Indonesia’s Democratic Party: President SBY new chairman

Links: Straits Times(30.3.2013), Straits Times (31.3.2013), Jakarta Post (31.3.)
SBY ChairPartyforumseasia: The rescue operation for the somewhat “anorexic” Democratic Party by an extraordinary convention in Bali on 30 March 2013 has worked as planned.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
(SBY), with acclamation ( not vote) of the delegates,  has taken over the chairmanship after former chair Anas Urbaningrum had stepped down under corruption suspicion. Other candidates were being discussed, but only SBY himself was supposed to be elected without exposing the internal cleavages of the party in which Anas still enjoys major support among members and local leaders. SBY, after being elected, called for unity and cohesion, but critics say that the concentration of power is not healthy. The president who looked reluctant to take over and only under the condition that an executive chairman (to be appointed by SBY!!) does the day-to-day work, now chairs the party’s central executive committee and supreme assembly as well as the board of patrons, and his son Edhi Baskoro Yudhoyono is secretary-general.

As a sideline, the reports reveal a few details about the organizational structure of the Democratic Party: The chairpersons of the 33 provincial branches had prepared the convention by seeing the president beforehand in Jakarta “to pledge support for him”. The Bali convention assembled 754 party cadres with voting rights from provincial, district and city heads plus several other party elites. Interesting and allowing a glimpse into the internal cleavages was the exclusion from the Bali convention of former Cilacap district chairman Tri Dianto because he had no more voting rights. He happened to be one of the possible successors of Anas as new chairman…
Strategy-wise the exercise could unite the party in preparation of and until the 2014 elections, but, as it happens in medical practice, it could also turn out to be a successful emergency operation leaving the patient dying nevertheless. With SBY’s presidency definitively ending in 2014, the struggle for his succession is visibly on in the Democratic Party.
SBY names minister as Dems executive chairman
Bagus BT Saragih, The Jakarta Post, Nusa Dua | National | Sun, March 31 2013, 12:17 PM
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, as the new Democratic Party chairman, has appointed Cooperatives and Small and Medium Enterprises Minister Syariefuddin Hasan as the party’s executive chairman. “The executive chairman will be more active in dealing with the party’s organizational matters and its other day-to-day business,” Yudhoyono told a press conference in Nusa Dua, Bali, on Sunday. Yudhoyono also announced that House of Representatives speaker Marzuki Alie had been appointed to serve as the deputy chairman of the supreme assembly, the party’s highest organ. Transportation Minister EE Mangindaan has been named the executive chairman of the party’s board of patrons. Yudhoyono has asked for the creation of the three positions to ease his duties in the Democratic Party after he was appointed as the party’s chairman in an extra-ordinary congress in Sanur, Bali. Yudhoyono said he accepted the proposal to name him the party chairman as long as it would not hinder him from his main duties as a state leader.Currently, Yudhoyono also serves as the party’s supreme assembly chairman, honorary council chairman and chief patron. “The formatur (formation of new appointments) has begun and these three positions are part of the initial results. We will continue to work in Jakarta and announce the results in the days ahead,” Yudhoyono said. Both Mangindaan and Marzuki said they did not know what other positions Yudhoyono would reshuffle. A rumor was circulating that the party’s secretary general, Edhie “Ibas” Baskoro Yudhoyono, the President’s youngest son, would leave his position because he would study in the US. Marzuki said Ibas should stay in his position as secretary general. “He has capability and his work in the party has been good so far,” he said, adding that he did not know about the rumor of Ibas’ plan to study in the US. (ebf)
More appointments than elections and rumors, the price parties pay for strong leadership.


