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Local Cultures and the New Asia: The State, Culture, and Capitalism in Southeast Asia
 9789812307149

Table of contents :
CONTENTS
Acknowledgements
Contributors
Introduction: Local Cultures, Economic Development, and Southeast Asia
SECTION I: THE STATE
1. Development Enabler or Disabler? The Role of the State in Southeast Asia
2. Muddling Through: Development under a “Weak” State
SECTION II: THE CULTURAL LINEAGES OF “ASIAN” CAPITALISM
3. Battering Down the Chinese Walls: The Antinomies of Anglo-American Liberalism and the History of East Asian Capitalism in the Shadow of the Cold War
4. Religion, Values, and Capitalism in Asia
SECTION III: THE STATE AND LOCAL CULTURES
5. From Universal to Local Culture: The State, Ethnic Identity, and Capitalism in Singapore
6. Telephony at the Limits of State Control: “Discourse Networks” in Indonesia
7. Rethinking Modernity: State, Ethnicity, and Class in the Forging of a Modern Urban Malaysia
8. Thai Middle-Class Practice and Consumption of Traditional Dance: “Thai-ness” and High Art
Index

Citation preview

This chapter is reproduced from Local Cultures and the “New Asia”, edited by C.J.W.-L. Wee (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2002). This version was obtained electronically direct from the publisher on condition that copyright is not infringed. No part of this publication may be reproduced, translated, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies < http://www.iseas.edu.sg/pub.html >

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Edilberto C. de Jesus

The Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) was established as an autonomous organization in 1968. It is a regional research centre for scholars and other specialists concerned with modern Southeast Asia, particularly the many-faceted issues and challenges of stability and security, economic development, and political and social change. The Institute’s research programmes are Regional Economic Studies (RES, including ASEAN and APEC), Regional Strategic and Political Studies (RSPS), and Regional Social and Cultural Studies (RSCS). The Institute is governed by a twenty-two-member Board of Trustees comprising nominees from the Singapore Government, the National University of Singapore, the various Chambers of Commerce, and professional and civic organizations. An Executive Committee oversees day-to-day operations; it is chaired by the Director, the Institute’s chief academic and administrative officer.

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EDITED BY

C.J.W.-L. Wee

INSTITUTE OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN STUDIES, Singapore

© 2002 Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore

Edilberto C. de Jesus

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First published in Singapore by Institute of Southeast Asian Studies 30 Heng Mui Keng Terrace Pasir Panjang Singapore 119614 Internet e-mail: [email protected] World Wide Web: http://www.iseas.edu.sg/pub.html All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, translated, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. © 2002 Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore

The responsibility for facts and opinions in this publication rests exclusively with the editor and contributors and their interpretations do not necessarily reflect the views or the policy of the Institute or its supporters. ISEAS Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data Local cultures and the “new Asia” : the state, culture, and capitalism in Southeast Asia / edited by C.J.W.-L. Wee. 1. Economic development—Social aspects—Asia, Southeastern. 2. Economic development—Social aspects—Asia. 3. Capitalism—Social aspects—Asia, Southeastern. 4. Capitalism—Social aspects—Asia. 5. Ethnicity—Asia, Southeastern. I. Wee, C. J. W.-L. II. Title: State, culture, and capitalism in Southeast Asia. HC441 L81 2002 sls2001003774 ISBN 981-230-122-4 (soft cover) ISBN 981-230-123-2 (hard cover) Typeset in International Typesetters Pte. Ltd. Printed in Singapore by Seng Lee Press Pte. Ltd.

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CHAPTER 7

CONTENTS

Acknowledgements Contributors

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Introduction: Local Cultures, Economic Development, and Southeast Asia C.J.W.-L. Wee

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SECTION I: THE STATE

1 Development Enabler or Disabler? The Role of the State in Southeast Asia Kamal Malhotra

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2 Muddling Through: Development under a “Weak” State Edilberto C. de Jesus

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SECTION II: THE CULTURAL LINEAGES OF “ASIAN” CAPITALISM

3 Battering Down the Chinese Walls: The Antinomies of Anglo-American Liberalism and the History of East Asian Capitalism in the Shadow of the Cold War Mark T. Berger 4 Religion, Values, and Capitalism in Asia Syed Farid Alatas

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SECTION III: THE STATE AND LOCAL CULTURES

5 From Universal to Local Culture: The State, Ethnic Identity, and Capitalism in Singapore C.J.W.-L. Wee

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6 Telephony at the Limits of State Control: “Discourse Networks” in Indonesia Joshua David Barker

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7 Rethinking Modernity: State, Ethnicity, and Class in the Forging of a Modern Urban Malaysia Goh Beng Lan

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8 Thai Middle-Class Practice and Consumption of Traditional Dance: “Thai-ness” and High Art Paritta Chalermpow Koanantakool

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Index

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CHAPTER 7

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

This book is partially the result of a workshop on “Embedding Capitalism in Newer Asian Contexts: Authority Structures and Local Cultures and Identities in Southeast Asia” held at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS), Singapore, on 22–23 March 1999. I wish to acknowledge the financial suport provided by ISEAS. Mrs Y.L. Lee and her staff provided exemplary administrative and other support. Betty Kwan, especially, is to be thanked for her attention to detail and general patience in assisting with the overall organization of the workshop and the specific process of putting together this book. Thanks, too, to May Wong. The ISEAS Publications Unit under Mrs Triena Ong was also supportive in the process of getting this book finished. Thanks go to those who participated as discussants for the workshop: Nirmala S. PuruShotam, Philip J. Holden, Chua Beng Huat, and Lee Weng Choy. Their participation provided incisive complementary and alternative insights into the issues raised. Thanks also to colleagues who took the time from their busy schedules to turn up to participate generally. A preliminary workshop was held on 8–9 June 1998, at ISEAS, entitled “The Role of Cultures and Institutions in Southeast Asian Economic Development: Studies on Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand”. This workshop was co-organized by Naimah Talib, Lai Ah Eng, and myself. Their intellectual contribution has carried on into the next workshop. I am also grateful to the Japan Foundation Asia Center for a grant (10-AC-CR-98123) in support of the preliminary workshop. There were also others who helped in various ways, either in helping to sort out the issues or who suggested those who might be involved in the project. Thus thanks, too, to Vince Rafael, Farid Alatas, Chua Beng

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Huat, Ariel Heryanto, Yao Souchou, Emma Porio, Charnvit Kasetsiri, Shiraishi Takashi, Bob Hefner, and Lee Hock Guan. Part of the cover design incorporates the opening scene of Desdemona, a TheatreWorks production conceived and directed by Ong Keng Sen (2000). Photo courtesy of TheatreWorks (Singapore) Ltd. Finally, a word of acknowledgement to Brenda Yeoh, Director of (what was then) the Centre for Advanced Studies, National University of Singapore, and the staff there: this book was completed while I was a Visiting Scholar at the Centre, and I am grateful for the support I received. C.J.W.-L. Wee January 2001

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CHAPTER 7

CONTRIBUTORS

Syed Farid Alatas has been a lecturer at the Department of Sociology, National University of Singapore, since 1992. A Malaysian national, he formerly lectured at the University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, in the Department of Southeast Asian Studies. He is presently working on the philosophy and sociology of social science and is the author of Democracy and Authoritarianism: The Rise of the Post-Colonial State in Indonesia and Malaysia (1997). Joshua D. Barker is an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Toronto, Canada. His research interests include the anthropology of technology and the cultural politics of crime and security. He recently published “Surveillance and Territoriality in Bandung”, which appears in a volume edited by Vicente L. Rafael entitled Figures of Criminality in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Colonial Vietnam (1999). Mark T. Berger teaches international history and development studies at the University of New South Wales, Australia. His research interests include the history of U.S. foreign policy, theories of development and the history of colonialism, decolonization, and the Cold War in the Asia-Pacific. He is currently working on a book tentatively entitled Power and Progress: The United States, the Cold War and the Asian Development Debate, 1945–2000. Edilberto C. de Jesus serves as the President of the Far Eastern University in Manila, the Philippines, and currently chairs the National Interuniversity Forum on Education, and is also on the Board of Environmental Sciences for Social Changes, Inc. He maintains an interest in the history

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Contributors Edilberto C. de Jesus

and politics of Southeast Asia, and is the author of The Tobacco Monopoly in the Philippines: Bureaucratic Enterprise and Social Change, 1766–1880 (1980). Goh Beng Lan is an assistant professor at the Southeast Asian Studies Programme in the National University of Singapore, and was previously a post-doctoral fellow at the International Center for Advanced Studies at New York University. She is a cultural anthropologist working on cultural modernism and modernity in Southeast Asia, with a particular focus on Malaysia, and her “Modern Dreams: An Enquiry into Power, Cityscape Transformations and Cultural Difference in Contemporary Malaysia” appeared in Southeast Asian Identities (1998), edited by Joel S. Kahn. Paritta Chalermpow Koanantakool teaches anthropology in the Faculty of Sociology and Anthropology, Thammasat University, Bangkok, Thailand. She works on the anthropology of performance in Thailand and the theory of practice and embodied knowledge. She has recently edited Revealing the Body (in Thai, 1998). Kamal Malhotra is currently Senior Civil Society Adviser at the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in New York; he is on leave of absence from Focus on the Global South, Bangkok, Thailand, where he was the founding Co-Director from 1995 to 1999. His policy research interests include the political economy of economic globalization, its social impact, and the role of civil society organizations in influencing the future shape of globalization. He is the author of Renewing the Governance of the Global Economy (1999). C.J.W.-L. Wee was a Fellow in the Regional Social and Cultural Studies programme at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore and now teaches literature and cultural theory at the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. He is interested in the relationship between modernity and cultural change — including arts-related issues — in a post-colonial context, and is the author of Culture, Empire, and the Question of Being Modern (forthcoming).

© 2002 Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore

INTRODUCTION: LOCAL CULTURES, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, AND SOUTHEAST ASIA C.J.W.-L. Wee

It has become less easy to understand economic development as a process in which “traditional” societies become modernized and rationalized as a unilinear transformational process of the world. This process, it is often thought, started from seventeenth-century Europe and went on to post–Second World War United States. The result of this process was that the cultures of all newcomers were increasingly made “the same”, or culturally homogenized. The Japanese experience, important as the major and the first industrialized Asian society, has not been completely assimilable into this process of homogenization in terms of its values or social structures. The “unique Japan” hypothesis came about, in which Japanese tradition, instead of being seen as a retrograde element, was trumpeted as a vessel suited for economic development (McCormack and Sugimoto 1988). The economic rise of other East Asian societies (including Singapore), and the newer Asian Tigers of Southeast Asia (Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia) led to variants of the “unique Japan” hypothesis. One variant, of course, was the much-debated Confucianist model. The values of an underlying common culture, it was argued, fostered the virtues of austerity, harmony and group orientation, hard work, and a submissive attitude towards authority, contributing to rapid growth. The

This chapter is reproduced from Local Cultures and the “New Asia”, edited by C.J.W.-L. Wee (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2002). This version was obtained electronically direct from the publisher on condition that copyright is not infringed. No part of this publication may be reproduced, translated, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies < http://www.iseas.edu.sg/pub.html >

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entry of obviously non-Confucian societies then led to further modifications. Now, it was argued, you could see a generalized (pan-)Asian values system — representing, some claimed, an Asian modernity for a 1 New Asia — that had contributed to economic growth. The detractors saw such arguments as ideological tools used to justify authoritarian politics, and the 1997 Asian economic crisis only heightened the controversy surrounding the “Asian values” discourse. While ideological dimensions incontestably exist, it is of significance 2 that “culture” — conceived of here as a society’s value systems and local traditions notionally separable from political rhetoric — has become a part of the discussion as to what is entailed in rapid economic development, and of understanding the success and also some of the difficulties 3 of the new Asian capitalisms. The production of the Asian values discourse is itself a sign both of that success and its difficulties. It is also important, at the same time, not to go overboard and say that there is nothing universal in economic development. The Asian desire for capitalism can be read as a desire for the universal, even if a qualified one. However, capitalism is neither disembodied nor disembedded from the Asian contexts it develops in, and this tension between the universal and the particular — now often re-cast into another (sometimes clichéd) dichotomy, the “global” and the “local” — is one we should be concerned with. This book’s central question, therefore, is this: How is Western capitalism embedded (as anthropologist Robert Hefner [1998], following sociologist Mark Granovetter [1985], puts it) in newer Asian contexts? The studies in this book assume that how Western capitalism embeds itself is not separate from but indeed dependent upon first, socio-political relationships, and second, cultural meaning. That is, even though the logic of capitalism — especially since the 1980s in its “neo-liberal” incarnation — can be outlined, local conditions will dictate that capitalism will spread in ways that will proceed but not be entirely consonant with its various Western origins. The embedding of capitalism in general is painful. After all, while the British Industrial Revolution brought great benefits, it was wrought at great human and cultural costs. Earlier debates regarding “neocolonialism” and “dependency theory” indicate the resistances to capi-

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talist development. Recent cultural studies and cultural anthropological work (Appadurai 1996; Lim, Smith, and Dissayanake 1999; Jameson and Miyoshi 1998; Wilson and Dissayanake 1996; Gardner 1995) have sensitized us to media, environment, gender, and identity struggles as they shape current debates over the desirability of transnational capital flows and foreign direct investment (FDI). Such work remind us that capitalism is a cultural form with practices and demands, to which the ways of life of the society that desires it will need to adapt. This book seeks, first, to comprehend better not only how states (from “on top”, as it were) may attempt to re-tool local cultures to fit capitalism’s cultural specificities, but also, second, how (from “the bottom”, as it were) local cultures either may resist or enable the development process. Alternatively, something that is simultaneously co-operation and resistance may transpire in order for a particular culture or cultural form to survive and gain “space” in the wake of economic restructuring. With the awareness of, first, a “globalizing” world, where there seems less choice not to develop via the economic neo-liberal or Anglo-American pattern that has become dominant after the fall of communism in 1989, and second, at the same time, the dangers of moving too quickly into development, which may result in the suffering of the East Asian, Southeast Asian, and Russian economies in the closing years of the 1990s, it is time to take stock of both the positive and negative forces which are connected with a desire for rapid economic development. Embedding Capitalism and the Question of Progress

The book concentrates on Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines. It begins with the role of “culture” (defined, as said, as a society’s value systems and local traditions) and also the “local” in the face of the increasing desire for industrialism and pace of economic development in Southeast Asia since the 1980s. (Singapore is the exception, having become an important industrial exporter by the late 1970s.) The development that occurred in the post-Soviet years was especially rapid. A paramount factor in the desire for development remains, obviously, a desire for progress. The currency crisis that developed with the devaluation of the Thai baht in July 1997, soon to turn into an eco-

