Dictionary of the Modern Politics of South-East Asia

Dictionary of the Modern Politics of South-East Asia

Dictionary of the Modern Politics of South-East Asia

Dictionary of the Modern Politics of South-East Asia


The Dictionary of the Modern Politics of South-East Asia provides comprehensive coverage of the political history of this important region since the end of the Second World War. Over 400 alphabetically-organized entries cover Brunei, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia (Kampuchia), Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Individual entries provide detailed information and authoritative commentary for the central figures, political parties and organizations, political systems and structures, major events, and key documents, including constitutions and treaties, of the region, as well as clarifying the terminology - acronyms, abbreviations and non-English terms - in use. Additionally, for each state covered, an extended narrative analyses its recent history and political and social development. Extensive cross-referencing and a subject index assist the reader to the required material and subject bibliographies refer the researcher to source and secondary matter. The Dictionary will be of wide general use in the fields of politics, modern history, economics, international relations, strategic studies, political geography, area studies and development.


In the decades since the end of the Pacific War in August 1945, South-East Asia has evolved from a category of convenience employed by a military command for dispossessing Japan of its wartime gains into a distinctive region with a growing sense of coherence and self-confidence. That coherence owes much to the institutional performance of the six-member Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) which, from an inauspicious beginning in August 1967, has developed a corporate culture of close consultation and cooperation which has begun to influence the other four states of the region. Self-confidence has arisen from remarkable economic performances by almost all asean states based on export-led growth which aspirant members seek to emulate.

South-East Asia comprises those states situated to the east of the Indian sub-continent, to the south of the People's Republic of China and to the north of Australia. the region is a mixture of mainland and island zones within which waves of migration and cultural and religious flows have left variegated imprints. It registers cultural and religious diversity, while political boundaries, in the main the legacy of colonialism, do not always fit the societies that they encompass. and yet despite an incipient separatism, there has not been a successful act of secession since the transfers of sovereignty; the case of Singapore is an exception which proves the rule, so far. Irredentism has been more successful, although the most recent act of political union, when Indonesia annexed East Timor in December 1975, was one of territorial aggrandisement. There is no standard model of political system, although authoritarian governments prevail. Within the region, however, there has been a consistent trend towards market-driven economies which is producing in its wake social changes that will have political consequences.

South-East Asia comprises ten states. Parliamentary systems of varying kinds obtain in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines, while Cambodia has begun a new experiment in constitutional monarchy. Indonesia's constitutionalism is a thin veneer on an authoritarian system underpinned by a military establishment, while military rule is blatantly exercised in Burma, now officially Myanmar. Monopoly rule by Communist parties has been sustained in Vietnam and Laos, while Brunei provides the only example of a ruling monarchy. Resistance to democratization is a common feature of many states in the region justified in the name of economic development and social and political order.

There is great irony in the fact that during the early phase of the Cold War, South-East Asia was often described as the Balkans of the Orient in an analogy with the turbulent and foreboding condition of south-eastern Europe before the outbreak of the First World War. At the end of the Pacific War, nationalism and communism, often opposite sides of the same political coin, contended with colonialism. the process of decolonization became drawn into global conflict, especially in Indochina, which was to be afflicted by successive wars over more than four decades. By the 1990s the challenge of revolutionary communism had been overcome, while Communist governments in Vietnam and Laos had been obliged to give up economic dogma in the interest of sustained development. South-East Asia overall in the 1990s suggests a zone of peace by contrast with contemporary south-eastern Europe with which it was once compared. Such a picture is both valid and misleading. It is valid for reasons indicated above. But it is also invalid because such a picture fails to take full account of the disturbing implications of rapid social change driven by economic development and of an uncertain strategic environment attendant on the end of the Cold War.

This dictionary of politics and international relations of South-East Asia attempts to encapsulate the changing nature and experience of

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