Recent Question/Assignment

Southeast Asia
minding the gap between
democracy and governance
Donald K. Emmerson
Donald K. Emmerson is director of the Southeast Asia Forum at the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center at Stanford University. He is the author most recently of “The Problem and Promise of Focality in World Affairs,” in Strategic Review: The Indonesian Journal of Leadership, Policy, and World Affairs (2011).
The eleven countries of Southeast Asia vary widely by type of regime and quality of governance. Those that are the most democratic are not always the best governed, and the reverse is also true. Recently in these pages, an essay about Indonesian democracy cautioned against confusing the quality of democracy with the quality of governance.1 Anyone who has traveled on the London Underground, or used mass transit in Singapore or Hong Kong, will have read a sign saying “MIND THE GAP.” This admonition to “mind the gap” is helpful when considering the relationship between democracy and good governance in Southeast Asia.
Based on evidence from these countries, this essay explores two propositions—one normative, the other empirical. The normative argument is this: Good things ought to go together. Because democracy is more humane than dictatorship, democracy in Southeast Asia should also do a better job delivering security, welfare, and other public goods. The empirical argument, whose validity would bolster the normative one, is this: Good things do go together.
To the extent that a polity is democratic and the quality of governance is high, other things being equal, democracy is more likely to be legitimated and institutionalized. Conversely, if governance is poor in a democratic polity, the legitimacy—and thus the future—of democracy is more likely to be jeopardized. The same logic would apply to the legitimation and institutionalization of authoritarian regimes. Good governance in an autocratic polity would strengthen authoritarian rule, just as bad governance would weaken it.
Journal of Democracy Volume 23, Number 2 April 2012
© 2012 National Endowment for Democracy and The Johns Hopkins University Press
The empirical proposition implicates the normative one. If a democratic regime provides worse governance than an authoritarian one, the moral case for democracy is harder to make absolutely. To the extent that an authoritarian regime effectively fosters life-enhancing outcomes for its population, a relativist might argue, the ethical case against autocracy should be reconsidered—not abandoned necessarily, but qualified to take performance into account. On the other hand, if more democracy and better governance really do go together, if good governance is necessarily democratic and democracies necessarily govern well, then the moral argument is empirically vindicated. The advice to “mind the gap” between democracy and governance makes sense only if the gap exists.
The analytical separation of democracy from governance begins with the specification of terms. Two decisions are crucial. First, the scope of democracy must be limited to the political process and its openness to inputs from society, leaving governance to denote the performance of ruling authority and its outcomes for society. Second, accountability must be considered an aspect of democracy and not of governance. An effective official performance need not be accountable, either vertically through elections or horizontally by balancing executive, legislative, and judicial powers, but an unaccountable government cannot be democratic. To make accountability a requirement of both “good democracy” and “good governance” would prevent their analytic separation. That separation is further served here by construing democracy as more or less liberal and governance as more or less effective, in keeping with my understanding of how these variables are measured, respectively, by
Freedom House and the World Bank, whose data are used here.2
Deng Xiaoping’s Cat
Indonesia was the sole country in Southeast Asia that Freedom House ranked as Free in 20103—or, in my terms, as more liberally democratic than any other state in the region. Of the ten other Southeast Asian countries, five were classified as Partly Free (Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Timor-Leste) and five as Not Free (Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam). Freedom House also designated three countries as “electoral democracies”: Indonesia, the Philippines, and Timor-Leste. These are useful taxonomies, but they combine into a few large bundles what for my purpose here must be disaggregated and reconceived as a spectrum of incremental gradations.
