Southeast Asian Media: Trust is good, control is better…

Partyforumseasia: Probably Lenin’s famous formula “trust is good, control is better” comes closer to the Southeast Asian reality than Confucius’ “rectification of names” concept. But maybe modern media ownership and its possibilities of political control are a clever combination of both. The Confucian concept may be a bit too idealistic about good intentions of ancient rulers. Today’s political parties and their leaders certainly have enough good intentions, but owning and controlling the all important media seems to be considered the safer bet for electoral success.
Nota bene: Media control quasi monopolies are everywhere: Murdoch and Berlusconi, and…

Partyforumseasia suggests to collect ownership affiliations between media and  political parties in the region, starting here with a number of Indonesian media.

BakrieMost prominent is tycoon, Golkar chairman and possible presidential candidate in 2014, Aburizal Bakrie, who controls news channels TVOne and ANTV as well as online news portal Vivanews.

National Democrat (NasDem) chairman Surya Paloh owns Metro TV and daily newspaper Media Indoenesia.

Media tycoon Hary Tanoesoedibjo, controls the large media network PT Media Nusantara Citra (MNC) and seems to focus his political ambition on the Hanura party.

About 3,000 private radio stations over the country may be open to political bidders during election campaigns.

But there is also good news: Kompas, the most influential and widely circulated newspaper in Indonesia is politically independent. Its owner, Kompas-Gramedia Group, controls a large networks of local papers and the Jakarta Post.

Malaysia: The game has already changed

Partyforumseasia: Some strategists from more party-politically volatile countries may have envied the “stability” of UMNO’s Malaysia and the number of “safe deposit” constituencies for so many years. The last general election in 2008 came with a brutal wake-up call for all those who have believed that power and access to assets would continue forever. Populist but not necessarily popular campaign goodies and the ferocious use of the pro-establishment media signal that BN, for the first time in decades, has doubts about winning the next election.
Dr. Ooi Kee Beng, deputy director of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS)  in Singapore, comments on what has changed already before the next election coming up in April:
Kee Beng 22.2. a

Straits Times, 22.3.2013

Malaysia: BN or PR – who has more goodies to offer?

Partyforumseasia: The elections approaching, the BN governments’ coffers are already wide open. From cash payouts for citizens to rosy future promises, the ruling coalition seemed hard to beat. But mind you, the opposition coalition Pakatan Rakyat is not shy of promises either. The just published election manifesto has good news for every Malaysian as well. And from a strategic point of view this move is logical and correct. If the competitor promises more cash you can’t preach austerity, even if the financial forecast would urge you to be cautious…

PR ManifestoSource: Straits Times, Singapore, 26.2.2013


Indonesia’s Democratic Party: Doomed without SBY?

Partyforumseasia: The dramatic exit of Anas Urbaningrum as chairman of the Democratic Party under suspicion of corruption might ring in the end or at least the end of its lead in the Indonesian political landscape. The party which owed so much of its electoral success to the popularity of president Yudhoyono (SBY) and is widely seen as “the president’s party”, is down to only 8% in recent polls, far down from its 21% in 2009. Since SBY cannot run again in 2014 after ending his second term, the party suffers badly from corruption allegations and lack of clear leadership alternatives. The situation could get even worse if Anas came up with more dirty linen from inside the leadership as he vaguely threatens.
See also:
Indo DP 24.2.13a

Election manipulation: Is Southeast Asia average or world class?


Election manipulation and fraud are not unknown in Southeast Asia.
This (Link)new book  by Alberto Simpser looks already so interesting in the publisher’s advertisement that we are looking forward to have it. Here are some snippings from the introduction:
Three interesting findings:
“First, electoral manipulation is often utilized when it is patently unnecessary for victory. Second, even when electoral manipulation is needed to win, it is frequently perpetrated far beyond the victory threshold and in excess of any plausible safety margin. Third, electoral manipulation is often perpetrated blatantly, a practice that does not directly contribute to victory and goes against the intuition that, as with any cheating, the perpetrator stands only to lose if his or her activities become known. These three observations constitute what I shall call the puzzle of excessive and blatant electoral manipulation.” (p.1-2)
On the indirect effects of electoral manipulation: “…the consequences to individual citizens, politicians, bureaucrats, and organizations of their political choices and actions today depend strongly on which party ends up holding power tomorrow, and on how powerful such a party turns out to be. (p.6)
The book provides “a systematic, global picture of electoral manipulation”, based on “more than 800 multiparty, country-level elections around the world from 1990 through 2007” (p.8)

Among the empirical findings: “For example, of all executive elections that were substantially manipulated in roughly the past two decades, more than two in five were won by the manipulating party by a margin of victory exceeding 40 percent of the vote, suggesting that excessive electoral manipulation is quite common.” (p.8)

Philippines: Understanding the flawed party system

Partyforumseasia: Patronage politics in the Philippines, often described, but the parties have hardly been defined so bluntly or brutally as:

“convenient vehicles of patronage that can be set up, merged with others, split, reconstituted, regurgitated, resurrected, renamed, repackaged, recycled, refurbished, buffed up or flushed down the toilet.”

Nathan Quimpo, The left, elections, and the political party system in the Philippines, Critical Studies 37, 2005: 4-5 is being quoted with this verdict in: Hutchcroft and Rocamora, Patronage-based parties and the democratic deficit in the Philippines, in: Robison, Richard (ed), Routledge Handbook of Southeast Asian Politics, 2012: 97-119.

