By Kai Ostwald – kai.ostwald [at] ubc.ca
In the run-up to Malaysia’s 13th General Election in May 2013, optimists argued that the country had finally transitioned from decades of semi-authoritarian rule to a competitive de-facto two party system of democracy. The election itself exposed several flaws in the system, namely that high levels of malapportionment allowed the… Continue reading
By Jim Placzek – james.placzek [at] ubc.ca
The key to understanding the current crisis in Thailand is Thai national identity. For decades a government office has been successfully promoting symbols of this identity. The central symbol of that identity is the monarchy. The elite of Thailand, including the military, have been called “the network monarchy”and… Continue reading
Narendra Modi’s Historic Electoral Victory.
By John Harriss – jharriss [at] sfu.ca
HE DID IT.
That Narendra Modi should have won India’s 16th General Election is no great surprise.
But the scale of his triumph is.
Together with most other commentators I expected Modi to win, but thought it likely that he would be… Continue reading
With a raft of elections in the offing, Beijing must soon decide if it will give Hong Kong its promised democracy.
By Jonathan Manthorpe – jonathan.manthorpe [at] gmail.com
This June 4 will mark the 25th anniversary of the Chinese government’s crackdown on the pro-reform demonstrators in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. Nowhere will that memory resonate… Continue reading
By Yves Tiberghien – yves.tiberghien [at] ubc.ca
Since it began its gradual opening and domestic process of change, Myanmar has become a great target of opportunity for a myriad of foreign players, especially global investors interested in its vast energy potential and other resources. The challenge for the country is how to turn these blessings into… Continue reading
Currently a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University, and former China correspondent for Al Jazeera, journalist Melissa Chan discusses the changing media landscape in China and the role played by foreign correspondents. Continue reading
The study of Japanese beauty queens offers insights into democracy and gender issues in post-war Japan. In the 1905s, Japanese beauty queens were often celebrated as models of democracy. They were confident, willing to travel overseas, and represented the idea of upward social mobility. This captured the imagination of Japanese women and for some, signified a step forward for Japanese women’s rights.
However, women in the beauty contests were constructed as images, only allowed to say certain things and unable to complain. This image of beauty queens belies the true situation of Japanese women in the 1950s who were protesting over a lack of equality. Continue reading
Collective protests against corruption and land grabs are widespread in both China and India. The official Chinese Academy of Social Sciences reported that the government spent $110 billion on containing these and related popular protests in 2011, more than the defense budget. Many argue that disruptive protests erupt because there are no effective institutional channels, such as the judiciary, for expressing grievances in China. However, in neighboring India, the world’s biggest democracy where such channels do exist, people similarly express their discontent through disruptive protests. Though not yet systematically counted, disruptions, both violent and non-violent, are an essential characteristic of Indian democracy. Continue reading
Memo #181 – In this interview, Dr. Julian Dierkes introduces the edited volume “Change in Democratic Mongolia: Social Relations, Health, Mobile Pastoralism, and Mining.” By tracing rapid change in Mongolia in four broad fields of contemporary social relations, the chapters in this volume will elucidate the state of contemporary Mongolia and help us understand Mongolia ten or 20 years from now. Continue reading
Memo #163 – The “Indonesia Model,” the post-1998 political transformation and institutional reform process during which Indonesia’s primarily Muslim society shed the shackles of authoritarianism, is considered an exemplar for Arab Spring countries transitioning to democracy. But transition marks only the beginning: consolidation occurs when liberal institutions and democratic norms are fully embedded. Continue reading