Those gradations were obtained for the measure of liberal democracy simply by adding the component Freedom House score for 2010 that each Southeast Asian country received on civil liberties (from 1 to 7, best to worst) to the score that it received on political rights (similarly 1 to 7, best to worst) in order to create a scale from most to least liberal-democratic (2 to 14, best to worst) along which all eleven countries could be ranked. On this continuum, Burma was the region’s least liberal-democratic country, with the worst possible combined score of 14 (7 on political rights plus 7 on civil liberties). No Southeast Asian country was a full-fledged liberal democracy. Indonesia did better than any of its neighbors, but its score of 5 fell short of perfection on both political rights (at 2) and civil liberties (at 3). The region’s remaining states were distributed between these extremes.
Thinking in gradations along two separate variables does complicate the analysis. If a government is neither fully democratic nor wholly undemocratic, how can we be sure that when it engages in better governance, and thereby improves the lot of its people, the legitimacy of democracy will benefit? The answer depends on the extent to which accountability is a feature of the political process in question. The less accountable a nevertheless effective government is, the more convincingly can its leaders keep democracy at bay by arguing, however speciously, that political competition would only undermine performance. A government that is both accountable and effective, on the other hand, can be rewarded at the polls, further validating democratic rule.
Note the dilemma faced by someone who wants to see more countries become more democratic—a democratist. If, as I argue, good governance tends to legitimate the regime under which it occurs, regardless of how democratic or autocratic that regime may be, should the democratist wish for bad governance in the five Not Free countries of Southeast Asia in the hope that these regimes will thereby lose legitimacy and be replaced by democracies? Or should the democratist hope instead that better governance in such places will somehow stimulate public demand for a government that is not only effective but also accountable? Or should the democratist yield to the pragmatist, for whom the effectiveness of a regime (what it manages to accomplish) is more important than whether or not it is democratic? Such a pragmatist would have no qualms about wanting a Not Free state to do the right things—ensuring security, spreading education, protecting health, and raising welfare. One can even imagine such a results-focused person quoting Deng Xiaoping’s famous remark: “I don’t care if it’s a white cat or a black cat.
It’s a good cat as long as it catches mice.”
Two aspects of the pragmatist’s position warrant emphasis: It is disconnective in distinguishing effective governance as a matter of performance outcomes from democratic governance as a matter of participant inputs; and it is instrumental in making approval of democracy conditional on proof of its ability to deliver public goods. These viewpoints stand in contrast, respectively, to a connective understanding of good governance as necessarily democratic, and to an intrinsic conception of democracy as a naturally superior end-in-itself.
The Table below is disconnective. It ranks the countries of Southeast
Asia from the best to the worst (1 to 11) in the region along two vari-
Table—liberal Democracy anD effecTive Governance in
SouTheaST aSia: rankinGS for 2010
Country Liberal
Democracy (LD) Effective
Governance (EG) The Gap (LD minus EG)
Timor-Leste 3 10 -7.0
Indonesia 1 6 -5.0
Philippines 2 5 -3.0
Cambodia 7.5 8 -0.5
Burma (Myanmar) 11 11 0.0
Laos 10 9 +1.0
Thailand 5.5 4 +1.5
Malaysia 4 2 +2.0
Vietnam 9 7 +2.0
Brunei 7.5 3 +4.5
Singapore 5.5 1 +4.5
Note and sources: To ensure the comparability of the rankings across columns, countries whose summary scores were tied were assigned identical fractional ranks. For the scores underlying the rankings, see Freedom House, “Table of Independent Countries,” Freedom in the World 2011, 12–16; and World Bank Group, “Worldwide Governance Indicators,” 2011,
ables: degrees of liberal democracy based on the Freedom House scores and degrees of governmental effectiveness according to the World Bank.
The Table has limitations. Like Freedom House’s trichotomy, it trades subtlety for simplicity. Because it offers a slice in time, not evidence over time, change cannot be inferred from its static contrasts. Its Southeast Asian frame obviates wider generalizations. The patterns that the Table conveys do, nevertheless, warrant notice and interpretation.