Addendum to “Controlled media” vs. “Alternative media” in Malaysia

Partyforumseasia: If this is serious it is probably too late for a decisive impact on the GE13, but it is a rather dramatic introduction for the alternative broadcasting “Radio Free Malaysia”:

RADIO FREE MALAYSIA  Press release: Sunday 24th March 2013

Malaysia’s newest independent radio station begins broadcasting on Monday night. Radio Free Malaysia will be available on Medium Wave at 1359kHz each night between 9pm and 11pm local Malaysia time. The highlight of the first show will be a full-length exclusive interview with the PKR leader Anwar Ibrahim, who, like other opposition figures, has been largely excluded from Malaysia’s mainstream media so far. RFM represents a ground breaking venture, because it will be transmitted from outside of Malaysia and therefore is not subject to licencing by the federal government. The station therefore aims to be free of the political interferences that have caused Malaysia’s media to become recognised as one of the most restrictive in the world. “RFM will be free of political censorship by the ruling BN coalition and plans to provide a platform for alternative ideas and viewpoints”, explains founder Clare Rewcastle Brown, who is basing the programme out of the UK.
“It is well known that all press and broadcast media currently operating in Malaysia are forced to unquestioningly support and promote the ruling BN coalition and to denigrate the opposition parties, while excluding them from the chance to put their own policies and agendas before the people”.
“It is unacceptable that Malaysia poses to the world as a democracy and is about to hold a general election, and yet it is only members of the ruling coalition (in power for the entire 50 years since independence) who are allowed to have their voices heard by the people”.Radio Free Malaysia is a sister station of the existing short wave programme Radio Free Sarawak, which broadcasts on shortwave for the benefit of indigenous communities in East Malaysia. However, the new nightly programme will operate completely independently on the more accessible Medium Wave band and use only Bahasa.“A separate team has come together to run this show and their remit is to provide two hours a day of the sort of programming that people have been unable to find on any other mainstream radio or TV in Malaysia”, says Rewcastle Brown. “Just a few days ago one independent station was forced to withdraw an interview with Anwar Ibrahim from broadcast owing to political pressures [ do not intend to be bullied in this way and now we can bring people the interview that the authorities have tried to ban”
“Anyone wanting to find out what the opposition policies and arguments actually are will now be able to tune in to our show, which can be accessed on any radio set in Malaysia and find out. At last people without access to the internet will have the opportunity to make a more informed choice at the ballot box.It is has also been of widespread concern that mainstream media outlets are being used by BN to spread politically motivated slanders and allegations about opposition figures and their policies, while at the same time refusing to allow them the space to answer the allegations or defend themselves in any way.
“Our short two hour programme provides a very limited opportunity for people who have been attacked in the media to exercise their right to reply. It is not much, but it is better than nothing and I anticipate that people from all over Malaysia will be intrigued to be able to tune in for the first time to the opposition’s response to the barrage of attacks they have been subjected to. We intend to punch above our weight, because we are providing a much needed service unavailable elsewhere”, said Rewcastle Brown.The programme will also focus on stories, which have so far been the subject of a disgraceful blackout in the regular media, because they are judged inconvenient to BN. Only the more free on-line news platforms have been allowed to give proper coverage to such matters as the Scorpene submarine contract scandal; the corruption scandals involving the Chief Ministers of Sabah and Sarawak; the murder of the model Altantuya; the so-called ‘cowgate’ scandal and numerous other cases of corruption and controversy involving those close to the BN government.These matters are waiting to find a place on Radio Free Malaysia, so that a wider public can be made aware of the issues that have been suppressed in their regular newspapers and broadcasts, which are subjected to total censorship by ‘News Controllers’ answerable to the Ministry of Information, Communications and Culture, say the producers.“We would certainly be very pleased to also do interviews with any BN figures of significance who are willing to appear on our show”, confirms Rewcastle Brown. “However, they will not be getting the deliberate soft ride they are always accustomed to from the licenced media. We will ask tough questions about tough subjects, which as the people in charge of making decisions for the country they ought to be answering”.Rewcastle Brown confirms that she will not be determining content. “There is a team of Malaysian producers and presenters who will be running Radio Free Malaysia, we are merely operating out of the UK in order to avoid censorship.”.Radio Free Malaysia will also be operating a call in line so that listeners can take part in the show the toll free number is 1-800-815-309 and callers will be able to leave messages and their number at any time of the day.The Radio Show will also be accessible on-line via podcast at its website station, which is operating independently of major donors, has launched a drive for donations via its website. We will not be able to maintain the project unless enough members of the public come to our help to support our costs. However, we are hopeful and confident that the millions of Malaysians, who are longing for a more free and open media will support us and keep us afloat.

