Press Release BINCANG ASEAN “Democratization in Southeast Asia: The Case of Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand”

Bincang ASEAN Monday, 14 May 2018

Yogyakarta – Recently, the ASEAN Studies Center UGM held its first Bincang ASEAN in 2018 entitled “The Democratization in Southeast Asia: The Case of Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand” at Digilib Café FISIPOL, UGM. This particular Bincang ASEAN featured Hestutomo Restu Kuncoro, M.A. (Alumni of Manchester University) with Ezka Amalia (Researcher at ASEAN Studies Center UGM) moderating.


On this occasion, Hesutomo raised the topic of democratization in Southeast Asia, using comparative methods of Western democratic model and models adopted in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand. As the discussion progressed interactively, Hestutomo explained that Southeast Asia did not support the strong Western democratization model in Latin America and Eastern Europe because of differences in the type of regime. As a consequence, Huntington’s ‘universal’ model of democratization is not applicable to Southeast Asia as it could not portray a complete explanation of the process taking shape in the region.


Putting the context on Southeast Asia, a region that is relatively immature for its democracy, Hestutomo argued that Thailand and the Philippines subscribe to the opposition-initiated democratization theory, whereas Indonesia adopted the regime-opposition alliance theory. These two types of theory are self-explanatory in nature; both are named after the drive for democratization. The former is characterized with non-violence movements and revolts, to begin with, and started without a power overturn. These people who demanded democracy fought against the same enemy, not because of a shared vision. On the contrary, the latter emphasizes on the function of regime opposition that seeks for change. True oppositions in Indonesia, in this regards, is difficult to define.


To further argue, Hestutomo contended that the power of people or civil society is not evidently strong to drive the democratization in Southeast Asia. In Britain, the free flow of ideas during the democratization process was associated with the existence of a strong civil society, something that Southeast Asia did not share in common. The interdependency between business sectors and politics are deemed as the catalyst for democratization. For instance, the unintended consequence of elitist competition in Indonesia gave birth to a greater democracy after the New Order era. In the Philippines, the constituents and those who are loyal to Aquino could not give much to say in the political agenda unless Aquino gave an approval in their action. People in Thailand, however, sought to get the patronage of the country.


As to the goals of democratization in Southeast Asia happened primarily due to the expected outcomes of the people within the jurisdiction of the respective state, such as to provide a better opportunity to be heard and to provide a better security from the state. Such conditions depict Indonesia during the fall of well-known corrupt Soeharto’s regime that curbed the voice of the people. In comparison to Portugal and Spain whose, people strove to seek democracy to participate in deciding the budget allocation of the country, the case in Latin America showed a transitional situation from a very closed government into one with the inclusion of the people in economy and decision-making process.


The role of the military in government, as Hestutomo explained, dominates in the Philippines and Indonesia. As time passes, they begin to enter the political business network to gain access to national resources. A question remains, why is this clear, the power of the people in the Philippines still unable to remove the authoritarian government that unilaterally supports Marshall’s Law and the War on Drugs in the country despite their views against such practices. Borrowing the physical molecular theory that explains a state of condition with sufficient critical mass and people power and a collective action necessary to transform a particular state or condition to another, democracy is possible to make. However, in fact, is still nowhere near to happen partly because the people in the Philippines still cast their votes to the characteristics of the figure they can relate to.


All in all, democratization in Southeast Asia is an unfinished project due to a plethora of variables. The intertwining role of religion and democracy make us questioning the maturity of the democracy in the region. For instance, the democratic practice in Southeast Asia tends to follow a procedural matter of democracy which highly focuses on the national election. The lack of tolerance to differing views in politics has the tendency to be divisive and harmful for the maturity of our democracy. The question that arises is what kind of democracy do young people imagine as the future of Southeast Asia? and how will our civil society be more open to embracing differences? When he concludes, such a scenario will eventually arise when people adhere to the values of democracy and inculcate it in our lives.


