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Changes at the Bottom of the Pyramid The Future of Social Contracts: Lessons from Latin America Equality Barrier at the Bottom-of-the-New Pyramid

Whither (or Wither) Local NGOs? Interview with Dr. Sriprapha Petcharamesree INFOGRAPHIC: INEQUALITY SITUATION IN ASEAN







IDEA Societies in Southeast Asia have changed tremendously in the last few decades. Rapid economic growth and rural-urban migration have spurred a frantic urbanization process. Megacities such as Bangkok, Jakarta, Manila, and Ho Chi Minh City are constantly reinventing themselves both physically and socially. Living standards have improved, new ideas and cultural trends have emerged, and large portions of the population now have access to goods and services unattainable to previous generations. Yet, not everyone has benefited equally, and disparities between different social groups have often increased. The bottom of the pyramid represents the largest but poorest socio-economic group. To be sure, their condition has also improved in comparison to 40 or 50 years ago. However, in the context of widening inequalities, changes in this segment of the population may prove vital for the long-term success of the region’s social and economic development. This issue of TRENDNOVATION SOUTHEAST examines some of the key factors underpinning changes at the bottom of the pyramid. The first article recognizes social contracts as the basis for a productive and beneficial engagement of people at the bottom of the pyramid in social and economic development strategies. The experience of Latin American countries helps illustrate the changes affecting countries in Southeast Asia and provides possible guidelines to channel these changes. At the same time, it acknowledges that in the absence of the democratic process of negotiation, civil society, elites, and the state need to find ways to bring about a fairer distribution of public goods and an improved access for the people at the bottom of the pyramid. Lack of access to goods and services is often the result of ineffective institutional setups. The second article looks at the structural barriers that prevent people at the bottom of the pyramid from enjoying the benefits of the social and economic progress experience by most countries in the region. By looking at issues such as governance, rule of law, penetration of participatory democracy, freedom of expression and corruption, similarities between some of countries are drawn that help identify the main economic, social, and political factor barriers that hinder more equal societies. NGOs have traditionally played an important role in supporting the bottom of the pyramid and challenging the status quo to open new spaces for participation. The third article looks at the factors that are forcing international and local NGOs to change the way they operate and the type of support that they can provide. It highlights that, in addition to changes in the demands and needs of the bottom of the pyramid, NGOs have had to face changes in the global environment that affect levels of funding from developed countries and donors, particularly for international NGOs. At the same time, local NGOs have new opportunities to engage and support changes through the embracing of new funding instruments. This issue’s interview is with Dr. Sriprapha Petcharamesree, Director of the International Ph.D. Program in Human Rights and Peace Studies at Mahidol University, and Thai Representative to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights since 2009. Dr. Petcharamesree discusses her views on social contracts and human rights in Southeast Asia. Finally, our infographic provides an overview of inequality in ASEAN countries. Disclaimer : The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official positions of Noviscape Consulting Group or the Rockefeller Foundation. Copyright © Trendsoutheast 2009 - 2012. All Rights Reserved.

The notion of social contracts (or social compact) has re-entered the development discourse in the context of extending the politics of poverty reduction and social protection to include dimensions of justice and rights (Hickey, 2011). It is extremely difficult to arrive at one definition of social contract suited to all situations but most current discussions referred to a country’s optimum arrangement of political and social institutions to ensure a fair distribution of public goods and services among its citizens (CPRC, 2008). Latin American countries have had a long experience (both good and bad) with a variety of arrangements to fulfill the conditions of social contracts. Some of the lessons from these experiences may be useful for the countries in Southeast Asia as they face similar challenges in their development.

Social Contract; Latin America; equality; social rights

New citizens Most countries in Southeast Asia seem to be in a constant state of change. Demographic transitions, urbanization, political opening-up or disruptions, introduction and spread of new communication technologies, etc., are all transforming the social composition of these societies. From these processes, new “social groups” are emerging that claim legitimacy as citizens and represent clear breaks with the past.

SCENARIOS AND EARLY INDICATORS A just social contract is the result of bargaining processes between governments, social groups and citizens within specific countries which ideally produces, at least, two outcomes: one vertical between the state and citizens whereby the state acts to reduce people’s risks – through law and order, services and infrastructure – in return for their commitment to the state (including a willingness to finance it through taxation). The other, horizontal between citizens, creates fair norms and expectations around how individuals interact with each other politically, morally and economically (CPRC, 2008). This process has advanced in Latin America because notions such as justice, equality, and human rights have been part of the political and social discourse for a very long time. One needs to keep in mind that the root of those societies is western culture; hence those notions are embedded in the system. In contrast, in Southeast Asia: “Unlike Latin America…social policy is not conceived [of] as an autonomous sphere of policy concerned with de-commodify[ing] and extend[ing] social rights. Rather, [it] is part of an economic and developmental strategy to secure a high growth rate and to transform national development” (Gough, 2004) Thus, many of the elements needed for establishing a just social contract are missing from the Southeast Asian countries. In addition, cultural and social values common in the region contain strong notions of dominant social hierarchies and rigid class structures, which introduce distortions into the contents of social justice and human rights. Furthermore, given their current state of integration into the global economy, there are a number of factors that are beyond the control of the countries themselves. These issues notwithstanding, developments are taking place in Southeast Asia that could be the seeds of just social contracts. Latin American countries have gone through similar steps and their experience, duly adapted to local conditions, may help strengthen these processes in the region.

For example, the rise of the “middle-income peasants” (Walker, 2012) have shifted the political landscape in Thailand. Thanks to rapid economic growth and government investment, living conditions in rural areas have improved and the number of people now living below the poverty line has decreased. However, these middle-income peasants, whose livelihoods are now fairly secure, are also aware of their inequality vis-à-vis urban dwellers, but rather than pursuing a resistant type of politics, they seek to connect with the sources of power. Similarly in Malaysia, groups that cross the traditional boundaries of race and ethnicity are being formed to demand free elections and challenge established citizen-state relationships. The exposure to new ideas that comes with urbanization and the spread of communication technologies has also helped the emergence of new identities or transformation of old ones. Similar to what has happened in Latin America (Dagnino, 2005), citizenship for these groups is not simply a matter of belonging and being recognized as equals, but it has a political dimension in as much as being defined not only in opposition to social and economic exclusion and inequality, but – most importantly – as part of the opening of political spaces and the establishment of new ways to engage with the state. From this perspective it is even possible to speak of a “politicized digital citizenship” (Suriyawongkul, 2011). All these new groups and identities see themselves now as key players on the political arena and demand that they be recognized as part of the social contract.

