Advantage China, as democracy slides from view in Southeast Asia

As Myanmar’s dark era of junta rule began winding down in 2011 with the bold reforms initiated by the quiet ex-general, President Thein Sein, other events happening across Southeast Asia gave reformists hope this was not an isolated instance of democratic progress.
That year, Yingluck Shinawatra romped to a landslide election victory in Thailand, bringing the populist movement founded by her brother Thaksin – toppled as prime minister by a military coup and forced into exile five years earlier – back into power. In the Philippines, Benigno Aquino, son of two democracy icons, was a year into a presidential term following a victorious campaign against his scandal-riddled predecessor Joseph Estrada.
Even in the relatively staid politics of Singapore, there was movement in the democracy-meter in 2011: riding on a wave of discontent over immigration, the tiny opposition made historic gains against the iron-fisted People’s Action Party.

Bhavan Jaipragas