(Written by Kevin Iskandar, research intern in ASEAN Studies Center UGM)

Internship Program

ASEAN Studies Center Universitas Gajah Mada membuka kesempatan magang untuk mahasiswa dari seluruh jurusan di universitas di Yogyakarta yang akan berkesempatan untuk terlibat dalam riset serta program akademik yang diselenggarakan oleh ASEAN Studies Center UGM.

Output dari pekerjaan intern adalah sebagai berikut:
1. Membuat artikel mengenai isu-isu ASEAN sebanyak 1 buah, dalam Bahasa Indonesia atau Bahasa Inggris sepanjang 800 kata per minggu.
2. Berpartisipasi aktif dalam seluruh kegiatan/event yang melibatkan ASEAN Studies Center, UGM
3. Berpartisipasi aktif dalam riset dan program-program akademik ASEAN Studies Center, UGM

Pendaftaran : Maret – 13 April 2018
Interview & Pengumuman : Minggu ketiga bulan April 2018
Program Magang : Mei – November 2018

Informasi lebih lanjut (persyaratan-persyaratan) dapat dilihat di foto/hubungi akun-akun ASC UGM (tercantum). #ASC_release


Day 3: UGM-RUG International Working Conference on Regional and National Approaches Toward Sustainable Development Goals in Southeast Asia and ASEAN

The third day of UGM-RUG International Working Conference on Regional and National Approaches toward Sustainable Development Goals in Southeast Asia held on October 5th 2017. With only three session of draft paper presentation left, the international working conference was opened by Dr. Titus C. Chen’s presentation on his draft paper. The title of his work is blue-washing, green coffe, and the sustainable development agenda in Southeast Asia.

The second draft paper presentation was presented by Dr. Helena Varkkey, an expert on the transboundary haze issues in Southeast Asia. Her works, Transboundary Haze, ASEAN and the SDGs: Normative and Structural Considerations.

Prof. Laksono Trisnantoro from Indonesia became the last but not the least draft paper presenter at the UGM-RUG working conference. He presented his draft paper with the title Health Care System Reform and Governance for Sustainalbe Development in Indonesia. The UGM-RUG international working conference finally closed after every participant presented their draft paper.

Day 2: UGM-RUG International Working Conference on Regional and National Approaches Toward Sustainable Development Goals in Southeast Asia and ASEAN

The second day of UGM-RUG international working conference on October 4th 2017 was opened by Prof. Dr. Ronald Holzhacker draft paper presentation the relation of multi-level governance and the sustainable development goals. Taking concern on how some persistence issues and also some unfinished agenda from the MDGs, Prof. Dr. Ronald Holzacker then point out at the problem when one issues is tent to be covered by more than one ministry in a country, meanwhile the coordination between the ministries is not good. Prof. Dr. Ronald Holzacker then proposed a solution with multi-level governance approach that would create better coordination between ministries on a specific issues, so the SDGs can be accomplished.

The second presenter is Prof. Ir. Bakti Setiawan MA., PhD from Indonesia. He presented his draft paper, Indonesian Responses toward Goals Number 11: The New Urban Ageda – Habitat 3, which discussed about the gab of the concept of SDGs goal number 11 and the concept of Habitat 3 in order to come up with a better idea in how to design the future urban life.

Protecting Rights of Construction Workers to Safe Working Condition in the Course of Economic Boom: Lesson Learned from Cambodia was the third draft paper that had been presented by Kimsan Soy. Triggered by the fact that the construction worker does not have an employment contact, which mean construction worker does not protected by Cambodia Labor Law, Kimsam Soy explored the possibility in using external resource mobilization to raise the issue so then Cambodia government would acknowledge the issue.