Radio Free Malaysia (RFM)AM/MW 1359 kHz, 2100-2300 nightly

Also: Toll free number: 1-800-815-309


Date: Sun, 24 Mar 2013 11:42:24 +0000

Subject: Please circulate Widely

From: info@sarawakreport.orgTo:

And remind people that teething challenges may make for a rough and ready start, but we will improve each day!

Singapore: Candidates’ election expenses made transparent

Partyforumseasia: Democracy comes at a price, campaigns are costly, and in most countries in the region, the campaign expenses of candidates are far from being disclosed to the public.The Punggol East (a suburb in the north of Singapore) by-election on 26 January 2013 made big waves because of the clear opposition win (Workers’Party’s Lee Li Lian with 54.52%) over the PAP candidate Dr. Koh Poh Koon with 43.71%.
Two months later, the Straits Times publishes today in detail the expenses of the four candidates. All of them spent much less than the regulations had allowed, i.e. S$ 3.50 per registered voter. At the end it was only a by-election, but one which has an impact on the public perception of the balance between ruling party and opposition.
Interesting: Some candidates hired helpers and assistants, and only the PAP funded its candidate’s expenses fully. The opposition candidates declared that they did not receive any donations.                                                                   Link: Straits Times, 28.3.13
Punggol East final

Golkar-splinter PKPI admitted to 2014 elections

Partyforumseasia: Limiting the number of competing parties for the 2014 elections does not seem easy for the the General Elections Commission (KPU). It announced yesterday (25 March 2013) that Golkar splinter PKPI is eligible as no.15:

The General Elections Commission (KPU) announced on Monday that the Indonesian Justice and Unity Party (PKPI) was eligible to contest the 2014 general election. All seven members of the commission agreed to not to file an appeal with the Supreme Court over the Election Supervisory Committee’s (Bawaslu) Feb. 6 ruling that the PKPI was eligible after the KPU earlier disqualified the party. KPU chairman Husni Kamil said on Monday that the decision was unanimous as there were no voting mechanisms in KPU’s decision making, according to KPU’s verdict was welcomed by PKPI chairman Sutiyoso, a former Jakarta governor who attended the announcement at the KPU office in Central Jakarta. “After a long and tough journey, the PKPI has finally succeeded in being eligible to contest the general election,” said Sutiyoso.
The KPU designated the number 15 to PKPI for the elections. (asw/ebf)

Indonesia’s PKS: The serious side of “sausage politics”

Partyforumseasia: The (Islamist) Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) had won 7.34 % in the 2004 election on its anti-corruption stance and promise of good governance, and probably profited as well from its credibility among religious voters. So the arrest and indictment for corruption of former leader Luthfi Hassan Ishaaq in January has heavily dented the credibility of the party. The recent re-election of West Java governor Ahmad Heryawan and his running mate Deddy “Demiz” Mizwar ( see link: “The awesome power of sausage politics“) must be seen as an attempt to counter the loss of credibility by using a popular PR-professional as running mate. It would probably be wrong for the party to take the governor’s re-election as a sign that the voters are forgetful.
PKS 22.3.13

Source / link: Straits Times, 22.3.2013

Malaysia election: “Controlled Media” vs. “Alternative Media”

MediaPartyforumseasia: One of the most controversial items in the “level playing field” debate is the Barisan Nasional government’s monopoly on the official media landscape in Malaysia. Will this traditional advantage for the ruling coalition continue to tip the scale in the upcoming election? In an article published by the Straits Times, Singapore, Wan Saiful Wan Jan, Chief Executive of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) in Kuala Lumpur, looks into the chances of the “Alternative Media” to catch up:
Media plays a crucial role
By Wan Saiful Wan Jan, also published in Singapore’s Straits Times 22 March 2013

