This research aimed to make a comparative analysis on how political leaders in four Southeast Asian countries managed and responded to the 'transitional crisis' caused by the dual pressures of democratization/liberalization and globalization/marketiza ...
This research aimed to make a comparative analysis on how political leaders in four Southeast Asian countries managed and responded to the 'transitional crisis' caused by the dual pressures of democratization/liberalization and globalization/marketization in the late 20th century. The East Asian economic crisis in 1997 brought up the serious 'transitional crisis' such as globalization and marketization. This research studied countermeasures the four leaders adopted to overcome the crisis. The research conducted case studies and comparative studies of the political leadership in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines hit by the crisis most severely.
The research avoided conventional methodology surveying static leadership in a stable phase. Instead, it attempted to analyze the role of political leadership in transition and its interactions with political changes. Particularly, we emphasize following key points: (1) 'human factors' such as characteristics, academic background, gender, and family background of the political leaders to figure out the relationship between different responses to the crisis and leadership styles; (2) dynamic interaction between leaders and followers, staying away from elitist methodology; (3) the capacity of leadership that brings about political changes, not a simple ruling techniques of political leaders. This research employed following research methods: (1) multidimensional comparative research by comparing the countries, let alone comparison of different political leaders in a country; (2) field research to produce research result strongly based on empirical footing.
In the four Southeast Asian countries, a creative leadership was required to meet the two urgent goals - economic recovery and political reform. This new leadership had to hit a balance between transformation and transaction in the framework of concentration and fragmentation. The detailed approaches differed country by country. In Thailand where the crisis originated, Prime Minister Thaksin, a boss of conglomerate, emerged and showed 'entrepreneurial political leadership'. He built an extensive patron-client linkage in business sector and rural area to mobilize supports. This was a mix of developmental state and entrepreneurial management. Indonesia was infected by the financial crisis from Thailand. Megawati, Seokarno’s daughter, succeeded to seize the power with fanatic popular support through the politics of motherhood and silence. Her leadership enabled economic recovery and political reform, concluding democratic transition. She, however, could not renew political endorsement, because of inefficient political communication and collusion of the corrupt elites. In the Philippines, people power always accompanied with woman presidents. Thus, it hints us a relationship between crisis and woman leadership. Although their leadership of Aquino and Arroyo based on kinship political culture is different from the western woman leadership in the sense that they are, it reflects social changes of the Philippines such development of women's political participation and visible class-politics. Mahathir in Malaysia succeeded power to Abdullah Badawi to seek a way out of the crisis. In spite of the weak power base, compromising and rational Abdullah Badawi attempted to liquidate Mahathir's legacy.
The four Southeast Asian leaders had different types of leadership such as entrepreneurial leadership, grand coalition and politics of motherhood, women political leadership, and managerial leadership, but they had a common view that closed authoritarian regime is no longer sustainable. Contrarily, they are of a view that democratization or liberalization including wider political participation was increasingly inevitable.