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nomic crisis, may not dampen in the long run the desire for economic development and — more abstractly — modernity, even though the painful consequences continue to be felt. The collapse of “high-tech” stocks in the United States in 2001 should make us pause, at the very least, and reconsider how willing we are to accept, wholesale, the promises of a neo-liberalism tied to a “New Economy”. The historical narrative of progress — of Reason realizing itself in what was the Age of Empire — still exists in our post-colonial time, though what constitutes the centre of the modern has moved from Western Europe to the United States. The “post” in the “post-colonial” remains a problem (Brook and Luong 1997a). The societies that seek economic development unsurprisingly increasingly define themselves against U.S. standards of the universal, even if the intrinsic worth of their national or regional particularities is asserted. There is, in our time, a continuation of the dichotomy modern/non-modern (or now, less modern), one which corresponds to the opposition West/non-West. Even if we are to argue that the West is an “advanced particularity”, the problem arises that “since universality is equated to the ability to change and rationalize its social institutions”, deeply entrenched in such thinking is “an equation according to which one can infer, from the relative degree of economic rationality, the society’s investment in universalism” (Sakai 1997, p. 158). Crudely put, the more successful your economy, the better your claim to be universal. Hence, it is precisely the economic successes of societies such as Malaysia and Singapore that enabled the pronouncements by their leaders — principally Dr Mahathir and Lee Kuan Yew — of an Asian modernity that can compete with the Western one. It also allowed the assertions on how one never-quite resolved problem in the West, the tradition and modernity divide, supposedly has been bridged in the new Asian capitalisms with its Asian values. Culture and its relation to economic development thus has come to figure in their combative, highprofile declarations. While many dismiss these pronouncements as triumphalist political rhetoric, we should note that the rhetoric has to do precisely with these leaders’ state-driven commitment to global capitalism as a universal phenomenon (Wee 1997). There is no doubt that part of Mahathir’s

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and Lee’s power to irritate derived from an agreed-upon understanding that their societies were ahead of others in the region in rationalization. However, Southeast or even East Asia are but parts of the apparent march of progress in the 1980s and 1990s. After the Soviet Union’s collapse, the champions of economic neo-liberalism — that is, laissezfaire or free-market capitalism — and the believers in capitalism’s connection with democracy were euphoric. Debates over economic, social, and political matters once had to address a larger framework of competing social systems, but thereafter, the framework seemed about various kinds of capitalisms (Albert 1993). Eastern Europe and Russia (at least in theory) could catch up with the newly industrializing countries (NICs) in East Asia in the triumph of the universal, with the “end of history”. The middle class and democracy that the newer capitalism would generate, it was hoped, would make the world a more unified sphere. The euphoria has been short-lived. As ethnic terror and state repression came about, and as currencies and stock markets continued to go up and down, even the most optimistic Western observers have been forced to note that capitalism and democracies are not simple, universal commodities that can simply be exported and consumed by all. Throughout the world, these ideas meet indigenous cultural values, entrenched traditions of identity, surprising depths of social memory, along with unexpected change and the assertion of reconstructed notions of au4 thenticity. And yet, of course, Southeast Asian versions of the “miracle” did occur, even if unevenly. Metropolitan centres such as Bangkok mushroomed, and the new middle class there consumed conspicuously; this was less true of the rural areas. However, as a consequence, the Thai rural areas were less affected by the economic crisis. Kuala Lumpur, too, had a boom, and there was enough of a “trickle-down” effect that led to the ruling Barisan Nasional (National Front) government under Mahathir significantly increasing its share of votes in the 1995 Malaysian general elections. In Indonesia, the poverty rate had been lowered — only to see this gain wiped out by the crisis. We should assess the impacts of the social and cultural changes required and created in the progressive pursuit of economic development in an unevenly globalizing world. One central difficulty in the discus-

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sion of economic development is that capitalism is still too often discussed as if it had its own agency (Hefner 1998). As indicated in this Introduction, enterprise of any sort is both cultural and social. It thus requires complex interactions and negotiations between both the conducive and the resistant range of human and cultural resources within the framework of the local or national structures. The notion of an inbuilt “market rationality”, as Ralph Dahrendorf once called it, is clearly tied in to the now-dominant conception of capitalism in its unfettered market version. While this term is part of the nexus of old and ongoing debates as to how markets “actually” do or “should” function, these debates remain relevant in the light of how capitalism was conceived to be universal in the 1980s. How did these years occur, socially and culturally? What were the resistances or ambivalences to the state — perhaps even within the state — and how were they met in the process of embedding capitalism? The State

The first concern that must be addressed is the issue of the state’s role as an agent in East Asian and Southeast Asian (taken as a geographical and cultural subset, rightly or wrongly, of East Asia) economic transformations. Controversy surrounded the discussions on this topic. While the 1980s had seen the entrenchment of the neo-classical explanation of the prerequisites for economic growth, the 1990s saw the questioning of the neo-classical position by “statist theorists” (for example, Rodan 1989; Wade 1990; Amsden 1989; Matthews and Ravenhill 1996), giving a more positive valence to state intervention in the economy. In Singapore’s case, (admittedly limited) academic recognition of the state’s role goes back to the 1980s (Lim 1983). The core theoretical concern in contention was that of industrial policy in development. There at least seems general agreement that the state played a part in East and Southeast Asian development, though the exact part remains a contentious issue. It might be said that the debate over state-led economic development, until the crisis, rested at some point “between the market and the state” (Chowdhury and Islam 1993). For the World Bank, “the most successful intervention [is] the export-push strategy” (1993, p. 347). In contrast, culture and its role in the economic devel-

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opment of NICs and NIEs (newly industrializing economies) is still hazy, even while it made an impression in the discussion as a whole — certainly at the popular and the more overtly political levels. This brings us to the question, “How did the state help the ‘miracle’ to occur, socially and culturally?” For development-oriented Southeast Asia, we may say that the state played a significant part in attempting to re-tool and re-think formal institutions (such as the civil service or the trade unions) and less-formal institutions (such as the family, and as5 pects of religious life) for the purposes of development. As Richard Robison, Garry Rodan, and Kevin Hewison point out, there is an “extraordinary diversity and complexity of state involvement in economic life in Southeast Asia which often masks the extent of this, frequently embedding it in a diverse range of relationships with social [and, I may add, cultural] forms” (1997, p. 2). As suggested, capitalism itself is a cultural form (or forms), and for Western (increasingly Anglo-American-style) capitalism to be embedded, peasants have to be rapidly transformed into a proletariat, a professionalized managerial class created, consumerism encouraged, education made more widely available, and so forth. (The increasing demands to compete in a New Economy that is “knowledge-based” only further complicates the requirements.) At another level, the nature of markets itself has to be re-tooled as well, as regional conceptions and market practices may well be different from the markets that U.S. or European manufacturers are used to, the result of different historical developments. The state, in wanting to attract either FDI or short-term capital flows will have to create a suitable “infrastructure” — a neutral word that does not start to capture the enormous socio-cultural dislocation entailed in change, especially under the conditions of the free-market model, in which any regulatory function of the state that may afford protection to workers is to be exco6 riated. (Even if we are to accept Anthony Giddens’ statement that “No one has any alternative to capitalism … [and that] arguments that remain concern how far, and in what ways, capitalism should be governed and regulated” [1998, pp. 43–44], the state’s role clearly matters in creating and enforcing such regulation.) Thus, the state’s own sovereignty in the face of “footloose” capitalism is at issue here.

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Many arguments, both popular and academic, have been made of the “death” of the state. The East and Southeast Asian experience from the 1980s to 1997 suggests that if the state is not as “on top” of it all as it used to be, it has played a key part in making capitalism possible. The roles of different states in the region need to be examined and compared in the light of the arguments of the state’s possible truncated sovereignty. The economic crisis and the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) difficult rescue packages for Thailand and Indonesia only make this examination more urgent, as the state still bears the burden of making the national economy be seen to be viable for investors, even while it is not clear whether structural limits exist to the state’s responsiveness to pressures from below. One possible answer to the above question may be that global capitalism and the states that want at least some of the benefits of capitalist modernity will work through the particularities of local cultures and traditions, and in the process re-constitute them into a form more amenable to the culture of transnational capital. Perhaps sociologist Stuart Hall is right to observe that we have lost sight of one of the most profound insights in Marx’s Capital — capitalism only advances, as it were, on contradictory terrain. … And until we can see the nature of that contradictory terrain — precisely how particularity is engaged, … woven in, … presents its resistances, … partly overcome, and how those overcomings then appear again — we will not understand it. (1997, p. 180)

That is to say, capitalism, along with the state, can appropriate the local so that the global/local relationship represents the domestication of cultural differences through a process that is akin, it can be said, to consumption (also see Lee 2000). Nirmala PuruShotam, a sociologist-discussant at the workshop in which a number of the chapters in this book originated from, has a similar point to make, but puts it in a way that throws into greater relief the nature of the tensions or ambivalences involved if we think of the process of embedding capitalism as entailing both the state — along with whatever separate nation-building agenda it may have — and its commitment to capitalism, and hence to the culture of capitalism:

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The state constitutes cultural possibilities. These cultural possibilities of the state come in the form of economic transformations, with cultural undertones; and in the form of cultural transformations, with economic undertones. In the main, the modern state in [Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand] … is backgrounded by a commitment, no matter how various in form and extent, to capitalism, and hence to a culture of capitalism. At the same time, this culture of capitalism that the state privileges is in dialectical tension with the culture of the nation. (PuruShotam 1999, p. 4)

The statist Asian values discourse, when directed internally at its own people, is only one instance of “showing” how the requirements of global capitalism can fit or are “actually” natural parts of indigenous customs or cultures. Such moves, though, may not be enough to entrench capitalism or marketization, and may require the supplements of material incentives and the “formation of a disciplinary society” (Foucault 1979, p. 218). If we accept PuruShotam’s conclusion regarding statist capitalism’s “dialectical tension with the culture of the nation”, we are then led to ask: What may be the unintended consequences of statist experiments in cultural re-articulation undertaken in the interests of economic development? This brings us to the book’s second concern — “the bottom” of local cultures, and what happens to local identities in the process of embedding capitalism. The State and Culture

Before proceeding to look at some of the pitfalls involved in reengineering culture, we might first ask why culture remains a suspicious entity for some who think about economic development and the state. A number of reasons come to mind: first, “culture”, one suspects, does not seem a rational element to a number of political scientists and economists — and thus it is hard for them to work it into their analyses of development; and second, culture or, sometimes, “values”, and the related topic of social institutions such as religion, are wrongly viewed as unified or essentialized and thus static entities not subject to historical process and disembodied from the workings of society and thus of capitalism itself. A representative discussion of culture appears in Chapter 2 (“Public

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Policy and Growth”) of the World Bank’s The East Asian Miracle report. The writers note: Some observers attribute [East Asian] success to geography and culture rather than economic or other policies. But geography and culture cannot explain it all; East Asia includes [Southeast Asian] Myanmar and the Philippines as well as the Republic of Korea and [Islamic] Malaysia. Nor is there a simple policy story. (1993, p. 79)

The writers then proceed to ask directly, “How much of East Asia’s success is due to geography, common culture, and historical accident? Certainly some — but definitely not all” (ibid.). A potted history of economic linkages between East Asian economies (including the inevitable mention of diasporic “ethnic Chinese drawing on a common cultural heritage” [p. 80]) spread over two paragraphs follows, with a further two paragraphs on how in this century, “key Asian ports were integrated into the emerging world economic system as a result of European military and trade expansion” (ibid.) — a euphemistic phrase for European imperialism. The writers suggest that “geographical proximity has facilitated capital flows, particularly in the last decade” (ibid.). Still, the conclusion is: “If geography, history, and culture were an adequate explanation, other economies would have little to learn from Asia’s success stories” (World Bank 1993, p. 81). The chapter then turns to policy explanations. The report is quite right to implicitly question how the diversity of an entity we arbitrarily call “East Asia” — which, as a result of a reimagined cartography of “success”, now includes Southeast Asia — can produce any uniform, historico-cultural explanation for economic success. The popular ideas on culture as huge, static civilizational entities that exist in some free-floating manner can and should be questioned (Wee 1996). Neither “East Asia” nor “Southeast Asia” — or “Asian culture” for that matter — can be taken as self-contained, active agents that bring about economic development. Further, if Asian success is indeed sui generis, the report asks, what would be the point of a pragmatic World Bank study sub-titled “Economic Growth and Public Policy”? “Culture” and “geography”, in any case, have a messy and, to the scientific mental set, also an irrational quality to them which makes them difficult to analyse.

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It would seem that how Max Weber characterized modern Western capitalism still applies here: it is marked by, first, a rational organization of labour; and second, a lifting of the barrier between the internal economy (of clans, tribes, groups, and so forth) and the external economy, of internal and external ethics, and the entry of the commercial principle into the internal economy ([1927] 1950, p. 312). Elsewhere Weber said that “Money is the most abstract and ‘impersonal’ element that 7 exists in human life” (1958, p. 331). Given the depth of these rationalist assumptions of how the modern economic world ought to work, especially in the case of neo-classical ideas of the “invisible hand”, it is just as well that the World Bank does not to attempt to consider culture, geography, and values beyond a certain point. It does not have the intellectual resources to analyse such topics. While The East Asian Miracle, on the whole, skirts the issues of culture and values, it does come back to it implicitly when it examines the institutional basis — here state-connected institutions — for shared growth (see Chapter 4). The report contends that there were, in general, three factors common among the high-performing Asian economies (HPAEs): first, wealth-sharing programmes designed to include nonélites in economic growth; second, a cadre of economic technocrats insulated from narrow political pressures; and third, institutions and mechanisms to share information and win the support of business élites (pp. 157–58). In terms of whether the civil service that has to execute good policies did so on the basis of “Asian” values, the report says: Despite the stress on culture in much popular writing …, the most successful bureaucracies have not relied on culture alone. HPAE bureaucracies have employed numerous mechanisms to increase the appeal of a public service career, thereby heightening competition and improving the pool of applicants. (p. 174)

Again, rationalist assumptions of human behaviour underpin this statement, but these, however, may be quite reasonable responses, given the nature of “much popular writing about the Asian miracle” (ibid.): popular assumptions of culture, as noted, are often reductive, appealing sometimes to something primordial and thus ahistorical called “race” or racial superiority. The solution to coarse popularizations, in any alternative research

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undertaken, would be, first, to use a larger notion of institutions which is not as formal or as statist as that used in the report; and second, to have a more textured notion of culture as a starting point of analysis, 8 one which does not ignore historical process — and, indeed, not forgetting the obvious historical fact implicitly raised by the report that an ongoing desire to become modern (as the West is modern) is a result of the colonial encounter; it is not a pre-colonial question (Brook and Luong 1997a, pp. 10–13). At the very end of The East Asian Miracle, an important conclusion is reached: What we have not discovered fully is why governments of these [Asian] economies have been more willing and better able than others to experiment and adapt; answers go beyond economics to include the study of [formal] institutions and the related fields of politics, history and culture. Taking such large realities into account complicates rather than simplifies the task of development. (World Bank 1993, pp. 367–68; emphases added)

This is true. But serious intellectual analyses do not automatically lead to policy recommendations, which of course is the World Bank’s goal. Such analyses still needs to be done if a greater understanding is to come about of culture and of the process of becoming modern itself in Southeast Asia. While the term “modernization” is now no longer fashionable, evoking as it does what now some social theorists and cultural critics regard as an unproblematized universality of process, its actual sense remains with us, even in the arguments for an East Asian — that 9 is, not completely Western — modernity. Culture and Local Cultures

