in upland areas has been seen as ‘Swidden Cultivation’ which relies on slash-and-burn. In fact, there are different patterns of Swidden Cultivation in the uplands including; short cultivation – short fallow; short cultivation – long fallow; long cultivation – very long fallow, or abandonment and permanent field tree crops (Kunstadter, 1978:10). Not all groups of ethnic peoples’ apply the same pattern of cultivation, or apply only one pattern of cultivation (Fox et all (2009:309), Ziegler et al (2010:846)). The arrival of commercialized cash crops were an important factor in changing patterns of cultivation in upland areas (Cramb, et al (2009)). Studies of upland transformation highlight the effects of the state’s development mechanism after World War II. Another reason for changing patterns of cultivation included unproductive cultivation, which did not contribute to the national economic growth, cultivation practices that did not reduce poverty, and the negative effect on the environment, especially the damaging of the forest. Such changes were fraught with tension and conflict emerged over resource management amongst the state and ethnic minorities groups. Some studies show that the nation state in Southeast Asia enclosed ethnic minorities’ traditional cultivation by introducing
development projects in place of traditional methods, with ethnic minorities being excluded from resource management. Development in upland areas were not limited to particular nation states, but implemented by several nations who have merged in to multiple nation states cooperating as a suprastructure both at a regional and global level. Mostly, these organizations, such as trans-border cooperation in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) Economic Corridors2 and ASEAN community aim to benefit from the sharing of resources in an effort to support economic growth. These international organizations focus on mainstream economic growth, and the implementation of environment policies and the conservation of resources; however, such strategies marginalize ethnic communities reliant on the upland areas and exclude powerless people from development. Cultivation projects in ASEAN countries have been critiqued as a cause of pollution, especially clearing land for plantations, given that the burning techniques used produce unacceptable smog levels. Rubber or palm oil is a main cause of air pollution in coastal areas in the Southern parts of the region and the smog has affected many countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, and the South of Thailand. Efforts to address the problem led to the declaration of an environmental policy initiated at the regional level. The adoption of rubber plantations to replace Swidden Cultivation has taken place since the colonial era in Indonesia, with some upland people becoming rubber owners as early as 1917 (Ruiter, 1999). It is important to understand that forest fires are not only a result from Swidden Cultivation or traditional cultivation. Far greater problems result from large scale development projects of private land (Siscawati, n.d.). Since the 1990s, expansion of plantations under private companies had destroyed vast areas of land. There are many studies that show this contributes greatly to the smog problem in the Southern parts of Southeast Asia. At the same time, upland areas in the mainland of the region, particularly those where traditional patterns of cultivation are prevalent were accused as the main cause of smog and air pollution, due to the slash and burn methods used to prepare the soil in the cultivation of annual cash crops such as rice and maize. Burning is seen as an essential part of keeping natural 2
A group of Mekong countries consist of China (Yunan, and Quangxi province), Myanmar Vietnam, Laos PDR., Cambodia, and Thailand. It was established in 1992 supported by Asian Development Bank (ADB.). It focuses on economic development among member countries with three strategies; connectivity, competitiveness, and community.
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nutrients needed for some short root plants. ASEAN member states issued environment control policy under the ASEAN Action Plan. The ASEAN Agreement on Trans-boundary Haze Pollution, signed by the leaders of the ten ASEAN member countries, focuses on the following points. (i) cooperate in developing and implementing measures to prevent, monitor, and mitigate transboundary haze pollution by controlling sources of land and/or forest fires, development of monitoring, assessment and early warning systems, exchange of information and technology, and the provision of mutual assistance; (ii) respond promptly to a request for relevant information sought by a State or States that are or may be affected by such transboundary haze pollution, with a view to minimising the consequence of transboundary haze pollution; and (iii) take legal, administrative and/ or other measures to implement their obligations under the Agreement.3 The Agreement establishes an ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Transboundary Haze Pollution Control to facilitate cooperation and coordination in managing the impact of land and forest fires in particular haze pollution arising from such fires. Pending the establishment of the Centre, ASEAN Secretariat and ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC) coperformed the interim functions of the Centre. According to the agreement, all agricultural activities have been warned to reduce their burning process. To monitor the fire situation, ASEAN countries adopted a satellite technology name “Hotspot”; which runs through a computer program, linked to a satellite, that shows where fires are located. The technology has been effective in reducing forest fires. However, it has led to a new problem for agriculture in upland areas because this technology does not allow people to practice the burning processes even within their traditional cultivation methods. By focusing on smog eradication, the new technology is intensively applied to govern upland people’s cultivation. They have been put under pressure to find out another way to solve the problem of balancing household security and environment concerns.
Conservation Enclosure and the Rise of Rubber Boom in Thailand Although rubber is not counted as local tree forestation, it is considered an environmental risk given its use of chemicals in some producing processes. However, according to upland people, including the Hmong, they have faced challenges with the forest conservation regime, implemented in the 1960s. Laws, including the Wildlife Conservation Act of 1960, 3
The main point of ASEAN agreement on transboundary pollution
the National Park Act of 1961 and the Forest Reserve Act of 1964 (Chayan, 2005:159), impacted on upland people through limiting their access to forest land that they needed to continue their traditional cultivation (Anan and Mingsan, 1995:104). Moreover, the Haze Policy introduced in the 1990’s, to reduce smog, has added more pressure on families and sustainable livelihoods The Haze Policy is implemented by the Forest Fire Control Division, Department of National Park Wildlife and Plant Conservation and has led to the development of 15 ‘Centres of Practical Fire Controls’ that work under the ASEAN Agreement on Haze Trans-boundary Pollution. There has been a focus on the mountainous areas in Northern of Thailand to intensively take precautions on forest fires. 31 local forest fire control offices operate to mitigate the smog problem and its negative impacts on health in the lowland, and the ability it has at reducing tourism numbers due to poor air quality in certain months. The state implementation of the 100 days burning ban rule, from January – April4 adds pressure on upland cultivation practices unavoidably affecting upland people’s cultivation, because of the need to engage in land preparation for a new crop during the dry season. I conducted my research in an upland area in Chiang Rai province, Northern Thailand. The Local Forest Fire Control Office, located in this area, had applied the HOTSPOT technology since 2002. “It would show immediately the hot spot in the computer monitor in the provincial office. The staff, then, will inform us to solve the problem at the fire area” said the head of the Local Forest Fire Control Office, underlying that forest fire regulation is done the local level, and monitored nationally under the ASEAN regional level. The chart shows the reduction of forest fires and damaged lands in the year of 2001– 2014
The Hmong, whose livelihoods rely on upland cultivation have had to adapt to ways of cultivating that are acceptable to the state authorities. “We have to consider to reduce burning process because the law (the state authority who hold the law to regulate cultivation) is on our head”, said the former village headman. 4
The rule is adapted from “ the Zero Burning Policy” that issued by the 12th ASEAN th Haze Technical Task Force – ASEAN HTTF and the 6 ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on
Haze–AMMH in April 15-16, 1999. The council of Minister would allow some provinces in Thailand under the rule in 80, 90 or 100 days depend on how much facing with intensive of smog. Moreover, some province might have another policy continuing after finished 100 days but it is have more smog. The 100 days maybe started from January, 27 or 28 to April, 30 each year.