By the evidence in the Table, liberal democracy and effective governance do not go hand in hand in Southeast Asia, but neither are they consistently inimical. If they were perfectly and positively related, the sum of the absolute values—the differences, ignoring minus and plus signs—in the last column would be zero. If liberal democracy and effective governance were perfectly and negatively related, that total would be 60. At an actual sum of 31, Southeast Asia is an in-between region.
Timor-Leste, Indonesia, and the Philippines
Although the Table is not about change, we may still speculate about what, in that regard, its column of differences—“The Gap”—might imply. The greater and more negative the gap is for a given country, the larger the gulf between higher-quality democracy and lower-quality governance, and (if other things are equal) the greater the chance of instrumental disappointment—that democracy is not delivering the goods. By this admittedly narrow measure and based on this instrumental logic, democracy would appear to be at greatest risk in TimorLeste.4
Timor-Leste is poised on the cusp between extreme individual poverty and extreme collective wealth. Among Southeast Asian countries, only Burma ranks lower on the Hu man Development Index—a summa-
The disconnect between laudable democracy and underwhelming governance is less severe in Indonesia than in Timor-Leste. ry measure of health, education, and living standards. More than fourfifths of Timor-Leste’s 1.1 million people rely on subsistence agriculture, yet no country depends more on revenue from oil and gas; hy-
drocarbons account for nine-tenths of the republic’s GDP. At the end
of 2011, the Petroleum Fund of Timor-Leste—the country’s nest egg for the future—was worth US$9.3 billion, not to mention anticipated revenues from reserves still beneath the Timor Sea. Stoked by government spending, inflation for 2011 was expected to exceed single digits. Timor-Leste’s ranking on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index worsened between 2010 and 2011, falling from 127th to 143rd.5 (Among Southeast Asian states in 2011, only Laos, Cambodia, and Burma, in that downward order, were seen as more corrupt.)
A presidential election in Timor-Leste was scheduled for March 2012, with a second round in April if needed, followed by parliamentary polls in June. One hopes there will not be a repetition of the factional violence that swept the country in 2006. But if the quality of governance does not improve, Timor-Leste could become a poster child for the resource curse. Overdependence on rents from extraction could distort the economy and undermine democracy as well. If ably and honestly managed, the returns from oil and gas could be used to lift the population from poverty, thereby ensuring stability and preserving a reasonably high-quality democracy. If mismanaged, however, such revenues could disproportionally fatten the accounts of a self-interested elite in Dili, the capital. Should this happen, we might anticipate the eventual rise of an authoritarian populist able to appeal to a populace disillusioned by the instrumental failure of democracy to deliver a better life.
According to the evidence in the Table, the disconnect between laudable democracy and underwhelming governance is less severe in neighboring Indonesia than in Timor-Leste. Nor are resource rents so important. Indonesia’s once-dominant energy sector—oil, gas, and mining—today accounts for a mere tenth of GDP.6 That said, extractive activity still provides ample opportunity for corruption, both nationally and in those parts of the country where mineral wealth is concentrated. Mining is especially controversial in the eastern province of Papua— the site of labor unrest at a huge copper and gold mine, and political unrest linked to a movement for independence from Indonesia.
Aburizal Bakrie is Indonesia’s one-time “king of coal,” although his conglomerate—the Bakrie Group—has also done business in agriculture, banking, construction, insurance, manufacturing, media, real estate, shipping, and trade. His estimated $5.4 billion family fortune in 2007 made him the richest man in Indonesia that year. By 2011, his worth had shrunk to a “mere” $890 million, but that did not stop him from declaring in 2012 his readiness to run for the presidency in 2014.7 As the head of Golkar, the second-largest party in the national legislature, he is his country’s wealthiest politician—a personification of the “money politics” that so many Indonesian democrats lament.