UGM-RUG International Working Conference on Regional and National Approaches Toward Sustainable Development Goals in Southeast Asia and ASEAN Day 1

ASEAN Studies Center, Universitas Gadjah Mada and the Groningen Research Centre for Southeast Asia and ASEAN, University of Groningen, organized international working conference on regional and national approaches toward sustainable development goals in Southeast Asia and ASEAN. The conference was opened by welcoming message from Dr. Dafri Agussalim, MA, as the Director of ASEAN Studies Center, Dr. Poppy Sulistyaning Winanti as the Vice Dean of Faculty of Social and Political Science, and also Prof. Ronald Holzhacker as the representation from Groningen Research Centre for Southeast Asia and ASEAN, University of Groningen. Some of the keynote from the welcoming message are the strengthening collaboration between two institutions, the importance of the event, and also the significant contribution that can be made when the output of the international working conference could be published.

There were five session of draft paper presentation from five international working conference participants. The first draft paper presenter was Prof. Julio Teehanke from Philippines with the draft paper title is Measures of Accountability: Monitoring Sustainable Development Target 16.6 in the Philippines using Varieties of Democracy Data. Towards Quality Education: Capacity Building for the Academic Community in Cambodia and Laos then presented second by Dr. Azirah Binti Hashim from Malaysia. The next presenter was Dr. Ulrich Karl Rotthoff from Philippines with that discuss Human Rights and Development: The Philippine Case in the International Context. The forth presenter was Dr. Maharani Hapsari from Indonesia with the title of the drat paper is Reinscribing Space for Citizenship: Grassroots Communities, Sustainable Development Goals and Water Governance in Indonesia. Then the last presenter for the first day of the international working conference was Dr. Dafri Agussalim, MA, with the title Localising Sustainable Development Goals: Assessing Indonesian Compliance toward the Global Goals. After each session of draft paper presentation, there was Q&A session that was aimed to evaluate the draft paper that later on would be revised then published as the output of the international working conference.

Following this international working conference, there would be another international working conference as the continuation of today conference and is scheduled to take place in October 2018 in Brussels at the Holland House along with the publication of the book as the final output of research collaboration.


To protect migrant workers, Indonesia should engage multiple stakeholders

ASEAN Studies Center UGM held the seventh Bincang ASEAN which discusses some problems that Indonesian migrant workers face in several countries. This discussion is triggered by the recent problems regarding the migrants’ workers. Ezka Amalia, a postgraduate student at Nagoya University, Japan, began the discussion by examining the history of the women migrant workers and the problem they face on a daily basis. She addresses the problems surrouding labor migration in the region, such as the feminization of migration and worker’s rights’ fulfillment, in which the workers mostly became the vulnerable due to their role as a low-skilled labor.

Asia is the region with the largest number of domestic workers, with Indonesia, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka being the largest sender country. According to the ILO 2013 data, migrant domestic workers are vulnerable to long hours (99%), not covered by workers law (61%), and do not have weekly resting rights (97%). Most of the problem originated from the lack of knowledge regarding the right of works in the respective countries.

Ezka noted that most of the governments are still focused on controlling the migrants labor instead of protecting the migrant labor rights. Female migrant workers are not a citizen (in the recipient country). On the other words, they are marginalized citizens, which makes the recipient’s countries feel no need in addressing the problems immediately. There is also a heated debate as to whether Hong Kong government (which is autonomous from the mainland China) and the agency should fulfill the rights of migrant workers, which is yet to reach a conclusion. Women migrant workers have yet to understand their guaranteed rights in employment law.

Ezka also highlighted the nature of the migration of transnational female workers, which is accompanied by advocacy activities by NGOs and trade unions. She said that it needs to be involve all of the international actors working in this issue. Therefore, a transnational perspective is needed in looking at the issue of the protection of female migrant workers

To date, the advancement towards the protection of the migrant’s workers are being made; the advocacy from the NGO namely Migrant CARE and a workers union, in Hongkong, for example, the women migrant workers formed Indonesian Migrant Workers Union (IMWU). She conclude that the protections of migrant workers still needs to be put into the heart of Indonesian government’s program abroad.  

ASEAN Studies Center Introduced at Groningen Fall Conference on Challenges of Governance in Southeast Asia and ASEAN

On Tuesday (12/9), M. Prayoga Permana and Dio Herdiawan Tobing, introduced ASEAN Studies Center (ASC) Universitas Gadjah Mada and its the newly established cooperation with Groningen Research Centre on Southeast Asia (SEA ASEAN) and ASEAN at the Centre’s Fall Conference on Challenges of Governance in Southeast Asia and ASEAN.

