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Asia's Rocky Road to Democracy

For the latest edition of The Edge Review, I take a look at the recent setbacks to democracy in Southeast Asia, from the perspective of a reporter who has been watching the democratic trends since the late 1980s.  Let me know what you think in the comments section below.

©The Edge Review

The rocky road to democracy

By Keith B. Richburg

Comments

This year is the 25th anniversary of Tiananmen, and many seasoned journalists have pointed out their frustration that not much has changed in China and Southeast Asia since then. I find it fascinating how much journalistic attention is paid to the fight for democracy in Hong Kong and Asia, to the near exclusion of the struggle to preserve the deteriorating democracies of the West.
Last month's standoff between police and Occupy Democracy protesters in London's Parliament Square is one illustrative example, seeing as it has received no attention whatsoever. This is not to mention the demonstrations against police force militarization that have popped up around the country since Ferguson.

Last year, research published by Martin Gilens of Princeton found that economic elites and organised groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence. In other words, the wealthy few move policy, while the average American has little to no power. The Obama administration's crusade against whistleblowers like Snowden, Assange, and Manning sends a message to young people like myself that speaking out against corruption and government abuse of power is not welcome.

Although it might feel better to lament Asia's lack of progress in enacting democratic reforms, I believe we should broaden the scope of the discussion to also include the increasingly pathetic state of democracy in our own backyards.

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Sounds of Silence in Bangkok

Last time in this space, I wrote about the student-led pro-democracy protests, a piece that originally appeared in The Washington Post's Outlook section.  But writing that piece made me think about the relative lack of any kind of public protest here in Thailand, against last May's military coup.  I decided to tackle that theme in the most recent edition of The Edge Review, the digital magazine I write for.  Here's my take;

©The Edge Review

The sound of silence

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China's false promises to Hong Kong (Washington Post article)

I wrote a piece for the Oct 4 Outlook Section of The Washington Post, in which I lay out how the roots of the current protests in Hong Kong go back to China's vague promises during the Handover period -- promises China never intended to keep.  Here's my piece from The Post; tell me what you think in the comments section below.

 

Copyright: © The Washington Post

Comments

Fascinated 1/3 of the way through out of America. Thank you.

Thank you, John. Let me know what you think when you finish!
Keith

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