If he does become Golkar’s presidential candidate, he will carry a lot of baggage into the race.8 The Indonesian government bailed out Bakrie after his conglomerate defaulted during the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997–98. When his overleveraged empire again suffered losses during the financial crisis that originated in the United States a decade later, Bakrie pressed the government for a second bailout. Then–finance minister Sri Mulyani, a highly regarded economist who personified good governance, refused. Her investigation of Bakrie for possible tax fraud had already put the two at odds. Bakrie proceeded to mount a political campaign in the legislature, accusing Mulyani of malfeasance in the handling of the financial crisis.
Like Mulyani, Bakrie was at the time a minister in the cabinet of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, whose Democrat Party was— and, technically, still is—allied with Bakrie’s Golkar in the ruling coalition. In 2010, SBY accepted Mulyani’s resignation. She then took up a position with the World Bank in Washington, D.C. If Bakrie was the winner of his battle with Mulyani, arguably the loser was good governance in Indonesia.
In the meantime, Yudhoyono’s campaign to make public authority less corrupt and more effective has lost momentum. He is becoming a lame duck. Elected in 2004 and reelected in 2009, both times by wide margins, he is constitutionally barred from running for a third term in 2014. The reputation for bold reform that he acquired in the earlier years of his presidency has been tarnished by evidence of corruption inside his own party. Human rights have suffered because of his passivity in the face of violent acts of vigilante “justice” perpetrated by militant Islamists against religious minorities.
In January 2012, a respected nonpartisan Indonesian think tank asked 2,220 Indonesians in 23 of the country’s 33 provinces what they thought of Yudhoyono’s performance. Most respondents regretted his lack of leadership in improving the economy, curbing corruption, enforcing the laws, and reducing poverty—precisely the issues an effective government might be expected to address. While some 60 percent of all respondents voted for Yudhoyono in 2009, only 17 percent said that they would do so in 2014 even if the constitution allowed him to run. Less than a fifth thought that Indonesia’s economy had improved over the previous three years.9
The survey results did not impugn the systemic legitimacy of democracy. But they did reveal political apathy and a “none-of-theabove” inclination to dismiss all political parties as scandal-ridden and conflict-prone. None of the prospective candidates for president garnered much support among the respondents. It is hard to know how much of this indifference to attribute to outright alienation, how much to the media’s preoccupation with controversy, and how much to the election’s still being more than two years away. But if the legitimation of democracy presupposes an instrumental belief that it can improve people’s lives through better governance, and governance worsens instead, how long will democracy remain “the only game in town”?
The country most similar to Indonesia in the Table is the Philippines. Relative to the rest of Southeast Asia, the quality of governance lags the quality of democracy in both countries; they are “governance-short.” Asked about this gap, a knowledgeable source inside the government of Philippine president Benigno Aquino III replied in scathing terms. Corruption, he said, is “like a hydra.” Kickbacks are common and lawenforcement agencies are themselves compromised. “Money politics” is rife. Elections are not decisions between policy alternatives, but popularity contests between charismatic leaders.10
Despite long-running communist and Islamist insurgencies, however, the Philippine political system is not ripe for revolution. In no other Southeast Asian country have people historically had greater faith in elections, which were introduced and took root at the local level early in the course of U.S. colonial rule. The country has never had a strong state. To put the matter abstractly, the legitimacy of procedural democracy in the Philippines limits the potential for systemic change that disappointment with performative democracy—the quality of governance—might otherwise entail.
Indochina and Burma
The prevalence of continuity over change is also a main theme of Martin Gainsborough’s treatment, on pages 34–46 in this issue, of the very different conditions prevailing in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. There, he argues, the commercialization of the state in combination with a patrimonial political culture tends to reinforce the status quo. His point has relevance for Indonesia and the Philippines insofar as the power of “money politics” to coopt opposition could have stabilizing effects in those countries too.
Gainsborough does acknowledge that social changes of possible significance are underway in each of the three countries that he covers. The ruling party could decide to loosen the reins. A crisis could split the ruling elite. Incumbents could incubate an ersatz opposition in order to preempt a real one. Should any of these things occur, unintended consequences could follow.
