Southeast Asia is East…and West is West


Partyforumseasia: The vast scholarly literature on political parties is often rather theoretical, and academic ambitions make “theorizing” a necessity for the young scholars. Starting to analyze the parties in “Non-Western” systems with the tool box from Europe, where most of the scholarly models have been developed, can be tricky, though. At face value, there are all the well known attributes, headquarters, members, presidents, vice-presidents, branches, central committees, internal elections, even membership fees. However, to start with the latter, membership fees in Southeast Asia’s parties are symbolic at best, if collected at all. With election campaign costs spiraling and reaching absurd levels, the funding is getting more and more the central problem. That affects the image of many parties and their leaders because money has to be found, and  corruption scandals erupt frequently. In some countries in the region, the voters expect tangible returns for their votes which has lead to so-called “pork-barrel politics”. The candidates, rather often, invest into their campaigns, are expected to “help” their voters once they are elected, and consequently need to recoup the invested sums one way or the other. For many of them, just recouping is not enough, they can also enrich themselves via their political engagement. It is maybe one of the big differences compared with Europe that there are many more “unusually rich” politicians in Southeast Asia.  This is not saying that politicians in Europe are underpaid, but a mandate in most parliaments is financially not attractive for professionals and even less for entrepreneurs who earn much more.

Partyforumseasia has been interviewed by Global Review with a list of questions about the characteristics of political parties in Southeast Asia.
What are the differences between Western and Southeast Asian parties?

You find questions and answers under this Link

Comments and opinions are most welcome!

In case the above link does not work, try to insert the following:
https://www.global-review.info/2017/12/19/interview-with-dr-sachsenroeder-about-south-east-asian-parties-many-political-scientists-base-their-analysis-too-much-on-the-paradigms-and-theories-developed-in-western-europe/

 

Money Politics in the Philippines=Business as usual?


Napoles  picPartyforumseasia: Would you buy a second hand car from this lady?
Probably not, because this is not a selfie but the official mugshot. Janet Napoles is accused of cheating the Philippino taxpayers at a rate of up to 10 billion Pesos (nearly 225 million USD).
M
oney politics and pork barrel scams are the ugly and dark side of politics, unfortunately not less widespread in Southeast Asia than in most politically underdeveloped parts of the world. Against the feelings of the voters and analysts, however, impunity makes them attractive for different sorts of shady “political entrepreneurs”, too many of them in parliaments and governments. Wherever the tax payers’ money is easily available, predators are not far away, and the Philippines are no exception, on the contrary.
The business minded Ms. Napoles had obviously found an easy trick to siphon away huge amounts from a well intentioned government program supposed to help lawmakers do good in their constituency and help their voters fast and efficiently, a typical pork barrel program.

The Priority Development Assistance Fund or PDAF was established under the Cory Aquino government in the 1990s and constantly grew until today, its allocation to the legislators being a useful instrument for the presidents to win their support in parliament. Napoles’ and her helpers “genius” created a big number of fake Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) which pretended to implement the infrastructure projects and channeled the money back to the members of parliament and of course Napoles.
During the last decades NGOs have played a big role in implementing development programs on behalf of international donors. They were sometimes classified as Bingos and Lingos (big and small NGOs), but there were also the Rongos, or robber NGOs….
So the Napoles scam is nothing new per se but quite unique in its dimension of 10 b Pesos. And also very remarkable concerning the number of lawmakers who would have bought the second hand car from Napoles without hesiation: Napoles, last week, handed a list of “clients” to a Senate Committee with the names of 20 senators and 100 congressmen!
AsiaSentinel
(Link here) in a recent article has calculated that this means “five sixths of the entire Senate and more than a third of the House of Representatives”. And the legal instruments to bring all these perpetrators to justice are slow and not efficient enough. Headline:The Destruction of Philippine Politics…

Philippines: End of Pork Barrel Politics? Party Financing Endangered…


Partyforumseasia: Scandals can speed up necessary reforms. At a time when the strongest ever tropical storm hit the Philippines, one of the ugliest political corruption scandals has started to change the political porklandscape in Manila. Triggered by a whistle-blower, businesswoman and alleged “Pork Queen” Janet Lim Napoles has been exposed as central facilitator for abusing development funds for kickbacks to congressmen and senators. This method of funding politicians and political parties, partially via fake NGOs, was widely known, but never exposed like now. And the alleged dimensions are certainly outrageous in a country with the remaining poverty level of the Philippines. One of the prominent accused is veteran politician Juan Ponce Enrile (89), who only some months ago had to resign as president of the senate because of abusing senate funds. The alleged kickbacks for the multimillionaire are supposed to be 363 million Pesos (more than 8 million US$!!), half of his pork allocation. Other colleagues are liable for similar sums, that means that development funds earmarked for infrastructure projects in the respective constituencies have been used for campaign and party funding, maybe for private purposes as well.
In the face of massive demonstrations during the last few months, also against President Aquino, who won his election with an anti-corruption campaign, politicians have started to back-paddle. As of November 12th, nine senators had already declared that they are waiving their PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) – allocations for 2014.
The political establishment may find other ways of refinancing, though, similar to creative new money politics in Indonesia. Cash transfers being too dangerous now, credit card payments, insurance policies, fixed assets and landed property seem to be a way out…

Appendix: 1 billion Pesos are nearly 23 million US$
PDAF

Philippines: Is Re-election Without Pork Barrelling Possible?


PorkPartyforumseasia: A recent scandal involving 23 suspects including members of parliament and senators as well as former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo may give new momentum to the fight against political corruption and the endemic pork barrelling in the Philippines, which President Aquino has declared a priority for his term of office. Businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles is under investigation for setting up bogus NGOs and embezzling nearly $ 290 million from disaster relief and development funds. Up to half of the funds paid out to the NGOs seem to have gone to the accused legislators.
Pork Barrelling is a common political tool in the country and based, like in other countries in the region, on traditional patron-client relations between voters and their MP or senator. According to the political science analysis legislators get kickbacks from development projects (e.g. the Countryside Development Fund – CDF) at a rate of 30%. One full term in office was supposed to yield about $ 200,000 for a House member and $ 600,000 for a senator (estimated 2009 figures). This has been called “Standard Operation Procedures (SOP)” but growing public protest and President Aquino’s determination to fight corruption might end the SOP – probably later than sooner. Lawmakers so far need this additional income to pay for their party and campaign expenses.