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The Hmong have had to adapt to the new policies and laws in order to survive – through not adopting slash and burn with all patterns of cultivation. However, the Hmong have tried to bargain on the stop-burning policy with the local officers. “The state authorities had encouraged us to stop-burning in our cultivation since 1997. Among villagers, we did not know how to do, because it is our traditional way to cultivate in upland areas. We then talked amongst Hmong leaders from other villages, and it became an upland farmer network. We tried to compromise with the officer to allow us burning only two days a week.” (Interview with Sub-district headman). The villagers have tried many way to keep to their traditional culture and to live in upland area by adopting their cultivation practices to include some other crops such as fruit trees like longan and lychee. However, there were some difficulties with fruit trees management as it needed more intensive hand-on care to produce a good quality of products. Another issue was obtaining a stable price in the market – as fluctuating prices meant that often crops were sold at a loss. These issues led to a focus on corn cultivation and in 2003, when the rubber market came to Northern Thailand, the Hmong adopted rubber cultivation as a part of their pattern of cultivation. Reasons for rubber adoption included providing more “green landscape” that are different from other annual cash crops, it is a long term product one can keep before selling and it is not necessary to harvest at curtain times. Rubber plantations are also acceptable plants among the state authorities who play a critical role as forest keepers. “There is a reducing of forest fires in our forest zone after the arrival of rubber plantations. It’d be better if they plant more”, (Interview, head of the Local Forest Fire Control Office). There are 80 households (20% of 415 households in the village) in my research village who adopted rubber to be a part of their pattern of cultivation using 1,600 Rai of village land (approximately 30%). The village is located in between 500 – 800 meters above sea level, and counted as part of Zone E (Economic Zone) in the reserved forest. The villagers were given permission to live in this area by the Thai Royal Army at the
demise of the Communist Era. The focus of rubber plantations in the village, has not resulted in the Hmong stopping the slash and burning processes but they have a limited area to burn which they negotiated with the Forest Fire Officers to prevent fire expansion. It was also agreed that the villagers would not need to pay for a fine in case of it’s damaged by fire from neighbouring farms. Rubber trees play an important role as a symbol of no slash and burn in the process of cultivation in the forest, and a mediating point in the conflict of upland use between the Hmong, who cultivate in upland area, and the state authorities, who take on a conservation role. The relationship between the state authority and the Hmong is not only important at a local level, but is also reflected at a national and regional level indicated by the reduction in fires demonstrated by Hotspot. The adopting of rubber trees has encouraged farmers to reduce the burning process but not stop it completely given that burning is an important process for upland cultivation to clear the land for annual cash crops, especially corn cultivation, which supports upland people and is a main income.
Conclusion The Hotspot as an application of a new technology used to govern upland people’s cultivation regionally. Hotspot and other measures assist the state officers working to contain forest fires and the resultant smog problem. However, such policies increase pressure on people who have no livelihood support from the state and limited cultivation choices. The situation potentially creates conflict of land management between the state authorities and upland people. However, rubber plantations may play another role to mediate the conflict and support the no-smog policy, even through rubber is considered an alien plant which can destroy the environment because of the need to clear the land for its cultivation, reducing bio-diversity and also the use of chemicals in the process of producing latex.
Reference Anan Ganjanapan and Mingsan Khaosa-ard 1995 Evolution of pioneer the land for cultivation in the forest: A case study of Upper Northern Thailand. Bangkok: TDRI Chayan Vaddhanaphuti 2005 “The Thai State and Ethnic Minorities: From Assimilation to Selective Integration”, in Kusuma Snitwongse and W. Scott Thompson (eds.) Ethnic Conflicts in Southeast Asia. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies Cramb, R. A., Colfer, C., Dressler, W., Laungaramsri, P., Le, Q. T., Mulyoutami, E., Peluso, N. L., and Wadley, R. 2009 “Swidden transformations and rural livelihoods in Southeast Asia”, Human Ecology, (37): 323 – 346 Fox, Jefferson, Yayoi Fujita, Dimbab Ngidang, Nancy Peluso, Lesley Potter, Niken Sakuntaladewi, Janet Sturgeon, David Thomas 2009 “Policies, Political-Economy, and Swidden in Soutast Asia” in Human Ecology 37:305-322 Kunstadter, Peter, Chapmeman E.C. and Sanga Sabhasri (eds.) 1978 Farmers in the forest: economic development and marginal agriculture in northern Thailand. Honolulu: University Press of Hawaii Ruiter, Tine G. 1999 “Agrarian Transformations in the Upland of Langkat: Survival of Independent Karo Batak Rubber Smallholders” in Li, Thania Murray (ed) (1999) Transforming the Indonesian Uplands: Marginality, Power and Production. Amsterdam: Harwood Academic Siscawati, Mia (n.d.)
Underlying Causes of Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Indonesia; a Case Study on Forest Fire http://pub.iges.or.jp/ (Accessed October, 1 2014)
Ziegler, Alan, Jeff M. Fox, Edward L. Webb, Christine Padoch, Steve Leisz, Rob Cramb, Ole Mertz, Thilde Bruun, and Tran Duc Vien 2010 “Recognizing Contemporary Roles of Swidden Agriculture in Transforming Landscapes of Southeast Asia”, Conservation Biology, 25 (4): 846 – 848
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A S E AN Roundtable
Project Southeast Asia SymposiumKuala Lumpur 2015. Mat Carney Center for ASEAN Studies, Chiang Mai University
Last month University of Oxford, in partnership with Sunway University Malaysia and the Jeffrey Cheah Institute on Southeast Asia Studies, hosted the Southeast Asian Studies Symposium titled ‘The Year of ASEAN: Integrating Southeast Asia”, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The symposium enabled hundreds of academics, business, civil and political leaders, students and participants from around the world to discuss and present their latest research on contemporary Southeast Asia.
‘Professor Jeffery Sachs addressing the audience’. Photo:- Project Southeast Asia.