Disclaimer : The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official positions of Noviscape Consulting Group or the Rockefeller Foundation. Copyright © Trendsoutheast 2009 - 2012. All Rights Reserved.



New demands

Changes from above

The changes affecting the region not only generate new social groups, but they are also altering the composition and, particularly, the behavior of existing social groups and classes. Perhaps this is best illustrated by the changes in the conditions, aspirations, and role of women in most countries. A number of factors, common throughout Southeast Asia, are redefining the position of women in society. Some of them include the decline in fertility rates, access to education, increased involvement in economic activities and careers, shift from the traditional extended family to the nuclear family structure with a growing diversity in family types--for example the bachelor family, single parent family, cohabiting family, etc.--rising marrying age and delayed timing of family formation (United Nations, 2009). Faced with these changes, women in the region are trying to take a more assertive position in terms of seeking legal protection, financial independence, etc. in spite of the fact that societal and cultural attitudes and beliefs continue to present obstacles for achieving them.

Notions of social contracts in other parts of the world, certainly in Latin America, are often linked with the process of democratization (CEPAL, 2010). However, democracy in Southeast Asia perhaps raises more questions than answers. Ideologies and concrete political platforms are replaced by personality cults (Setboonsarng, 2012), and democratic institutions are given little opportunities to mature. This is particularly relevant since a social contract should be accompanied by a “fiscal contract” understood as a society-wide agreement to determine the structure, contributions, and distribution of expenditures; since a democratic institutional framework is often weak (or even nonexistent), fiscal arrangements are not linked to the principles of citizenship underlying the social contract (Basombrío, 2009).

Women are taking more assertive demands in spite of societal and cultural barriers.

New demands are also being made by the near poor and middle classes. In a process that parallels what has happened in Latin America, these groups are concerned “… about insecurity given the absence of adequate safety nets and social insurance; changing rewards to different skill and education levels; and inequality driven by trends at the top, e.g. large gaps between the very wealthy and the rest of the population.” (Graham, 2002) Undoubtedly, the changes affecting the region, both internal and external, are to a large extent the reason for these “traditional” social groups making new demands. However, an important element, at least in some of the countries, has been a change in the way they view the role of the state. Political changes, increased education, and access to information have brought about a higher level of political maturity to many portions of the population who have now awakened to their power to negotiate effectively for social benefits and rights.

The norm in the region is that social bargains are based on authoritarian approaches (Birdsall, 2000). In fact, many social improvements and changes in the relation between citizens and the state have been, if not initiated, at least supported by the “powers that be”. There is no doubt that populism can play a major role in the introduction of redistributive measures. However, given the weakness of the democratic institutions, a populist measure may result in clear benefits for large portions of the population as demonstrated by the 30-baht health coverage scheme in Thailand. The opening-up of Myanmar has also been driven from the top as a result of geopolitical and economic reasons, although it remains to be seen what shape the new social contract (if any) will take. Another example of changes from the top is Vietnam, where the government is contemplating a change in terms of human rights by allowing same-sex marriage (Mason, 2012). Southeast Asia faces the same challenges as Latin America in that tackling the main problems requires initiatives from the top. Due to weak institutional setup, the possibilities of having just social contracts (and their corresponding fiscal contracts) are less precisely in the countries that need them the most, i.e. countries with (a) tax regimes distorted by exemptions and special treatments and tax evasion, which are more susceptible to the influence of small power groups and elites, not favorable to large-scale social arrangements, (b) systems of social security and social protection that are highly fragmented, according a myriad of differing benefits to social economic groups (civil servants, permanent employees with old contracts, new workers without contracts, beneficiaries of subsidy programs focused on the poor, etc.), (c) very fragmented or polarized political systems, especially if the executive has no bargaining tools to align the positions of legislators (Lora, 2008). Fortunately, changes have been initiated in some of the countries of the region through direct intervention of the state, i.e. health coverage in Thailand, strategy for a social protection floor in Vietnam, and extension of conditional-cash transfers in Indonesia.

IMPLICATIONS • Renovation of civil society: Civil society is under pressure to modify and adapt to changing conditions both within and without the countries of the region. The emergence of new social groups and identities as described above already demands new ways to engage different social groups. Rural-urban migration will continue to feed urbanization as a physical process and, most importantly, the demand for urban-like public goods and services. In addition, increasing international migration will accelerate the introduction and spread of new ideas. Innovations

Disclaimer : The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official positions of Noviscape Consulting Group or the Rockefeller Foundation. Copyright © Trendsoutheast 2009 - 2012. All Rights Reserved.

in communications provide tools to facilitate active citizenship and a rethinking of political engagement. • Involvement of elites and power groups in the process of establishing social contracts: This requires long-term commitment to reforms; a political settlement is not a social contract. A social contract must be for everyone, not only the most vulnerable. The recent increased socioeconomic instability and global crises show a real need for a stronger welfare state, which, if unanswered, may degenerate into short-term and unsustainable policies. To avoid such a scenario in an environment of increased participation and deepening of democratic aspirations, elites would have to choose between losing power and assets to strongly left-leaning or populist governments (such as the ones in Bolivia, Ecuador, or Venezuela), or to engage into the development of more inclusive social contracts by raising their contribution. (Breeceda et al, 2008) • Avoidance of governability crises: There is no doubt that the institutional framework often determines the type of social policies that can be implemented, but developing social contracts and sustainable welfare systems - no matter how limited will be integral to the region’s economies becoming competitive and stable participants in the global economy, particularly on the face of the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015. It is clear that, in contrast to Latin America, legitimacy of the government in Southeast Asia does not depend on democratic processes, at least not yet. It then follows, that the government, its politicians and its public officials must secure their legitimacy through the formulation and establishment of economic and social strategies that spur economic growth and reduce inequalities, so that a broader base of the region’s population benefits from the potential gains from market reforms and international economic integration. In the absence of these developmentoriented political pacts, the regimes in the region face, in different degrees, a permanent governability crisis (Bresser-Pereira and Nakano, 1998).

DRIVERS & INHIBITORS • Increased access to political spaces for different social groups to claim social and economic development benefits and support processes of engagement and social consultation. • External pressure from donors and trade partners demanding social development and human rights as conditionality in economic relationships. • Need for political stability supported by consensus and participation as the basis for sustainable development. • Entrenched power elites with traditional values that reject notions of equality, justice and fairness. • Further weakening of the institutional framework through corruption, nepotism, and the bypassing of regulatory frameworks and the rule of law.

