Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law in Southeast Asia

Thursday, March 9, 2023
9:30 AM - 3:00 PM

Philippines Conference Room
Encina Hall, Third Floor, Central, C330
616 Jane Stanford Way, Stanford, CA 94305

This event is open to Stanford affiliates and invited guests only.

Workshop on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law in Southeast Asia

This workshop brings together scholars from Asia and the Freeman Spogli Institute at Stanford University to discuss the state of democracy, development, and the rule of law in Southeast Asia. Through these broad lenses, the participants will present research and reflections on various topics and cases from the region, including the monarchy in politics, peace-making in the Philippines, Chinese infrastructure investments in Myanmar, illiberalism in the Philippines, and Islamic law in Indonesia.

Event Co-Chairs:

Marisa Kellam
Associate Professor, Waseda University and Visiting Scholar at CDDRL

Donald K. Emmerson
Director, Southeast Asia Program of Shorenstein APARC

9:30 – 10:00 AM — Coffee and Introductions

10:00 – 10:45 AM — Political and Social Risks of the BRI: China’s overseas infrastructure investment projects in Myanmar
Presenter: Ruosui Zhang, Ph.D. Candidate, Waseda University
Discussant: Mike Bennon, Research Scholar, Global Infrastructure Policy Research Initiative at CDDRL, Stanford University

Developing countries are not passive takers of China’s loans and investments, an oft-overlooked aspect in the political economy of China’s foreign investment. Tracing the changing fate of the Myitsone dam in Myanmar, this presentation will argue that an increase in accountability from military dictatorship to semi-democracy explains the suspension of the project by the Myanmar government in 2011. It will also argue that the change in the leadership’s ideology from the quasi-civilian to a civilian government explains why the project did not encounter further setbacks even though the accountability level increases in Myanmar in 2016. 

10:45 – 11:30 AM — Roundtable discussion on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law in Indonesia
Reza Idria, Assistant Professor, Ar-Raniry State Islamic University
Gita Wirjawan, Chairman, Ancora Group

This roundtable discussion will offer the perspectives of renowned Indonesia scholars on democracy, development and the rule of law in their country. In particular, Reza Idria will discuss the social and political responses to Sharia in Aech, and its broader implications for the rule of law in Indonesia. Gita Wira will speak about prospects and challenges for Indonesian democracy and development, including his expectations for the outcome and impact of elections next year.

11:30 AM – 12:30 PM — Lunch and Informal Discussion 

12:30 – 1:15 PM — Monarchy and Autocratization: Cases in Southeast Asia
Presenter: Kana Inata, Associate Professor, Tokyo Metropolitan University
Discussant: Francis Fukuyama, Professor and Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow at CDDRL, Stanford University

Focusing on Southeast Asian monarchies, this presentation will highlight monarchs’ involvement in processes of autocratization in the region. The talk will contend that the monarchy intervenes directly as an autocratizer in Malaysia and Brunei, whereas the monarchy is used indirectly to justify autocratization by government actors in Thailand and Cambodia. In making these claims, the talk will clarify the boundaries between monarch’s de jure and de facto interventions in politics and will consider monarchical accountability. 

1:15 – 2:30 PM — Roundtable discussion on Democracy and the Rule of Law in the Philippines
Aya Watanabe (Researcher, Institute of Developing Economies-JETRO)
Lisandro Claudio (Associate Professor, UC Berkeley)
Yuko Kasuya (Professor, Keio University)

This discussion will consider the nature of democracy and its impact on the rule of law in the Philippines. Aya Watanabe will argue that the electoral prospects of politicians have complicated peace-making in the Mindanao conflict given that the negotiated settlements must be approved and implemented within the democratic political system. Both Lisandro Claudio and Yuko Kasuya will offer reflections on the May 2022 Philippine presidential election, and the pervasiveness of illiberalism, corruption, and violence in Philippine democracy more generally.

2:30 – 3:00 PM — Reflections 
Co-chairs and participants