With the conference focus on ASEAN - keynote speakers, panels, presentations, and workshops primarily focused on transnational and interdisciplinary issues. Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah, the Sultan of Perak, provided a keynote address, where he emphasised both the successes and challenges of ASEAN, and the importance of the AEC. Although crediting success to ASEAN, Sultan Nazrin was holistic and explained, at length, some of ASEAN’s weaknesses and challenges, including the relationship some members have with nationalistic and protectionism attitudes. However he criticised academics and scholars who are overly critical of the the Association, arguing they lack to understand what the Association is all about - dialogue and discussion. The Symposium primarily concentrated on sociological, anthropological, economic, environmental and technological issues that concern ASEAN and its individual members, however there were also panels on international and domestic political issues. Panels included; ‘Breaking the Cycle of Coups: The Future of Thai Democracy’, ‘Can we have Race without Radicalisation in Singapore?’, and ‘Jokowi Six Months On: Has the Promise Been Fulfilled?’. With a large variety of scholars on panels, the perspectives were varying, offering holistic discussions and providing thought provoking dialogue on controversial issues. A highlight of the Symposium were the numerous documentaries that were played, followed by a discussion from both those involved in the production and leading scholars on the issues. Documentaries included ‘The Look of Silence’, a film by Joshua Oppenheimer on the Indonesian genocide. After the film there was a fascinating discussion by an expert panel that included the renowned Indonesian poet and activist Putu Oka Sukanta. The final key note address was from the highly influential and respected Professor of Economics from Columbia University, Jeffery Sachs. Professor Sachs gave a profoundly intellectual and thought provoking talk titled, ‘The Age Of Sustainable Development’. The talk provided a general analysis of the need to balance sustainable development and economic development and acknowledged a significant reduction in overall poverty the world has recently witnessed. However Professor Sachs argued that there are three final hurdles to overcome in order to facilitate a further reduction; growing incoming inequality and social exclusion, continued poverty trap in parts of Africa and Asia, and the growing environmental crisis. Although speaking in a global manner, the talk was extremely relevant in an ASEAN context, emphasising connectivity and regionalism as a tool to problem solving.
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CM U Focus
First International Conference on SalweenThanlwin-Nu Studies “State of Knowledge: Environmental Change, Livelihoods and Development” Samak Kosem Center for ASEAN Studies - Chiang Mai University
This conference hosted by the Regional Centre for Social Science and Sustainable Development (RCSD), Faculty of Social Science, Chiang Mai University, Thailand and organized by the Salween-Thanlwin-Nu (STN) Studies Group. The Salween-Thanlwin-Nu (STN) Studies Group hosted the First International Conference on STN Studies titled “State of Knowledge: Environmental Change, Livelihoods and Development” on 14-15 November 2014 at Chiang Mai University. The conference provided an opportunity for scholars, policy makers, community groups and civil society from Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, China and internationally to exchange information and to learn from one another about critical environmental change, livelihoods and development issues in the Salween River Basin. Shared between China, Myanmar, and Thailand, a range of cultural, biological, and socio-economic values are generated by the Salween River and its adjacent basin ecosystems; the river supports the livelihoods for more than six million people. At the same time, there are nowadays a range of proposals for investment into the river basin, including plans for 20 large hydropower dams, which is being largely undertaken without a comprehensive basinwide assessment that considers the cumulative impacts on ecosystem and existing local livelihoods. The purposes of the conference were; to address the lack of knowledge about the Salween at a basin-wide level by
bringing together researchers from a range of disciplines and backgrounds to present work specifically within the framework of “Salween-Thanlwin-Nu Studies.” And to provide a forum where a wide range of environmental, social, cultural and development issues related to the Salween River can be discussed amongst scholars, policy makers, community groups and civil society. This conference will also launch the Salween-Thanlwin-Nu Studies Group, which aims to be a regional network of scholars, policy makers, community groups and civil society working on issues related to the Salween River. Tentative topics in the conference include; River-related livelihoods and alternative or local knowledge, Political ecology and development, Indigenous knowledge, local research, and citizen science (participatory knowledge), Geopolitics and environmental governance, Trans border decision-making and governance, including environmental and international law, Environmental Assessment – Transboundary EIA, Strategic Environmental Assessments, alternative tools, Human rights, corporate accountability, and regional development, Agrarian change/peasant studies, including water and land grabbing, Environmental science and geomorphology, Biodiversity and conservation, Climate and environmental change and adaptation, Political borders, boundaries and ecologies, Gender and development, Cultural politics of environment and development, Salween archaeology and history and Shan Studies – Ethnic Studies.
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CM U Focus
Rethinking Development Studies in Southeast Asia: State of Knowledge and Challenges Samak Kosem Center for ASEAN Studies - Chiang Mai University
Organized by the Regional Center for Social Science and Sustainable Development (RCSD), Faculty of Social Sciences, Chiang Mai University and Center for ASEAN Studies (CAS), Chiang Mai University. 7 – 8 March 2015 at the UNISERV, Chiang Mai University. Development studies as a distinctive academic subject has proliferated after the World War II in response to need to understand, interpret, induce and question social transformation occurring in developing countries. The social transformation as we have observed is quite complex, comprehensive and dynamic, and it is commonly described as “development” or “modernity”—a trajectory which transforms developing countries to be like the Western world. To understand and interpret the global phenomena of development and modernity, multi‐disciplinary approach is required, particularly social sciences. Academics and practitioners of development and modernity have subscribed to, as well as reflected upon, different paradigms, such as, dependency theory, Marxist and Neo‐Marxist development theories, and postmodernism. While these metta‐theories tend to analyze the causes and consequences of the social transformation, the postmodern turn suggests that emphasis should be placed on wide range of possibly discordant and even contradictory views, voices and discourses. Thus, “development” is one of the very metta‐ narratives that is to be questioned. How postmodernism would lead to disentangling the malaise of development still needs to find out. It is interesting to see how the subject of development studies has generated multiple sub‐fields of study allowing scholars from different disciplines to look into development phenomena. The conventional rural development approach is gradually replaced by community‐based, participatory development, while environment and resource management and agrarian transformation have become a new terrain of investigation. The crucial role of the nation‐state in the context of globalization in the control of natural resources and citizens
still receives great attention. Lately, some scholars take a “cultural turn” in approaching development paying attention to representation and power leading to an increasing interest in governmentality. They also pay attention to the way in which countries mobilize cultural power to create their imageries to rebrand themselves. Development studies also encompasses the intersect between development and various aspects of society, such as gender and development, ethnic conflict and state, civil society, social capital, globalization and localization, religion and development, media and consumption, urbanization and climate change, etc., to name a few. To a certain extent, this evolution of development studies tends to unnecessarily create departmentalization and boundary maintenance. At the emergence of increasing regional integration in Southeast Asia as a result of neo‐liberal economic reforms, the region has encountered an era of development that is characterized by an accelerated rate of economic change and investment, transborder/ boundary migration and mobility, growth in extractive industries, environmental degradation, land and water grabbing, an increased flow of culture and ideas, human rights violations, and so forth. In light of this, there is an urgent need for ‘rethinking’ development studies, that is, how the subject should expand or refocus in order to better address the emerging issues in the region, regional integration and its inclusion and exclusion. The seminar will involve those who work in development studies throughout Southeast Asia in order to reflect the variety of programs available. It asked questions on how development studies in the region is conceptualized, positioned and planned. Furthermore, the seminar addressed the future direction of development studies in the region and how a collaborative network can be fostered in Southeast Asia and beyond to better address the challenges mentioned above. The objectives of this seminar are to reflect, share and exchange experiences in teaching/research with regard to development studies in Southeast Asia and to identify new challenges and emerging issues in development studies in changing context of Southeast Asia.