REFERENCES Basombrío, M. (2009). Estado e Igualdad: Del Contrato Social al Pacto Fiscal, Serie Macroeconomía del Desarrollo, No 93, Comisión Económica para América Latina (CEPAL). Birdsall, N., (2002). From Social Policy to an Open-Economy Social Contract in Latin America, Prepared for the 50th anniversary conference of BNDS (Brazilian National Bank for Economic and Social Development), Rio de Janeiro, September 11-12, 2002. Bidrsall, N. and Stephan Haggard (2000). After the Crisis: The Social Contract and the Middle Class in East Asia, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington, D.C. Breeceda, K., J. Rigolini and Jaime Saavedra (2008). Latin America and the Social Contract: Patterns of Social Spending and Taxation; Policy Research Working Paper 4604, The World Bank, Latin American & Caribbean Region, Poverty Department, Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Division, April 2008. Bresser-Pereira, L.C. and Yoshiaki Nakano (1998).“The Missing Social Contract, Governability and Reform in Latin America”, in Ducatenzeiler, Graciela and Philip Oxhorn, eds. (1998), What Kind of Democracy? What Kind of Market? Latin America in the Age of Neoliberalism. Philadelphia: Penn State University Press. CEPAL (2010). La Hora de la Igualdad: Brechas por cerrar, caminos por abrir, Santiago, Chile: Comisión Económica para América Latina (CEPAL). CPRC (2008). Chronic Poverty Report 2008-09: Escaping poverty traps. Manchester, UK: Chronic Poverty Research Centre (CPRC) Dagnino, E. (2005). Meanings of Citizenship in Latin America, IDS Working Paper 258, November 2005. Gough, I. (2004). “East Asia: The limits of productivist regimes”, in Gough at al., eds. (2004), Insecurity and Welfare Regimes in Asia, Africa and Latin America: Cambridge University Press. Graham, C. (2002).Crafting Sustainable Social Contracts in Latin America: Political Economy, Public Attitudes, and Social Policy; Center on Social and Economic Dynamics Working Paper Series # 29. Hickey, S. (2011). The politics of social protection: what do we get from a ‘social contract’ approach?, Working Paper, July 2011 No. 216, Chronic Poverty Research Centre. Lora, E. (2008). El futuro de los pactos fiscales en América Latina, Documento de trabajo #650, Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo, Diciembre 2008. Mason, M. (2012). Vietnam considers allowing same-sex marriage, The Seattle Times, July 29. Setboonsarng, C. (2012). The state of democracy in Southeast Asia, East Asia Forum, June 23rd, 2012, downloaded on 1st August 2012 from

Suriyawongkul, A. (2011).“ ‘It’s Moving’: Digital Migration and Identity Transformation in Southeast Asia”, Identity Transformation, Trendnovation Southeast, Issue 8. United Nations (2009). Social Services Policies and Family Well-being in the Asian and Pacific Region: Asia-Pacific Population and Social Studies Series No. 165, Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. Walker, A. (2012). Thailand’s Political Peasants: Power in the Modern Rural Economy, New Perspectives in Southeast Asian Studies. Madison: The University of Wisconsin.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Jorge Carrillo-Rodriguez is a social anthropologist with more than 30 years of experience working on social development and poverty reduction. A graduate of the London School of Economics, he conducted research in his home country of Venezuela before joining the United Nations in 1984. He worked in the Middle East and Asia and, after retiring from the UN, has continued to work as a social development advisor. Based in Bangkok, his work during the last 18 years has focused on the regional, national, and sub-national development of Southeast Asia. He is now an advisor to Noviscape Consulting Group on international development issues.

Disclaimer : The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official positions of Noviscape Consulting Group or the Rockefeller Foundation. Copyright © Trendsoutheast 2009 - 2012. All Rights Reserved.




IDEA The challenge for all policy-makers is to provide their citizens with intangible goods, especially social equality. However, this is difficult to accomplish since equality is an abstract concept and definitions are often ambiguous and fluid. Equality depends on the values and the norms of a society which can change over time and by the context. Furthermore, equality does not refer only to income equality, but it covers other areas, for example, gender equality, political equality, etc. Consequently, there are many factors that can be equality barriers. Equality barriers are the political, economic and social factors that are beyond an individual’s control and that block access to equality. These factors drive us to expand existing concepts, such as human rights, democracy, social security, liberty, etc. and their combination in order to achieve social equality.

SCENARIOS Basically, there are 2.5 billion people at the bottom of the pyramid (BoP) around the world who live on below $2 per day. Since the second half of the last century until now, many policy-makers, especially the World Bank, have tried to reduce the number of the poor by stimulating economic growth. This economic-led paradigm has also been supported by the private sector. From a business point of view, the BoP has a large consumption potential. The poor of today will be the middle-class of tomorrow. Using an economic view and emphasizing economic policy may be the legacy of the 20th century. In the new millennium, however, the poverty line is no longer a magic tool to analyze the BoP. Neither economic growth nor physiological needs alone can reduce the number of people at BoP, nor foresee its evolution and movement. Every human desires not only tangible goods (food, housing, medicine and clothing), but also intangible goods (equality and justice). A full stomach is not enough to fulfill humanity. Human needs today are more complex. A recent updating of Maslow’s hierarchy presents 7 types of needs: physiological, self-protection, affiliation, esteem, mate acquisition, mate retention and parenting. These 7 needs are not ranked as a hierarchy but are linked and form a totality. People at the BoP should not be defined as the poor anymore. They are vulnerable people facing barriers to access equality. ASEAN aims to create public policies focused on people at the BoP. However, ASEAN consists of countries with various characteristics, historical backgrounds, environments, etc. People at the BoPs in each country have different difficulties

Bottom-of-the-New Pyramid; social equality; ASEAN; Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

and different equality barriers. In this article, we classify ASEAN members into 5 possible scenarios based on their political, economic, and social situation.

Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam: On the crossroads Nowadays, these three countries have a certain degree of political stability and are each governed by a single political party. They have some problems concerning governance and limited participatory democracy. There are high levels of corruption, a lack of freedom of expression, and violation of human rights. Their expenditures in social protection are low, with inadequate facilities and weak social protection systems. Although there are many poor, their level of income inequality is not very high and all three have economic potential. Because of the political stability and regional economic cooperation, economic growth will be considerable. The bottom of the pyramid will be changed. The number of the poor will go down with low income classes shifting to middle income class. However, the gap between the poor and rich will expand, because of the lack of good governance and of corruption control.

Implication There is high uncertainty in this scenario. Each of these countries can develop into a participatory society, or a rich country with high inequality, or a more equal society, or go backwards to be a fragile state. It depends on their development pathway and government policies. Equality barriers are determined by political, social, and economic factors. The government of each country should launch balanced policies for social and economic development that include human rights and participatory democracy in order to become an ideal state.

