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Decentralisation, Development, and Democratisation in Southeast Asia (individual papers)

Chair:
Phyllis Ferguson
United Nations Development Programme
phyllisferguson@hotmail.com

List of Papers:

  • Sub-national Government reforms in Myanmar: fiscal decentralization and resource allocation
  • Bangkok and Phnom Penh between local politics of resilience and new speculative real estate projects
  • Regional Energy Trade: Myanmar’s Participation in Regional Cooperation
  • Local management of Natural Commons: Centralization or Decentralization in River Resource Management in Myanmar?
  • Decentralization and The Indonesian Industrialization Strategy In The Post New Order Era: The Case Study of The Indonesian Oil and Gas Sector In The Province of West Papua
  • Big Decision, Big Impact and Big Debt: Compulsory Public Consultation on Mega-Infrastructure Projects in Southeast Asia
  • Reclaiming Future Ground:  Local Resistance and Global Mobilisation in an Indonesian Occupation Village
  • The role of media in determining voters’ choice in the 13th Malaysian General Election (GE13)

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Paper 1: Sub-national Government reforms in Myanmar: fiscal decentralization and resource allocation

Ms Soe Nandar Linn
Myanmar Development Resource Institute and University of Bonn
ladynandar@gmail.com

After five-decades of authoritarian military junta, the government of Myanmar has initiated a range of reforms in order to reintegrate into global economy and international communities. Alongside with political, macroeconomic and administrative reforms, decentralisation and features of federalism have been widely raised due to the emergence of sub-national governments and parliaments under the defined constitutional and institutional arrangements. Decentralisation is gradually taking place, as there have been 24 deconcentrated-departments with semi-devolved fiscal autonomy at the sub-national level. Apart from limited administrative and fiscal powers, sub-national governments lack capacity to take on the role as drivers of development policies.

In order to maintain social and political stability throughout the democratisation process, there are three key issues associated with decentralisation that we need to take into account: 1) a comprehensive policy framework and transparent policy-based fiscal-transfer system, 2) the capacity of civil servants and inefficient bureaucracy that hinder service delivery and decentralisation efforts and, 3) a sound and clear constitutional framework which is also vital for peace building and equitable resource sharing in Myanmar.

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Paper 2: Bangkok and Phnom Penh between local politics of resilience and new speculative real estate projects

Celine Pierdet
University of Compiegne
pierdet.c@gmail.com

The river capitals Phnom Penh and Bangkok are subject to very high stresses in their urban development. They have expanded behind the bank of the rivers with dikes and embankments on the river floodplains. So they are very vulnerable to natural disasters such as flooding.

Since the early 1970s, it is now common to assimilate a city to a system, closed (Forrester W.J. 1969) or opened (Rosnay de J. 1975). The major crisis suffered under the Khmer Rouge regime damaged hydraulic networks. Moreover, most of the city dwellers and elites were killed in a genocide charge of 1.7 million victims. Why can we talk about resilience for this city-system since 1979?

We define resilience as “the ability of a system to integrate a disruption in its run, without changing the qualitative structure” (Holling C.S. 1973). More recently, in Phnom Penh and Bangkok, speculative projects to private investors reject in the outskirts of cities the poorest populations. The consequences are social, but also environmental. Firstly the peripheral areas, in contrast to the city center, having no embankments, are prone to flooding, with no proper drainage systems. Secondly the proliferation of high-rise towers worsens the process of subsidence and flooding vulnerability of cities.

Why speculative urban projects of the private investors located in the central and the peripheral areas (i.e. new skyscrapers andnew towns) are they going to worsen the vulnerability of cities to flooding?

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Paper 3: Regional Energy Trade: Myanmar’s Participation in Regional Cooperation

Pyi Pyi Thant
Mekong Ecological and Energy Network
ppthant@meenet.org

There are many components in the blue print of regional cooperation such as ASEAN, GMS and ACMEC. However, Myanmar’s position has not clear on how to participate in the game in the region except an energy supplier.

In the case of Myanmar, the preparation for AEC or GMS is inevitable but the situation is unknown. The country is very poor in economy but regarded as resource rich country. The only and outstanding area where people are used to be informed is in the energy sector. Energy trade in natural gas pipelines, Yadana, Yetagun and China-Myanmar Gas and Oil Pipelines. There are MOUs and MOA signed for hydropower electricity trade and even coal fire power plants are in the list of bilateral energy trade means that, this sector is more advanced than other sectors in cooperation. The blueprint includes trade but the economic plan does not mention much on these export and imports sectors. The 98 per cent of FDI comes to energy sector in 2010 and 2012.

The paper has ultimately considering on a balance of the future of Myanmar’s energy sector. This regional cooperation is an opportunity for this undeveloped, closed country to participate in the regional economy. But how these energy cooperation and regional energy trade impacts to the economy and environment of Myanmar including natural resource allocation in Myanmar is unknown. The paper try to highlight on the energy consumption in the region that is unsustainable that huge investment in energy sector is not reliable for Myanmar.

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Paper 4: Local management of Natural Commons: Centralization or Decentralization in River Resource Management in Myanmar?

Su Su Yin
Asian Institute of Technology, Thailand
susuyinn@gmail.com

In Myanmar, the river resource management is not belongs to a unique one committee or department. There are many stakeholders depending on the purpose of usage or the project is. The main importance of river is still regarded as transportation use. In the management of this resource, the policy exists somewhere far away from the people who are depending on the river.