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A S E AN Activities at C M U
Architectural Project Exhibition in Luang Prabang, Lao PDR The project was designed under the topic “Architecture Impact Cities”. The topic provides an alternative for designers to create new aspects and changes to the city. Furthermore, it is an experiment to provoke student’s ideas beyond a condition of existence or a possibility of construction. The project presents two cities which are distinctive in many aspects such as ways of life, city planning and regulations or laws. The first city in this project is Chiang Mai, Thailand, city of tourist destination, Lanna cultures and traditions. Chiang Mai is a rapidly growing city. Buildings are built to support high demand from both tourists and its own residents. The growth of the city under loose regulations has created variety in the city. Building’s in the old city of Chiang Mai are diversified. Under this context, the first project creation is more open both in terms of function and shapes according to personal interests.
The second city in this project is Luang Prabang. Luang Prabang is the city that preserves its own history and still insists in living accordingly to its history. Luang Prabang is recognized as World Heritage City by UNESCO. It consists of highly valued building in term of history. Today, there is influx of tourists going to Luang Prabang to admire its beauty. During the trip to Luang Prabang, we visited and examined buildings as well as witnessed local residents’ lifestyle. We found much interesting information that is hardly seen in Chiang Mai. In Luang Prabang city, households heavily rely on tourism. Building are transformed to support higher tourism demand. Services become a common career found in the city. By contrast, in Baan Sigha, we found many fascinating things that are different from what we found in the city of Luang Prabang. Households live simple lives but there is something interesting in the simplicity, including the composition of houses, tools and equipment and religious building. The experience gained from the trip are united in our second project of Luang Prabang. Many of us were impressed by the antiqueness and based our architectures on that. Others created architectures that might cause change in the city of Luang Prabang. This is the experiment project that we expected it to provoke new idea and alternatives in designing. We tried to create diversity in designing which supports the city, against the mainstream idea and questioning the city itself. We had been accepting every different idea as the origin of new learning. Lastly, we hope these architectures will be part of ignites in future designing of these cities.
Photo: Samak Kosem
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A S E AN Activities at C M U
Family Snaps: Photography in Southeast Asia Chiang Mai Group Exhibition 7 - 14 Nov 2014 ZHUANG Wubin In Southeast Asia, some of the most effective work involving photography concerns the family.1 There are at least two prevailing approaches here. One involves the artist working with her or his family members in a collaborative process to create imageries. The other uses the family as a discursive site to explore personal and social issues. However cliché it may sound, this turning-inward amongst artists using photography has become more visible since the 1990s. It is impossible to speculate and exhaust the reasons resulting in this development. However, let me briefly pursue a few lines of thought here. There may be clues to be found in Japanese photography, with some of its more renowned practitioners adopting an “extremely personal vein” in their work since the 1970s. By raising the threshold of personal details that they disclose in their work, these photographers have tried to break through the strict behavioural codes prevalent in Japanese society.2 The societies in Southeast Asia share some of these codes and various artists have used their work to temper with these restrictions—at times, referencing the
approaches of Japanese photography.3 The other reason may be related to the way writers and curators in Southeast Asia have inclined to contextualise art from the region vis-à-vis its social function.4 In this context, overly personal work can be misconstrued as indulgent, resulting in its erasure here. Perhaps it is no coincidence that such projects have resurfaced more recently, partly in parallel to the digitisation of the medium. Here, I am not merely referring to the transition from analogue to digital photography. Instead, we should see the digitisation of photography in relation to how it has changed the way we circulate and encounter images, via the mediation of social media and blogs. It is now possible for any content producer to cultivate a following for her or his work, which is hosted online. In a way, this is most ideal for practitioners who pursue highly personal work, allowing them to bypass the arbitrary taste of cultural gatekeepers. In this exhibition, I have selected five artists who unravel the theme in different ways. Stemming from this intention, the exhibition also registers some of the artistic strategies adopted by practitioners today. I see their approaches as embedded in the milieus that they operate, shaped by ideas and visuals that circulate locally and globally, and marked by personal desires and creative decisions in their practices. I reject the reductive idea propagated by some art historians, curators and artists that the act of taking a snap is naïve, as though
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the photographer does this mindlessly in an ideatic vacuum. Instead, I am influenced by anthropologists, especially those studying popular photography, who note that the medium does not “merely duplicate the everyday world, but is, rather, prized for its capacity to... construct the world in a more perfect form than is possible to achieve in the hectic flow of the everyday”.5 The five bodies of work selected for this exhibition spring from this “world-making” intent. I relate this with the intention of the artists in wanting to make the experiences of art making as fulfilling and real for themselves and their collaborators. Particularly for Maika Elan (b. 1986, Hanoi, Vietnam) and Sean Lee (b. 1985, Singapore), their working processes of photographing family members, which remain partially unseen in the visuals that they produce, are what they cherish the most in their work. Lee photographs his parents in Two People (2010- ) for many reasons. Apart from the obvious desire to remember them through photographs, Lee uses his practice to create opportunities to spend time with his parents while seeking release from the banality of urban family life.6 In Like My Father (2013), Maika Elan re-enacts childhood memories of her father, bringing her to the park and taking funny pictures of her. Here, the roles are reversed, as she brings her father to the park and creates double-exposure portraits of him, juxtaposed against mountain valleys, flowers and foliage. She hopes that her colourful photographs will motivate her father, as he begins his recovery from cancer. In both cases, the artists situate their practices along the therapeutic vein. As for Nge Lay (b. 1979, Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar) and Vuth Lyno (b. 1982, Phnom Penh, Cambodia), they take the “genre” of family portraiture as reference, collaborating with families to create portraits in order to foreground specific issues. However, this does not mean that there is no personal import in their work. For instance, Nge Lay made The Relevancy of Restricted Things (2010) partly as homage to her late father. At her husband’s village, Nge Lay finds many families in which the father figure is missing. These fathers have been displaced as economic migrants in search of work elsewhere. In her collaborative portraits, Nge Lay dons the Burmese coat left behind by her father, wears a mask that resembles a dead
man and plays the surrogate father in these truncated families. To heighten her collaborators’ experiences of making these portraits, she photographs them inside a black tent, with the intention of creating a physical and emotive space to evoke their memories. In Thoamada II (2013), Vuth Lyno continues his personal engagement with Cambodia’s LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) communities. In this work, he collaborates with LBGT individuals and their families. Visiting each family, the process begins with Vuth encouraging them to share stories. This usually leads to an outpouring of anecdotes and memories. After that, he invites them to pose for two different photographs. One is a simple family portrait taken at home. The second photograph features the re-enactment of a selected memory. The work aims to temper with the construct of the Cambodian family. The artistic practice of Minstrel Kuik (b. 1976, Pantai Remis, Malaysia) sits in between the approaches of the aforementioned artists. Her photographs in Mer.rily, Mer.rily, Mer.rily, Mer.rily (2008-13) are snapshot-like and it is possible to see them as an evolving, live-version diary of her life. Her family appears in many photographs, alongside the food she cooks, the people she encounters, and the things she sees in front of her family house at Perak and within her apartment in Kuala Lumpur. The work is related to Kuik’s bodily experience in Malaysia, having returned “home” at the end of 2006 after spending 12 years in Taiwan and France. Inevitably, she begins to experience the political tension in the country, as she tries to fit her jetlagged body back into the Malaysianscape. Her creolised body is not often seen in her photographs but is always keenly felt in her creating process. Kuik’s artistic practice helps her come to terms with the bodily burden that she has inherited from her family, the nation and her experiences as a migrant. In closing, the family remains a potent reference in the photo-related practices of artists in Southeast Asia. The most interesting prac- titioners are those who traverse the private-public divide to conceive their work as “world-making” experiences for them and their collaborators. It is this sense of agency that unites the artists featured in this exhibition.