Prime Minister Najib Razak presented his “annual report” last Tuesday evening, informing the country how good his administration has been in achieving key targets under the economic and government transformation programmes. Indeed he has done well.  Most of the targets have been achieved. According to Najib’s projection, if everything goes to plan, Malaysia would qualify as a high-income nation before 2020.
Right on cue, mainstream media in Malaysia went into overdrive to report what Najib said.  The frenzy surrounding Najib’s latest announcement would probably continue for at least a few more days. Good news like this will not be allowed to fade.  After all, several TV channels continue to broadcast clips highlighting promises made by the government in their national budget announcement back in October last year, just to make sure voters don’t forget how “generous” the BN government is.
On the other hand, the alternative media is also in overdrive.  There are quite a few outlets who would call themselves alternative media and they do have a  sizeable following.  In the quest to present the “other” side of the news, they inevitably end up publishing reports that are seen as mainly against BN.  In fact, since Tuesday evening, many have been working hard to show how Najib is wrong, arguing that things are not as rosy as portrayed in his speech.

This is the reality of the Malaysian media.  The way some media outlets report news is completely predictable.  Although thanks to positive steps taken by the government the Malaysian media is not as shackled as they used to be, partisanship is still in excess supply.
Of course there are exceptions and there are several media outlets that are relatively exemplary.  But that is exactly the problem – serious independent journalism are exceptions rather than the rule.
As the country inches closer to general election, the media becomes even more crucial.  Their extensive reach makes the media an extremely influential tool to persuade voters.  And Malaysian politicians know this. Some Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders clearly have good media advisors. Their use of the media to influence public perception has been very effective lately.
The Lahad Datu incursion is a good example.  In this case, BN’s strategy in handling the media is outstanding.  It is so effective to the extent that almost no one is able to debate the big elephant in the room, which is the government’s incompetence that resulted in complete failure to protect Malaysia’s borders from armed invaders. This is not at all debated in the Malaysian media.
Instead, anyone who questions the authorities will immediately be labelled unpatriotic and disloyal.  Discussions about the root cause of the incursion and which minister should be sacked do not get any space.  It seems like a senior media advisor has decided that Lahad Datu must not be allowed to damage the government, and all media reports must focus on certain aspects on the tragedy only.
Pakatan Rakyat (PR) is severely disadvantaged because every time someone from their side tries to raise pertinent questions, the media will jump into labelling them as traitors.  Admittedly it is distasteful to suggest that there may be political benefits from the Lahad Datu incursion.  But it must be stated that BN’s media strategy is so good, they are monopolising such benefits if there is any.  PR is completely blocked from taking even a small pinch.
Nevertheless PR is not angelic either.  Their strategy is exactly the same in media outlets that they control.  Pro-PR media does not report any of BN’s good deeds.  So, while pro-BN media spews allegations of PR corruptions and weaknesses, pro-PR media simply take the reverse position.
This situation is far from healthy.  But in a democracy, partisanship among media outlets is, in principle, not wrong.  The hallmark of a free society is when people have the freedom to speak and write what they want.  If a particular media outlet chooses to be partisan, then a free society would accept and defend their right to be so. Individuals exercise their freedom by deciding which media they want to read or watch.
Thus in a country facing an impending general election, if a Malaysian wants to listen to more than one side, all he has to do is simply buy more than one newspaper or watch more than one TV channel.  At least that’s the theory.
The challenge faced by Malaysians today is the uneven playing field. BN has almost complete access to mainstream media, be it broadcast or print.  In fact, when it comes to broadcast media, BN has almost complete domination to the extent that even a taxpayer-funded government agency could be turned into a partisan propaganda machinery.
PR’s media reach is severely limited.  There may not be written rules banning opposition politicians from the media.  But media practitioners and editors exercise self-censorship to reduce the risk of actions from authorities.  As a result, the opposition is disadvantaged in their campaign.
The real victims are the citizens.  Access to reliable information is extremely important to ensure voters vote based on knowledge.  In the case of Malaysia, the print and broadcast media are the only platforms with sufficient reach for this purpose.  The online media may be growing as an industry, but their reach is still limited.
True democracies would facilitate politicians’ access to media.  A government that truly believes in democracy would ensure the total ecosystem is one that allows for different ideas to reach the public. This general election is a test of the Najib administration’s resolve in creating this healthy environment.