The management of the river resources for the local agrarian community is so far from their community that people are feeling lacking of participation. On the other hand, if we let the river management decentralized to the fullest and let everyone extract to their fullest extent locally, the river will be used for agriculture and hydropower plants mainly because of the local need and communal decision making and other functions of the river in ecosystem services will be diminished. In case of Myanmar, where there are international rivers such as Salween, Minipur and Kaladan etc. and local rivers that flows locally inside the nation, we should have a different policy that will tackle the situations accordingly.

The researcher will explain about the suitable policy options for the river managements of the river from top-down (centralized) to bottom-up (decentralized) in the local national rivers and international rivers that are flowing through the region.

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Paper 5: Decentralization and The Indonesian Industrialization Strategy In The Post New Order Era: The Case Study of The Indonesian Oil and Gas Sector In The Province of West Papua

Francisia Seda
University of Indonesia
saveria09@gmail.com

The research is an UI (University of Indonesia) national collaborative research with the University of Cenderawasih in Jayapura in the program of social and humanities studies (sosial humaniora). The primary focus of this research is the dynamic relations between the process of decentralization (specifically the Special Autonomy for Papua) and the social exclusion processes experienced by local marginalized communities surrounding the development of The LNG Plant in The Bay of Bintuni Regency and the potential inclusive policies and programs of the local government and the MNC (multinational corporation), BP (Beyond Petroleum). This primary focus is analyzed in the context of two patterns of relations on the national and macro level. First, the pattern of relations between natural resources and the Indonesian Industrialization Strategy In The Oil and Gas Sector In ThePost New Order Era (1999-2009) and second, the pattern of relations between natural resources and the Character of State-Society Relations In The Post New Order Era (1999-2009).

This research will carry out the Qualitative approach with specific emphasis on in-depth interviews, focus group discussions (FGD) for the primary data, and analysis of secondary data . This research will use Case Study of The Indonesian Oil and GasSector In The Province of West Papua specifically the development of The LNG Plant in the regency of The Bay of Bintuni.

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Paper 6: Big Decision, Big Impact and Big Debt: Compulsory Public Consultation on Mega-Infrastructure Projects in Southeast Asia

Dhanaraj Kheokao
University of Mannheim
dhanaraj@kheokao.com

Nattawadee Boonwattanopas
University College London
nboonwattanopas@gmail.com

Public consultation plays significant role in every project to be developed in every country. “Big Decision, Big Impact and Big Debt: Compulsory Public Consultation on Mega-Infrastructure Projects in Southeast Asia” aims at gathering insightful data of policy and practice on public consultation in mega-infrastructure projects in Southeast Asia countries, how public consultation affect on mega infrastructure projects and furthermore on countries in mega infrastructure projects. The research derived from mainly from literature review and interview. Preliminary findings have shown that there has been increase of mega-infrastructure projects built and/or on progress of planning and construction in Southeast Asian countries preparing for the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2018. Public consultation remains as one of the difficulties for mega-infrastructure projects. For instance, the flood management project in Thailand has been delayed by a Thai court’s order to conduct public consultation. While Malaysia also have difficulty with public consultation in order to build mega infrastructure projects in Penang, the construction of the 6.5 km Gurney Drive-Bagan Ajam undersea tunnel and 12 km road connecting Tanjung Bungah- Teluk Bahang. In case of future multinational mega-infrastructure project such as a high-speed rail network from Ho Chi Minh to Bangkok via Phnom Penh would need to have even more complex public consultation. In conclusion, this research paper has contributed a comparative practice of public consultation in Southeast Asia as well as how it should be a common practice accepted by all countries in ASEAN.

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Paper 7: Reclaiming Future Ground: Local Resistance and Global Mobilization in an Indonesian Occupation Village

Yen-ling Tsai
National Chiao-Tung University
nikar2009@gmail.com

Contrary to popular conception that there was no effective resistance to dispossession under the authoritarian regime of New Order Indonesia, thousands of farmers in North Sumatra have staged occupation campaigns against various state and corporate plantation companies throughout the region since the 1990s. My paper focuses on one of such long-term occupation villages, and considers its wider implication for our understanding of new forms of peasant resistance and agrarian politics.Self-identified as “re-claiming”,these occupation campaigns emphasize the traditional, communal rights of the peasants in their struggle against state-sanctioned dispossession. In practice, villagers device useful strategies of co-habitation to maintain individuated spaces within the highly-communal lives of the occupation village. Most significantly, my study shows the ways in which these reclaiming campaigns collaborate intensively with peasant movements at various scales, translating constantly between and across local, national and international contexts. In sum, this paper offers a locally grounded perspective on farmers’ strategies against the corporatization of rural-livelihood in Indonesia, on the one hand, and how these local strategies are in critical dialogue with the global quests for sustainable development and food sovereignty, on the other hand.

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Paper 8: The role of media in determining voters’ choice in the 13th Malaysian General Election (GE13)

Ku Hasnita Ku Samsu
Universiti Putra Malaysia
atyn74@yahoo.com

The changes in Malaysian political landscape after the 13th General Election (GE13) was very surprising when the opposition party namely Pakatan Rakyat (People Alliance) won 50.87% of popular vote as compared to the Barisan Nasional (National Front) coalition party as many as 47.38%. Nevertheless, the Barisan Nasional has formed the government after winning a majority of Parliamentary seats as many as 50.27% as compared to the opponent party 46.75%. Likewise the domination of Pakatan Rakyat in almost all of urban areas especially in the capital cities of the states and the increase of voters turnout in this general election. This scenario reflected to the cause which stimulated voters’ choice, that was mass media. In this context, mass media consist of printed and electronic is one of the most significant political socialization agent in contributing political awareness among citizens such as voting, standing for election, involving in political campaign etc. Therefore, this paper will be discussing on the role of mass media in determining voters’ choice in the 13th Malaysian General Election which affected the country’s political landscape.