One difficulty in assuming that “strong” states may have the capacity to re-articulate culture within national boundaries is that the culture of any society is never entirely unified. Even a supposedly homogeneous society such as Japan is composed of “cultures” rather than a single culture that may mechanically determine people’s world-views and behaviour. As such, the contributors to this book, in approaching questions on culture and development, critically take on a common presupposition underlying many of the discussions over an East Asian model of devel-

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opment — that the culture of a society can be taken as unitary or unified. Keeping in view the fact that propositions which assert the existence of a unified national culture are problematic (much less something as extensive as a transnational Confucian culture), we can proceed to the question of local cultures resisting or enabling capitalist embedding. The responses to the state’s revamping of the “bottom” of existing rural or urban ways of life, or the increasing presence of foreign manufacturing firms necessarily will be uneven, as it is dependent on the trajectory of specific local cultural histories. The valorization of “resistance” as a motif in colonial and post-colonial cultural and anthropological studies should not lead us to ignore the unevenness of any culture, or the particularity of local historical development. An example of how resistance actually may strengthen co-operation between pro-development elements may be seen in one response to “resurgent” Islamic identity — that “civilizational” force so fearfully highlighted by Samuel Huntington (1996). In West Malaysia, the rise of Islam in general since the 1970s, and of the Parti Agama SeMalaysia (PAS) — usually referred to as “Parti Islam” — in particular, is sometimes seen as an “irrational” or “medieval” identitarian response to the Barisan Nasional government’s affirmative action, New Economic Policy– induced modernization, and urbanization. While the causes for this rise are complex and multiple, homogenizing forces were, in the late 1980s, backed by the national state. The first problem here is that the explanation of “medieval” Islam misreads identity and culture as static entities: it is only because PAS’s members are modern — in that they have a form of historical consciousness — that they can re-interpret the past to strengthen its threatened, culturally distinct ethnic identity. Prime Minister Mahathir, in one response to the above sort of discomfort that could derail development, had to argue fairly early in his ministry in 1983, at the launch of the first Malaysian Islamic bank, that “the assimilation of Islamic teachings by the economy of this country would not bring any disaster” (see 1983; also see Khoo 1995, pp. 159– 97). Arguably, one result of the above has been that Malay political élites, the business classes of all ethnic groups, and the Chinese and other minorities in general would have at least a tacit general consensus that

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global modernity and secularist capitalism, whatever difficulties they 10 pose, possess valences preferable to Islamic identity politics. Malaysia (along with Singapore) may be exceptional in Southeast Asia because of its particular multiracial, plural make-up and its deep commitment to being globally competitive — the result of its particularly direct imbibing of the wellsprings of British colonial modernity when compared with other societies in the region (Harper 1999) — so that the above scenario may not be replicated generally elsewhere. (Indonesia, though, is plural in other ways.) The point remains, however, that while this book looks at how local cultures and entrenched identities resist or co-operate with capitalism’s presence, we must understand that within any given society, resistance can shade off into co-optation. In the process, we may further ask, do Southeast Asian cultures then become cosmopolitanized? At one level, the answer to the above question is “yes” — as Ruth McVey notes, there is arising in East and Southeast Asia “a common, cosmopolitan nouveau-riche consumer style” (1992, p. 26). The new middle class are of course the most obvious socio-cultural manifestation of the 1980s and 1990s economic growth (Robison and Goodman 1996; Pinches 1999), who have noticeably been set back by the crisis — but it is also important to keep in mind that they should not constitute our entire analytical attention, for such attention may unintentionally suggest that they may represent the new, unified culture that will emerge. (We should, in any case, not assume that the middle class will become a simple “cosmopolitanized” type [see Koanantakool, this volume]). Given the above, it would be best not to think of homogeneous Malaysian, Thai, or Singapore cultures and identities. Instead, it will be more rewarding to examine cultural heterogeneity interacting with the political and social divisions within society as capitalist culture makes inroads into a nation. The still-not-fully-explained religious and ethnic fracturing and violence that took place on the island of Ambon and the province of Maluku in Indonesia in 1999 between Muslims and Christians, in the wake of the economic crisis and the consequent weakening of the Indonesian state, may indicate how analytically important the factor(s) of cultural heterogeneity may be. Cultures and value systems at the “bottom” are fluid and may be

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combustible in the way they relate to each other as well as to the state. This fluidity means that the “owners” of such cultures may struggle against being either appropriated or suppressed by political élites undertaking such action in the name of the nation. As a discussant at the workshop observed: Such [existing] value systems might either develop other centres of power based on affiliations of community, religion, or regional identity, or insert themselves into the national narrative, making an accommodation with it but also perhaps transforming or subverting it. Might not other, syncretic forms of cultural identification come into being in response to these national narratives? (Holden 1999, p. 2)

There is the hope expressed above that capitalism’s culture may be reined in and made relevant to the nation, with the possibility of remaking the culture of the nation so that development’s benefits can be spread beyond the realm of the middle class. However, the danger of using even a syncretizing indigeny — worse if it is the indigeny of a really small minority group — as identitarian politics against marginalization is that, as PuruShotam argues (1999, p. 6), empowerment may be limited, and some groups may end up displaced from the larger political body of the nation. There are no easy solutions for the exact role of the local even in strategized dealings with capitalism and the state. There is at least one other special cultural feature of Southeast Asia that needs to be brought up in an introductory discussion of culture and capitalism in the region, a feature that does not quite manage to fit into the idea of the local — I mean the Chinese, sometimes located somewhere between the local, the national, and the transnational. ChineseIndonesians, for instance, may desire indigeny, if that is tied into what is an essentialist construct of the nation; the hyphen must count for something in their identity and for their safe existence in Indonesia. But, even in this case, socio-cultural and even historical identification may fail: political obedience to the State [requires] … Chinese-Indonesian[s] to erase a whole host of signs of Chinese-ness and replace it with signs of Indonesianness. But this erasure with its concomitant re-dressing can only take the Chinese-Indonesian so far — he/she can never be the authority on Indonesianness and hence claim to speak as an authority, insofar as indigeny and other essentialist forms are given precedence. (PuruShotam 1999, p. 7)

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And yet, of course, the Chinese are taken to be one of the rich stakeholders in Indonesia: they occupy a liminal position where they personify capitalist Indonesia, funding a significant part of its quest to be modern, but are hounded for having this very personification. Understanding how historical processes work to create hyphenated identities in the work of historians, anthropologists, and cultural critics is one thing — but obviously we should not take that such academic understanding easily manage or undercut the strength of essentialist notions of cultural identity. While, unfortunately, the issue of the Chinese overseas in Southeast Asia is beyond the scope of this book, it cannot be avoided in the larger matter of the relationship between the state, cul11 ture, and capitalism in Southeast Asia. The preceding discussion does not mean that we need to assume culture to be more important than either economics or politics as an element in the shaping of economic development. Culture, also, is not the simple possession of a whole society. Society, we need to recognize, is composed of many and varied elements in which culture is also often the site of contestations against and co-operation with (or co-optation by) the state and capitalism. Having made the above qualifications, the key common thread in the book remains that socio-cultural relations and cultural meanings are part and parcel of politico-economic developments, and not free-standing elements. This thinking undergirds the various contributors’ approaches to understanding the processes through which capitalism has been embedded and problematically resisted in the Asian contexts, crucially in the 1980s and the 1990s, the general period with which this book, by and large, is concerned. The State, Culture, and Capitalism in Southeast Asia

The contributors in the present volume, with varied theoretical orientations, look at the interaction between the state, culture (or various cultures both “high” and “anthropological”), and capitalism. All contributors, however, understand that the state has had a significant role in promoting rapid economic growth in the region through the 1980s and 1990s.

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Singapore and Malaysia come closest to being “developmental states” the way South Korea was in targeting specific “strategic” industrial sectors as the way to intense industrialization. More common to Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand is openness as a key part of the regional NIE story: financial market liberalization (even if incomplete), starting in the late 1980s, led to the arrival of foreign capital, especially short-term and equity capital. This, along with so-called “crony capitalism”, seems to have contributed towards the “bubble economy” that burst in the late 1990s. The Philippines appear in this volume alongside the so-called Little Tigers because a comparative dimension is important if we are to achieve nuanced views on “Asian capitalism”. That country, one of the more promising of the post-colonial economies in the 1960s, became the “sick man” of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) with a “weak” state, as historian Edilberto de Jesus calls it, though it suffered less from the crisis than its neighbours as a result. The opening section examines the state in Southeast Asia. Kamal Malhotra looks at what the appropriate role and responsibility of the state should be, given the Asian economic crisis and the ascendant status of the “Washington consensus”. Neo-liberalism cannot be accepted “as being a universal truth that is above the realm of culture and values”; at the same time, he also argues that “there should be minimum universal values and cultural norms for states and governments with the clear … expectation that such norms will enable universal and equitable access to core quality goods”. Malhotra offers a threefold typology of Southeast Asian states — the Anglo-American-style capitalist state; the stateled, “strong” capitalist state functioning to a large extent within the norms of the free market; and the centrally planned state — and notes the increasing identification of the state with the economic function. His focus remains on the first two types, which overlap in terms of characteristics. Malhotra contends that Southeast Asia has political and sociocultural institutions different from Anglo-Saxon culture, given the “nexus of state-conglomerate-military collusion within a web of tight controls against external neo-liberal capitalist forces to survive and, indeed, thrive”.

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Using Karl Polanyi, he stresses that markets cannot exist outside the web of local social relations for long. The “local” — in the presence of civil society organizations (CSOs) — can play its part through policyinfluencing strategies to ensure that states fulfil their major responsibilities, and, in fact, by supporting state capacity that may constrain and regulate the power of footloose global capitalism. Problematic as the state is, it cannot be abandoned. Chapter 2 offers a cultural-historical perspective as to why the Philippines — classified by Malhotra as an Anglo-American-style capitalist state — does not share the same level of success as the Little Tigers. The state as “an abstract, impersonal and impartial entity entrusted with the mandate to achieve goals for the common good was a remote and unfamiliar concept that had to be learned”, Edilberto de Jesus says. While this is true of all Southeast Asian societies, the landed political dynasties with roots in the late-Spanish and the American colonial periods dogged the formation of the national state, and then managed to accommodate both post-colonial democratic and authoritarian regimes. (This is Benedict Anderson’s well-known “cacique democracy” thesis, de Jesus notes.) While internal reform efforts are ongoing, and the hegemony of the landed interests is now weakened, there is a “split-level” value system that persists from the past that makes it hard to predict how the Philippines will develop: a paternalistic view of the state with the expectation that the government should provide jobs versus a value system that privileges market economy principles. Like Malhotra, de Jesus speaks of the need for citizens’ movements to promote the state’s compliance with civic responsibilities. Thus, for both de Jesus and Malhotra, there is a need for people to re-connect with the state. The second section deals with the cultural-intellectual lineages of “Asian” capitalism, as it relates to both Anglo-American readings of Asia and East Asian readings of its own capitalist development — readings, notably, that already show the difficulty of separating “East” from “West”. The often unstated dichotomy between the “modern” and universal world and the “traditional” non-Western world must be abrogated — cultural and post-colonial theory have partially achieved this, but it has yet signally to affect political-economic views of the world. The two chapters in the section also emphasize the need to better understand “the con-

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nection between cultural subjectification [the practices of the ‘national self ’, as it were] and national discourses in urban Southeast Asia” (Holden 1999, p. 6). Mark Berger’s chapter argues that neo-liberalism, even before the Asian crisis transpired, underwent much re-working to fit the nationalist and pan-Asian narratives advanced by individual nation-states in Northeast and Southeast Asia. There was some concession to cultural specificity in the form of a larger role of the state, but even such concessions, Berger says, relied on essentialist and thus reductive notions of culture which worked — in an implicit manner — to legitimate authoritarianism: the Cold War meant that certain levels of national autonomy and economic privileges in the region were acceptable. Neoliberalism in general remains élitist, technocratic, and universalist, and therefore continues to constrain various states’ abilities to manœuvre beyond a limited point. He offers the reader two case studies — Cold War South Korea and post–Cold War Indonesia — in support of his larger argument. Chapter 3 also offers the insight that while regional political élites were able to marshal identitarian politics to re-work not only their own immediate societies but neo-liberalism itself — in the way that there was a partial accommodation of state-centred capitalism — it remains to be seen if such politico-economic dexterity can be equally well practised after the crisis. In Chapter 4, Farid Alatas traces the identification of Confucianism as a motor of capitalism initially made in the 1960s and 1970s by academics such as Ezra Vogel to explain Japan’s economic success to that of the Little Tigers in general. This was a transformation of Weber’s Protestant work ethic, and Alatas gives us a succinct summary of Weber’s work, the abuse of his work in the “Asian values” debate, and Weber’s own blindness and insights, along with a rundown of some of the discursive clashes between Malaysia and the United Kingdom that were partly the result of the politics of difference. Alatas then proceeds to say that scholars should not cease to look for difference in the realm of both material and ideal differences in capitalist practices, while remaining sceptical of obviously instrumentalized essentializations. He ends with a call for more sophisticated applications of Weber and more empirically oriented research.

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The third and final section looks at local cultures as they interact with the state, and the chapters suggest that systems of meanings and signification are unstable, and can disintegrate and be re-articulated. C.J.W.-L. Wee makes the case that the “Asian values” experiments indicate that states are capable of actively and flexibly managing culture as an instrument to maintain national competitiveness within global capitalism. Singapore’s history since independence in 1965 has been the distinctive story of the global given precedence over the local. Chapter 5 investigates these questions by examining the People’s Action Party (PAP) government’s cultural management through ethnicity. The city-state’s example arguably moves attention away from both cultural contestation from the margins and from the focus on the “West and the Rest” to semi-peripheral states and the institutions of advanced capitalism. Culture, he argues, becomes not just the superstructural expression of the base, but actually is mobilized to create it. The rise of new Asian trading economies and intra-regional integration has led to capitalism being more multi-centric — but this in turn can create the need for alternative identity and political legitimacy foci. The last three chapters, in contradistinction to Wee’s work, look at culture from “below”. Joshua Barker’s chapter, like de Jesus’s, takes on a historical dimension in his investigation of telephony in colonial Dutch East Indies (DEI). Indonesian telephony has “minor histories” that challenge the idea of modernity that international capitalism brought during the colonial era. Early DEI telephony tended towards local communication, reinforcing local community identity rather than “an imagined community of anonymous users”. At the same time, this “localness” was not contained by the body’s materiality, thus bypassing the mechanisms of social control and discipline. The centralization of telecommunications that occurred in the post-colonial period — which strengthened the nation-state — should not mean that we forget other telephonic genealogies. The 1980s-to-present existence of the Interkom — a “cable-based technology that works like a ‘souped-up’ telephone party-line” — in Bandung, where its users still stress the need for faceto-face contact, shows that there is a continuation of the desires of a minor history that resist the totalizing thrusts of the state and capitalism.

