In this first quarter of the year, there are plenty of actions going on in this South-East Asia region. Both Thailand and Indonesia will hold general election in March and April respectively while Malaysia had just hold out its election in May last year, in which they return their former longest serving Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad into power, and in the process ousted Najib Razak, who had been plagued by the 1MDB scandal.

Over in Thailand, as reported by the Straits Times[pms-restrict subscription_plans=”1623″]General Prayut’s administration had issued new regulations governing the election of 500 MPs and 250 Senators, with grand design of limiting the power of large political parties, by preventing them to form a one-party government, like that of Thaksin’s and Yingluck’s. Voters will select MPs to represent them in 350 constituencies nationwide. Parties that may not win many of these seats will have a chance to fill the other 150 party-list seats in the 500-seat Lower House.

Thaksin’s and Yingluck’s rise into power was on the back of populism agenda, allowing those Thai elites to form a majority government. Thaksin is an exiled Thai Billionaire with trace of Chinese lineage. His former party promised universal access to healthcare, a three-year debt moratorium for farmers, and one million baht locally managed development funds for all Thai villages, seen as measures to prop up supports among the rurals.

Through these promising agenda of development, many of the development projects carried out were ‘bloated’ , with plenty of alleged corruptions. As was with his brother’s, Yingluck’s rise into power was through Populism agenda, riding into the same political vehicle supported by those same Bangkok’s elites. She was subsequently ‘un-seated’ through a ‘political crisis’ at the end of her political career.

While the Indonesian’s election will see a close rivalry between the incumbent President Joko Widodo and his challenger Prabowo Subianto, the Thai election is seen more of a ‘formality’ to let the incumbent administration to return into power. Unlike the previous democratic Indonesian election, the Thai’s Administration rise into power was through coup-d-etat, toppling the then incumbent caretaker government, after a ‘political crisis’ forced former Prime Minister Yingluk Shinawatra to be removed through Constitutional Court in 2014.

Over in Indonesia, which is due to hold its election in April 2019, there’s already an ‘excitement’ atmosphere especially recently. The incumbent was ‘forced’ to pick a muslim cleric as his running mate after seeing and being spooked the opposition, which had resorted to using religion as a political tool, to which had threatened the nation’s unity, as witnessed during the violent Jakarta gubernatorial election in 2017.

Ethnic Chinese Ahok, then incumbent Governor was defeated by the Prabowo’s supported Anies, which used an ‘edited’ video, accusing him of blasphemy towards Islam. Surprisingly, hundreds of thousands turned up in the Capital’s city hall, through countless public demonstrations (on the basis of free speech and democracy) and who were easily fallen into the fabricated story. Though some were being paid to turn up, there had been credible opinions and proof that majority turned-up willingly, which is worrisome.

Prabowo’s camp had campaigned hard under the ‘Nationalistic’ agenda, and had been accusing the incumbent administration of being ‘lenient’ to foreign trades by opening up the domestic market. He had been sensational in the past too, promising plenty of ‘goodies’ and ‘welfare’ to the electorates if elected, without any credible explanations on how to fund them, including a more ‘Islamic’ Indonesia, which is appealing to the Muslims Majority.

On the other hand, incumbent Joko Widodo had campaigned hard under the ‘populism’ agenda, promising more ‘infrastructure building’ which was a continuation of his 2014 election agenda. The capital recently saw its first MRT line being built and operational and he had promised to build more MRT lines in Jakarta.

Although there is no concrete proof if Joko Widodo had his hands into the ‘cookie jar’, he had directed that most of the infrastructure projects to be done by the SOEs, and to which the nation’s Corruption Eradication Committee (KPK) had caught red-handed plenty of those Executives receiving kickbacks, and not to mention plenty of allegations of marked-up costs.

Those who are and had backed Prabowo in 2014, were businesses with interests and who were not happy by ‘missing out’ on so many infrastructure projects. It’s none the better at Jokowi’s, with plenty of close confidantes and associates who had sprawling business interests such as VP Jusuf Kalla and his ministers.

The lesson here is that, despite any promising agenda (which is why they are popular, and thus populism), voters must vote wisely and each independent state really had to work on improving their institutions, by removing any corruptions.

All these could only be achieved if the tiniest component making up a nation and thus its institutions (i.e. the people) are sufficiently ‘well informed’ and ‘educated’. All these will take time, and thus perhaps, these developing countries could take a lesson or two from the ‘autocratic’ Singapore or China, with a leader who is so hell-bent on developing their own people. [/pms-restrict]

escveritasGlobalLatest ThinkingPoliticsasean,democracy,election,Indonesia,politic,populism,sensationalism,thailandIn this first quarter of the year, there are plenty of actions going on in this South-East Asia region. Both Thailand and Indonesia will hold general election in March and April respectively while Malaysia had just hold out its election in May last year, in which they return their...Your Industries Online