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A S E AN Activities at C M U
“Re-imagining Myanmar: Making Sense of the Transition” Samak Kosem Center for Asean Studies - Chiang Mai University Seminar on “Re-imagining Myanmar: Making Sense of the Transition” organised by RCSD Chiang Mai University was held Tuesday, February 17th, 2015 at 12.30 – 15.00, at Room 02001, Operational building, 2nd floor, Faculty of Social Sciences Chiang Mai University. The first topic was “Karen Youth Re-imagined: Coming of Age on the Banks of the Thanlwin River” by Justine Chambers, PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology, The Australian National University. Her focus, after decades of intractable ethno-national conflict, military rule and economic stagnation, in the last three years Myanmar has initiated a tentative transition to ‘democracy’ through widespread economic and political liberalisation. The momentous political, economic and social changes occurring in Myanmar provide the starting point for this study. Through long-term ethnographic research in Hpaan, the capital of eastern Karen State and former home to one of the most enduring civil conflicts in the world, I explore young people’s experiences of self, community and nation as they are expressed, enacted and understood in everyday life. Gaining access to the social worlds of Karen people in Myanmar has been extremely difficult, where the history of civil conflict, state surveillance and physical danger has made it virtually impossible for scholars to conduct in-depth ethnographic research. As one of the first ethnographic studies to be conducted in the region for decades, my research seeks to problematise the existing literature on the Karen, and discover the ways young people are expressing themselves outside the politicised and victimised narratives of the ethno-nationalist movement. Building on the literature exploring the contemporary predicament of ‘coming of age’ and anthropological theories of cosmopolitanism (eg Ferguson 1999; Werbner 2006, 2008), I ask how young Karen people re-construct self-identity, and embrace cosmopolitan subjectivities in the rapidly shifting sociopolitical and economic environment of Hpa-an. By drawing on long-term fieldwork, I seek to offer an insight into the complex modernising worlds of young people in Myanmar more broadly and to explore their lives in ways in which cultural and ethnic boundaries and horizons are never fixed, but as proposed by James Ferguson, are multi-centred, fluid and relational.
Another topic was titled “Disciplining the Political Imaginary” Informal institutions, reciprocity and political identity in Myanmar’s transition” by Gerard McCarthy, PhD Candidate, Department of Political and Social Change, The Australian National University. His focus is little acknowledged outside Myanmar; the last two decades of authoritarian rule from 1988 to 2010 saw the rapid expansion and growth of community-based welfare groups and informal networks of reciprocity. With the tacit endorsement of the regime, these informal institutions played an increasingly important role in quotidian subsistence for many Burmese amidst the social and economic stagnation of the authoritarian period. This study seeks to identify the contemporary role that these informal institutions play in the formulation of political identities and imaginaries during the ongoing regime-led transition in Myanmar. It explores the dual role that informal subsistence institutions play in providing assistance and in shaping the political identities of those with whom they engage. Drawing on the work of Geertz (1959), Auyero (2000), MacLean (2010), Nishizaki (2011) and others on the influence of informal institutions in shaping political identities and crafting particular patterns of engagement between citizens and formal political institutions such as political parties and the state, I hope to identify the micro-mechanisms of political identity formation around Myanmar’s November 2015 national and regional elections. This study seeks to contribute to an understanding of informal institutions of reciprocity, their potential role in crafting political identities and the mechanisms through which formal political institutions influence their operation during a regime-led process of transition.
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A S E AN Activities at C M U
Collaboration Signing Ceremony between Chiang Mai University and Mandalay University Samak Kosem Center for Asean Studies - Chiang Mai University Associate Professor Niwes Nantachit, M.D., President of Chiang Mai University signed an Academic Collaborative Agreement with Professor Dr. Maung Thynn, Rector of Mandalay University, accompanied by Associate Professor Rome Chiranukrom, Vice President for International Relations and Alumni of Chiang Mai University. This Agreement was signed on April 6, 2015 at Mandalay University supporting both institutes in co-hosting the â€œInternational Conference on Burma/ Myanmar Studiesâ€? which will be held at Chiang Mai University on July 24-25, 2015. The highly anticipated International Conference on Burma/ Myanmar Studies will be held in Chiang Mai over the period 24-25 July 2015. It will be co-hosted by the Centre for ASEAN Studies (CAS), Chiang Mai University, the Regional Centre for Social Science and Sustainable Development (RCSD): Myanmar Studies Centre, the University of Mandalay and the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS) in Leiden, The Netherlands.