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Goh Beng Lan’s chapter also argues for the importance of locality and local conditions in thinking through the processes of the postcolonial desire for a globalized modernity. Her case study focuses on Georgetown, in Penang, West Malaysia. Background, Goh maintains, is significant: Malaysia experienced racial riots in May 1969, representing especially Malay discontentment over the nation-building project. Thus, the Malaysian economy in the 1970s and much of the early 1980s experienced ethnically directed state intervention. The late 1980s, however, saw South Korean–style industrial policy combined with the Singaporean strategy of upgrading transnational operations in an allencompassing view of modernity soon to be called “Vision 2020”. The result was that the nature of urban experience changed as various fractions of capital, class, and community groups vied for wealth, ethnic, and cultural status, giving rise to diverging ethnic identity struggles and a changing urbanscape with no simple convergence in the conception of the “modern”. For example, some Eurasians of mixed, PortugueseCatholic descent could claim that a historical, village school building in Georgetown was part of a heritage Malay-ness, given that the early medium of instruction was supposedly Malay — a construction of “Eurasians” as “Malay-speaking” was being made so that an élite group could gain possession of valuable real estate. The final chapter, by Paritta C. Koanatakool, analyses the “high” culture of Thai court dance. The 1980’s Thai economic growth led to novel forms of consumption by a new middle class, the kon chan klang. This group is still ill-defined, but increasing perspectives confirm the reality of the middle class emerging, Paritta’s study here being one such perspective. She agrees that globalization is paradoxical, both supporting and undermining indigeny: a middle-class fraction has embraced traditional dance (here ram thai) to assert the local, rather than simply cosmopolitanizing themselves. However, they do not question the state’s endorsement of only select dance forms, thus emulating an aristocratic outlook, even as they distinguish themselves from the old élites by being both artistic patrons and practitioners. Their relationship with the art is also affected by the notion of the commodity, for middle-class entrepreneurs package dance for consumption by their same class. The docile body is turned into an economically productive body obedient to capi-

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talism’s dictates, while becoming simultaneously an authority and a counterpoint to other sources relevant to authoring the Thai nation: “What we are witnessing here is perhaps the new cultivated class in the making of a Thailand that is part of the New World Order.” NOTES Thanks to Lee Hock Guan and Philip J. Holden for commenting upon a draft of this chapter. 1. Perhaps not surprisingly, this term has been adapted for use by the Singapore Tourism Board as a slogan to represent the nature of Singapore as a city-state that, in Southeast Asia, has been the most socio-culturally re-engineered society for economic development: “New Asia — Singapore” (see Wee 1993 and Wee, this volume). 2. While culture is a slippery, polysemic term, engendering alternative concepts such as “hegemony”, “discourse”, “subjectivity”, the “unconscious”, and so forth, it remains important as the key term that signifies the inadequacy of the materialism and homogenizing impulses of the objective social sciences. The major point would be that coming to grips with “social reality” requires coming to grips with subjectivity and systems of signification. Culture, in this sense, also should not be taken to be either the effects the state creates or merely a history of formal ideas that influences state formation. This book takes human behaviour to have a strategic reasonability to it, even if it does not conform to rational norms. 3. This has now resulted in studies (for example, Brook and Luong 1997b) that try to look at culture in more complex terms than just a sort of synonym for “alternative” development (Tai 1989), which reinforces older Orientalist and colonialist dichotomies of self and other. 4. The devastation of the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, DC, on 11 September 2001 — events that will need enormous effort to comprehend — should stop any sense that we have arrived. 5. The World Bank’s The East Asian Miracle (1993) report argues that Southeast Asian governments played less of a role than East Asian governments — a contestable conclusion — and also a less constructive role, as they were, “in neo-classical political economy, more likely to be predatory states, with rent-seeking bureaucrats, rather than the bureaucrats idealized in the East Asian models” (Robison, Rodan, and Hewison 1997, p. 8). This type of view returned with a vengeance in the wake of the economic crisis in charges of collusion, corruption, and nepotism. 6. Many of Marshall Berman’s ([1982] 1988) arguments regarding a “modern world of contradiction” are as cogent now as they were when first published.

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7. Weber himself took the process of culture seriously, in the way he handled the Protestant work ethic and Chinese culture. Naturally, his views on Chinese culture not being quite dynamic enough to rise to the standards of Western capitalism have been questioned. All that this shows, however, is that the relation of culture to capitalism remains complex — that cultural analyses of history sometimes have a tenuous connection to reality. 8. Fredric Jameson (1981) exhorts: “Always historicize.” Subaltern historian Dipesh Chakraberty observes: “in a world in which everything else might be contextually relative and historically relative, this is the only one transcultural imperative that [Jameson] would allow. … And we all do that whenever we are faced with prejudice or hatred-deploying stereotypes, deploying what we now regard as essentialism. Our instinctive response then is to historicise, … to say ‘this was not always so’” (2000, pp. 3–4). This “response” would also apply in like measure to the phenomenon of culture in economic development as well. 9. As sociologist Kwok Kian-Woon (1999) says: “To be sure, Asian societies cannot take themselves out of the historical path of Western-led modernity. Yet this familiar storyline gives short shrift to the unequal relations between Western and nonWestern nations in the global capitalist system, and to the struggles among people within nations and the [Asian] region to develop a form of modernity that fulfils their highest ideals and deepest aspirations.” He goes on to add: “The entire process of fast-paced post-colonial development within a short span of a few decades represents what might be called a case of ‘modernisation without modernity’. Citizens were mobilized by the state towards ‘national’ goals with the promise of material improvement — which was, in varying degrees, delivered. In the process, there was a kind of ‘leapfrogging’ from the old order into the structures and mentalities of modernisation, into the scientific-technological and capitalist rationality — generally bypassing the development of the cognitive development of modernity in the form of a new self-consciousness.” The Asian economic crisis and the ongoing push to bring about a New Economy should compel us to think through the cost of not having this “self-consciousness”. 10. On 20 September 1998, Dr Mahathir sacked Anwar Ibrahim — in many respects, a modernizer like Mahathir — as the Deputy Prime Minister and had him detained under the Internal Security Act, though he was later brought to trial on sodomy charges. Since then, liberal opposition groups have aligned themselves with the Islamic PAS to form a coalition called the Barisan Alternatif (Alternative Front). Allegiances can change dramatically, and this (problematic) coalition of parties represents an anti-Mahathir thrust. 11. Indonesia is probably the most difficult country for local Chinese in Southeast Asia. Historian Wang Gungwu suggests that “there were two ways the ethnic Chinese could identify with local indigenous history. One was through common action during the course of national awakening, including siding with the anti-

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colonial movements that were led by the new generation of nationalists. The other was through education in the new national schools in which the curriculum included strong emphasis on identifying with the local past” (1998, p. 6). The relationship of the Chinese to these two ways of becoming involved with local affairs varied, but this involvement did transpire. However, Wang adds, “This has not been true of Indonesia. Some Chinese fought with the Indonesian nationalists since the 1930s and 1940s, … and most Chinese had been prepared to see themselves as part of the Indonesian nation by the beginning of the 1960s. But the complex relations between Indonesia, the People’s Republic of China, and the Guomindang Government … between 1949 and 1965 slowed down the process of participation. And then, after 1965, the policies of leaving Chinese largely out of all political and military office, and the encouragement to them to confine themselves to economic activities, all hampered ethnic Chinese identification with the Indonesian past. It would be over-simplifying to say that this was one of the causes of the tragic experiences in recent months, but the lack of participation as full citizens certainly contributed to the ethnic Chinese as a people without a Chinese past, and with an imperfect and incomplete local Indonesian past” (1998, pp. 7–8).

REFERENCES Albert, Michael. Capitalism Against Capitalism. London: Whurr, 1993. Amsden, Alice. Asia’s Next Giant: South Korea and Late Industrialization. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989. Appadurai, Arjun. Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996. Berman, Marshall. All That Is Solid Melts into Air: The Experience of Modernity. First published 1982. New York: Penguin, 1988. Brook, Timothy and Hy V. Luong. “Introduction: Culture and Economy in a Postcolonial World”. In Culture and Economy: The Shaping of Capitalism in Eastern Asia, edited by Timothy Brook and Hy V. Luong. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1997a. Brook, Timothy and Hy V. Luong, eds. Culture and Economy: The Shaping of Capitalism in Eastern Asia. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1997b. Chakrabarty, Dipesh. “‘Asia’ and the Twentieth Century: What Is ‘Asian’ Modernity?” Paper presented at the conference on ‘We Asians’: Between Past and Future, Grand Plaza Parkroyal, Singapore, 21–23 February 2000. Chowdhury, Anis and Iyanatul Islam. “Explaining East Asian Success: Between the State and the Market”. In The Newly Industrialising Countries of East Asia, edited by Anis Chowdhury and Iyanatul Islam. London: Routledge, 1993. Foucault, Michel. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, translated by Alan

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Sheridan. New York: Vintage, 1979. Gardner, Katy. Global Migrants, Local Lives: Travel and Transformation in Rural Bangladesh. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995. Giddens, Anthony. The Third Way: The Renewal of Social Democracy. Cambridge: Polity, 1998. Granovetter, Mark. “Economic Action and Social Structure: The Problem of Embeddedness”. American Journal of Sociology 91 (1985): 481–510. Hall, Stuart. “The Local and the Global: Globalization and Ethnicity”. In Dangerous Liaisons: Gender, Nation, and Postcolonial Perspectives, edited by Anne McClintock, Aamir Mufti, and Ella Shohat. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997. Harper, T.N. The End of Empire and the Making of Malaya. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999. Hefner, Robert W. “Introduction: Society and Morality in the New Asian Capitalisms”. In Market Cultures: Society and Morality in the New Asian Capitalisms, edited by Robert W. Hefner. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1998. Holden, Philip J. Discussant’s Paper presented at the Workshop on “Embedding Capitalism in Newer Asian Contexts: Authority Structures and Local Cultures and Identities in Southeast Asia” organized by the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore, 22–23 March 1999. Huntington, Samuel. The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1996. Jameson, Fredric. The Political Unconscious: Narrative as a Socially Symbolic Act. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1981. Jameson, Fredric and Masao Miyoshi, eds. The Cultures of Globalization. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1998. Khoo Boo Teik. Paradoxes of Mahathirism: An Intellectual Biography of Mahathir Mohamad. Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, 1995. Klein, Naomi. No Space, No Choice, No Jobs, No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies. New York: Picador USA, 2000. Kwok Kian-Woon. “Asian Crisis as a Moral Crisis: A Question of Values?” Straits Times Interactive, “Perspective” section, 24 January 1999. http://web3.asia1.com.sg/ archive/st/0/cpe/cpe10_0124.html. Lee Weng Choy. “Just What Is It That Makes the Term ‘Global-Local’ So Widely Cited, Yet So Annoying?” Artlink 20, no. 2 (June 2000). Lim, Linda Y.C. “Singapore’s Success: The Myth of the Free Market Economy”. Asian Survey 23, no. 6 (June 1983): 752–64. Lim, Shirley Geok-lin, Larry E. Smith, and Wimal Dissayanake, eds., with the assistance of Laura Scott Holliday. Transnational Asia Pacific: Gender, Culture, and the

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Public Sphere. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1999. Mahathir Mohamad. “Ucapan di Majlis Pelancaran Operasi Bank Islam Malaysia Berhard”. Utusan Malaysia, 2 July 1983. Matthews, Trevor and John Ravenhill. “The Neo-Classical Ascendancy: The Australian Economic Policy Community and Northeast Asian Economic Growth”. In Pathways to Asia: The Politics of Engagement, edited by Richard Robison. St. Leonards: Allen & Unwin, 1996. McCormack, Gavan and Yoshio Sugimoto, eds. The Japanese Trajectory: Modernization and Beyond. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988. McVey, Ruth. “The Materialization of the Southeast Asian Entrepreneur”. In Southeast Asian Capitalists, edited by Ruth McVey. Ithaca, NY: Southeast Asia Program, Cornell University, 1992. Pinches, Michael, ed. Culture and Privilege in Capitalist Asia. London: Routledge, 1999. PuruShotam, Nirmala S. Discussant’s Paper presented at the Workshop on “Embedding Capitalism in Newer Asian Contexts: Authority Structures and Local Cultures and Identities in Southeast Asia” organized by the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore, 22–23 March 1999. Robison, Richard and David S.G. Goodman, eds. The New Rich in Asia: Mobile Phones, McDonalds and Middle-Class Revolution. London: Routledge, 1996. Robison, Richard, Garry Rodan, and Kevin Hewison. “Introduction”. In The Political Economy of South-East Asia: An Introduction, edited by Garry Rodan, Kevin Hewison, and Richard Robison. Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1997. Rodan, Garry. The Political Economy of Singapore’s Industrialization: National State and International Capital. Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1989. Sakai, Naoki. Translation and Subjectivity: On “Japan” and Cultural Nationalism. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997. Tai Hung-chao, ed. Confucianism and Economic Development: An Oriental Alternative? Washington, DC: Washington Institute for Values in Public Policy, 1989. Wade, Robert. Governing the Market: Economic Theory and the Role of Government in East Asian Industrialization. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990. Wang Gungwu. “Ethnic Chinese: The Past in Their Future”. Paper presented at the International Conference on the Ethnic Chinese, ISSCO, Manila, Philippines, 26–28 November 1998. Weber, Max. From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology, translated and edited by H.H. Gerth and C. Wright Mills. New York: Oxford University Press, 1958. . General Economic History, translated by Frank H. Knight. First published 1927. Glencoe, Ill.: Free Press, 1950. Wee, C.J.W.-L. “Contending with Primordialism: The ‘Modern’ Construction of

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Postcolonial Singapore”. Positions: East Asia Cultures Critique 1, no. 3 (Winter 1993): 715–44. . “The ‘Clash’ of Civilizations? Or an Emerging ‘East Asian Modernity’?” Sojourn: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia 11, no. 2 (October 1996): 211–30. . “Framing the ‘New’ East Asia: Anti-Imperialist Discourse and Global Capitalism”. Southern Review (Australia) 28, no. 3 (November 1995): 289–302. A revised and expanded version appears in “The Clash of Civilizations?”: Asian Responses, edited by Salim Rashid. Dhaka: University Press, 1997. Wilson, Rob and Wimal Dissayanake, eds. Global/Local: Cultural Production and the Transnational Imaginary. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1996. World Bank. The East Asian Miracle: Economic Growth and Public Policy. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.

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CHAPTER 1

DEVELOPMENT ENABLER OR DISABLER? THE ROLE OF THE STATE IN SOUTHEAST ASIA Kamal Malhotra

We cannot view the role of the state as either static or in isolation. It is always: • • •

dynamic; relative and changing vis-à-vis civil society and the market; relative and changing vis-à-vis regional and global institutions, especially in the current context of accelerating economic regionalization and globalization. For example, the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) forum member governments stress the economic rather than the sovereign “national state” nature of their grouping. Other instances of the growing power of global multilateral institutions are: the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Trade Organization (WTO); and the fact that approximately fifty of the world’s largest 100 economies are now transnational corporations (TNCs), not nation-states.

