Category Archives: South-East Asia

Election Boycott will Weaken Thailand’s Democrat Party and the PDRC

Anti-government protesters attend a rally outside Government House on December 9, 2013 in Bangkok, Thailand. Photo credit: Sira Anamwong.

Anti-government protesters attend a rally outside Government House on December 9, 2013 in Bangkok, Thailand. Photo credit: Sira Anamwong.

Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 1, No. 8, December 2013.

By Anders Corr, Ph.D.

Thailand’s opposition Democrat Party, as well as the supporting People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) protest movement, will weaken due to strategic missteps of boycotting elections and attempting to block other parties from registering with Thailand’s electoral commission. It should be obvious that elections and elected position are a potent source of influence for both political parties and social movements. Boycotting elections invariably backfires as a strategy because it increases distance between the challenger who wields the strategy, and the electoral source of influence. Election boycotts led to landslide victories for incumbents in Trinidad and Tobago (1971), Jamaica (1983), Burkina Faso (1991), Ghana (1992), Togo (1993), Ethiopia (1994), Mali (1997), Algeria (1999), Gambia (2002), Guinea (2003), Azerbaijan (2003), Iraq (2005) and Venezuela (2005). The incumbent also won the boycotted 3 April 2006 elections in Thailand. These were later invalidated and followed by a coup, resulting in the instability that continues in Thailand today. As in prior boycotts, expect the incumbent political party, in this case Prime Minister Shinawatra’s Pheu Thai, to take advantage of the challenger’s absence to consolidate the Pheu Thai’s parliamentary majority and public image. Expect increased dissatisfaction among the opposition and military, and resulting political instability.1 Continue reading

  1. Horowitz, Donald. Ethnic Groups in Conflict. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1985, p. 327; New York Times, “Jamaica election boycott,” 11/29/1983.; Frankel, Matthew. “Threaten but participate: why election boycotts are a bad idea.” Brookings Policy Paper #19, March 2010. Washington, DC: Brookings Institute.

Chinese Political and Economic Influence in the Philippines: Implications for Alliances and the South China Sea Dispute

Figure 1: China and Philippines: Military Expenditure and Energy Use, 1989-2011

Figure 1: China and Philippines: Military Expenditure and Energy Use, 1989-2011. Shortly after most US forces left the Philippines in 1991-2, Chinese military expenditure and activity in the South China Sea increased dramatically. Data source: Correlates of War Project.

Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 1, No. 3, July 2013.

By Anders S. Corr, Ph.D., and Priscilla A. Tacujan, Ph.D.

The Philippine government is constitutionally required to craft an independent foreign policy, but it must accelerate cooperation with foreign powers to do so effectively.  China’s growing militarization and energy consumption are fast out-pacing the meager military spending and energy consumption of the Philippines (See Figure 1). This makes China, more so than the Philippines, willing to risk military conflict over disputed energy resources, fishing areas, and transportation routes in the South China Sea. Continue reading

Protectionist clauses in the Philippine Constitution restrict foreign direct investment

Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 1, No. 1, May 2013.

Asia Foreign Direct Investment, 2003-2012.

Asia Foreign Direct Investment, 2003-2012.

Author: Priscilla Tacujan, Ph.D.

With the investment-grade credit rating granted by Fitch Ratings in March, an improved international business reputation, and sound fiscal management, the Philippines is poised to become the next foreign direct investment (FDI) destination of Asia.  Other conditions for a robust investment climate are in place: a large market, skilled human capital, youthful population, and strategic location that connects population centers across Asia. Also, the Philippines is increasingly open to international trade. By 2015, Southeast Asia will have the advantage of a single market through the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Economic Community (ASEAN).  According to data provided in the World Economic Forum’s Global Enabling Trade Report 2012, the country’s macroeconomic fundamentals are strong, making it attractive to at least a fraction of the foreign investors concerned over the Euro crisis.

Despite the improvement in the Philippine investment climate, the Philippine Constitution (1987) still has an antiquated article that supports laws restricting foreign ownership of property to 40% (Article XII), with minor adjustments and deviations by subsequent legislation. Removing the clause, and improving access and protections of foreign-owned business, would lead to a quantum leap in FDI and Philippine economic growth. Small changes to legislation are not enough. The Constitution needs to be changed in order to fully welcome foreign investors to the Philippines. Continue reading

Philippine Growth Prospects: Shopping Malls as Positive Indicator

By Priscilla Tacujan, Ph.D.

The Mall of Asia, in Manila, Philippines, is the 4th-largest shopping mall in the world. Photo credit: Ivan Tykhy, 2012.

The Mall of Asia, in Manila, Philippines, is the 4th-largest shopping mall in the world. Photo credit: Ivan Tykhy, 2012.

Just a few years ago, the Philippines was dubbed as “the sick man of Asia.”  Today, it is a regional star, with its stellar economic performance at 6.6% in 2012, coming second only to China’s 7.8%.  Standard & Poor’s (S&P) elevated the country’s credit rating from “stable” to “positive,” and may, according to the Philippine Finance Minister, soon get an investment grade that will enable it to attract even more foreign direct investment (FDI).  Likewise, the World Bank has for the third time upgraded the country’s growth forecast.  Its stock market is one of the best performers in the region.  According to HSBC estimates, if current trends hold up, the Philippines by 2050 can become the 16th largest economy in the world, a giant leap from its current ranking of 44th.

Private investments, especially in the retail industry, are creating major contributions to the country’s economic success, including the modest shopping mall.  Shopping malls are proliferating in towns and cities far beyond Metro Manila.  According to data provided by the Philippine Retailers Association, shopping malls account for about 15% of the country’s GNP and 33% of the entire services sector.  They employ about 18% of the Philippine labor force, translating into about 5.25 million employed Filipinos. Continue reading