These scenarios for near-term change originate inside the state, and that is precisely where the extraordinary developments now underway in Burma also began. One might expect that popular uprisings in Southeast Asia would be most likely to occur in countries that are simultaneously most deficient in both liberal democracy and effective governance— Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and especially Burma. Burma does have a history of political ferment from the bottom up. Witness the uprising of 1988 and the Saffron Revolution of 2007, both brutally repressed. But the economic and political opening currently in progress in Burma is a ruler’s move.
The Burmese authorities have released some political prisoners, reduced media censorship, widened electoral competition, and welcomed foreign assistance and investment. The regime appears also to want to lessen or balance its dependence on China, and finally to defeat or demobilize the ethnic insurgencies in outlying areas.
There are as many explanations of this “Burmese spring” as there are generals in the regime, active or retired. Among the latter is the ostensible reformer-in-chief himself, President Thein Sein. The most generous among these accounts imputes to the army leadership a sincere change of heart upon realizing that the modern world was passing Burma by. A more skeptical hypothesis has the generals hoping to trade the country’s pseudo-socialist autarky for a personally lucrative version of crony capitalism.
A third view features nationalist pushback against overdependence on China. This explanation cites Thein Sein’s September 2011 decision to suspend construction of the Chinese-funded $3.6 billion Myitsone Dam being built by Chinese labor in northern Burma. But like so much else going on in Burma, the suspension can be read in different ways. Nine-tenths of the power to be generated upon the dam’s planned completion in 2019 was meant to meet China’s energy needs, not Burma’s. Poor people in the area, including restive ethnic minorities, had protested their impending displacement and the impact downstream on Burma’s main artery, the revered Irrawaddy River. Was the project suspended to assert sovereignty against China, to placate disaffected ethnic groups, or to respond to the concerns of the poor? Or, in opaque proportions, all of the above?
Whatever the answer, it is striking that, by the evidence in the Table, reform in Burma has occurred in the absence of any gap at all between abysmally authoritarian rule and woefully ineffective governance. The advice to “mind the gap” must not be taken to imply that change can result only from a discrepancy between the quality of democracy and the quality of governance. Nor are the quality of democratic politics on the input side and the degree of effective governance on the output side ineluctably driven toward each other’s level. The lesson of the Table is not thermostatic; smaller gaps are not necessarily more stable than larger ones; and matching rankings do not preclude change. If that were true, the reforms in Burma would never have begun.
Nor is it likely that Thein Sein’s reforms (if they continue) will move both the polity and its governance—process and policy—simultaneously up the quality scale, notch by notch in tandem, neatly maintaining a zero gap between the two. More plausibly, one will lead or lag behind the other, opening a gap that could even widen over time.
A vital aspect of democracy is the institutional accountability implied by free and fair elections. The polls in Burma in 2010 were neither free nor fair. Not least among their purposes was the entrenchment of military rule in civilian guise. The success of that exercise in political engineering probably helped to convince the long-ruling dictator, senior general Than Shwe, that he could afford to pass the reins to Thein Sein and risk a controlled measure of reform.
As of this writing in March 2012, much was being made of the scheduled April by-elections for 40 seats in the lower house of the Burmese legislature and the government’s willingness to permit their contestation by the iconic opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy. Yet even if she and her party’s other candidates were to win all 40 seats, they would still be outnumbered ten-to-one by the other 400 more or less proregime legislators in the lower house, including a 110-strong military bloc appointed by Than Shwe. Some have speculated that, if she wins her by-election, Suu Kyi might even be invited to join the cabinet, although probably not with a key portfolio.11 Should this happen, and were she to accept, she and her party would be visibly gambling on their ability to obtain, in return for their participation, accountability rather than cooptation.
Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia
The Table locates both Thai democracy and Thai governance in or near the middle of the spectrum from best to worst, and the gap between their rankings is only slightly more than zero. Yet over the last five years, political life in Thailand has been more polarized and tumultuous than in any other Southeast Asian country.