It should be evident that the “state” needs to be viewed as having an identity that is separate and different from a particular government or political party in power. Relationships with particular governments will and should vary (on a continuum ranging from collaboration to

This chapter is reproduced from Local Cultures and the “New Asia”, edited by C.J.W.-L. Wee (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2002). This version was obtained electronically direct from the publisher on condition that copyright is not infringed. No part of this publication may be reproduced, translated, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies < http://www.iseas.edu.sg/pub.html >

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confrontation) depending on what type of government is in power at a particular time period in history and what ideological interests that government may represent. In this context, it should be noted that this chapter is not merely concerned with the performance of different countries and governments in Southeast Asia over the past few decades, but with the equally — if not more — important issue of what the appropriate roles and responsibilities of the state ideally should be in the development process in any society. Indeed, the major purpose of this chapter is to make an assessment of how different types of governments and states in Southeast Asia have performed if they are measured against the roles and responsibilities identified as the core ones that they should be exercising in the development process. It is important to revisit these issues partly because the Southeast Asian–led global economic and financial crisis resulted in an active debate and controversy about the wisdom of continuing to pursue current patterns of globalization and raised important questions about what the appropriate role of the state and governments in the region should be in its aftermath. However, even more importantly, these issues need revisiting because of the increasing concern that capitalism in its present neo-liberal economic and financial configuration of the Washington consensus, which was ascendant for the decade-and-a-half before the Southeast Asian crisis broke in 1997, has been increasingly unable to provide basic public goods in an equitable manner to the world’s citizens, with the most impoverished and marginalized among them being the most disadvantaged in this respect under its regime. We cannot accept neo-liberalism as being a universal truth that is above the realm of culture and values — neo-liberalism has its value system and “way of doing things”. It needs to be understood, in this context, that thinking about the state’s role, responsibilities, and possibilities cannot be separated from the values and thus the culture people want for their society, country, and government. As Nirmala PuruShotam has aptly stated, “The state constitutes cultural possibilities [in its ‘nation’]. These cultural possibilities come in the form of economic transformations with cultural undertones; and in the form of cultural transformations with economic undertones” (1999, p. 4).

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While the modern state in much of Southeast Asia (especially at the current time when countries such as Vietnam and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic [Lao PDR] are in the process of making transitions from centrally planned command economies to market-oriented ones) appears committed to the culture of capitalism, PuruShotam has also correctly commented that “this culture of capitalism that the state privileges is in dialectical tension with the culture of the nation” (ibid.). This last observation appears to be true of all states in the region, regardless of the fact that their historical and current roles have been and remain varied in different countries in the region. Indeed, significant differences have also existed and continue to exist even within the same society at different points in time. Therefore, it is both unhelpful and dangerous to generalize too much on the role of the state since this will lead to over-simplifications and/or simplistic analysis. Nevertheless, one is entitled to ask a critical question that requires a generalization to be made, as a response: What should the social values and culture of capitalism be, especially for states and governments? This is a particularly pertinent question to ask in this era of economic rationalism and neo-liberalism, given that the values and culture of the latter ideology do not appear to provide for either a fair and reasonable definition of public goods or their adequate provision in practice. This chapter will argue that there should be minimum universal social values and cultural norms for states and governments with the clear implication and expectation that such norms will enable universal and equitable access to core quality public goods for all their citizens. It will also be argued that consistent and relevant benchmarks against which the performance of different governments should be measured include universally defined and agreed core roles and responsibilities of states to their citizens. These should not vary either between societies at a particular period in time or over time. The benchmarks also hold true for all societies, regardless of their level of development. Such core roles and responsibilities should include, at the very minimum, universal and equitable provision of basic health and education, food security, housing, water and sanitation, electricity, power, and roads. This chapter also argues that the performance of the core roles by different types of governments in this region has been very uneven.

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External institutions (for example, the Bretton Woods institutions — the World Bank and the IMF) and their policies have increasingly influenced and fundamentally altered the roles that states are now capable of playing, especially since the early 1980s. This period, when the external debt crisis was explicitly recognized, was a significant turning point that resulted in externally enforced structural adjustment programmes in many developing countries. These programmes have attempted to fundamentally redesign the respective roles of states and markets in favour of the latter and to the detriment of the former. The Nature of States and Governments in Southeast Asia

At the risk of over-generalizing, I suggest that it is useful to use three broad typologies for Southeast Asian states. These capture many, if not all, of the attributes of Southeast Asian governments over the last three decades, even though it is acknowledged at the outset that these are not neat and totally separate categories or typologies, and that different states and governments (Thailand, for example) have straddled and continue to straddle more than one typology simultaneously — some sectors in an economy or society may be more typical of one typology while others may be more typical of another. Nevertheless, I regard the three typologies as useful. They are: •





the Anglo-American style capitalist state whose rhetoric and practice in many areas is to leave as much as possible to the “magic hand of the market” (for example, the Philippines in many sectors, and Thailand in some aspects including but not restricted to its unregulated financial sector in the 1990s); the state-led and controlled capitalist state (for example, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand, the last in some social policy areas such as public health and primary education); the centrally planned and led “socialist” or “communist” command state (for example, Lao PDR, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Myanmar).

A common characteristic of all three state typologies has been the accelerating and increasing identification of the state’s role with economic growth issues to the relative, and in some cases, absolute neglect and exclusion of the social and redistributive role that the state also needs to

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play in any society. This has obviously had a serious negative impact both on the role of the state vis-à-vis social welfare and social development policy as well as on gender and environmental issues. States and governments in both the first and second typology, in particular, have led in the promotion of an economic development paradigm or development model that has resulted in an accelerating emphasis on the value of the monetary versus the non-monetary in life, with a breakdown of community structures, values, many cultural norms and practices, and traditional ways of work and social organization. The Anglo-American Style Capitalist State

The Anglo-American style capitalist state, apart from emphasizing the monetary over the non-monetary, has simultaneously abdicated much of its responsibility for the social welfare and social development of its citizens, particularly in relation to poor women and children. The Philippines, particularly with the advent of structural adjustment programmes (SAPs) and over fifteen SAP loans since the early 1980s, has been the classic example of this type of state in Southeast Asia, especially in many of its social sectors. While it is true that the Marcos regime was extremely interventionist in certain sectors and on behalf of certain cronies of the then President, it is equally true that many public goods and social sectors were left to the “magic hand of the market” even during his presidency. Thailand’s record in social welfare and development has been considerably better than the Philippines, although its overemphasis on the monetary versus non-monetary through, for example, its premature and unregulated financial liberalization in the early 1990s, has had severe social consequences. These effects have been starkly evident through the social impact of the current economic and financial crisis in the region. The abdication of the role of the state in social policy and other critical arenas in the Philippines for over two decades (and in areas such as the financial sector and the environment in Thailand) has been in favour of the unregulated market, often at the behest or at least encouragement of international financial institutions such as the IMF, the World Bank, and often the even more rabid “free marketeer” nationaltechnocratic élite who have been schooled in the bastions of Anglo-

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American free market, capitalist, educational institutions. It is both through the international financial institutions (IFIs) — in their neo-liberal incarnation after the breakdown of the Bretton Woods system in the early 1970s — and free-marketeering national-technocratic élite that the resurrected, post-Victorian, neo-liberal “free market” form of capitalism has come to dominate the globalization process that entered Southeast Asian developing countries in the last two decades. Financial liberalization or its acceleration across the region in the early 1990s was a significant mechanism and embodiment of this process. Indeed, for much of the 1990s, many Southeast Asian countries have attempted to deal with the globally dominant “universal” — really Anglo-Saxon culture specific — capitalism and play its game through financial liberalization. They have largely failed because the historical and current institutional, political, and social strengths and cultures of Southeast Asian countries have been quite different from the institutional, political, and social strengths and cultures of the Anglo-Saxon industrialized countries. Therein lies an important area of difference. Again, Thailand is a case that has illustrated this difference vividly to the enormous cost to its people during the economic and financial crisis. Neither economic neo-liberalism of the Thatcherite or Reagonomics variety or capitalism of the state-led Southeast Asian “miracle economic growth” variant have taken notice of economic anthropologist Karl Polanyi’s enduring insight in 1944 that markets are sustainable only in so far as they are embedded in social and political (and one might add, cultural) institutions. According to Polanyi’s important book (1944), which remains as valid today as it was over fifty years ago when it was written, such institutions serve three functions without which markets cannot survive: they regulate, stabilize, and legitimate market outcomes. That is why every functioning society has regulatory bodies that prevent unfair competition and fraud, monetary and fiscal institutions that help smooth out the boom-bust cycle, as well as social insurance schemes that help bring market outcomes in conformity with a society’s preferences regarding the distribution of risks and rewards. Most importantly, given the recent crisis, Polanyi ironically argued in the year that the IMF was created — 1944 — that there was no such thing as a self-regulating market and that markets cannot exist outside the web of

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social relations for long without tragic consequences, as we have witnessed in Southeast Asia since July 1997, when the Thai baht was devalued, and the crisis began. As Dani Rodrik has correctly pointed out (1998), Anglo-Saxon neoliberal market fundamentalism has spawned a series of myths and halftruths such as freeing up international markets was the surest route to economic prosperity; free capital flows would allocate resources efficiently; all countries are converging towards a single brand of capitalism patterned after the Anglo-Saxon and specifically American model; and international financial markets will “discipline” governments to adopt more sound monetary and fiscal policies. To accept neoliberalism as universal is, in fact, to believe that global capitalism does not have a culture and its own set of practices. Yet, as we know, East Asian capitalism has had a culture quite distinct from Anglo-Saxon neoliberalism in many important areas, and the role of the state and governments in the region in defining and shaping these cultural differences in East and Southeast Asia has been pivotal. A recognition of cultural differences between Southeast Asian and Anglo-American capitalism, however, should in no way be taken as an endorsement of the flawed “Asian values” arguments put forward with so much confidence by key Southeast Asian leaders over the years. On the contrary, it needs to be recognized that some of the cultural specificities of countries in the region inhibited the growth of many essential political and social institutions that were undermined if they existed, stunted or left undeveloped in many Southeast Asian countries. Two key lessons of the crisis that can be ignored only at considerable future peril to the people of the region are, first, that there is an inextricable link and indivisibility between political and economic rights and governance, and second, that social values and cultural norms play a pivotal role in determining the quality of such governance. In addition to the negative consequences for health, education, and social welfare access and quality for the poor and marginalized, the neoliberal state’s abdication of its core social and redistributive responsibilities has often gone hand-in-hand with a repressive state (sometimes with a militaristic role) in Southeast Asia — take, for example, Marcos’ Philippines. Indeed, both the weak and repressive aspects of the role of

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the state have been most evident in Southeast Asia in the Philippines during various periods since the early 1970s. A stronger civil society and political democracy has resulted in the Philippines only in the last thirteen years in the post-Marcos period, significantly catalyzed by the long struggle against dictatorship. While it can be reasonably argued that the Philippines now has the most robust political democracy in Southeast Asia, there is no compelling empirical evidence to suggest that this, in and of itself, has resulted in significant poverty reduction or gains in social welfare for its most marginalized and impoverished citizens. The role of the state in the Philippines over the last two to three decades has been in sharp contrast to the strong but authoritarian state role in the newly industrializing countries (NICs) and aspiring NICs — that is, states of the second typology — that never had to undergo the classic form of externally induced SAPs or other austere economic reform measures until the current crisis. These states have simultaneously exhibited both enabling and disabling characteristics, almost as if such attributes are inseparable twins or two sides of the same coin. While most of the other non-communist or socialist Southeast Asian countries fall into this second category, Thailand cannot be as easily or neatly classified under any one typology as it partly falls into the realms of both of the first two typologies. The State-Led and Controlled Capitalist State (Most But Not All Aspiring NICs)

Some enabling characteristics of the numerous Southeast Asian governments that qualify for partial or full categorization under this typology have included: •

• •

strong but externally induced (by the threat of their communist neighbours) interventionist roles in favour of agrarian reform (for example, Chinese Taipei, Republic of Korea); reduction in absolute poverty and its incidence; the almost total universalization of access to public health and primary education, and strong investment in certain types of physical infrastructure;

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high levels of economic growth (an average of 7–8 per cent per annum), sustained for at least a decade.

On the other hand, the same governments and states simultaneously have exhibited a multitude of negative characteristics as well. These have had a direct bearing on their inability to successfully take on and sustain central characteristics of the currently dominant, Anglo-American-led neo-liberal form of capitalism. Such characteristics include: •

• • • • •



repressive, centralized, coercive, opaque, non-participatory state apparatuses with disabling implications for significant aspects of the civil and political rights of their citizens; related to this is the advocacy of collective social and economic rights over individual political and civil rights; strong and non-transparent but institutionalized nexi between the state, military, conglomerate businesses, and other élites; intensely patriarchal structures, much more so than in the AngloSaxon cultures of the late-twentieth century; weak civil societies with relatively little independence allowed by the state and its patronage system; use of the environment as a “sacrificial lamb” to create “miracle” economic growth rates; market distortions by the state and its conglomerate business and military apparatuses (clearly not a “free market”); indeed the state appears to have led the market in every important aspect by consciously getting many “market prices wrong” (see Alice Amsden [1989] on South Korea); growing environmental and human insecurity (the latter for some population groups) and a simultaneous overconfidence and belligerence often exhibited by a competitive arms build-up led by the state.

Growing income and wealth/asset inequalities have been a common consequence of the neo-liberal economic growth model in Anglo-Saxon and other Western countries. The same deepening entrenchment of such inequalities with a considerable percentage of the population still in or close to absolute poverty has also been a disabling feature of state-led

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Southeast Asian development over the past two decades of “miracle” growth; we can take, as examples, Northeast Thailand and West Nussa Tengara in Indonesia. Another disabling attribute over the past two decades for states — especially Thailand (its steady progress towards greater political democracy over the past two decades notwithstanding, which had its high point in the newly approved Constitution of late 1997) and Indonesia is this: the long-standing collusion between and coincidence of the state, military, and big business along with their relative hegemony. This can lead to a blurring of the roles and the functions of the three, with the military often effectively controlling the use of a significant share of the country’s natural resource base. Financial liberalization was a major strategy that these countries used to play the dominant Anglo-American capitalist game in the 1990s. While successful in the immediate short term, they appear to have been unable to sustain this game because, as earlier indicated, their institutions and political and social culture have been very different from AngloSaxon culture, depending as such countries did significantly on the nexus of state-conglomerate-military collusion within a web of tight controls against external neo-liberal capitalist forces to survive and, indeed, thrive. Once some of these controls were relaxed or totally eliminated — for example, in the financial sector — such countries were unable to sustain the game because it went out of their control. Once again, to recall Polanyi, there is no such thing as a self-regulating market, and markets cannot exist outside the web of social relations for long without the tragic consequences that we have witnessed in Southeast Asia. The Centrally Planned and Led Socialist or Communist Command States — Currently in Transition

The centrally planned and led socialist or communist states have had very different recent histories, especially in relation to the role of the state, market, and civil society, in comparison to the states of the first two typologies. There are also important differences and nuances within this category of countries. Cambodia, for instance, has a very weak or, according to some, “failed” state when compared with the People’s Republic of China or Vietnam, while the Lao PDR is somewhere in-

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between. Nevertheless, these states all share a similar set of historical and current characteristics, common to most centrally planned command economies. These include: •











a high degree of state centralization (bordering on monolithism) and non-participation in policy formulation (by ordinary people), despite the rhetoric regarding mass organizations; a largely patriarchal state, despite some impressive laws which give women equal rights to men and provide child and maternity benefits for ordinary women, for instance (as in Mongolia before its SAPs), in addition to universal access to basic social services such as health and education; a historical antipathy to human rights in their civil and political aspects although, in principle and theory, there is universal protection of all citizens’ rights of access to primary health and education and other essential social services (often not achieved in practice because of a lack of funds and the problems related to state monolithism); transition policies that, before the current regional crisis, were attempting economic liberalization without political liberalization, taking hope, ironically, from the NIC model of the second typology and attempting to emulate its key economic growth aspects; serious negative implications of such emulative growth for environmental (for example, Cambodia) and gender (for example, Lao PDR) concerns; erosion or dismantling of both progressive social, gender, and child benefit laws as a result of the current economic transition process to the market economy (for example, Mongolia), with severe consequences for poor and vulnerable women and children in particular, and for burgeoning income and asset inequalities in general.