With God’s Help? – Clerics in Malaysian Politics

Greek Gods Partyforumseasia:
With God’s Help?
In Homer’s Iliad the Olympic gods interfere directly in the battles for Troy. The crusaders were motivated by the Pope’s affirmation that they were fighting for God, and their Muslim adversaries were also convinced that they were dying for Allah. Religion as a political tool has often been successful, not least in Europe  for the Christian Democratic Parties. So it does not come as a surprise that in the running- up to the elections in Malaysia both camps are trying to get religious support, if not directly from Allah, then at least by using the status and credibility of Muslim leaders. Since UMNO feels that they have their most faithful voter bank among rural and pious Malays, but face the competition of the Islamist PAS, their efforts to get support from prominent Ulama is logical. But opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has his own religious credentials, he started his political career as head of the Muslim Youth Movement ABIM. The following article gives some details how the parties a trying to recruit religious leaders for the election campaign:
Clerics MY

Source and link: Straits Times 21.3.2013, p. A26

Let’s be serious, political clowns are everywhere


Partyforumseasia: The results of the Italian elections three weeks ago were followed by rather sarcastic comments about the “clowns” (Economist et al.) who were successful against the normal odds. One of the surprise winners with a quarter of the votes was comedian Beppe Grillo, the other with a surprise comeback Silvio Berlusconi. The mature democracies in Europe with such results? Many politicians could hardly believe it, but in reality it highlights  the frustration of most of the voters with the disappointing performance of the “serious” type of lawmakers.Can Southeast Asia compete? President Joseph Estrada in the Philippines is not forgotten, but we have a new example in Indonesia. Columnist Julia Suryakusuma in the (link:) Jakarta Post today comments on
“The awesome power of sausage politics” :
Julia Suryakusuma, Jakarta | Opinion | Wed, March 20 2013, 11:31 AM
Paper Edition | Page: 7
It’s hard to take a public servant seriously when you see him waving a sausage in the air and singing “It’s so nice”, with a motley crowd of backup singers sashaying behind him.

Yet that’s precisely how Deddy “Demiz” Mizwar recently became deputy governor of West Java — and his awesome sausage-waving skills helped secure winning votes for his running mate, incumbent Governor Ahmad “Aher” Heryawan as well. Yes, that’s right, Aher, worried that his own popularity would not be enough, decided to “buy” sausage-star Deddy to shore up his reelection bid.

In fact, Deddy has a solid reputation as an award-winning actor and film director, but that’s not what made him a familiar face nationally. Nope, he became a star by constant appearances in TV ads for a mobile phone network operator, bottled mineral water, motorbikes, toothpaste, heartburn medicines and others — including, naturally, the oh-so-nice sausages.

Of course, most of these products could be linked to politics in one way or another (especially mobile phones and heartburn!) but sausages are the closest connection. Think about it. Sausage-making is smelly and made up of unhealthy, disgusting and even dangerous ingredients, including preservatives and the dreaded “pink slime” (blood, fat and bits of meat trimmings disinfected with ammonia, all colored with dye — and not always food dye). Same with politics! It’s also too often made up of unsavory ingredients, including, of course, ambitions, egos, greed, corruption, manipulation and outright lies.

Ah well, perhaps Deddy’s career in advertising has prepared him well for the horrors hidden within. Just look at the sausage ad he did for Ramadhan in 2011 and 2012. Wearing Indonesian Muslim garb, Deddy exhorted viewers to gobble sausages for sahur (the early morning meal before commencing fasting), and again sausages first thing for iftar (breaking the fast). Get real? Touting this junk-filled product as healthy? In the fasting month to boot? Well, that’s advertising for you — and that’s politics too.