Thailand’s political travail is rife with irony. It took the corrupt and sometimes brutal tycoon Thaksin Shinawatra to instrumentalize Thai democracy. He transformed the abstract and encapsulated democracy favored by a Bangkok elite that was largely indifferent to the rural poor. He promised and delivered welfare to millions of needy Thais, who elected and reelected him by landslides. His ouster at the hands of royalist officers in 2006 ushered in a prolonged partisan struggle that continues to this day.
On the input side, since the 2006 military coup, Thai democracy has been degraded by the refusal of losers to accept the verdicts of the voters. On the output side, as discussed in this issue by Thitinan Pongsudhirak on pages 47–61, the politicization of judicial decisions has undermined governance. If Thailand is to recover, he argues, a consensus must be found that can sustain a transition to a fully constitutional monarchy whose institutions are simultaneously more accountable and more effective.
Different still are the cases of Singapore and Malaysia, as analyzed by Dan Slater on pages 19–33. His essay underscores the historic strength of these two states—the most effective in Southeast Asia according to the Table. Without using the phrase, Slater explicitly minds the gap. In his words, “one must not confuse any particular regime’s performance with the underlying character of state power.”
State strength for Slater is Janus-faced. The relative effectiveness of the Singaporean and Malaysian states on the output side—their capacity to decide and execute policy—has equipped these ruling elites to constrain purportedly destabilizing voices and movements on the input side. Yet precisely because the state is so strong, the regime can afford to loosen its grip without losing control. The chance of democratization hangs in the balance.
In Singapore and Malaysia, the quality of governance exceeds the quality of democracy. No other countries in Southeast Asia are, in this relative sense, more democracy-short. By the logic of promiscuously instrumental legitimation, effective governance—the provision of public goods—should legitimate even an illiberal state. By this reasoning, Singapore’s and Malaysia’s rulers should be sleeping well, comfortable in the belief that their prowess at performance is continuing to forestall dissatisfaction.
But people do not live by bread (or rice) alone, especially not in countries as prosperous as these. The electoral gains achieved by the oppositions in both places—incremental in Singapore in 2011, dramatic in Malaysia in 2008—were wake-up calls to these ruling elites not to take their own entrenched incumbencies and legitimating performances for granted.
In sum, democracy and governance do not co-vary in Southeast Asia. These two good things do not go together. Gaps exist, and they are worth minding, in theory and in practice. From these disjunctures, however, consistent causal inferences are hard to draw. Are large gaps destabilizing? Potentially, to an extent, yes, and that is not at all necessarily a bad thing. In the most governance-short cases—Timor-Leste and Indonesia—rulers are being challenged to perform better on the outcome side.
In the most democracy-short countries—Singapore and Malaysia—the ruling parties must deal with pressures for political reform.
Burma is different. In that country relative to the rest of Southeast Asia, on the eve of Thein Sein’s changes, democracy and governance were equally abject. But an analyst would have been dead wrong to think that since bad things in Burma had gone together for so long, they would keep on doing so—that 2011 would turn out to be just another worst-case no-gap year. Thailand’s gap in 2010 was only modestly greater than Burma’s. Yet Thais are hardly assured of future political stability—not if the politics of the upcoming royal succession interact with factional conflict in a country that has suffered more political turbulence in recent years than any other in the region.
In discussions of democracy, it is normatively satisfying but empirically unhelpful to weld adjectives to the nouns that they modify. That democratic governance is desirable does not make it the only kind available. The gap exists, and it should be minded. That said, however, a narrowly instrumental or results-focused view of democracy as legitimated solely by its ability to deliver public goods omits far too much. Southeast Asians do care about human rights, civil liberties, electoral fairness, and political representation—democracy as a political process rather than a policy performance. The ostensibly reformist generals in Burma could have gone the Chinese route, opting for economic but not political reform. They did not—or, more cautiously put, they have not so far. To acknowledge that democracy and governance are not, in fact, synonymous is not a reason to ignore the color of Deng Xiaoping’s cat.