More fundamentally, economic transition is, at least in some countries in the region, in danger of stripping the state without creating vibrant or mature markets or a sufficiently robust and independent civil society. (This is especially the case with Cambodia.) A key issue for the countries that fit into this last typology in the context of the Asian economic crisis are the lessons they draw from it for the future role of the state, government, public policy, and the roles of civil society

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organizations. Vietnam in particular, as the largest Southeast Asian country in this typology, is at an important crossroads, as it has yet to go down the current dominant globalization path to the point of no return. The State and Civil Society

Are there alternatives to thinking of how the core social responsibilities can be managed by institutions not directly connected to the state? There has been much talk of civil society associations possibly accomplishing what states cannot, and these claims need to be investigated. First off, we may ask, what is civil society? The term has a long history in political philosophy and its meaning has altered over time as a result of the different interpretations and perspectives of different philosophic orientations (Lockean, Hegelian, Marxist, Gramscian), long before it was rediscovered and popularized in the 1990s in the somewhat different context of Eastern Europe and social and human development (Van Rooy 1998). While there are a number of different definitions of civil society and no consensus on this, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) does provide one of the more practically useful and understandable definitions: Civil society embraces the broad range of human activity outside the market and the state, although it ultimately influences and is influenced by both. Civil society organizations (CSOs) encompass groups and associations which include but are not limited to non-governmental organizations (NGOs), people’s organizations, trade unions, cooperatives, consumer and human rights groups, women’s associations, youth clubs, the media, neighbourhood or community-based coalitions, religious groups, academic and research institutions, grassroots movements and organizations of indigenous peoples. Simply put, CSOs express the interests and aspirations of people. They are citizen organized, united by common needs, interests, values or traditions and mobilized into many kinds of activity. (UNDP undated)

Given the above definition, it should be clear that NGOs are only a small sub-set of CSOs, even though many people regard the two categories of organizations as synonymous. While NGOs are often a small, very visible and not particularly culturally endogenous sub-set of CSOs, the most important CSOs often exhibit the opposite characteristics — they are endogenous and not very visible, being culturally and

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otherwise embedded in local and national communities. The definition and elaboration of appropriate CSO roles vis-à-vis states and their governments should be considered against a context wherein the core social, economic, political, and cultural responsibilities and commitments of governments to their citizens, especially those who are already poor and vulnerable, are increasingly difficult to meet in the current dominant global framework of Anglo-American-led economic neo-liberalism. While such difficulties are not in themselves a good rationale to justify CSOs substituting for the state in service delivery in areas where the latter has a primary and legitimate responsibility — such as in health, education, water, power, roads, and other public infrastructure areas — it has been both ideologically convenient and expedient from a practical standpoint to transfer such responsibilities to certain types of civil society organizations. Empirical evidence suggests that this is wishful thinking. CSO strengths do not lie in the large-scale service delivery that is necessary for a significant dent in poverty or inequality reduction, employment creation, or even social integration. Only governments and intergovernmental multilateral institutions are equipped to operate on the scale that is necessary if poverty eradication, full employment, and social integration are to be achieved in a sustainable manner. Indeed, there is no empirically proven substitute for the state in the provision of public goods as market failure in this area has been even greater than state failure; CSOs, given their fragmented and relatively small-scale nature, are not up to this task. This is borne out equally by the experience of the industrialized countries historically and developing countries currently. The assignment by proponents of the neo-liberal economic paradigm of such roles to certain types of CSOs instead of to states, governments, and inter-governmental organizations, therefore, is both inappropriate and counter-productive, especially in the long run. As David Rieff argued in The Nation, “in fairness, the perception of the weakening of the nation[-state] and of the impotence of international organizations has not been mistaken. What has been misplaced is that a network of [civil society] associations could accomplish what states could not” (Rieff 1999).

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Rieff then goes on to argue powerfully that the suggestion that civil society can cope where nations have failed is, in fact, a counsel of despair … Without a treasury, without a legislature or an army at its disposal, civil society is less equipped to confront the challenges of globalization than nations are, and more likely to be wracked by divisions based on region and self-interest of the single-issue groups that form the nucleus of the civil society movement.

Indeed, as he adds: why should fragmented groups of like-minded individuals be more effective in, say, resisting the depredations of environmental despoilers than a national government? One can admire the efforts and sacrifices of activists in the poor world without losing sight of the fact that their countries would be better off with honest and effective governments and legal systems, and with militaries that stay in the barracks, than with denser networks of local associations [as a substitute], which may stand for good values or hideous ones.

Agreeing with David Rieff ’s argument does not imply that CSOs do not have important, indeed crucial roles to play in society and vis-àvis the state and its government. The more appropriate CSO roles, however, are primarily in the areas of monitoring, advocacy, and policyinfluencing to ensure that an enabling environment for social and human development and poverty elimination is created and sustained by states and inter-governmental organizations. This implies that if CSOs are to realize their potential (by playing appropriate roles where they have a comparative advantage), they will need to direct their limited resources and energies to campaigning, advocacy, and other policy-influencing strategies aimed at ensuring that states fulfil their core responsibilities and their national and international commitments. These sorts of roles also imply a CSO commitment and capacity for monitoring the performance of governments and pioneering process or content alternatives to the dominant mainstream policies of the IFIs. Sadly, however, this complementary potential is far from being realized — particularly in most Southeast Asian countries, where the state has often been a CSO disabler. Indeed, at best, CSOs in these countries have been equated by many development policy-makers with NGOs, and even more particularly, with humanitarian and development NGOs. In an overall sense, such NGOs have not played the roles discussed above. They have instead primarily operated within a North-

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South resource transfer paradigm that has not been significantly different from the framework of the much larger bilateral and multilateral donors in important respects. Funding — not monitoring, advocacy, and other forms of policy-influencing — has, for example, been the key resource in the relationship between most Northern NGOs (NNGOs) and their Southern “partners” and counterparts. While the traditional resource transfer paradigm has remained the overarching framework for North-South NGO relationships in all the five development decades after the Second World War, most NGO roles have shifted from pure resource transfer (for example, financial transfers) to surrogate service provision in the past fifteen years. NGOs (from both North and South) in much larger numbers and on a much larger scale than in previous decades have often been all too willing to play roles in social service and welfare provision that have traditionally been the prerogative and responsibility of states. This has happened because of the abdication of the state’s traditional roles to the market as a result of the globalizing neo-liberal market economy of the post–Cold War period, and the concomitant shrinking state and as a consequence of the active commission of many NGOs by both bilateral and multilateral donors and governments to fill the increasing gaps in social policy created by the latter’s greater and greater omissions in this area. NGOs have been favoured for these roles at least partly because this has kept down simmering public and social discontent — the situation would be more explosive if the gaps created by state and official development assistance (ODA) omission had been left totally unfilled by such surrogate NGO service provision. The unsustainable social safety net programmes that are inadequately attempting to deal with the growing gaps in the social policy and human development areas can be seen as constituting the “global soup kitchen”, with NGOs being critically described by one astute commentator as “ordained to be ladles in the global soup kitchen” (Fowler 1994) of this New World Order. Key Future Challenges and Dilemmas for the State-Civil Society Relationship

Empirical experience from around the world suggests that there are important roles for both the state and civil society that cannot be easily substituted or transferred from one to the other. To ensure that states

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and governments realize their best potential, more CSOs may need to be willing to take up additional roles in the future. First, CSOs must effectively challenge the authoritarian roles and tendencies of governments, while simultaneously attempting to identify and strengthen the enabling, activist role that the state has also played in a number of cases — for example, in the erstwhile “economic miracle” and aspirant miracle countries in East and Southeast Asia. Indeed, is it possible for the state in the Southeast Asian region to play the socially activist role without the other role of enabling the public sector, especially given the region’s specific cultural and socio-political history? While this is a formidable challenge and dilemma, it has to be addressed because neither NGOs nor civil society, more broadly, or the market are viable or desirable substitutes for the activist, enabling state. Challenging authoritarian governmental roles and tendencies is particularly important in non-democratic states. In such contexts, it is hard to see how CSOs can work in partnership or collaboration with their governments for sustainable human development; therefore, putting continuous pressure on such governments for change in appropriate ways may be the primary enabling role that CSOs should prioritize and play in such situations (if it is realistic). Second, CSOs must help build transparent and accountable states and governments with the political will, capacity, and ability to guard, strongly regulate, and enforce legislation, and take appropriate action against the excesses of both an unregulated market and civil society on behalf of and in favour of poor, vulnerable, and marginalized people all over the world. This is an increasingly urgent and challenging task in the current neo-liberal global and regional environment. Third, CSOs must devise an appropriate and effective response to the increasing service delivery gaps being created by the dominance of macroeconomic neo-liberalism that is simultaneously causing the rollback of the state and the growing asymmetrical power of the market, especially in relation to transnational corporate and finance capital over both governments and civil society. It is crucial that CSOs find ways of doing this without themselves becoming mere “ladles in the global soup kitchen”. While this does not imply that they should never be involved in direct poverty alleviation or

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employment expansion programmes, it does imply that, as far as possible, their state substitution roles in scaled-up direct service delivery should be limited to situations of short-term crisis and humanitarian response. CSOs’ major role at the local community level should be to strengthen the capacity of poor, powerless, and marginalized communities and population groups to make legitimate social demands and claims on the state and governments in power — demands, which if they are met, will directly contribute to the achievement of sustainable human and social development. Finally, there is a need to support state capacity and ability that will effectively constrain and regulate the power and reach of global international financial and trade institutions and transnational corporate conglomerates in an effort to restore more power to both local communities and a reformed, more activist, and enabling national state. Sustainable development will be impossible to achieve without such a change in the balance of power. The Asian economic crisis has also highlighted a number of other issues with major implications for sustainable human and social development and the future role of states and governments in supporting such development objectives. The first is the inextricable link and the indivisibility of economic and political governance issues — something that has already been highlighted in this chapter. These links do not necessarily imply that a move towards the market is the same as a move towards democracy or better economic and political governance. Also, it is increasingly evident even to the casual observer that merely harping on the need for better financial governance and transparency will clearly not be enough. States and governments in the region will need to acknowledge both the inextricable link between political and economic governance and ensure that both are of a sufficiently high quality in the future. The next issue is the need for designing and implementing comprehensive social security policies and systems. This is partly because it is already clear that even the best- designed social safety net programmes and social investment funds will be grossly inadequate to the task of dealing with the structural unemployment and other social policy issues highlighted or created by an economic crisis, matters that are

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fundamentally inimical to the achievement of sustainable human development. Only states and governments can design and implement such social security policies on a sufficient scale to make a difference. A third issue is the challenge and objective not just of universalizing primary education but for most developing countries, of simultaneously investing in primary, secondary, and tertiary education. In this era of globalization, the idea of “basic education” is in urgent need of redefinition to include at least secondary education. Again, only states and governments can ensure this. The final issue is the crucial need for institutional strengthening and the designing of crisis response programmes to avoid future crises. Building local institutional capacity with financial, economic, political, and social governance should be major medium- and long-term objectives if we are to move in the direction of sustainable development. Further financial liberalization of the type sought by the IMF as a solution in the immediate aftermath of the crisis — despite the clear evidence that premature and unregulated financial liberalization was such a major factor in the crisis — is likely to detract from rather than enable the pursuit of sustainable development. Again, only states, governments, and intergovernmental organizations can ensure that such institutional strengthening takes place and that no further financial liberalization takes place till their respective countries are able to absorb financial flows effectively in the real economy. Conclusion

The discussion in this chapter indicates that a key lesson of the Asian economic crisis is that it is imperative to return the core roles and responsibilities defined early on in this chapter back to states and governments. This will require, among other things, a retreat from the current minimalist definition of public goods that the IFIs and most governments appear to have embraced. There is widespread agreement that governments and public sectors in many countries have not performed as well as was expected, especially for their most marginalized and impoverished citizens. This is partly because such states have been captured by powerful vested political and economic interests, including wealthy and powerful private market sector

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actors, and partly because of the inertia of large bureaucracies. Nevertheless, there is also considerable evidence from East Asia, Kerala in India, and many industrialized countries to suggest that when basic public goods are distributed by the public sector, the benefits spread to a much larger number of people than has ever been possible in countries or situations where the provision of the same public goods has been left to the private sector — the contrast between the largely privatized health system in the United States and the public health system in Canada is a good example. What is clear from the ample historical and current empirical evidence is that there is no substitute for the state in the crucial area of basic public goods and infrastructure provision. Governments and other national and international policy-makers must recognize that neither CSOs nor the private sector can play surrogate roles for the state effectively or sustainably — nor is this desirable. Nor can the provision of regulation, however effective and comprehensive, be considered the only or even the main role of governments in the new millennium. While some people feel that returning public goods role to states, however worthwhile, is a futile hope of idealistic left-liberals and social democrats, we cannot accept such pessimism as our common and foregone destiny, even as we acknowledge that it will not be easy to reverse the current global neo-liberalism. Cracks in the Washington consensus have developed as a result of the Asian economic crisis — but these have unfortunately not developed into gaping holes as yet. With the bottoming out of the crisis in 1999, the world runs the risk of sinking back into a dangerous complacency regarding the need for fundamental changes in the global financial, economic, social, and political architecture that the last two years of regional crisis have so vividly illustrated. Creating socially activist states and public sectors must be seen as our most urgent common task in such architectural reforms since there are no shortcuts or alternatives if we wish to realize the goal of universal and equitable access to quality public goods and infrastructure for all the world’s citizens, and to achieve the human and social development targets set by the OECD Development Assistance Committee for the year 2015. Indeed, states and governments, CSOs, inter-governmental organizations such as the UNDP with its human development paradigm,

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other New York and Geneva-based specialized agencies of the United Nations and the broader local, national, regional, and international communities, will have to critically engage with each other in the pursuit of this common vision if we are to have any hope of achieving basic rights for the world’s poor and vulnerable majority — and be a serious countervailing power to the considerable power and influence of the Bretton Woods twins and the WTO, which appear to be pulling in the opposite direction and are clearly headed for a different destination and set of objectives. NOTE An early version of this chapter was prepared as a paper for the Workshop on “Embedding Capitalism in Newer Asian Contexts: Authority Structures and Local Cultures and Identities in Southeast Asia” organized by the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore, 22–23 March 1999.