The unique conference will bring together numerous scholars, researchers, journalists, NGO workers and observers from Burma/Myanmar, as well as those from other parts of the world. With scholarship on and within Burma/Myanmar still to be fully developed, the conference will enable and empower discussion on relevant topics and provide holistic updates. The objectives of the conference are: to bring together leading scholars and intellectuals on Burma/Myanmar in order to develop a deeper understanding of the enormous political, social, environmental, and economical transformations occurring in Burma/Myanmar. To assist in putting scholarship on Burma/Myanmar at the forefront of conversation and strengthen in within academia. To examine the connectivity and nexus Burma/Myanmar has with other ASEAN members, larger regional powers and in a global context. To provide a thoughtprovoking platform for the exchange of academic and practical ideas and to facilitate dialogue amongst scholars from Burma/ Myanmar and throughout the world. And to enable young and mid-level scholars and researchers to participate in an international academic forum and have interaction with leading scholars within the field.
Signing of MOU between Chiang Mai University and University of Mandalay. April 2015.
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A S E AN Scape
Burmese Migrants in Samut Sakhon: An essential workforce neglected by government Emily Donald Intern - Labour Rights Promotion Network/University of Queensland Photo: ARPN
The coastal province of Samut Sakhon sits only 45 kilometres from Bangkok in the Gulf of Thailand. Small, gritty, with few notable attractions, it is virtually off the map as far as tourists and the media are concerned, and many Thais know very little about the area. But Samut Sakhon may be one of Thailand’s most significant regions for industry and ethnic diversity. For the last 30 years or more, large numbers of Burmese migrants, representing several ethnic groups (Burman, Mon, Shan, Karen and others), have come to Samut Sakhon to find work. The province is essentially one vast sprawl of industry. The land is littered with literally thousands of factories, most of which are involved with seafood processing, whilst the river banks and jetties are crammed with fishing boats. The provincial slogan even translates as “The City of Fisheries and Plenty of Industries”. This is no exaggeration.
Migrant child labour is endemic. The province’s government schools lack the resources, and often the will, to provide migrant children with any extra assistance, making the transition from Burmese to Thai school almost impossible. Social security migrants are practically non-existent, as the local police seem more interested in arbitrarily detaining migrant labourers than protecting their rights. And this is a group that really does need protection. Samut Sakhon and surrounding provinces are notorious hotspots for human trafficking, forced labour and debt bondage operations. Migrants from Burma, many of whom lack official documentation, can fall victim to human trafficking all too easily.
Civil society groups have been working in Samut Sakhon for years, trying to fill the gaps in migrant welfare and protection caused, and exacerbated, by official neglect and poor law enforcement. For example, LPN provides alternative education In the late-1980s, when Thailand’s fishing and seafood centres specially designed for migrant children, but this is not processing sectors experienced a massive boom, Samut Sakhon enough to keep them from entering Samut Sakhon’s poorly was promoted as a production and sales hub. Unprecedented regulated and exploitative workforce. growth brought a unique brand of hurried industrialisation to Recently, Thailand’s military government has taken steps the province. Even today some seafood processing facilities to emphasise migrant labour rights. Announcements have are nothing more than large sheds, where Burmese labourers been made, policies have been revised, but without sustained wash, peel, debone and behead bucket after bucket of assorted implementation such efforts are meaningless. Thailand needs to aquatic creatures. do much more for the Burmese migrant labourers who keep the One local non-government organisation, The Labour Rights country’s fishing industry afloat. Promotion Network (LPN), estimates that as many as 300,000 Burmese nationals live in Samut Sakhon. They are essential for Thailand’s fishing and seafood processing industry yet they suffer greatly from official neglect.
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A S E AN ar t update
From GMS to ASEAN: an extension of possibility on art and culture? Sutthirat Supaparinya Co-founder and member of the Chiangmai Art Conversation (CAC).
pecially in transport, energy, telecommunications, environment and law. The awakening of art and culture in the Mekong Basin occurred during the years 2001 and 2008, after which the support funding in the region changed focus to other topics. For example, the Rockefeller Foundation moved their support to environmental projects, at a time when the world had become more aware of global warming. However, there is a Rockefeller sub-foundation called the “Asian Cultural Council” that supports art and culture projects between Asian countries and the United States. This is a well established foundation, even though funding has decreased. However, many hidden stories from the colonization era, the period of dividing this region into countries, have still been passed on in the form of art, such as visual arts, dance, performing arts, music and literature. The Asian Cultural Council, alongside the Ford Foundation, has continued to support relationships in the region by subsidizing the Arts Network Asia (ANA). The organisation was founded in Singapore in 1999, and continues to this day. It actively supports small to medium cross-culture projects and aims to establish relationships among the Asian art and culture community. The ANA focuses mostly on Southeast Asia (SEA) cooperation projects, including China. This geographical international cooperation framework around the Mekong basin has seemed to fade away. However recently it was extended to a wider organization, The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) community. There are 2 exhibitions that give a sendoff to the Mekong basin cooperation. First, UNDERLYING: Contemporary Art Exhibition from the Mekong Sub-Region, hosted by Silpakorn University in 2007, was sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation through an education program funded by the Goethe Institute Bangkok. The exhibition traveled to 4 countries in Mainland SEA. Secondly, in 2009 the 6th Asia Pacific Triennial in Melbourne, Australia, showed works from various Mekong region-based artists.
The GMS region consists of Thailand, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Vietnam and China (the Yunnan Province and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region). A decade ago many international art and culture projects in Thailand, which aimed to cooperate with these countries, tended to gain support from the government, private funds and grants from abroad such as Japan and USA. The art and culture relationship was not formed by chance. The Greater Mekong Sub-region Economic Cooperation was established in 1992. This project was supported by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to develop priority infrastructure, es-
Even though cultural cooperation between SEA countries in the last century has been rare, a remarkable art exhibition in 2004, Identities Versus Globalization?, fully introduced all SEA countries. Established and emerging artists were invited to Thailand and showed their outstanding artworks. The exhibition was orgainzed by the Heinrich Böll Foundation, which is part of Germany’s Green Party. At that time, the SEA office was located in Chiang Mai province. Therefore, the exhibition began in Chiang Mai, before moving on to Bangkok and Berlin. This was a chance for all artists to meet and exchange their thoughts. Jompet Kuswidananto, a well-known Indonesian artist, told me that it was the first international exhibition he had ever participated in.
