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CFR experts give their take on the cutting-edge issues emerging in Asia today.

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Showing posts for "Democracy"

Singapore’s Ruling Party Defies the Odds

by Joshua Kurlantzick
Lee Hsien Loong_Singapore_elections Singapore's Prime Minister and Secretary-General of the People's Action Party (PAP) Lee Hsien Loong is greeted with a dragon dance as he thanks supporters after the general election in Singapore on September 12, 2015. (Edgar Su/Reuters)

When Singapore split from Malaysia in 1965, becoming an independent city-state, its first elections were won by the People’s Action Party (PAP), then headed by Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, who had overseen the country’s separation from Britain and its divorce from Malaysia. This victory was hardly a surprise: The PAP had won elections going back to 1959, when Singapore was still technically part of Britain, though it was getting self-rule. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of September 11, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
singapore-elections-9-11-15 Singapore's Prime Minister and Secretary-General of the People's Action Party Lee Hsien Loong (C) celebrates with supporters after the general election results at a stadium in Singapore September 12, 2015. (Edgar Su/Reuters)

Ashlyn Anderson, Rachel Brown, Lincoln Davidson, Ariella Rotenberg, Ayumi Teraoka, and Gabriel Walker look at the top stories in Asia this week.

1. Singapore’s historic elections. Singaporeans took to the polls today in the first general parliamentary election in the country’s history in which every constituency is contested. The People’s Action Party (PAP), which has ruled the country since it was expelled from Malaysia in 1965 and held more than 90 percent of the seats in parliament prior to the election, won a majority of seats again. Read more »

What to Expect From the Next Government in Singapore

by Joshua Kurlantzick
singapore-elections Secretary-General of the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) Lee Hsien Loong takes a selfie with supporters after a lunchtime rally at the central business district in Singapore on September 8, 2015. Singaporeans will go to the polls on September 11. (Edgar Su/Reuters)

Singapore’s long-ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) has called a snap election for September 11, well in advance of the five year term it is allotted. As I noted in a piece this week for World Politics Review, the PAP is probably gambling that the outpouring of emotion in Singapore after the death of founding father Lee Kuan Yew in March will reflect well on the PAP and its record of governance, and will help it in the election. The year of 50th anniversary celebrations of the city-state’s independence also may well add a shine to the PAP’s credentials. Read more »

Singapore’s General Election: More Continuity than Change

by Joshua Kurlantzick
Lee-Hsien-Loon-singapore-elections Secretary-General of the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) Lee Hsien Loong gestures to his supporters at a lunchtime rally in the central business district in Singapore on September 8, 2015. Singaporeans will go to the polls on September 11. (Edgar Su/Reuters)

In advance of Singapore’s general elections on September 11, both of the major parties contesting the poll argue that this election will be definitive, even historic. At a press conference on September 1, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of the People’s Action Party (PAP), which has ruled Singapore since the country was formed five decades ago, told reporters, “The country is at a turning point. Question is, in what direction do we now go?” Sylvia Lim, one of the leaders of the Workers Party that comprises the main opposition party (there are also other small opposition parties such as the Singapore Democratic Party), also says the election will be a turning point. Read more »

Thailand’s Coup, One Year On

by Joshua Kurlantzick
thailand-coup-anniversary-protests Police move in to detain protesters gathered in central Bangkok on May 22, 2015. Thai authorities detained dozen of activists protesting against military rule on Friday, a year after the army seized power from an elected government. (Damir Sagolj/Reuters)

This past week marks one year since Thailand’s most recent military coup, either the 19th or the 18th in the kingdom’s modern history, depending on how one counts putsch attempts. The year since the coup has revealed a range of lessons, most of which bode poorly for Thailand’s future. Read more »

The Coup One Year On: Why Has Thai Democracy Regressed?

by Joshua Kurlantzick
Thailand-coup-protests Soldiers take position along roads blocked around the Victory Monument, where anti-coup protesters were gathering on previous days, in Bangkok on May 30, 2014. (Damir Sagolj/Courtesy: Reuters)

On a hot spring afternoon in 1999 at the investigative reporting section of the Bangkok Post, one of Thailand’s two English-language dailies, the section’s editor marked off a long list of stories on a white board. The section had plenty of targets in its sights—police corruption, Thailand’s drug trade and many other subjects. Read more »

Myanmar’s Election Day May Be Only a Step Toward Democracy

by Joshua Kurlantzick
shwe mann-aung hlaing-suu kyi-myanmar Shwe Mann (C), speaker of Myanmar's Lower House of Parliament, Myanmar's military Commander-in-chief Senior General Ming Aung Hlaing (L) and Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi arrive for Myanmar's top six-party talks at the Presidential palace in Naypyitaw on April 10, 2015. (Soe Zeya Tun/Courtesy: Reuters)

In the end of October, Myanmar will hold what will be probably its first truly free national election in twenty-five years. Several reports released this week on the upcoming election suggest that, for all the problems with Myanmar’s reform process over the past five years, the actual Election Day is likely to be relatively fair. A new International Crisis Group (ICG) report on the upcoming election notes that the election commission has, thus far, operated transparently and consulted widely and that the government has reached out to credible international observers to help ensure Election Day is fair. Read more »

Amid Spectacle of Malaysia Infighting, Democratic Slide Continues

by Joshua Kurlantzick
najib-razak-malaysia Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak speaks during the opening ceremony of the 26th ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on April 27, 2015. (Olivia Harris/Courtesy: Reuters)

Since the end of 2014, Malaysians, normally living in one of the most stable countries in Asia, have witnessed an extraordinary political spectacle. Although the same ruling coalition has run Malaysia since independence five decades ago, 89-year-old former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad recently launched a fusillade of public attacks on the current prime minister, Najib Razak, his longtime political protégé. Read more »

What Does Thailand’s Article 44 Mean for Thailand’s International Relations?

by Joshua Kurlantzick
prayuth-medvedev Russia's Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (L) and Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha (R) speak during a news conference at the Government House in Bangkok on April 8, 2015. (Athit Perawongmetha/ Courtesy: Reuters)

Thailand’s ruling junta now has replaced martial law, which had been in force since the coup in May 2014, with legislation under Article 44 of the interim constitution. This shift has been heavily criticized by human rights organizations, many foreign countries, and some Thai media outlets. Human Rights Watch has called the shift to operating under Article 44 an attempt to give Prayuth “unlimited powers without safeguards against human rights violations.” Read more »

Little Mention of Southeast Asia in Secretary of Defense’s Rebalance Speech

by Joshua Kurlantzick
ash-carter-rebalance U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter addresses U.S. military personnel during a meeting near an F-16 fighter jet at Osan U.S. Air Base in Pyeongtaek, south of Seoul, South Korea on Thursday, April 9, 2015. (Lee Jin-man/Courtesy: Reuters)

In a speech at Arizona State University earlier this week, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter laid out a kind of relaunch of the Obama administration’s rebalance to Asia—a plan for moving the rebalance forward over the final years of the president’s second term. Carter hit many key points that the administration hopes to emphasize: the importance of passing the Trans-Pacific Partnership both for the region’s economic future and for America’s own strategic interests; the growth in maritime partnerships with longtime allies like Australia and Japan; the increase in training programs for partner militaries in the Asia-Pacific region. Read more »