Governments and Politics of Southeast Asia

Governments and Politics of Southeast Asia

Governments and Politics of Southeast Asia

Governments and Politics of Southeast Asia

Excerpt

Southeast Asia is not an area of great political homogeneity. Politically as well as culturally its component states are more varied than those of Europe. Differences in their traditional cultures and in their colonial and postcolonial histories have produced substantially dissimilar results, and any close scrutiny of their contemporary governments and politics will disclose at least as many important differences as similarities. Insofar as Southeast Asia is a unit, it is one largely because of the geographical propinquity of the countries it incorporates, because of a rough similarity in their economies and many of their economic problems, and perhaps also because in varying degrees all of them are aware of being flanked by the two colossi of Asia -- China and India. And if the states of Southeast Asia are referred to as neighbors, they must be regarded as one does dwellers of adjacent apartments in an upper Fifth Avenue Manhattan apartment house -- though they live next to one another, they have little common social intercourse, and their closest acquaintances are elsewhere. Originally, of course, this was not the case, this characteristic being primarily a consequence of dissimilar patterns of colonial rule by four different colonial powers. It has been only during the last few years that intercourse between the countries of Southeast Asia has shown promise of becoming once again significant; and even today their rela-

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