The conference was opened by an introductory speech from Prof. dr. Ronald Holzacker, the Executive Director of SEA ASEAN, noting that the aim of the conference was to present research findings of the centre’s Ph.D candidates whose research are surrounding most up-to-date topics of governance in Southeast Asia.

The conference was attended by the Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, I Gusti Agung Wesaka Puja and the Embassy’s Education and Cultural Attache, Bambang Hari Wibisono.

Furthermore, the conference was divided into three tracks, which consists of Economic Challenges to Development in Southeast Asia and Regional Integration, Spatial Challenges to Development in Southeast Asia, and Political, Social, and Legal Challenges to Development in Southeast Asia and Regional Integration.

In the conference, M. Prayoga Permana, the Former Director of ASC and Lecturer at the Department of Public Policy and Management UGM began his presentation by explaining how the two universities agreed initiate collaboration in the field of research, conferences, and student exchanges.

Following his presentation, Dio Herdiawan Tobing, ASC’s Former Research Manager and currently LL.M Student in Leiden University, introduced the ongoing projects initiated by both research centers. He pointed, “we are currently working on a research project covering the ASEAN haze agreement in Southeast Asia, an international working conference which will be held next month, and a book launch which scheduled to happen in November 2018″.

The international working conference will carry a theme of Regional and National Approaches toward the Sustainable Development Goals in Southeast Asia and ASEAN, taking place at the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, Universitas Gadjah Mada on 3-5 October 2017.

Lastly, the conference was then followed by presentations from SEA ASEAN’s Ph.D. candidates in regards to their dissertation research findings.


AYIEP Participants Learn from Asian Start-Ups

After joining International Seminar on  ASEAN 50th Anniversary at the 1st day, the ASEAN Youth Initiative Empowerment Program (AYIEP) continues by presenting two public lectures from young, creative digital entrepreneurs. Mr Alfatih Timur (also renowned as Timmy), the founder of –the first Indonesian digital crowdfunding platform—shared his experience alongside Mr Makshud Manik, the founder of, a Bangladeshi platform for youth opportnities information.

In the first session, Mr Timmy shared his experience by introducing his crowdfunding initiative to Indonesian digital audience since 2013. “We created a platform to help people who need financial assistance by facilitating campaign in digital media. It succeeds with many campaigns funded even exceed 100% of their proposed target”, said Timmy in front of 24 AYIEP participants.

A former student activist at the University of Indonesia, Timmy’s achievement has been acknowledged by Kompas, the most prominent Indonesian newspaper, and Forbes. His initiative was also endorsed by Professor Rhenald Kasali, his mentor and Professor of Business at the University of Indonesia.

Timmy also expanded his digital charity to help people abroad, including Rohingya.  “As long as there are initiatives, we are keen to help”, said Timmy.

The second session presents Mr Makshud Manik, the co-founder of He provided platform for Asian youths to share information of opportunities, such as; conference, workshop, and summer schools.

“We are fortunate to have Indonesia and ASEAN as the biggest viewer of our website”, said Makshud, who also works as a Senior Researcher for Dhaka-based think-tank Institute for Policy  Advocacy and Governance (IPAG).

With emerging global connectivity, ASEAN remains one of the biggest shareholder in world market. “It should be responded by digital innovation, which saw ASEAN as a growing user in the latest decade”, said Makshud.

He also addressed some challenges for digital innovation. “We also face the emergence of both deep webs and dark webs, which oftenly misused digital platform for transnational crime. Our innovation try to encounter these trends by providing access and opportunities for young people”, Makshud added.

The ASEAN Youth Initiative Empowerment Program was held from 23-29 July 2017. The short course program includes series of Public Lectures, Seminars, Working Groups and recommendation drafting session which aimed to enhance global and regional connectivity.