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Later, after 10 governmental leaders from ASEAN countries signed to endorse the ASEAN Charter in 2007, ASEAN become a coordinated organization that mediated between governments. The ASEAN Charter is a constitution that aims to establish an ASEAN community through commitment and agreement in the form of law. There is a plan to unite the ASEAN community by 2015. The movement of cultural cooperation has started to become more concrete. Education in many institutions has gradually shifted focus from Thai and Mekong Studies to Southeast Asian Studies. Activities, festivals and exhibitions from the region have increasingly emerged. In 2012, Goethe Institutes in the region co-organized a traveling exhibition, the Riverscape in Flux exhibition. The project worked with curators and artists from SEA countries to create artworks and exhibitions related to the current situation of SEA rivers. The exhibition traveled to Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, the Philippines and Indonesia. A year later, the Japan Foundation’s head office in Tokyo initiated a project to mark the 40th Anniversary of ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation. The project invited young curators from most of the SEA countries to participate in a workshop in Tokyo. At the same time, it created a corporation for a New Media exhibition, “Media/ Art Kitchen: Reality Distortion Field ”, which invited outstanding artists from SEA countries to create new work. Additionally, each curator selected a Japanese new media artwork to be exhibited in their own country. This show focused on the artist and audience’s participation via subactivities and the selection of various artists to attend a Japanbased artist-in-residence programme after the exhibition. The Japanese strategy to coordinate art and cultural relationships has many levels and is highly professional. Okamura Keiko was appointed as head of the project is a highly experienced curator from the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography. Moreover, there are other exhibitions that focus specifically on contemporary artworks from SEA artists via domestic organization. For example, ’T R A C E S’ at the Jim Thompson Art Center in 2012 and ‘Concept Context Contestation: art and the collective in Southeast Asia’ at the Bangkok Art and Culture Center the following year. Another initiation emerged in Taiwan in 2012, when a group of Thai and Taiwanese artists began an artist exchange project. A group of about 10 Taiwanese artists stayed in Bangkok for 6 months, on rotation. They cooperated with Thai artists, creating activities that ended up in an exhibition, showing both Thai and Taiwanese art works. Thai artists then had the chance to travel to Taiwan. All artists again showed new works together, this time in Taipei. The show was entitled Thaitai: A Measure of Understanding. The Outsider Factory is a gathering of Taiwanese curators, art and culture workers. They have basic management skills and an interesting philosophy on how to run art projects. They
focus on the introduction of non-western contemporary arts and assist Taiwanese artists to appear on the international stage. They also spend time and join in the production process alongside artists and are looking for the other possibilities in which to curate exhibitions. As with the above group, they started a project in Vietnam in 2012 and plan to extend to Indonesia. Nobuo Takamori, a director of the group, shared an interesting thought that “Japan is our past in Taiwan (by colonization), but Southeast Asia is our future.” These are small groups of people. Both groups started an art and culture relationship between Taiwan and SEA and displayed an attentiveness to SEA culture. Later, the Taiwanese Ministry of Culture created a specific grant application to invite art and cultural specialists from SEA to work in Taiwan with a budget not exceeding 500,000 NT (a little more than five thundered thousand baht) per project. Last August, I was invited to participate in a symposium entitled Alternative Route. It was part of the Koganecho Bazaar art festival, in Yokohama City, Japan. I had previously participated in this festival as an artist in 2011, followed by participation as a co-curator for the last 3 years. As of last year, the symposium is held in parallel to the festival. It emphasizes cooperation between small, alternative art organizations who work with communities, mainly from SEA countries. There were organizations from Chiang Mai, Yogakarta, Ho Chi Minh City and Manila, together with organizations from Taiwan and China. Although this year’s symposium was extended to include an organization from Korea, the focus was still with SEA. On a kick-start “Asia Bits” symposium, Antariksa, a researcher from KUNCI Cultural Studies Center, Jogjakarta, was invited to talk about his research on Indonesian art during the Japanese occupation in 1940‘s Indonesia. His research focused on the positive influence of the occupation on Indonesia, which gave rise to art education and the ground concept of working in a collective during the occupation. Working with community is apart of Indonesian root culture that ties in well with the Japanese notion of Genba-shugi, which encourages one to be at the location or source of a problem in order to understand the situation they’re learning/solving. Dr. Masato Karashima, a fellow from Kwansei Gakuin University, talked about the development of Japanese and SEA culture and economic relativity after World War II. During the cold war period, Japan acted as the middleman between the United States and SEA with the aim of forming a US-JAPANSEA triangle to protect against the rise of communism. He also emphasized how Japan created good relations with Indonesia at that time. Culture is a tool to gently build friendly relations. It rouses attention and emotion, transforms history and reimagines future relations. Whether it is in the context of GMS or ASEAN, or other forms of cooperation, the understanding of contexts that come with a stream of new culture will certainly help us to comprehend the changing world and adjust ourselves to new variations.
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A S E AN book reviews by Mat Carney Center for ASEAN Studies - Chiang Mai University
Uncertain Lives - Changing Borders and Mobility in the Borderland of the Upper Mekong’. Edited(s) - Wasan Panyagaew and Bai Zhihong
‘Uncertain Lives’ is a fascinating collection of essays that enables the reader to holistically understand border dynamics and mobility between China and mainland Southeast Asia. A collaboration between Yunnan University’s Institute of Ethnology and the Regional Centre for Social Sciences and Sustainable Development at Chiang Mai University, the unique collection offers numerous stories, perspectives and studies from leading Southeast Asian and Chinese academics, and is primarily an account of their field research. The theme throughout all essays is transformation, both negative and positive, from regional integration and globalisation throughout the border regions of Southern China, Northern Laos, Northern Thailand and Northern Myanmar. Due to increased border trade, these regions are becoming increasingly significant to local communities and the modern state. Increased integration also changes social dynamics and relations, and plays a large part in ethnic minority communities who live throughout the border region. There has perhaps never been a better time to understand the rapidly changing borderlands due to the integration of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) at the end of this year. The easy to read collection begins with stories of suffering and violence around the Salween River area and the complicated relationship between the Burmese and Thai militaries. Through skilful story telling the author enables the reader to understand the complexions of the region. Following on there is an intriguing essay that demonstrates how the Han Chinese assimilated with local ethnic populations in Yunnan Province. To me this was incredibly powerful, as more recent scholarship has concentrated on the assimilation of ethnic communities into Han populations. There are a couple of essays on cross-border trade between Thailand and Burma highlighting the increased strategic importance of the region and how the micro can affect the macro. Finally there are few essays that look at the Tai Lue diasporas in the United States and throughout the ASEAN region. ‘Uncertain Lives - Changing Borders and Mobility in the Borderland of the Upper Mekong’, is a fascinating and effective collection of essays and a rewarding read for those interested in the changing dynamics of the border regions and the process of mobility that has a global reach.