Besides riding on the back of Deddy’s sausage-stardom, Aher’s win was also allegedly the result of pork barrel politics (not to be confused with the recent pork-tainted meatball scare). In January 2013 — just before the elections! — Aher’s West Java provincial government allocated “grants” and “social funds” of Rp 100 million (US$10,303) per village for 5,304 villages in West Java, Rp 50 million for 2,000 agricultural extension workers, and Rp 90 million for 400 private universities. Big buck handouts and a big banger TV star! What’s not to like? No wonder he won.

Politicians like Aher, who are in “low-batt” mode (i.e. low popularity) don’t usually resort to the sausage for salvation. Instead most simply go to their political party for a “recharge”. Political parties often act as a power-bank — you know, those portable chargers you carry around so your smartphone doesn’t run out of power — for candidates. The trouble is that Aher, who hails from the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), doesn’t seem to want to advertise the fact that he’s a PKS man too much.

You see, in recent years, his party has become pretty low-batt itself. Initially touted as clean and free of corruption and sex scandals, it has since had its fair share of both, and is in no position to help anyone anymore. The most recent uproar involves Luthfi Hasan Ishaaq, former PKS president, now embroiled in the imported beef scandal, and an alleged sex scandal involving a 19-year-old student, (“Agriculture minister faces further grilling over beef”, The Jakarta Post, March 15). At least the beef makes a change from sausages.
But let’s face it, all Indonesian political parties are in serious low-batt mode at the moment. In fact, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s (SBY) Democratic Party (PD) seems to have completely short-circuited. With Anas Urbaningrum, the former chairman, finally forced to resign after being declared a suspect by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), it looks like not even sausages could save the party now. The way things are going, lame-duck SBY will soon be able to hold the PD’s annual general meeting in the bathroom, all on his lonesome.
So, who’s winning from this situation? The business cronies are, because our low-batt politicians are increasingly desperate for campaign funds as elections daily creep closer. This means they are also vulnerable to cronies pressuring them for policies that will benefit their businesses. That is maybe why recently economic policy has suddenly swung protectionist, and with trade barriers soaring, imports have fallen. Slowly but surely, technocrats are being marginalized and the free-trade reforms of the last decade seem to be unraveling fast.
The Coordinating Economic Minister, Hatta Rajasa, in-law of SBY and presidential candidate from National Mandate Party (PAN), has been pushing protectionism. He claims it will strengthen domestic businesses, deliver food self-sufficiency and give added value to raw materials. But, in fact, the main results are a general increase in food prices, including basic commodities — most notably the recent spiraling price of onions and garlic — and now serious food shortages as well. Could it possibly be because his policies are motivated not by economics but political interest? In the end, the push for power is pushing policy aside.
At least the scarcity of garlic is good news for vampires. They can roam freely now. But what to do with the political vampires whose blood-sucking ways don’t depend on the absence of garlic, and who operate in broad daylight?
Perhaps we should force-feed them all smelly sausages till they burst?

 The writer ( is the author of Jihad Julia

Myanmar: Parliament to change constitution, Aung San Suu Kyi at the crossroads

ASSK FotoPartyforumseasia: Aung San Suu Kyi at the crossroads?
At a time when the road to Myanmar’s presidency seems to open up for the opposition leader and translate the long years of martyrdom into political success and leadership at last, the first questions about the price to pay appear as well.

Myanmar change constitution

Link: Straits Times 16.3.2013

Partyforumseasia: The price Aung San Suu Kyi has to pay is linked to the change of role. Suffering under the suppression of the democracy movement at the hands of the ruling military junta propelled her to international attention as “democracy icon” and martyr, culminating with the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. Her courage and perseverance will continue to be admired.But taking over now a leadership role in the complex melee of Myanmar’s transition period will mean that she leaves her pedestal of democracy icon and cannot avoid stepping into the quagmire of practical involvement in day-to-day politics.
The first criticisms are coming up: Her re-election in the NLD party congress last week was unanimous of course, but reflected as well the party’s dependence on her. The 15 members of the executive committee were just nominated by “the lady” and then confirmed. And for the taste of the “younger blood” she had asked for, too many old loyalists, called the “NLD-uncles” were elected. Further criticism and disappointment comes up for her lack of addressing the smoldering Rohingya problem and other minority grievances, where she does not seem to have a better solution than the government. Finally, accepting donations from cronies of the former military regime for the party and her role in a controversial environmental case have started to dent her reputation.