Ambassador Ong Keng Yong: Digital Transformation is the Future of ASEAN Integration

ASEAN’s 50th anniversary should be addressed by nurturing digital integration, says H.E. Ambassador Ong Keng Yong, former ASEAN Secretary-General in FISIPOL UGM  (27/7).

Speaking as a Keynote Speaker at an International Seminar held by ASEAN Studies Center UGM, Ambassador Ong highlights the importance of ICT development in future ASEAN integration, which has been set up since his tenure as ASEAN Secretary General.

“Today we face rapid technological development following the rise of ICT platforms in the region, particularly in Indonesia. ASEAN needs to foster digital innovation and strengthen local economies through digital platform,” said Ambassador Ong.

He highlights the progress that has been advanced in ASEAN since early 2000s, which involved the creation of ASEAN ICT Masterplan and other regional policy frameworks in tackling digital divide.

“ASEAN is indeed not perfect, but we are keep progressing and ASEAN is the only regional organisation we have now”, said Ambassador Ong.

The International Seminar on ASEAN’s 50th Annivesary was held in conjunction with the 2nd ASEAN Youth Initiative Empowerment Program (AYIEP), an annual program by ASEAN Studies Center UGM to foster social awareness among ASEAN youths. The program is held from 23-29 July 2017 in Yogyakarta, following the success of the 1st AYIEP in August 2016.

Several prominent figures in ASEAN are invited to deliver speech and lectures. Besides Ambassador Ong, the speakers are Ambassador Djauhari Oratmangun, Senior Adviser for Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Mr. Stuart Shaw (Political Counsellor at Canadian Mission to ASEAN), Alfatih Timur (Founder and CEO of, and Makshud Manik (Founder of Ambassador Foster Gultom (Senior Official at the Directorate-General for ASEAN Cooperation) and Dr. Poppy S Winanti (Vice Dean of FISIPOL UGM) were also present to chair the sessions.

There are 24 participants from neighbouring ASEAN countries and outside the region who participate  at the Program, including from Vietnam, Phillippines, Japan, Egypt, and Indonesia. Several exchange students from African countries also joined the program. They will exchange ideas at Working Groups and visit some digital hubs in Yogyakarta as a part of the program.


Bincang ASEAN Discusses EU and ASEAN Model of Integration

ASEAN Studies Center UGM held the sixth meeting of Bincang ASEAN in Friday (19/5), which invited Prof. Janos Vandor (Professor at Budapest Business School) and Suraj Shah (Graduate Student at King’s College University of London) to share interesting views on whether on European Union can serve as an integration model for ASEAN as there has been several attempts to achieve integration outside of Europe, including ASEAN. However, how do EU model integration suits ASEAN?

Shah Suraj begin the discussion by examining the Varieties of Capitalism Approach (VoC) applied by EU and ASEAN. Suraj pointed out ASEAN and EU has a different path to select related to VoC. EU develops supranational institutions that suit a Liberal Market Economies (LME), whereas ASEAN develops intergovernmental institutions that suit a Co-ordinated Market Economies (CME). Reviewing the condition of ASEAN recently, Prof Janos Vandor from Budapest Business School who paid a visit to ASEAN Studies Centre added that EU and ASEAN develops a different political will. ASEAN shows no indication of sovereignty sharing and a high chance of competitiveness within the members — a striking contrast to EU.

Recapitulating the international political economy, EU and ASEAN shares different mechanism. To enforce the mechanism, EU established European Parliement and European Courts which determine all member states to adhere to this and can not pursue their own bilateral agenda. While, ASEAN constructs ASEAN centrality that allows members to engage outside of the region, and make their own trading agreements on a bilateral level.

Suraj also mentioned that so long as ASEAN maintains the institutional form of the ASEAN Way, there is no way to enforce or socialise system coordination or institutional complementarity that would allow for supranational integration. In conclusion, Prof Vandor and Suraj agreed that ASEAN must find its own path towards integration based on its institutional form as a limited access order and economic model of a coordinated market.