The Philippines and Indonesia: High participatory democracy and low governance Indonesia and Philippines have over 55% of the ASEAN population. Their populations consist of many ethnic groups and diverse cultures. They also have centuries-old conflicts with violation of human rights. Nowadays, both are governed by multi-political parties and have problems concerning corruption control and governance. Because

Disclaimer : The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official positions of Noviscape Consulting Group or the Rockefeller Foundation. Copyright © Trendsoutheast 2009 - 2012. All Rights Reserved.

of their natural resources and high populations, they have some economic potential to re-emerge. Indonesia and Philippines are lower middle income countries with medium levels of income inequality. Although their expenditure on social protection is acceptable, they need to increase it and improve social protection systems to aid industrialization. Due to the emergence of the ASEAN Economic Community, people from urban areas may tend to migrate to work abroad, thus changing the structure of the bottom of the pyramid. People from various ethnic groups in rural areas will continue to migrate and work in urban areas. Minority ethnic immigrants will be the new group at the BoP in urban areas.

Implication Democracy is “safe” in this scenario. It succeeds by promoting their citizens’ participation. However, non-traditional risks, especially, on dealing with natural disasters and the clash of cultures can be an equality barrier. Although, currently conflicts between ethnic groups are stable, they can be triggered again.

Brunei and Singapore: Rich and low participatory democracy Singapore is governed by one political party, while Brunei is governed by an absolute monarchy. Because of the monopoly in power, the political situation is stable. Both have good governance and corruption control. However, they have limited participatory democracy, censorship, and limited freedom of expression, and both have cases of violation of human rights. They have managed to eliminate poverty and become high income countries. However, income inequality is high. In terms of social protection, Singapore has a good health care system. However, it is not welfare state. Brunei needs to improve its social protection system.

This figure shows how 5 types of needs portrayed by Maslow’s original pyramid were revised into 7 types in the updated version. Source: Arizona state University

lute powers in the future. People at the BoP may not be the poor anymore, but it will be the minorities, immigrant workers, and women.

Malaysia and Thailand: Clash of action and reaction forces Malaysia and Thailand are governed by constitutional monarchies. The 2006 Coup d’ Etat in Thailand originated the political crisis that continues until now. Thailand, now, is in a transitional state with political instability, demonstrations, judicial system dysfunction and injustice. There is a power struggle between action and reaction forces: globalization vs. nationalism, liberal vs. conservative, universal values vs. Thai values. Malaysia has similar conflicts between universal values vs. local values, western values vs. Islamic values. There are demonstrations demanding participatory democracy, gender equality, and freedom of expression. Thailand and Malaysia succeeded in reducing poverty to a certain extent, but both have large gaps between the rich and the poor. Furthermore, they need science and technology to overcome the middle income trap. Thailand and Malaysia are not welfare states. Old age pension systems in particular need to be improved.

Implication Confusion and misunderstanding on the part of the central policy-makers result in the social exclusion of people at the BoP. This, in its turn, will lead to social instability. The central government has misunderstood the needs of the BoP reducing it to economics. People at the BoP require more security, more equal opportunity and social justice, and more participation.


Myanmar: Fragile state

In this scenario, dissatisfaction and dissidence are being repressed by absolute power and held back by high economic standards of living. It is a good example that having only economic growth cannot provide access to equality. However, high income inequality, gender inequality, and political inequality will create challenges for these abso-

Myanmar has been governed by a military dictatorship since the 1970s, with bad governance and little corruption control. The military government controls freedom of expression and citizen’s participation, and violates human rights. The political situation is unstable. There are conflicts and violence between the government and citizens. There

Disclaimer : The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official positions of Noviscape Consulting Group or the Rockefeller Foundation. Copyright © Trendsoutheast 2009 - 2012. All Rights Reserved.



BY DR. APIWAT RATANAWARAHA Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Chulalongkorn University A



MR. WITCHAYA PRUECKSAMARS Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Chulalongkorn University


Percentage of population living on less than $2 per day. Source: UN Human Development Indices 2008.

are many ethnic groups who have conflicts with each other. The country is rich in natural resources, but most of the people are poor. Myanmar is a low income country with moderate income inequality. The government expenditure on social protection is the lowest budget in ASEAN. The general state of health care and the health care system is poor and needs to be reformed.

Implication Most of the people are at the BoP, and meeting physiological needs are a priority. However, security, self-esteem, and identity are also important, because of conflicts between ethnic groups. The country is in a political, social, and economic crisis. Myanmar is a fragile state and needs to reform its power structure and social structure.

DRIVERS • Reforming the bureaucratic system. Improving the rule of law, corruption control. Promoting participatory democracy. For scenario 1. • Reforming the bureaucratic system, corruption control. Social cohesion policies are needed in order to integrate the various ethnic groups into society. For scenario 2. • Reforming tax and fiscal policy in order to have more equal income redistribution. Expanding the social security program for immigrant workers. Improving participatory democracy. For scenario 3. • Reforming the power structure and ensure the growth and strengthening of democratic institutions. For scenario 4. • Transition to more equitable systems, preferably based on a democratizing process. For scenario 5.


REFERENCES • Intensification of economic growth policies. Neglect

of social policies. For scenario 1. • Religion, culture and ethnic differences. Failure of social cohesion policies; Global economic crisis. For Scenario 2. • Afflux of illegal immigrant workers. For scenario 3. • Failure of reconciliation between action and reaction force. For scenario 4. • ASEAN integration failure. Re-emerging of Nationalism in SE Asia. For scenario 5.


Paguman S. (2008). Social Protection in ASEAN: issues and challenges for ASEAN and its member countries, ICSW. Jerome C.G., Theodore J.G., & Elizabeth F. (2011)., 2011 State of the future, the millennium project. Ateneo School of Government (2012). Science and Technology innovations in Health for the Base of the Pyramid in Cambodia, Philippines and Vietnam, iBoP Asia Monograph Series, Vol. 2. figures.pdf &Itemid=97&lang=en

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Mr. Pakpoom Saengkanokkul is a Prachatai columnist and Junior Analyst for Noviscape Consulting Group. He graduated with a Master degrees in social and health organization management from the University of Paris 13, and has a Master degrees of health economics from the University of Paris 5. He is a Ph.D. student in health economics at the University of Paris 5, and is interested in inequality of health care systems.

Disclaimer : The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official positions of Noviscape Consulting Group or the Rockefeller Foundation. Copyright © Trendsoutheast 2009 - 2012. All Rights Reserved.

