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The Military and Democracy in Asia and the Pacific

The Military and Democracy in Asia and the Pacific OPEN ACCESS

R.J. May
Viberto Selochan
Copyright Date: 2004
Published by: ANU Press
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  • Book Info
    The Military and Democracy in Asia and the Pacific
    Book Description:

    In The Military and Democracy in Asia and the Pacific, a number of prominent regional specialists take a fresh look at the military's changing role in selected countries of Asia and the Pacific, particularly with regard to the countries' performance against criteria of democratic government. Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Burma, Pakistan, Bangladesh, South Korea, Fiji and Papua New Guinea all fall under the spotlight as the authors examine the role which the military has played in bringing about changes of political regime, and in resisting pressures for change. Under the auspices of The Australian National University's Department of Political and Social Change, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, and within the context of the Regime Change and Regime Maintenance in Asia and the Pacific project, the following contributors compiled The Military and Democracy in Asia and the Pacific: Emajuddin Ahamed, Suchit Bunbongkarn, Stephanie Lawson, R. J. May, Hasan-Askari Rizvi, Viberto Selochan, Josef Silverstein, Michael Vatikiotis and Yung Myung Kim. The Military and Democracy in Asia and the Pacific provides a sequel to Viberto Selochan's earlier collection, The Military, the State, and Development in Asia and the Pacific (1991).

    eISBN: 978-1-920942-00-7
    Subjects: Political Science
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Table of Contents

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  1. R.J. May, Stephanie Lawson and Viberto Selochan

    From the processes of decolonisation which dominated the political history of Africa, Asia and the island Pacific in the mid twentieth century, most post-colonial states emerged with constitutional structures inherited from, or at least heavily influenced by, the Western democratic models of former colonial powers. Among the principal general features of such constitutions were: separation of the legislature, executive and judiciary; popularly-elected legislatures in which competitive political party systems were expected to provide the basis for a division between government and opposition; and the subservience of the military (whose primary role was generally seen to lie in defending the country...

  2. Michael R.J. Vatikiotis

    At the close of the 1980s, Indonesia’s military was in a state of flux. Over a decade of declining political fortunes for an institution considered the fulcrum of President Suharto’s New Order regime was generating something of an identity crisis. Yet as the political edifice which the military helped erect in the mid 1960s showed signs of age and decline, the military moved awkwardly to adapt its image and role in order to preserve its perceived position as the principal body in the political constellation. In doing so, new interpretations of the civil-military relationship evolved.

    To understand the Armed Forces...

  3. Suchit Bunbongkarn

    A stable democracy requires public commitment to democratic norms and procedures, a strong and institutionalised party system, and active pressure groups. Such conditions have yet to be fully developed in Thailand. Since the ending of absolute monarchical rule in 1932, the fragility of representative institutions and public political apathy have allowed the military to take control of state power. Over the past sixty years the struggle for power between men in uniform and civilian politicians has been reflected in a series of coups and continued military control of the state. The armed forces have been concerned not only with national...

  4. Viberto Selochan

    On 4 July 1946 the US granted independence to the Philippines, in keeping with its promise of self-determination for the islands after a period of Commonwealth administration. The Philippines thus became the first independent democratic country in Asia. During its colonial administration the US had encouraged the development of political parties, though the two major parties which developed differed little in ideology – the main differences concerning their attitudes to US administration of the islands.

    At independence the Philippines political system was modelled on that of the United States, where the constitution required the armed forces to uphold civilian supremacy....

  5. Josef Silverstein

    The decade of the l990s opened with the people cautiously hoping for change in the future of Burma. After twenty-eight years of military rule, in one guise or another, many were optimistic that the 1990 scheduled elections would begin a process by which they would recover power and restore democracy.

    Almost from the day they regained their independence from British rule in 1948, their nation has been torn by civil war, which persists to this day, foreign invasion and slow economic recovery from the devastation wrought by World War II. The people were sorely tested in 1988 when they demonstrated...

  6. Hasan Askari Rizvi

    Pakistan can be described as a praetorian state where the military has acquired the capability, will, and sufficient experience to dominate the core political institutions and processes. As the political forces are disparate and weak, the military’s disposition has a strong impact on the course of political change, including the transfer of power from one set of the elite to another. Such an expanded role is at variance with the traditions and temperament of the military at the time of independence in 1947.

    The Pakistan military inherited the British tradition of civilian supremacy over the military, aloofness from active politics,...

  7. Emajuddin Ahamed

    Bangladesh is at a crossroads in its march towards democratic order. Though it started its political journey with a parliamentary system after independence, it failed to sustain it; slowly but steadily the parliamentary government degenerated into an authoritarian system. As Bangladesh completes its twenty years of independence it also completes thirteen years of military rule or governments dominated by the military.

    In late 1990, however, the political situation altered dramatically. Autocratic rule was ultimately defeated by a popular uprising, and General Ershad had to resign. Under the close supervision of a caretaker government headed by Chief Justice Shahabuddin Ahmed, installed...

  8. Yung Myung Kim

    The role of the military in South Korean politics poses some interesting questions for the study of civil-military relations in developing societies. The military has dominated Korean politics for an unusually long period of time – nearly thirty years. On the other hand, recent trends towards democracy in Korea appear to be more deeply entrenched historically than in many other recently democratised polities, especially those in Latin America. This chapter attempts to clarify some more obvious issues related to these characteristics of civil-military relations and democratic transition in South Korea (hereafter Korea). Specific issues to be addressed include: the nature...

  9. Stephanie Lawson

    Like many former British colonies, Fiji inherited a form of Westminster parliamentary government. The ‘parent model’ was modified to the extent that it incorporated a number of provisions designed to secure a special position for indigenous Fijians vis-à-vis the Fiji Indian community. This deviation from modern democratic norms was meant to stabilise Fiji’s ‘plural society’ by ensuring equal representation in the House of Representatives for the two major ethnic groups. For the first seventeen years following independence it seemed that this model had achieved broad acceptance by most parts of the polity. During this time, the office of government was...

  10. R.J. May

    On the eve of Papua New Guinea‘s independence, achieved in 1975, there was much speculation about the future prospects for democracy in this Pacific island state. As an Australian-administered territory, Papua New Guinea had been brought towards independence within a solid Westminster tradition. National elections had been conducted since 1964 (though the early parliaments tended to be dominated by members appointed by the colonial administration); a Papua New Guinean chief minister had led the government since 1972; tentative attempts had been made to foster the growth of political parties; and the traditions of an independent judiciary and a professional public...