REFERENCES Amsden, Alice. Asia’s Next Giant: South Korea and Late Industrialization. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989. Fowler, Alan. “Capacity Building and NGOs: A Case of Strengthening Ladles for the Global Soup Kitchen?” Institutional Development 1, no. 1 (1994): 18–24. Polanyi, Karl. The Great Transformation. New York: Farrar and Rienhart, 1944. PuruShotam, Nirmala S. Discussant’s Paper presented at the Workshop on “Embedding Capitalism in Newer Asian Contexts: Authority Structures and Local Cultures and Identities in Southeast Asia” organized by the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore, 22–23 March 1999. Rieff, David. “The False Dawn of Civil Society”. Nation (New York), Special issue on “Civil Society and the Future of the Nation-State”, 22 February 1999. Rodrik, Dani. “The Global Fix”. New Republic, 2 November 1998. United Nations Development Program (UNDP). “UNDP and Civil Society Organizations: Building Alliances for Development”, undated. http://www.undp.org/ csopp/csobroch.htm. Van Rooy, Alison, ed. Civil Society and the Aid Industry. London: Earthscan, 1998.

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CHAPTER 2

MUDDLING THROUGH: DEVELOPMENT UNDER A “WEAK” STATE Edilberto C. de Jesus

Recent studies on the political economy of the Asia-Pacific countries have focused on the role of the state in fostering rapid economic growth. In the wake of the stunning success of the newly industrializing countries (NICs), picturesquely acclaimed as the Dragon and Tiger economies, this refocusing of research was almost predictable. Notwithstanding the diversity of political arrangements and the resulting mixed patterns of state engagement in the economy, the regional landscape appeared to confirm that growth required a strong or “hard” state, capable of pursuing objectives unhampered by powerful social classes and specific economic interests (Searle 1999, p. 241). In the successful models in East and Southeast Asia, this strength derived from the dominant control exerted through the military establishment or through a one-party political system. Strong states received credit not only for containing the destabilizing forces released in the process of decolonization, but also for coping with the challenge of transnational competitors in the global trading arena. The extent to which the invisible hand, subtly guiding private interests towards the collective good under a liberal market system, needed a boost from the more muscular arm of government is a matter of some dispute. But whether the achievement was the adoption of correct policies that liberated benign market forces or the crafting of strategies to achieve

This chapter is reproduced from Local Cultures and the “New Asia”, edited by C.J.W.-L. Wee (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2002). This version was obtained electronically direct from the publisher on condition that copyright is not infringed. No part of this publication may be reproduced, translated, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the Institute of © 2002 Institute Southeast of Southeast Singapore Asian Asian Studies Studies, < http://www.iseas.edu.sg/pub.html >

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national economic goals, a robust state apparatus appeared necessary. Effective macroeconomic management to attract investments, the conscientious nurturing of the educational system to provide skilled manpower, the reorientation of policy to favour exports — all required skilled, coherent, and sustained government direction. The discussion of the role of the state in embedding capitalism does not often include the Philippines. Other countries in the region offer more directly pertinent examples of how states intervene to create the conditions for capitalist economic development. Since the stimulus for the interest was the outbreak of the Asian economic “miracle”, the omission of the Philippines was understandable. Those who marvelled at the spectacular growth rates posted by the Dragon and Tiger economies of East and Southeast Asia during the 1980s and early 1990s were obviously not looking at the Philippines. While its neighbours were racking up 9 and 10 per cent growth rates, the Philippines, for much of this period, remained mired in what some analysts have referred to as a “development bog”. Indeed, the World Bank, in a 1993 study excluded the Philippines from the list of Asian “miracle economies” (Montes 1999, p. 263). Unremarkable for its economic performance, neither did the Philippines gain any regard for the vitality of its state apparatus. Michael R.J. Vatikiotis mistakenly includes the Philippines among the list of Southeast Asian countries that in the mid-1950s replaced “progressive democratic regimes” with “uncompromising autocratic ones”. Its experience of autocracy began almost a generation later. But he correctly ignores the Philippines in his account of the mid-1980s as the third stage of the region’s political development when states entered a period of relative strength (1996, pp. 36–37). Despite the weakness of the state, capitalism did take root in the Philippines and, after the political turbulence and the recession of the mid-1980s, a measure of economic development did take place, admittedly at a much more modest pace than that achieved by its neighbours. But the economic crisis that engulfed the region in 1997 appeared to have caused more serious damage to the strong states than to the weak state. This chapter looks at the historical context of

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the emergence of the state and the embedding of capitalism in the Philippines, the challenge of the weak state, and society’s response to it. Colonial Invasions and Evasions

Throughout Southeast Asia, the pressures exerted by the Western powers defined the physical boundaries of the modern state and thus also helped shape the mental maps of its subjects. The formative impact of foreign rule was most intense in the Philippines, which experienced the earliest and the longest, continuous Western colonial control in the region. The embedding of the state and capitalism in the Philippines transpired under a protracted period of colonial rule. Since religion has been implicated, sometimes in stimulating and sometimes in suppressing the spirit of capitalism, it may be important to note that the embedding of Catholicism in the Philippines also took place under the sponsorship of the Spanish Crown. The United States helped liberate the Filipinos from 300 years of Spanish rule but imposed its own fifty-year control over the country during which it embedded the institutions of representative democracy. To say that foreign invaders imposed state institutions, Catholicism, capitalism, and democracy on the Philippines is not to deny the authenticity of their acceptance by the Filipinos. The inchoate character of indigenous society at the time of the colonial conquest made it more easily malleable, more susceptible to foreign influence. But the colonizers did not have unlimited resources to ensure that the process of cultural transformation produced the desired results. Nor were they dealing with unresisting, inert matter incapable of spontaneous reactions to external pressures. Resistance to colonial impositions was not only natural, it was also honourable. But in the face of superior coercive force, resistance assumed a variety of forms, from overt rebellion to passive non-cooperation. Outright rejection of laws and regulations would only invite punishing sanctions. Formal submission and pro forma compliance was a safer course of action. The most effective form of resistance was selective accommodation. It was possible to subvert the intent of colonial

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prescriptions by reinterpreting and selectively enforcing their provisions. While the state could respond effectively to a clear military threat, it was not so tightly organized and co-ordinated that it could not be misled and manipulated for indigenous purposes. The Spaniards themselves provided a lesson in ritual submission to, and effective repudiation of, centrally dictated laws. Colonial administrators invoked a principle to justify their failure to enforce royal decrees from Madrid deemed inapplicable to local conditions: they obeyed, but did not execute. They respectfully acknowledged the king’s right to issue binding orders but assumed that, in his wisdom, he would understand and approve their decision to refrain from the application of laws detrimental to his subjects. The same pragmatic principle served the colonial subjects in good stead. They could choose what to take from the colonizers and adapt them to fit their own objectives. Even the rites and rituals of the Catholic Church were used to serve the objectives the community valued. The selection of godfathers and godmothers to stand as surrogate spiritual parents to those accepted into the Church in the sacrament of baptism became a mechanism also for extending kinship connections. What was originally intended to establish a spiritual bond between godchild and godparents became, in many cases, more important as an instrument for forging ties of patronage and recruiting social, business, and political allies. Godparenting became a mechanism for widening the circle of kinsfolk by establishing a quasiblood connection.1 Colonialism eventually sowed the seeds of its own destruction. The Church, for instance, which could not have prospered without state patronage, was instrumental in securing the control of the state. Military force doubtless played a role in destroying armed resistance and allowing Spain to consolidate scattered, independent communities into a state. But the conversion of the indigenous population to the Catholic faith was even more significant in bonding the people and keeping them loyal to the Spanish Crown. In time, however, religion also provided the logic and the language for resistance against the colonial state (Ileto [1979] develops this argument). With the development of an indigenous clergy, the Church also supplied intellectual and moral leadership to the resistance.2

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Embedding Capitalism

Colonial rule established the structures and stimulated the motivation for the private accumulation of capital within the framework of a market system. The emigrant Chinese community found a niche serving the needs of the Spanish community in Manila. They needed to accumulate money that they hoped to bring back to China. The indigenous population had to be pushed beyond subsistence agriculture to generate surplus cash for the payment of taxes. And the colonizers had to make their fortune as well. The Galleon Trade, anchored in Manila’s role as an entrepôt for the trade in Chinese silk and Mexican silver, supplied the golden goose for the colonizers. It also marked the colony’s early involvement in international commerce. By the end of the eighteenth century, foreign competition had undermined the viability of this commerce even before the revolt of Spain’s Latin American colonies cut off one leg of the triangular trade. The attempt made in the late-eighteenth century to replace the galleons with the ships of a royal trading company with a monopoly on direct commerce between Spain and the colony also failed to overcome foreign competition. The Royal Philippine Company itself sought permission in 1790 for European ships to enter Manila under their own flags if they brought only Asian goods. Prior to this, they were banned from entering Manila, unless, of course, they flew the flag of some Asian country. A decree of 1834 officially opened Manila to the 3 trade of all nations. In agricultural and industrial development as in trade, Spain proved unable to contain foreign competition. Foreign entrepreneurship managed to penetrate the provinces to promote export crops and manufacturing ventures. A French immigrant experimented with coffee in Laguna. Using Chinese mestizo compradors, the British developed textile production in Iloilo and the cultivation of sugar in Negros, while the Americans did the same for abaca or Manila hemp in Bikol. The first Zobel born in the Philippines, of the family that developed the city of Makati, was of Spanish-German descent. His venture into urban development was the establishment of a streetcar network for Manila. Foreign competition frustrated any Spanish attempt at monopolistic

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control even in the tobacco industry and promoted the free play of market forces. American colonial occupation of the Philippines fixed the country even more firmly within the global trading system. The decision to establish reciprocal free trade deepened Philippine dependence on the American market. By 1934, 84 per cent of Philippine exports went to the United States. Sugar, coconut products, tobacco products, and abaca accounted for over 90 per cent of the exports, with sugar alone constituting 60 per cent (de la Costa 1965, p. 263). The pattern of economic development worried thoughtful Filipinos and Americans. Part of the mandate of the ten-year commonwealth regime that was to manage the transition to full political independence was to prepare the country for economic independence as well. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor aborted preparations for independence and the battle for the liberation of Manila reduced much of the capital to rubble, earning it a footnote as the city second only to Warsaw in the devastation it suffered from the Second World War. The collapse of the established political order triggered by the war exacerbated social and economic tensions that had already begun to manifest itself in the 1930s in the form of communist agitation to stoke peasant and worker opposition to their landlords and employers. The resistance against the Japanese also provided an opportunity for communist elements to mobilize a military force to be used later against the established government. Still, the Philippines did not have to fight a war of independence against the Americans, although it did have to mount a revolution against Spain. The first to be colonized by the West was also the first to gain its independence, first by force of arms against Spain and then by lobbying the Congress of the United States. Independence gave the Philippine state access to resources that it never had before. It also had American financial assistance and Japanese reparation payments for rehabilitation, and it was firmly allied with the stronger of two world powers. American political tutelage, despite the abbreviated commonwealth arrangement, had given it experience with the institutions and practices of representative democracy. It could boast of a broadly literate population, a significant class of professionals educated in English, a functioning bureaucracy,

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and a system of public and private education superior to anything in the 4 region. On balance, the Philippines emerged from the ruins of the war with the best prospects in the region for advancing into the ranks of developed countries. It was a modern, independent, democratic, capitalist society. Until 1957, only Japan in the whole of Asia had a higher level of literacy and per capita production capacity. Having apparently acquired all the hallmarks of modernization, the Philippines seemed eminently worthy of emulation by its neighbours. By the1980s, all it had was the distinction of being “the single economic failure in a region of newly-industrializing countries” (Pinches 1996, p. 105). It was not simply that the Philippines lost its lead over its neighbours; it plummeted, within a generation, from the most advanced capitalist society in Southeast Asia to the most depressed and indigent (Anderson 1995, p. 17). The Weak State

This turn of events is blamed, in the most trenchant recent critique of Philippine underdevelopment, on the unfortunate conjunction of a weak state and a predatory oligarchy (Hutchcroft 1998a, 1998b, 1998c). The power of the oligarchy rested on its control of economic resources that it could use not only to protect itself against the state but also even to plunder the state so that it could accumulate more resources. The weakness of the state had its roots in the colonial past. Neighbouring countries had attained a significant level of size and political coherence, as well as a clear sense of cultural identity, by the time the colonizers came. They had their sultans, kings, and emperors, and their country at least had a name. The Philippines derived its name from King Philip II of Spain, the sixteenth century monarch who presided over the consolidation of small, scattered settlements into political and administrative units and their integration into the Spanish empire. The colonial state thus preceded the Filipino nation and, nationalist rhetoric notwithstanding, helped bring it into existence by forcibly imposing a political and administrative structure over a collection of essentially kinship communities and facilitating the development of a common culture. The centennial celebrations of 1998 commemorated the centenary of the establishment of an independent republic that

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remained free less than a year. The Philippines has experienced a history of 350 years as a colony and barely fifty years as an independent nation. The leaders who emerged from the ranks of the indigenous population were primarily those able to access the culture of the colonizers. They could truthfully acknowledge their debt to Mother Spain and Mother America. The state as an abstract, impersonal, and impartial entity entrusted with the mandate to achieve goals for the common good was a remote and unfamiliar concept that had to be learned. The colonial state was a poor tutor for this lesson; whether it pursued the welfare of the colonized was itself open to question. That it could serve the interests of groups bound by primordial ties of blood, language, or religion more effectively than their own indigenous leaders was even more questionable. The dubious legitimacy of the state thus posed limits on its capacity to command the commitment of its subjects to the possibilities on its political, cultural, or economic agenda. A further constraint served to strengthen the oligarchy vis-à-vis the state in the Philippine setting. The lack of manpower resources left the Spaniards with no practical alternative but a system of indirect rule that relied on the mediation of indigenous chieftains. In the early years of colonial rule, when the government had to exact from the community a surplus for its support, a government post was more onerous than honorific. But over time, government service became more attractive as it became easier for those in power to appropriate the educational and economic opportunities that opened up in the colony. The development of export agriculture in the nineteenth century boosted the power of the indigenous oligarchy as it weakened their dependence on, or allegiance to, the central government. Their fortunes, after all, were more tightly connected to their overseas clients in Europe and the United States than to the events in the colonial capital of Manila. The market was more important than the colonial state. The nationstate did not yet exist. (See McCoy and de Jesus [1982] for examples of regional participation in international trade.) The revolution against Spain mobilized mass support for the nation and might have paved the way for the emergence of other social classes to political prominence. But the intervention of the United States at

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this historical juncture restored power to the élite. Opposition to the annexation of the Philippines at home made it convenient for the Americans to Filipinize the Civil Service. In 1903, Filipinos held just under half of the 5,500 jobs in the bureaucracy. By 1921, they held 90 per cent of 14,000 jobs. By the mid-1930s, Americans held only 1 per cent of the Civil Service positions, most of them in the educational bureaucracy. Post-Colonial Weakness

Independence did not produce an empowered state. Electoral politics, within a system caricatured by Benedict Anderson as “cacique democracy”, became another means for the élite to preserve its political control. Elections were expensive and favoured those with the financial resources and the quasi-feudal following of clients and retainers. The Liberals and the Nacionalistas, the two parties that regularly contested elective posts and normally alternated in power, represented shifting coalitions of sectoral interests rather than political principles or programmes of government. Politicians moved easily from one party to another, depending on the calculations of political advantage and their own bargaining skills. Senators, elected (like the president) by a national constituency, regarded themselves as “presidentiables” not much bound to defer to the temporary tenant in Malacañang Palace. Political dynasties tracing their roots to the late Spanish and the American colonial periods continued to consolidate their power in the provinces. Like a colonial governor, the president cast a large shadow in Manila but had little leverage to move the rest of the country when regional political powers chose to conspire against him. His only hope was to court some of the oligarchs to his side. But these allies came at a high cost. Ferdinand Marcos, the consummate politician, knew how to play the political game and did not baulk at paying whatever price staying in power required. He particularly excelled in using his grasp of the law to manipulate institutions and relationships to serve his objectives. The constitutional manœuvre to circumvent term limits through a shift from a presidential to a parliamentary system, the declaration of martial law, and the stream of presidential decrees carefully sought to endow his