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Encountering Islam: The Politics of Religious Identities in Southeast Asia’. Edited by Hui Yew-Foong
With the Islamic population in Southeast Asia estimated to be over 240 million people, a little under half of the entire ASEAN population, and with immense diversity throughout the region, it is critical for scholars of Southeast Asia to understand Islamic identity. ‘Encountering Islam: The Politics of Religious Identities in Southeast Asia’ provides holistic accounts of Islamic identity throughout the region, offering new perspectives and demonstrating the diverse array of beliefs, peoples, cultures, and ethnicities within Islam in Southeast Asia. The book does not see Islam within the region as a single phenomenon, as many neo-orientalist, western scholars and journalists do, however clearly depicts Islam as a pluralistic religion that can not be understood by understanding one aspect. Through numerous authors that cover a wide range of issues and states, issues such as individual and collective identity, repression and oppression are carefully covered. Relationships Islamic communities have with political and economic identities is often a product of history and often depicts what response or struggle communities have. The book is divided into four sections; the first section looks at Islamic communities that span across modern day political boundaries. Scholars include M.C Ricklefs, and topics include Sufi Islam throughout Southeast Asia. Sufi Islam is an interesting and understudied transnational phenomenon, often coming into opposition from official Islamic bodies in Malaysia and Indonesia, who at times argues, Sufi Islamic has the potential to infiltrate mainstream Islam. The second section looks at Islam within Malaysia, a state with an Islamic population of approximately 60%, yet a state system that significantly neglects the large nonIslamic minority. Topics include; ‘Legal Bureaucratic Islam in Malaysia’, ‘Tamils in Malaysia’ and ‘Islamization and Ethnicity in Sabah’. The third section looks at the largest Islamic state in Southeast Asia, Indonesia. Topics include; ‘Nationalism and Religion’, ‘Religious Freedom’, and ‘The Politics of Morality’. The final section looks at specific cases related to Muslim minorities in Southeast Asia. A particularly interesting essay is on the plight of Malay Muslims in Thailand and the confrontation they have with the Thai-Buddhist State. This conflict is not new and has been occurring since the Ayutthaya period, however more recently it has gained significant attention. The paper draws attention to acts of violence, especially conducted by the Thai State, and how it has helped draw significant attention to the plight of Muslims in the deep south. It also explains how acts of violence from certain Islamic groups has legitimised, in the eyes of the Thai elite and middle class, the tough stance from the Thai State. ’Encountering Islam: The Politics of Religious Identities in Southeast Asia’, provides great and holistic accounts of the diverse array of Muslims and Muslim identities throughout Southeast Asia. By not only looking at Islamic communities in majority non-Islamic states, and demonstrating the diversity of Islam itself within Islamic states, the reader gets a great understanding of the complexities of Islam within Southeast Asia, the problems the modern nation-state creates for communities, and the struggle numerous communities have in establishing and maintaining their identity and culture.
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Chiang Mai University Press operates out of the Research Administration Center, Office of the University, Chiang Mai University (CMU). CMU Press is a new academic publishing house, founded in 2009. CMU Press aims to encourage and support the University’s academic staff in publishing and disseminating their work. In doing so, CMU Press will work with authors to improve the quality of output, and help to elevate the academic reputation of the University. Chiang Mai University Press will serve as the University’s central agency in selecting academic works of material benefit to society for publication and dissemination. CMU Press will publish in a variety of print media formats and in multiple languages, tailored to the particular needs of the academic work and author. Now, CMU Press has 17 books;
• กรณีศกึ ษาทางโลหิตวิทยา (ฉบับปรับปรุงแก ้ ไข) (2014) • การตรวจสอบรอยโรคในระบบทางเดินหายใจสุ กร (2013)nd st • การรักษาพยาบาลโรคเบื อ ้ งต น ้ (2013: 1 edition and 2 edition, 2014: 3rd edition) • รักษากระดูกสัตว์เลีย้ งหัก (2013) • โรคเบาหวาน: ความรู พ้ ื้นฐานและการตรวจทางห อ้ ง ปฏิบตั กิ ารทีเ่ ดีย่ วข อ้ ง (2014) • อนามัยโรงเรียน--School Health (2014)
Science and Technology
• การออกแบบและจ�ำลองระบบพลังงาน--Energy System Design and Modeling (2014) • ชีวสารสนเทศทางสัตวศาสตร์ (2013) • เทคนิคโรคพืช--Plant Pathology Techniques (2013) st • รูปแบบบnd า้ นเรือนของกลุม่ ชาติพันธุอ์ ษุ าคเนย์ (2013: 1 edition, 2014: 2 edition) • สรีรวิทยาพืชไร่- -Physiology of Field Crops (2014)
Social Sciences and Humanities
• A Practical Guide to Research Projects For student and apprentice researchers (2014)
• Climate Chang Challenges in the Mekong Region (2011) • Feeding the Dragon Agriculture-China and the GMS (2009) • คิดอย่างมิเชล ฟูโกต์ คิดอย่างวิพากษ์ (2009: 1st edition, 2012: 2nd edition) • ว่าด ว้ ยทฤษฎีทางสถาป ตั ยกรรม พื้นทีส่ าธารณะและพื้นที่ทาง สังคม--Towards Architectural Theories: Public Space and Social Space (2014) • แสงแห่งมณีจนั ทร์ (2015) Chiang Mai University Press welcomes submission from the Chiang Mai University’s academic staff. If the author- work with other University’s academic staff, would like to publish book, book chapter or textbook-in case of the CMU author is the mainly author and/or editor. For the distribution, CMU Press has the various channels: Chulalongkorn University Book Center Thammasart University Bookstore Chiang Mai University Bookstore Silpakorn University Book Center D.K Book Center Suriwong Book Centre And/or the author sell their. More information: http://cmupress.cmu.ac.th
ASR: Chiang Mai University Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities Asian Social Research: Chiang Mai University Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities is dedicated to the publication of original research in the social sciences and humanities. Submissions are welcomed from Thai and international scholars from Chiang Mai University as well as other institutions. All submissions must be original research not previously published or simultaneously submitted for publication. Manuscripts are peer reviewed before acceptance. ASR is published annually in June. ASR is an international journal dedicated to disseminating stateof-the-art research results in the social sciences and humanities for the betterment of our global community. ASR is the peer reviewed journal with a Goal to be in Thai-Journal Citation Index (TCI) by 2016. In fact, ASR is the latest journal of Chiang Mai University Journal for Social Sciences and Humanities. ASR publishes new and multidisciplinary research papers in all fields of the social sciences and humanities, with a particular interest in research related to:
the complexity and diversity of societies and cultures development and change The publications also focus on Southeast Asia and the Greater Mekong Sub-region, including linkages to greater Asia and the world. ASR welcomes submissions various field of social science and humanities research including: Anthropology, Architecture, Business Administration, Economics, Education, Fine Arts, Geography, Language and Philosophy, Law, Mass Communication, Political Science, Public Administration, Sociology. ASR also publishes reviewed papers, typically invited, of a comprehensive and well-defined scope. Manuscript must follow the format and guideline of CMU Journal (more information: http://cmuj.cmu.ac.th) and must be submitted via online only.
A S E AN Shot Family representations in local Kampong Ayer (the Water Village), Brunei. Photo: Samak Kosem