The significance of non-governmental organizations pertaining to the revolutionizing “bottom of the pyramid” concept is hard to over-state. Colloquially known as NGOs, they constitute an expanding and increasingly diverse sector. However, as a sector, they are as complex as they are ambiguous. Not only do the definitions of NGOs vary from country to country, there exist more than a dozen alternative names that define different parts of the sector. And although countries in Southeast Asia have different regulatory capacity and relations with the sector, they nonetheless share similar risks and challenges, as well as opportunities. Hence, now is certainly a good time to investigate what will become of the NGOs in the region, especially given the current unstable economic climate and the shifting geo-political landscape. As socio-economic and political conditions are changing rapidly in Southeast Asia, NGOs’ relationship with the government and the citizens is changing. At the same time, their relationship with people at the bottom of the pyramid is also changing, because of increasing democratization, decentralization, and civic empowerment. How adept they are in adjusting their roles, capabilities, and strategies to match with the new needs and demands of the people will determine their legitimacy and relevance in Southeast Asia.


More engagement of local NGOs in development aid International NGOs (INGOs) in Southeast Asia are going through transitions as external conditions are changing at both global and local levels. Because many INGOs receive a large proportion of their funding from advanced economies, the current economic instability in Europe and North America is dealing heavy blows to the sector. Government funding for INGOs has been drastically reduced. In other parts of the world, the fading presence of INGOs – which sometimes compete against their local counterparts for political space and resources – has somewhat contributed to the growth of domestic or local NGOs (LNGOs). But it is unlikely that the recent economic predicament and subsequent decline of INGOs would have much impact on the development of LNGOs in Southeast Asia, especially in places like Myanmar and Cambodia, perhaps simply because there has been little presence of INGOs to begin with. Take the NGO sector in Myanmar, for example. Interventions by foreign donors and good-doers will continue 1 2 3 4 5สำ�นักงานกองทุนสนับสนุนการสร้างเสริมสุขภาพ


NGO sector; aid effectiveness; governance; funding instrument; middle-class

to be a blessing to the NGO sector in recipient countries as a whole. Take as an example the opening up of Myanmar and its engagement with the international community. This represents a historic opportunity for the country’s LNGOs in many ways. More aid and development money should come through, and more partnerships aimed at capacitybuilding should be formalized.1 Nonetheless, with development assistance and investment set to soar in the coming years, Myanmar’s LNGOs may need all the help they can get from their friends in neighboring countries in order to develop capacity and absorb the incoming funding. On the other hand, Cambodia receives approximately half of its national budget from foreign donors. It is unclear how efficiently that money is being allocated for development purposes. Partly as a result of the perceived failure of many governments in the region to effectively allocate aid, aid agencies nowadays turn to their own national NGOs and charities to seek ways to directly support community level initiatives, with LNGOs as intermediaries. So as the NGO sector in the recipient countries matures, it should be expected that there would be a general move towards a greater degree of participation by LNGOs in setting up goals and priorities and operating arrangements with ODA agencies and foreign NGOs.2

New funding instruments for local NGOs In Southeast Asia, a throng of LNGOs have recently emerged and they are receiving more funding from the government through new funding mechanisms and sources. An innovative example is the establishment of a special sin tax as a permanent funding source for the Thai Health Promotion Foundation (ThaiHealth), an independent state agency that funds a wide range of development initiatives by NGOs and other organizations. ThaiHealth’s budget is a hefty sum of around 2-2.5 billion Baht, or US$ 60-80 million per annum, derived directly from an “extra” 2% tax imposed on producers and importers of alcohol and tobacco.3 It primarily uses the tax to fund its coalition of LNGOs and various other organizations so that they would carry out its health-related missions.4 In effect, this has increased the inter-penetration between the government and non-government domains. However, this also means growing government influence over LNGOs use of funds. Ironically, the budget derived from the special sin tax has significantly grown over the years and this potentially means that, despite the foundation’s success, the level of alcohol and cigarette consumption has increased.5



With much experience and exploration, LNGOs have been successful in using market-driven mechanisms to cover the costs of meeting their social goals, i.e. creating business arms that evolve into sustainable sources of funding. For instance, Dian Desa Foundation in Indonesia has consistently been generating nearly 40% of its annual budget through selling leather products made out of stingray skins.6 Another famous example is the Cabbages and Condoms restaurant chain in Thailand which, together with all its branches and associated companies, has been able to cover 65% of the expenditures of the non-profit work done by its parent organization, the Population and Community Development Association.7 In addition, with a growing interest in using online social networks to generate funds and grassroots support for NGOs, it is likely that more LNGOs will be able to benefit from crowd-sourced fundraising (or “crowd-funding”). Most recently, Solo Kota Kita – an NGO based in Surakarta, Indonesia – was able to meet its goal of raising US$ 10,000 from a website ( to develop and distribute a field guide that “explains the steps for running participatory workshops” on urban design.8 Such crowd-funding pacts are already a budding trend in the United Kingdom and the United States.9 Accordingly, the success of the Indonesian case may be a signal for something greater yet to come.

The middle-class as development champions Informed and mobilized by NGOs, the urban middle class are becoming more involved in development conversations and more active in transforming the physical, social and economic environment. Though stereotypically associated with consumerist lifestyles, the bourgeois middle-class is becoming increasingly vocal in promoting rights-based development, especially in big cities. Their activities may not directly support development causes currently relevant to people at the bottom of the pyramid, but they are creating forums and strengthening platforms for more democratization as expressed in terms of citizen participation. The first example – which started out as an informal, online alliance – is the Big Trees project which is currently active in Bangkok and Chiang Mai.10 The project brought together NGO networks of various kinds and the city municipalities on a campaign for preserving giant trees and for promoting cycling in the cities.11 Another example is the Firefly Brigade, which is a citizen’s action group in the Philippines that “works for clean air and a habitable, people-friendly environment,” particularly by promoting cycling.12 Again with much thanks to popular social networks websites for serving as the vehicle for bringing people with similar interests together, the group organizes an annual cycling caravan known as the “Tour of the Fireflies,” attracting thousands for years on end. And, as mentioned before, is Solo Kota Kita of Indonesia. Formed by a group of designers, urban planners, NGO workers, and volunteer architecture students based in Solo and around the world, the group’s activities are aimed to “build capacity among both residents and local government to use urban information to guide decisions about neighborhood investment.”13 Last but not least is the “Roo Su Flood Group.”14 Quite different from the previous three, this group was active during Thailand’s mega floods last year. Amidst the lack of a clear, reliable source of information – as government officials were issuing 6 Afw1ZlD&usg=AFQjCNEeroPk5UMy0AGSKLXCrCz7hj8p4A 7 8 9 10 11

ernance, both of the government and the NGO sector itself. Furthermore, even if they are financially sustainable and generally successful, NGOs still risk becoming a “deliberate substitute” of the state and/or mere “sub-contractors” to those who have control over the funds.