It sounds very sad, but Hutchcroft and Rocamora put the deficits into the proper historical perspective to understand how it could happen. And they sketch the necessary reforms to overcome the historical burden. Fortunately, the present administration under president Aquino seems to be set to push through the most urgent reforms.
Partyforumseasia: A must read for anybody who wants to understand the Philippino party system!

Indonesia: Political Dynasty or Asian (family) Values?

Partyforumseasia:  Political families” are a world wide feature; the Kennedys, Bushes, Ghandis etc. are well known. But the following surprise move makes it to the regional headlines, as President SBY promotes his son to better control the Democratic Party in waters troubled by a series of corruption scandals. If party stalwarts can’t be trusted any more, family bonds might be the safer bet.

Source / Link: Straits Times, Singapore
Edhie Yuhoyono

“Indonesian Lessons” ??!!!

See: Vedi R. Hadiz, Democracy and Money politics – The case of Indonesia, in: Robison, Richard (ed), Routledge Handbook of Southeast Asian Politics, 2012, pp.71-82

Partyforumseasia: Hadiz’s sober assessment on page 78 underlines our thesis that the constant use of Duvergerian (and followers’) paradigms will miss the point.
Erally Indo

Colourful campaigning (PPP) Indonesian fun style.

“The Indonesian experience since 1998 reiterates the necessity of reassessing conventional renderings of electoral politics and of political parties. It is hardly useful to label Indonesia’s parties as ‘immature’, ‘irrational’ or ‘neo-patrimonial’ on the basis of idealized notions of party roles in Western liberal democracies. In the context of post-authoritarian societies like Indonesia, political parties as they exist currently – able to utilize money politics and even political thuggery when necessary – are quite suited for the purposes of the range of predatory interests that dominate them. It may be said that there is an internal logic to political party life and electoral competition that does not make internal transformations very likely in the foreseeable future. In fact, given the experience of democracies which have emerged in recent times, such as those in Southeast Asia, the liberal pluralist model associated with the Western experience may become increasingly exceptional.”

Malaysia: PM Najib trying to frighten the voters?

Accept results MY

Source: Straits Times, Singapore, 10.2.2013

Pre-Election Campaigning already in full swing, the competing parties are not shy to frighten the voters
. The threats of Christianisation or Islamisation of Malaysia may neutralise each other. PM Najib urging the opposition to accept their defeat even before the elections might backfire on election day if the loser should turn out to be the Barisan Nasional coalition…
Anyway, the large opposition rallies in the past months seem to suggest that it is more and more difficult to frighten the Malaysian voters.
And the ‘Arab Spring’ or ‘Tahrir’ comparison look a bit too far- fetched… fortunately.

Indonesia’s Democratic Party: SBY sidelines chairman

SBYSBY klein

Source: Straits Times, Singapore, 10.2.2013

With shrinking poll results, President

SBY is pulling the emergency brake.
In a move widely seen as authoritarian,
he sidelines DP chairman Anas Urban- ingrum who is threatened by corruption investigation.
How this move will be accepted by the electorate, sensitized during the Indonesian democratization process, remains to be seen. Necessary as it is to take Anas out of the limelight, the procedure may look too authoritarian for many voters.

Can extrovert political leaders listen?

2. Leaders and candidates by personalityExtrovertsPartyforumseasia: Business psychology is probably better researched than political psychology, but the parallels can be striking. Daniel A. Pink, author of “To Sell is Human” writes in the Washington Post of 28 January 2013:
“…leaders are often pitching customers and clients, of course. But they’re also persuading employees, convincing suppliers, sweet-talking funders or cajoling a board. At the core of their exalted work is a less glamorous truth: Leaders sell.
...and attract and convince party members and voters.

Experience and conventional wisdom seems to suggest that “born” leaders are more extrovert than introvert. Their shortcomings are evident, though:
“Extroverts can talk too much and listen too little. They can overwhelm others with the force of their personalities. Sometimes they care too deeply about being liked and not enough about getting tough things done.”
If introverts are too shy as leaders, Pink suggests a middle way, the ambivert:
“We’d be far better off with those who take a more calibrated approach — who can talk smoothly but also listen keenly, who know when to turn on the charm but also when to turn it off, who combine the extrovert’s assertiveness with the introvert’s quiet confidence. In other words, when it comes to picking leaders, perhaps we should look for people a bit more like us.”
The 1000 $ question: Which type of personalities dominates our parties?

“Ants, Partisans, and Party Members” – Tribalism in Human Nature

Partyforumseasia: The great biologist  Edward O.Wilson, (The Social Conquest of Earth, New York 2012) studied ants to better understand human group behavior. The psychological evidence is most interesting for partisanship and party membership:

“Experiments have shown that it is shockingly easy to elicit a sense of solidarity among a group of strangers. Just tell them they’ll be working together as a team, and they immediately start working together as a team, all the while attributing to each other a host of positive qualities like trustworthiness and competence—an instant five-star customer review.
Yet we are equally prepared to do battle against those who fall outside the fraternal frame. In experiments where psychologists divided people into groups of arbitrarily assigned traits—labeling one set the Blue team and another the Green, for example—the groups started sniping at each other and expressing strong prejudices toward their “opponents,” with the Greens insisting the Blues were untrustworthy and unfair. The “drive to form and take deep pleasure from in-group membership easily translates at a higher level into tribalism,” Wilson says, and can spark religious, ethnic and political conflicts of breathtaking brutality.”  Source: Smithsonian

Partyforumseasia: So far so bad, being member of a successful party feels good, but inside political parties tribalism among factions can be as or even more brutal than with outside enemies. A quotation attributed to Konrad Adenauer, first chancellor of post war (West) Germany, should warn us: His line was: enemy – mortal enemy – party comrade…