Contemporary Southeast Asia Vol. 42/2 (August 2020)

Contemporary Southeast Asia Vol. 42/2 (August 2020)
Date of publication:  August 2020
Publisher:  ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute
Number of pages:  172
Code:  CS42/2

About the publication

  • Attained SCOPUS CiteScore of 1.4 in 2019.
  • Attained Journal Citation Report (JCR) Journal Impact Factor of 0.717 in 2019.
  • SCImago Journal and Country Rank (SJR) 2019 for the Asiatic Region: Ranked 1st in Political Science and International Relations; 1st in History; and 3rd in Arts and Humanities.
  • Ranked 19th by Google Scholar Metrics 2020 in the category of “Asian Studies and History”.


  • Contemporary Southeast Asia Vol. 42/2 (August 2020)
    [Whole Publication, ISSN: 1793284X]
  • Preliminary pages
  • 1. Malapportionment in Myanmar’s Elections: A Slumbering Menace, by Kai Ostwald, Constant Courtin, authors
    Myanmar’s use of colonial-era administrative boundaries as the basis for electoral constituencies creates a staggering degree of malapportionment that meets or exceeds the world’s highest levels. This article systematically assesses malapportionment and its implications for Myanmar’s democratization and broader political development. Myanmar’s malapportionment significantly over-represents ethnic minority and rural areas, even after controlling for other factors. This challenges the prevalent notion that the political system is decisively stacked in favour of the majority Bamar. Few practical effects of malapportionment have manifested thus far, since political actors have generally not incorporated it into their electoral strategies. As they do, non-Bamar will be well positioned to play a more decisive role in the country’s politics, adding to the broader challenge of Bamar centrality. But strategic responses to malapportionment may also trigger serious problems that harm governance and reduce the legitimacy of elections. Furthermore, malapportionment risks exacerbating ethnic tensions by fuelling a narrative of Bamar precarity.
  • 2. Reconciling Pragmatism with Idealism in the European Union’s Security Cooperation with ASEAN, by Angela Pennisi Di Floristella, author
    The European Union (EU) has recently shown a greater interest in strengthening its security ties with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Yet, over the last few years, the EU has had to face a number of hard realities that have challenged the organization from both within and outside its borders. Why and how, in such a complex scenario, the EU is seeking to strengthen its security relations with ASEAN has thus become a salient question. In order to answer this question, this article recognizes the utility of “principled pragmatism” as a conceptual and operational lens to analyse the recent recalibration of the EU’s security policy towards ASEAN. To this end, it first provides a conceptual analysis of principled pragmatism and operationalizes this concept in the context of the EU’s security policy towards ASEAN. Second, it examines why principled pragmatism arose and how it is reflected in such a policy. Finally, it seeks to shed some light on the implications and controversial issues resulting from the EU’s attempt to find a middle way between a pragmatic stance and a principled foreign and security policy towards Southeast Asia.
  • 3. Testing for Incumbency Advantages in a Developing Democracy: Elections for Local Government Leaders in Indonesia, by Testriono , Scot Schraufnagel, authors
    This article makes the case for the importance of studying incumbency advantages in a developing democracy. Incumbency advantages are a well-known institutional feature of electoral systems in consolidated democracies, and indirectly provide a test of democratic accountability. With free and fair elections, incumbency advantage should attenuate when governments underperform. Our research tests whether this is the case in a newer democracy such as Indonesia. Specifically, we study local voting for district heads and city mayors in the 2015 Indonesian elections. We find that incumbents win a majority of the time when they run, but their re-election rates are lower than witnessed in many well-established democracies. While term limits and strategic political arrangements are an important aspect of incumbent politician turnover in Indonesia, our findings suggest that something akin to democratic accountability is also likely taking place. In addition, we find that incumbent local leaders with a stronger parochial focus, measured as spending in their district, fare better at the ballot box.
  • 4. Motherhood Identity in the 2019 Indonesian Presidential Elections: Populism and Political Division in the National Women’s Movement, by Kurniawati Hastuti Dewi, author