See also: Soft on Sein (Foreign Affairs, 8.3.2013)
“The master stroke (of president Thein Sein) was the release of Suu Kyi. Over the last year, her global tour has made her a one-woman public-relations campaign for the regime and its carefully controlled reform process. She has rarely criticized the government’s treatment of minorities, even after hundreds of Rohingya Muslims, who are denied citizenship, have been killed in racist pogroms in the southwest of the country beginning last summer.”

Vietnam: Fearless bloggers – fearful government

Partyforumseasia: As seen in many other countries, attempts of the governments to control the social media turn out to be something between difficult, costly, and useless. As Straits Times Indochina bureau chief Nirmal Ghosh describes in this article, 22 bloggers have been detained last year. This did not stop others from embarrassing the ruling Communist Party by inviting themselves to their debate about constitutional changes. Their proposed alternative constitution, among others, takes out the dominant role of the VCP and its Marxist-Leninist ideology and asks for free and fair elections. Obviously the balance of fear seems to shift more to party and government despite 22 jailed bloggers…

Link: Straits Times
Vietnam constitution

Vietnam: Who is more frightened – government or people?


                    Ho                                       Partyforumseasia: The Roman Empire knew how to rule over not fully convinced people, at least for long periods. The realistic slogan “oderint dum metuant” (they may hate us as long as they fear us) expresses their approach to strong government.

In the case of Vietnam’s Communist Party fear is still an important pillar of their one-party rule… and an obstacle to change. Khanh Vu Duc, an overseas Vietnamese, describes the probability of change in an article published by  Asia Times Online on 6 Mar 13:
“Because Vietnam does not elect its leaders, the government’s power rests in the people’s respect for its authority. As long as the people continue to abide by the government’s established order, nothing will change.”
See the full article at Asia Times Online

Open question are:
1. Is there less fear in the younger generation?
2. How are fear and respect related?
3. Can authoritarian governments get more respect with less fear?


Cambodia: Bridges to (or for) political survival?

Partyforumseasia: Hun Sen bridgeFor many Southeast Asians it may sound familiar when Prime Minister Hun Sen threatens the Cambodian voters with stopping infrastructure programs like bridge building if they should not vote for his CPP. Is he the next Prime Minister who has doubts about his re-election? At least some concern seems to haunt him if he thinks that such a threat is necessary…

See: No CPP, no development: Hun Sen” (The Phnom Penh Post, 6 March 2013)

Cambodia bridge

Trust (in governments) is good…but rare

Partyforumseasia:   According to the 2012 Edelman Trust Barometer (link here), in which an American market research company measures the trust in governments, business, media, and NGOs in 25 countries, the majority does not trust the governments. For Southeast Asia, the index has data only for Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore:
Trust Barometer

The figures above are for the “informed public” segment of the survey and look comparatively positive for Singapore (77% in 2011 and 73% in 2012), Indonesia (falling from 62% to 40%), and Malaysia (49% when it was included in 2012). In contrast to Western countries, the percentage of people who don’t trust government leaders at all to tell the truth looks relatively low here. The regional results are: Indonesia 36%, Malaysia 24%, Singapore 15%. But the overall distrust rates may be much higher.

Looking at all 25 countries, the deficits in credibility are shown as the difference between the expectations and the perceived reality: For the question: government “listens to needs and feedback” of the citizens the gap is 50%, for “has transparent and open practices” also 50%, and for “communicates frequently and honestly” the gap is 49%.

Partyforumseasia’s Conclusion: The survey certainly has its own limitations, not least the sometimes  rather wild changes between the years surveyed since 2000. But if we extrapolate some of the disquieting results to the political parties running the respective governments, there should be enough lessons to be learned. One important development is the growing diversification of trust in the media and the number of sources of information:
Trust in different media