DRIVERS A campaign supported by Thai Health Promotion Foundation which has gone viral on YouTube.Source: http://marketingmadnessblog.blogspot. com/2012/06/crafty-anti-smoking-stunt-by-thai.html

conflicting reports about the disaster – the group released a series of videos with useful advice and information regarding the flood situation. As a measure of success, their first video has been viewed more than a million times since it was uploaded on YouTube, and their Facebook fan page has more than a hundred thousand “likes”. Social networks will continue to support NGOs, be it advocacy/campaigning groups, citizen action groups, radical groups, and so on. This will bring more voices into the mix and increase the likelihood of greater collaboration between organizations. Given the rapid rise of the middle class in the region, both from urban and rural backgrounds, such volunteerism offers a tireless source of energy and creativity; as of now, it is far from being fully tapped.

IMPLICATIONS Potential to move from confrontation to collaboration The mainstreaming of the processes and outlets for evidencebased deliberation signals a new direction for NGOs to move beyond demonstrations and protests to partnerships. The potential partners would include not only public and para-governmental bodies, but also private entities whose activities may adversely affect the poor and vulnerable at the bottom of the income pyramid. Just like what Nelson Mandela once said, “If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.” Due to the sheer magnitude and complexity of the problems facing us in the coming years, NGOs will have to work together on systematic solutions in order to prove their worth to the society. Although a significant proportion of emerging NGOs of Southeast Asia are operating on a relatively ad hoc basis, they are starting to break out from their silos. They are making alliances with their counterparts in other sectors and in different geographical settings, whether cross-country or between urban-rural areas. The Community Organizations Development Institute (CODI) in Thailand is exemplary. Since its creation in 2000, more than a hundred community networks who share the same interests or same problems have been set up.15 Furthermore, cross-country co-operation of NGOs at the regional level are starting to pick up, with NGOs engaged in human rights and environmental issues becoming the flag bearer of this progress.16 And through social networking websites, they 12 13 14 15 participation%2520in%2520housing%2520design.pdf&ei=1Ke5T9vBPIHJrAfh77GFCA&usg=AFQjCN EANdiMoIAxCDBClcH9uLmhHLFhwA 16

Cambodians protest their government’s new NGO law. Source: LICADHO

are also reaching out to those who share similar values and sentiments (dubbed as “Activism 2.0”). As the external conditions are changing, NGOs are changing their relationship with the state, especially the local government, which increasingly gains more political and fiscal autonomy due to decentralization efforts throughout the region. Most importantly, their relation with the people they aim to serve will also change. As citizens gain more access to information and knowledge, as well as more political power due to decentralization and democratization, they are more informed and empowered to make decisions and take action in development activities. Their needs and wants are becoming more diverse, and they are becoming more vocal. The roles of NGOs will therefore have to adapt to the changing environment and requirements, otherwise they cannot justify their worth and existence.

The dilemmas of doing good Concerns have been raised over the tendency of statefunded LNGOs to promote and/or discriminate among individuals or particular political agendas. As mentioned before, ThaiHealth draws its budget directly from an innovative tax, but it does so without needing to get an approval from either the parliament or the cabinet. Such inadequacy of checks-and-balances mechanisms implies that the NGOs funded by ThaiHealth could be employed as vehicles for promoting agendas that are implicitly endorsed by ThaiHealth, be they political or not.17 There has also been criticism of the foundation for favoring only certain groups of NGOs. In some countries, NGOs are seen as a problem which needs to be “solved” by regulation and arbitrary action. Recently, five INGOs were kicked out of Cambodia for criticizing the government’s development plans. As a result, some NGOs have opted to employ “practical” maneuvers and tactics to avoid confrontation with the government.18 However, their practicality may erode the characteristics that make them good.They may lose the ability to adopt radical and critical positions, which are vital to better gov-

ABOUT THE AUTHORS Witchaya Pruecksamars holds a B.Sc. in Urban Planning, Design and Management and an M.Sc. in Development Administration and Planning, both from University College London. He is now working as a project coordinator and researcher at the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Chulalongkorn University. His major research interests are in urban and planning history in Thailand, geo-spatial technologies, and geo-politics of hydropower development in the Lower Mekong Basin.

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• Better governance of the NGO sector through regulation, registration, certification, and accreditation will help it overcome skepticisms. Similarly, co-operation between regulating authorities will also encourage compliance and will open up opportunities for NGOs to have a say in setting the rules. No group has a greater interest in having a clean sector than the NGOs themselves, as their funding depends on their good names. The right kinds of incentives and institutional arrangements need to be in place so that a genuine partnership can be established with the authority. • As a platform for information sharing and informal dialogue, portals and forums such as will help the sector in many ways. A more interesting example is, which is specifically used as an information archive for regulators and researchers.


INHIBITORS • Weak enabling environments for organized philanthropy will hinder NGOs’ efforts to achieve financial sustainability and thus autonomy. In Thailand, for instance, a culture of giving to organizations beyond religious institutions is little developed. • A lack of public understanding and acceptance of NGOs and their roles in society remains a challenge yet unmet. For decades, skeptics have branded Thai NGOs as being “anti-development.” In a survey carried out in Bangkok, they were placed at the low end of the spectrum, just above the police and media, in terms of transparency.19 Similarly, foundations in Indonesian (or “yayasan”) still suffer from public mistrust, due to the fact that they were used as money-laundering vehicles by the former dictator Suharto. • The natural growth of LNGOs will be thwarted by stringent rules designed to control rather than regulate them – take Cambodia’s proposed Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organizations as an example.

Apiwat Ratanawaraha is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand, where he teaches infrastructure planning and finance, urban management, and economic development. His current research includes projects on city innovations in Southeast Asian megacities, infrastructure justice, and inequality in access to basic services in Thailand. He has been a Visiting Assistant Professor at the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT, teaching infrastructure finance and energy security. He was a Doctoral Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, conducting research on infrastructure, technological development and innovation policy.