    Motherhood identity was intensively deployed during campaigns for the 2019 Indonesian presidential elections. Based on interviews conducted with women’s activists in Jakarta and surrounding areas from September 2018 to April 2019, this article analyses the contestation of ideas about motherhood identity expressed in the campaign rhetoric of the “power of <i>emak-emak</i>” (ordinary, working-class mothers) and “Ibu Bangsa” (Mothers of the Nation). It argues that the “power of <i>emak-emak</i>”, used by the Prabowo-Sandi campaign, is a populist narrative that sought to empower ordinary mothers and was similar to the use of motherhood identity as a populist narrative in Latin America. Meanwhile, the Jokowi- Ma’ruf slate advanced the idea of Ibu Bangsa, which is less related to ordinary women’s daily problems. This article reveals how the debate among women’s activists over the two contending terms signifies the political division of the women’s movement, including in its support for the two presidential candidates. This article not only seeks to enrich the discourse on gender and populism in Indonesia, but also provides a current portrait of the Indonesian women’s movement.
  • 5. Special Economic Zones and the Need for Proper Governance: Empirical Evidence from Indonesia, by Syarif Hidayat, Siwage Dharma Negara, authors
    The relationship between the performance of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and their governance is an under-researched topic. Despite their popularity as a development policy tool in developing countries, many SEZs fail to achieve their intended goals. A key factor determining the success of SEZs is their governance set-up. This article examines the designs and practices of governance in three SEZs in Indonesia—two tourism-oriented SEZs and one industry-oriented SEZ. Exploring the gap between the theoretical concept of “good governance” and the actual governance practices in SEZ development and operation, the article finds that current governance designs and practices neglect the importance of local contexts, which in turn results in suboptimal outcomes. We therefore suggest that the designs and practices for SEZ governance should be adjusted to reflect local socio-economic, cultural and political conditions. In other words, successful SEZ models should be based on a governance framework that needs to be both “good” and “proper”.
  • 6. Civilian Resistance and the Failure of the Indonesian Counterinsurgency Campaign in Nduga, West Papua, by Hipolitus Yolisandry Ringgi Wangge , Camellia Webb-Gannon, authors
    The indigenous people of West Papua have contested their controversial annexation by Indonesia since 1969. In response, the Indonesian military (TNI) has launched a series of counterinsurgency operations to defeat the National Liberation Army of West Papua (TPN-PB) while simultaneously trying to inculcate a sense of Indonesian nationalism among West Papuan civilians. To obtain legitimacy and achieve success, counterinsurgency operations must gain the support of civil society. This article examines the TNI’s on-going counterinsurgency campaign in the West Papuan highlands regency of Nduga. Since late 2018, the TNI has been unsuccessful in winning over civil society to its objectives in Nduga. Instead of cultivating good relationships with Nduga civil society by respecting property and local culture, the military has used indiscriminate violence against Nduga citizens and added to their history of collective trauma. In this article, we argue that through acts of non-cooperation such as internal migration/displacement, disobedience and resistance, the people of Nduga have defied the TNI and undermined its counterinsurgency efforts. We conclude that the counterinsurgency operation has created more harm than good in Nduga. And, counter to its aims, it has not only failed to win local support, it has also re-energized the West Papuan movement for independence in Nduga.
  • BOOK REVIEW: Vietnam’s Strategic Thinking During the Third Indochina War, by Kosal Path, by Ang Cheng Guan, author
  • BOOK REVIEW: Conflict, Identity, and State Formation in East Timor 2000-2017, by James Scambary, by Melissa Johnston, author
  • BOOK REVIEW: Human Rights and Participatory Politics in Southeast Asia, by Catherine Renshaw, by Sriprapha Petcharamesree, author
  • BOOK REVIEW: Vietnam: A Pathway from State Socialism, by Thaveeporn Vasavakul, by Olga Dror, author
  • BOOK REVIEW: Fighting for Virtue: Justice and Politics in Thailand, by Duncan McCargo, by Tomas Larsson, author

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