1. Danielle N. Lussier and M. Steven Fish, “Indonesia: The Benefits of Civic Engagement,” Journal of Democracy 23 (January 2012): 71.

2. Freedom House (FH) does not claim to be scaling “liberal democracy.” Yet, taken together and applied to any given country, the 27 questions that they ask—12 about “political rights” and 15 on “civil liberties”—do measure the extent to which that country is both democratic (including the accountability of its government vertically in elections and horizontally in a separation of powers) and liberal (including freedoms of speech and association). FH “does not rate governments or government performance per se”; see FH, “Methodology,” In contrast, the measure of “government effectiveness” devised by the World Bank (WB) “captures perceptions of the quality of public services, the quality of the civil service and the degree of its independence from political pressures, the quality of policy formulation and implementation, and the credibility of the government’s commitment to such policies”; see The closest that these two measures come to overlapping is in FH’s inclusion of an independent judiciary among the elements of liberal democracy and the WB’s inclusion of an independent civil service among the elements of effective governance.
3. Freedom House, “Table of Independent Countries [2010],” available at www.
4. A systematically causal analysis over time would need to assess the contrary logic as well: that faced with such a large negative gap, the country’s people would remain satisfied with their high-quality democracy as a moral end in itself and not expect it to improve bad governance. The population might also not know how abysmally its government was performing relative to good governance in neighboring states, despite the likely erosion of such ignorance by the globalization of information and communication.
5. UN Development Programme, “Human Development Index (HDI)—2011 Rankings,”; “High Inflation Threatens East Timor: IMF,” Agence France-Presse, 2 February 2012; Petroleum Fund of Timor-Leste, Quarterly Report no. 26, 31 December 2011, 1, available at; Transparency International, “Corruption Perceptions Index 2011,”, and “Corruption Perceptions Index 2010,”
6. Hanan Nugroho, “Energy and Economic Growth,” Jakarta Post, 15 July 2010,
7. Justin Doebele, “Indonesia’s 40 Richest,” 24 December 2007, global/2007/1224/049.html; “Indonesia’s 40 Richest: #30 Aburizal Bakrie,”,; “I’m Ready for 2014: Bakrie,” Jakarta Globe, 19 February 2012, www.thejakartaglobe. com/politics/im-ready-for-2014-bakrie/499072.
8. An ongoing instance of such baggage is the world’s biggest mud volcano, which erupted in East Java in 2006. Apparently triggered by negligent drilling for gas by a Bakrie family–owned company, this catastrophe has already rendered unusable a 3-square-mile area, killed 13 people, and displaced 13,000. Homes, schools, and croplands have been buried to depths as great as 60 feet. Despite the judgment of experts that Bakrie’s company was probably responsible for the disaster, he blames an earthquake that occurred 174 miles away. The flow of muck is expected to continue and remain unmanageable until 2037. “Mud Volcano Eruptions Likely to Continue for a Quarter of a Century,” News and Events, Durham University, 28 February 2011, Arguably related to the weight of such baggage was Bakrie’s philanthropic decision to endow a chair in Southeast Asian studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, D.C.
9. Keyko Ranti Ramadhani, “Fed Up with Politicians, More Indonesians Won’t Vote: CSIS,” Jakarta Globe, 13 February 2012, Indonesians express rising confidence in their own personal economic circumstances, however; see Debnath Guharoy and Roy Morgan, “Analysis: 240 Million Reasons for a Confident Future,” Jakarta Post, 21 February 2012,
10. Interviewed by the author on 2 February 2012.
11. “Is Suu Kyi Heading for a Cabinet Position?” Irrawaddy, 29 February 2012,