The social contract has become a powerful concept when discussing the need for social innovation and socio-economic development in SEA; what is your reflection on this? “There are at least two different streams of thought about the social contract. I find this framework interesting to look at from what is happening in Southeast Asia in terms of socio-economic changes from below. We see the co-existence of two streams of social contract in this region. One of those streams is based on the idea of the social contract advanced by Thomas Hobbes, who said ‘Once the people give their authority to the ruler, their ruler will have full authority and the people will not have any say.’ Even if you may not be happy with the rulers, in this case with the government, you cannot do anything as you have already given your full power to the rulers. Some countries in Southeast Asia can be analyzed using this concept. In other countries, a different stream is found that argues that the authority of the ruler is based on the general view of the people. This concept of social contract emerges from the work of John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Within this stream, if the people are not happy with the ruler, they can rebel against them. You have seen these cases in some countries, for example, Indonesia in 1998. I am going to focus on the second concept which allows spaces for people at the bottom to be part of the change in the country or even making change within the country. The changes in Indonesia were brought about by people from below because they had witnessed and decided that they could not allow their ruler to continue without any change.” “Regarding this trend in Southeast Asia, that is how it happened in Thailand in the 1970s. Later, there was also change from below in 1986 in the Philippines. Then, it was occurred in 1992 in Thailand which was the basis of 1997 constitution. That constitution gave a lot of spaces to people and society at the bottom. Therefore, people were making change in some countries. I think the demonstration calling for free and fair election in Malaysia in April 2012 is an attempt by the people trying to change the contract with their own government. The case of our neighboring countries is quite interesting; the change came from above rather than below. That is another type of social contract. So this is what is happening in Southeast Asia in terms of social contract.” Given the changes, trends and examples that you mentioned, where do you think this process is leading to, in the near and not so near future at the regional or national level? “When Thailand was chairing ASEAN, in 2009, it was the first time in ASEAN history after 40 years of existence that a representative of civil society groups had face-to-face dialogue with ASEAN leaders. The Thai government should be given credit for it because it was not that easy. Even with such good intention, there were obstacles. But it opened up opportunities for ASEAN people to meet and share their views with ASEAN leaders. I don’t know how much ASEAN leaders have listened to them but at least the space was created. After that, Vietnam was chairing and the dialogue was not there. Civil society groups were organizing events in parallel. I don’t remember if there was any dialogue with ASEAN leaders. After Vietnam, Indonesia was the chair and the space was opened up again. This year Cambodia is chairing and you might have seen many statements made by society groups when ASEAN leaders were trying to water down their efforts. Then what happened was more or less the same that two parallel forums were organized, one with civil society handpicked by the government and another with civil society groups. What you can take from this are a few things. First of all, ASEAN people are now waking up; they feel that they have a stake at ASEAN which was not the case before. They have been trying to pick up many words included

13 now have legal basis as reference for trying to compete for political space and participation. The key is participation in decision making in political and public affairs. I am not a lawyer and I do not want to start with legal basis but a legal framework which opens up space is one of the facilitating factors for people from below to emerge and to start making change.” “Talking about Thailand, the political awareness of Thai people is increasing, regardless of the fact that this awareness came out of different political conflicts but awareness is already there. With this higher political awareness, I think they now want to engage. With different colors, they are now different political schools. All colors have their own ways of educating their own mass but what is interesting is that they are now being politically educated. What we have to be careful is that they are being educated in such a way to support different colors so it would be difficult to have one critical mass to make change. This is dangerous thing that we have seen in Thailand. The change we want to have might be different because of the fragmentation of the critical mass needed for change.”

W I T H Dr. Sriprapha Petcharamesree here and there in ASEAN documents. The most important is the ASEAN Charter. The legally-binding Charter has recognized democracy, protection and promotion of people rights and fundamental freedoms, rules of law. All these notions are part of social contract. So it’s already there in the ASEAN Charter. At least you have something as a basis of social contract which was not the case before the adoption of the Charter. Hence, in a sense, a kind of written contract between ASEAN leaders and people already exists. Secondly, and keeping in mind it is still mainly rhetorical, you might have heard Dr. Surin Pitsuwan and many ASEAN leaders said that we want to build ASEAN community, in a form of ASEAN people-centered community. It is reflected in many official documents and statements of ASEAN. Interestingly, now people know already so they may try to change the rhetoric to something realistic, to materialize the statements made by leaders. Thirdly, the change or transformation of ASEAN from non-legal basis to rule-based organization which requires many things, for example, you have to follow the ASEAN Charter and its commitment. The transformation of ASEAN itself will have some impact on the transformation of people from below because they are now having much higher expectation from ASEAN and they will have to strive and struggle in order for them to have more space within ASEAN. This will lead to some changes but it will not happen overnight because things in ASEAN change slowly. But I have been saying this many times in many places that there is no return. The ASEAN people will be trying to compete for spaces, once they have more space, change will happen.” “At national level, for example in Malaysia, civil society groups emerged some time ago already but have been working under constraints. I think they have been trying to pick up some issues that are common to all Malaysians like free and fair election which is a concern of all Malaysian people. This illustrates the beginning of Malaysian society, including grassroots people, calling for change at political level. Of course, work is also being done on other issues such as human rights as a national agenda, migrant worker and many other things. But this time, calling for change in election regime and law means calling for a complete transformation of politics in Malaysia. Of course, calling it a complete transformation is a bit too ambitious but I think calling for amendment of election laws, space, free and fair election, for me, is a beginning of a profound political change in Malaysia. We saw some changes in the last Singapore election. You might notice that when opposition party was allowed to do election campaign, if not freely. And the fact that candidates from opposition party were elected - may not as many as they would want but at least the fact that they were elected - not appointed is a sign of change in Singapore as well. There is a kind of hunger or thirst of political space in most countries in Southeast Asia.” If you ask me which country that you don’t see much change and is very difficult to spot, it would be Brunei because people there are enjoying more or less everything you may need. When people do not have to struggle for social protection, economy, social and cultural rights, for example, change may be slow. If we take a look at Malaysia where people are enjoying economic, social and cultural rights to a certain extent, they will demand for more political space and civil rights. That is quite natural for me. And this will happen in some other countries as well.”


There are always drivers and inhibitors to the type of changes we have been talking about so (1) What could derail this process? And (2) structurally, what do the countries need, what type of institutions they need to make these changes happen and push the process forward?


“There are some conditions that you have to meet in order for people to be able to make change. I just talked about political space and I said that at regional level ASEAN people

Disclaimer : The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official positions of Noviscape Consulting Group or the Rockefeller Foundation. Copyright © Trendsoutheast 2009 - 2012. All Rights Reserved.

