Political Elites in Southeast Asia

  • William Case


Colonial-era tutelage is often hypothesized as unifying relations between local elites and stabilizing politics along at least semi-democratic lines. This chapter argues, however, that in Southeast Asia, far more strongly determinative than colonial experience are the crises that such experience can subsequently give rise to, creating elite-level divisions and regimes that are unstable, undemocratic, or both. To show this, while analysis touches on most countries in Southeast Asia, the chapter focuses on the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia. Though Thailand was never formally colonized, national elites learned much from the British and French colonial powers that operated around it. In addition, Malaysia demonstrates that ethnic “pillarization,” far from mitigating elite divisions and unstable democracy, can exacerbate tensions and trigger authoritarian backlash.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • William Case
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Nottingham Malaysia CampusSemenyihMalaysia

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