“Do we have this kind of situation in some other countries? I think in Indonesia they may not united but, at least, they are not apparently divisive. In Malaysia, they do not seem to be divided mass as well. In the Philippines, they have different groups but you cannot talk about divisive critical mass. If a situation requires, they can always come together. Meanwhile, critical mass in other countries is not there yet.” “With ASEAN Community and all looming large, people in some countries see how other people like their colleagues in other countries are enjoying not complete freedom but at least space. That might inspire them to make some changes as well. We can now hear about dissidents here and there. Although these are more or less isolated cases, the more cases we hear, the clearer you see the sign of people thirsting for political space.” “Talking about factors that may hold back the process, in Thailand, the division and political polarization really hold them back so they need some time. The Thai government is now talking about the so-called “Reconciliation”. We see this term every day. If there is any possibility for reconciliation at the top, I am not even quite sure if reconciliation at the grassroot level could be easily made. So the division of the mass is one of the factors. The second one is the very difficult emergence of civil society in some countries. It is very difficult to create a mass. I am not talking about mass organization because they are a part of establishment and political parties in those countries. But I am talking about independent critical mass which still needs to be created in some countries. So without space for them to emerge, that could also hold them back, different isolated dissidence may not help create critical mass in those countries.” “The third one is that nany countries, including Thailand are still using very draconian national security laws which hinder the emergence and gathering of mass. In some countries, they have been using development projects, for example, to divide the mass because in those projects you always find at least two groups of people, one hoping to benefit from development projects and another group may see negative impacts that projects may create. This will always divide the people and I am not quite sure whether this is in the intention of some governments.”



You already mentioned that there are changes happening in what we call BOP, basically in terms of political awareness and demand for space. All these things are very much linked to citizenship, in particular, active citizenship. In this context, changes in migration regulations are one of the things that, to a certain degree, ASEAN has accomplished - facilitating movement of the people between countries. How do you see that process vis-a-vis the needs for a critical united mass when you have people moving between countries? “From academic point of view, you have two kinds of citizenship. But you talked about migration here; it would be related to nationality. And another notion of citizenship is when you are politically active, you are considered as citizen. Those who are politically passive, they are not considered as citizen from political science point of view. I think your question combine these two notions together because of people movement and ASEAN integration and whether or not this would impact a sense of citizenship.” “First of all, when ASEAN talked about integration, building ASEAN community, as I mentioned earlier you now have ASEAN Charter as a framework, opening space for people to engage with ASEAN leaders and officers but in reality space is still very limited. So ASEAN people are still struggling to compete for space. In the same time, in different documents of ASEAN, we are talking about free movement

of people – what kind of people will be having free movement. It is not for all ASEAN people but only high-skilled labors and professions who will be enjoying free movement within ASEAN. Unskilled especially irregular workers or people in irregular situation, they are still facing the same problem in the sense that they don’t have free movement or get access to proper treatment as human being. That is why in most countries in Southeast Asia - with a few exceptions, you see discrimination against migrant workers, non-citizens, especially those at the lower level. So free movement in Southeast Asia is not yet there – still very limited.” “However, there is a kind of trans-national movement emerging. I am overseeing a research project about refugees which is very controversial in Southeast Asia. We realized that some groups of people are not only invisible but completely excluded from everything. For example, Rohingya, I call them rejected people, they are not considered as citizen anywhere in the world. Even in Thailand, there are some groups of people not being able to enjoy Thai citizenship. So in every country you have some groups being excluded from becoming citizen of that particular nation, and, by being rejected or denied citizenship, they could not be considered as citizen of ASEAN. So you could see the link between how people are treated at national level and suffering from impacts at regional level as well.” “There are also some action groups emerging such as the Asia-Pacific Forum on Refugees. So you have this kind of forum emerging – transnational or even trans-sub regional. Different groups in different countries are dealing with people movement, trying to create space as well as making their issue an issue within ASEAN. Because what is happening in Southeast Asia as a whole is there are many issues which have never been considered as an issue. With the emergence of different groups, there will be some issues brought up. These issues, especially issues of common concern will tie society or mass together, especially those who cannot benefit from ASEAN Community or ASEAN integration as well as those who might be affected by the integration. For example, ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (AFTA) will have serious impacts on people at the grassroot level like workers and farmers in many countries, not only members. Many development projects owned and implemented by ASEAN will also have serious impacts on those people; especially negative impact will bring them together.”



Do you see ASEAN at one point issuing regulation or law in support of human rights? Do you think ASEAN is structured in a way that something like that could happen?

“There are 3 things that I would encourage you to pay more attention to what is happening in ASEAN. First of all, ASEAN Charter entered into force in December 2008. One of the provisions stipulated is amendment of ASEAN Charter five years after entry into force. This year is 2012. Next year we may see ASEAN people try to propose some amendment to ASEAN charter – actually it is started already. It could be quite interesting process if ASEAN people are trying to push for amendment in order for ASEAN Charter to open more space.” “The second one is the ASEAN Declaration on Human Rights. The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights is now drafting the ASEAN Declaration. This particular document is expected to be adopted by ASEAN leaders by the end of this year. That would be the very first time in ASEAN history to have a minimum standard on human rights for ASEAN people.” “The third is the change within ASEAN. I am not sure if this could be positive or negative but the fact that the current Secretary General, Dr. Surin, will end his 5-year term by the end of this year. The next Secretary General will come from Vietnam on alphabetical basis. So there will be some changes from within ASEAN with the new Chair. With possible amendments, one may say that the changes in ASEAN may be a bit faster than the changes ASEAN have made during their first 40 years.”


Dr. Sriprapha Petcharamesree Dr. Sriprapha Petcharamesree is currently full time lecturer at the Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies, Mahidol University, Thailand. She is also Director of the International Ph.D Program in Human Rights and Peace Studies at the same institute. Since October 2009, she was appointed as the Thai Representative to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights.



Dr. Pun-Arj Chairatana Dr. Apiwat Ratanawaraha Mr. Kan Yuenyong

Co- Principal Investigator

Dr. Donald Arthur Johnson


Mr. Preeda Chaiyanajit

Project Co-ordinator

Mr. Pakpoom Saengkanokkul

Trend Analyst

Mr. Passapong Boonlueng

Graphic Designer

Regional Horizon / Environment Scanning (HS/ES) and trend monitoring for issues relevant to people. life, and regional transformation across the Sotheast Asian region. Mr. Jorge Carrillo-Rodriguez Mr. Pakpoom Saengkanokkul Dr. Apiwat Ratanawaraha Mr. Witchaya Pruecksamars


Dr. Sriprapha Petcharamesree


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Issue 19 Changes at the Bottom of the Pyramid May 2012