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actions with a mantle of legality. Marcos justified his New Society brand of constitutional authoritarianism on the need to rescue the republic from the twin threats of the oligarchs on the right and the communists on the left. The positive response initially given to the New Society seemed to reflect a public grown weary with a weak state paralyzed by the competition for plunder among the oligarchs. It did not take long, however, for the true character of the regime to manifest itself. The state was strong enough to suppress dissent and to contain rebellion. But it remained weak as it was still controlled by partisan interests. Marcos had decimated the old oligarchy but this did not herald the liberation of the state. It meant only its capture by a new cabal of cronies. The turn-out of over 75 per cent of registered voters in the first electoral exercise after the overthrow of the Marcos regime, the senatorial and congressional elections of 11 May 1987, showed that the people had not lost their taste for this aspect of the democratic system. The local elections of 18 January 1988 produced an even bigger turn-out, with 81 per cent of the 27.6 million-qualified electorate trooping to the polls. About 150,000 candidates entered the fray to contest almost 16,500 positions, or an average of nine aspirants for each available office. There was an elective post open for every 1,400 voters. The numbers lead Anderson to the conclusion that cacique democracy operated “casino politics”. Like gamblers at a baccarat table, the voters harboured the illusion that they somehow exercise some control of the cards. In any one game or election, although most would lose, some would manage to win. But, at the end of the day, it was the caciques running the house and dealing the cards who cashed in the chips (Anderson 1995, pp. 29– 31). Political analysts have offered evidence purporting to show the continuing dominance of oligarchy in the Philippines. According to a 1984 study of a framework for measuring political stability, the total number of politically influential groups can be reduced to twenty-five, including among them the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army and the Moro National Liberation Front. A 1994 study looking at the legislature estimates the number of influential political families at between sixty and one hundred. These constitute the families

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who “dominate and influence the process of selection of the holders of the country’s elective and appointive government positions” (Miranda 1997, p. 165). Post-EDSA Revolution Weakness5

The dismantling of the martial law regime and the restoration of democratic institutions did not result in a stronger state. A 1990 study of economic policy-making suggests that the state was at its weakest during the Aquino administration. The succession of coup attempts that the government had to confront, the most serious of which took place in 1989, doubtless contributed to this image of weakness. But the weak state has never posed a threat to the embedding of capitalism. The oligarchy thrived and promoted the capitalist system. Capitalism and the oligarchy predated the formation of the national state and accommodated to both the democratic and authoritarian dispensations. Marcos sought to destroy the traditional oligarchy but was certainly no enemy of capitalism. His preferred variant of “crony capitalism”, a label that originated with his regime, has become an accepted category. Communism or socialism has never been a serious option in the Philippines. The only issue was the sort of capitalism to be cultivated. The running debate among politicians and technocrats thus revolved around only the question of economic strategy. Should the government protect local firms against imports or encourage exports? In the wake of the Asian crisis, the issue was whether the government should espouse open markets or impose government controls. Regarding questions like these, both sides had advocates from the oligarchy. During the post-Marcos period, the contrast between the Philippines and its rapidly growing Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) neighbours gave a sharper edge to the discussion of the weak state. The economic policy debate focused on the need for structural reforms to liberalize trade and make the country a more attractive home for foreign investments in an environment of global competition. Since structural reforms constituted part of the orthodoxy preached by the World Bank– International Monetary Fund (IMF) technocrats, their advocates have been accused of conspiring with foreign parties to perpetuate the state’s lack of autonomy. But among those who had seen the Marcos regime

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manipulate the market for its own benefit, the idea of allowing market forces to determine winners and losers struck a responsive chord. Advocates of economic reform could thus occupy the moral high ground. The dismantling of cartels, the elimination of other protectionist structures, and deregulation could be justified as necessary to honour international commitments as well as to level the playing field for all competitors (de Dios 1998, pp. 56–61). In the “Asian values” debate, the Philippines frequently found itself aligned against many of its neighbours. It is Christian, democratic, and since the Aquino administration, oriented to open-market capitalism. But, as Lee Kuan Yew might note, it has also been unpredictable in its economic performance, undisciplined in the conduct of its social and political affairs and woefully underdeveloped. These undesirable traits have been blamed on the inability of the state to prevent oligarchic forces from plundering the economy. Beneath the trappings of a democratic system, the Philippines still remains, it has been argued, an “anarchy of families” (McCoy 1994). The Aquino and Ramos administrations have succeeded in overcoming internal armed threats against the state. The compelling need to gear up for global competition and international pressure has given the government some leverage in driving policy reforms that reduce the scope for élite rent-seeking. But a weak bureaucracy and, as a consequence, persistent problems of graft and corruption continue to undermine state autonomy and effectiveness. Surviving the Asian Crisis

These problems notwithstanding, the Philippines registered modest growth during the Ramos administration, gaining enough confidence to project itself at least as an economic Tiger Cub. The economic crisis that swept across the region in mid-1997, however, did not spare the Philippines. Experts agreed, however, that the damage done to the Philippine economy was less severe than that inflicted on countries like Korea, Thailand, and Indonesia. A year later, the cautious consensus was that the Philippines would be among the first to recover from the 6 1997 economic shock. Sceptical Filipinos themselves wryly attribute this assessment to the

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obvious observation on the relative heights from which the various Asian countries toppled. Its lost decade of the 1980s placed the Philippines in a poor position to compete for the foreign direct and portfolio investments that washed into the region in the 1990s and poured into the coffers of its neighbours. It was just beginning to capture a bit of the flow when the bubble burst. But when the tide of foreign funds receded, those swept farther away by the waves were also left stranded farther from the shore. The Philippines still maintained a net private capital inflow of US$426 billion when Thailand suffered a haemorrhage of nearly US$17 billion. Never having reached the lofty elevations scaled by the Tiger economies, the Philippines did not have to suffer as high a fall and thus was not as badly battered as the high-flyers. Other observers are somewhat more generous in their evaluation of the country’s internal reform efforts as instrumental in its ability to weather the crisis. In part because of the discipline imposed by IMF supervision, the banking system was not as vulnerable. The entry of foreign banks into the industry exposed the established banks to greater competition. The Ramos administration had also pushed through a number of prudential reforms, particularly addressing the real estate sector. 7 The regulatory framework ensured relative transparency. Reinforced by an aggressively investigative media, problem cases tended to surface earlier than in other countries. The positive review of the banking sector offers some ground for hope. It was precisely this sector that provided much of the evidence for Hutchcroft’s thesis on “Booty Capitalism” (1998a). The weakness or complicity of regulatory agencies before and during Martial Law allowed members of the oligarchy to raid the funds of depositors and the resources of the government to finance their own projects. No one would proclaim that the country’s banking and finance sector has rid itself of all its problems. But relative to its state before liberalization and reforms, and relative to the situation in neighbouring countries, at least some improvement is detectable. Despite the weakness of the state, it was possible to mobilize a constituency for reform. The issue is whether the government can maintain the momentum for reform to strengthen the state and make it a more effective instrument for addressing development and equity issues. Even among the élite,

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competitive pressures unleashed by globalization have brought home 8 the need for effective governance. The hegemony previously enjoyed by landed interests no longer holds. The growing diversity and complexity of the global economy have created a more competitive arena for the oligarchy itself and made it more difficult for its members to close ranks against government. In a market-place of competing forces, the government must be strong enough to establish and enforce equitable 9 rules of the game. The strengthening of the state, however, cannot be accomplished by the government or even by the government and a presumably enlightened oligarchy working in concert. The task requires the commitment of the entire civil society. One of the dimensions of the weak state, for instance, is its limited revenue base. Only 22.5 per cent of potential, individual taxpayers actually filed their taxes in 1990. Only 38.4 per cent paid the value-added tax in 1992. In 1994, taxpayers numbered 1.8 millions, just 300,000 more than the members of the Governments Service Insurance System. Corporate taxpayers numbered less than 126,000, not far from the number of new corporations that registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission for that year. The government relied on regressive, indirect taxes for 60 per cent of its tax revenue (Briones and Malaluan 1998, pp. 148–61). The oligarchy has access to the best accountants and lawyers to help shave tax liabilities. But the numbers suggest that tax evasion is not an exclusively élite failing. Post-Crisis Prospects: Split-Level Responses and Political Ambivalence

In the task of promoting consciousness of, and compliance with, civic responsibilities, the country’s broad base of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) could serve as effective advocates. Their history of resistance against Martial Law, however, has inclined them towards an adversarial relationship with the government even after the restoration 10 of democratic rule. The ambivalence of the public towards the state also complicates their posture towards government. The results of a Social Weather Station (SWS) national survey on social inequality conducted among 1,200 Filipino adults in 1992 are instructive. Fifty-seven per cent of the sample agreed with the statement that “it is the responsibility

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of government to reduce the differences in income between people with high incomes and those with low incomes”. Eighty-four per cent agreed that “the government should provide everyone with a guaranteed basic income and 85%” and with the statement that “the government should provide a job for everyone who wants one”. From the responses, the SWS infers a strong craving among Filipinos for a welfare state. A similar survey conducted in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Hungary supported this inference. Unexpectedly, the Hungarian response is closest to the Filipino’s. Ninety per cent of Hungarians expect jobs and 78 per cent expect a basic income from the state: We Filipinos have a Hungarian-type, or socialist-type hankering for a welfare state. Although many Filipinos do like America, the surveys show that this attitude isn’t typically American. I doubt if it is Marxist, since most Filipinos reject the local communist movement. I suspect that it is simply homegrown, 11 out of the unique course of Philippine history. (Mangahas 1994, pp. 52–54)

Despite large expectations from the state, the public appeared to approve of institutional mechanisms to prevent it from becoming too powerful. President Fidel V. Ramos received high marks for his economic administration and his efforts towards a peace settlement with the communist party and the Muslim secessionist movement. He probably could have won a second term as president, if the Constitution had allowed it. He lost public support, however, when the public perceived his campaign for constitutional change as driven by the ambition to retain power for himself. Even the élite, presumably nervous about the populist rhetoric of Estrada, recognized the danger of permitting one side in a contest to change the rules while the game was still in progress. The memory of Marcos was not so distant in 1997, twenty-five years after the declaration of Martial Law, that people would not draw historical parallels. Even more modest expectations of incremental improvements in the life of ordinary citizens seemed, unfortunately, beyond the capacity of the state. Fifty-one SWS surveys conducted and three comparable non-SWS surveys present a sketch of how people felt they had fared during the period from 1986 to 1995. The percentage of people who rated themselves as poor ranged from 43 per cent (in March 1987) to 74 per cent (in July 1985), with the national average during this period

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hovering at 64 per cent. Only on two occasions, both during the Aquino administration (May 1986 and March 1987), did respondents perceive an improvement in their quality of life at the time of the survey compared with the preceding year. On all the other survey periods, the majority of respondents reported that their life had worsened. And yet, despite this experience of economic deterioration, the people remained optimistic, expecting that their life would improve in the next twelve months. Moreover, the public, throughout the survey period, continued to express a high level of political support for political institutions and their officials (Miranda 1997, pp. 153–227). Filipe Miranda poses the puzzle of how Filipinos can keep faith with their political leaders even in periods of continuing hardship. Why do they remain obstinately optimistic despite the persistent “loser” status? After analysing the survey results and failing to find any significant correlations between issue satisfaction and presidential ratings, he confesses his inability to offer a definitive answer to the question. Miranda suggests recourse to “a more desperately imaginative reasoning” as an option: “it could be that Filipino positiveness is a matter of irreversible cultural/genetic programming”. The answer may be in religion, that opium of the people: “People who are mostly in the midst of economic doldrums, who suffer from a low sense of political efficacy and who nevertheless persist in hoping for the eventual development of their political economy are understandably prone to engage in prayer” (Miranda 1997, p. 178). In July 1991, 54 per cent of adult Filipinos surveyed prayed at least once to several times a day. In December 1993 the figure had risen to 86 per cent. The Filipinos’ high tolerance for failure must be the despair of radicals and reformers, whether religious or secular; their first order of business might be to find out what it is that Filipinos pray for. In the mid-1960s, Jaime Bulatao, SJ, caused a stir in academic and ecclesiastical circles with his description of the Filipinos’ “split-level Christianity” (Bulatao 1992). The metaphor through which Fr. Bulatao sought to ensnare and to share the insight was architectural: split-level apartments housing separate families rarely in communication with each other. The Filipinos lived their Christianity at two levels: the conceptual and the behavioural. They knew the articles of their faith, but did not

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always behave according to their prescriptions. They accepted the value of fidelity to one spouse after marriage and the indissolubility of the matrimonial ties; this did not preclude enduring relationships with mistresses and lovers. This contradiction was not to be considered only as the inevitable consequence of fallen human nature, that people could not always realize their best ideals. Fr. Bulatao’s point was that the Filipinos did not seem to recognize any contradiction between the concepts they had learnt and the reality that they lived and, therefore, did not experience any sense of guilt or hypocrisy. Filipinos appeared able to compartmentalize and operate contesting value systems. The churches are full, and so are the brothels. The politicians who receive communion on Sunday receive 12 the kick-back commissions on Monday. The easy cohabitation of two value sets might be explained, Fr. Bulatao speculates, by their origins and the way they are assimilated. The Christian part is learned in the institutional setting of church or school and probably conceptualized or verbalized in a foreign language. The “pagan” level is learned at home or in the environment. The failure to confront the contradiction between the two levels and to resolve them in favour of the higher order, suggest the failure of the society to project enough models who have succeeded in achieving the integration of belief and behaviour (1992, pp. 26–27). Perhaps, the Filipino capacity for “split-levelling” extends not just to Christianity, but also to the appreciation of the other institutions superimposed by foreign powers on a value system basically oriented to the family. This may help explain the inconsistencies that surface in the result of opinion surveys. The expectation that the government should give jobs and an assured standard of living to its subjects would be consistent with a paternalistic view of the state. Failure to deliver on this expectation might be excused by another value system privileging the principles of the market economy. “One person, one vote” would be a cardinal rule of the democratic system, but it might be suspended to improve the electoral chances of a relative. This kind of split-level orientation would make it difficult to predict the Filipino response to a specific issue; one cannot be sure whether the conceptual models or the visceral urges will drive the decision.

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Conclusion

Former President Fidel V. Ramos had a favourite analogy when exhorting the private and public sectors to work together towards the national goal of economic development. The two parties, he would say, are on the same boat. The private sector must pull at the oars while the government steers the ship. This was an unfortunate metaphor and a dubious graphic rendering of the much-repeated principle that, in the Philippines, the private sector serves as the engine of growth. The analogy summons the image of galley slaves chained to their benches, rowing to the beat and the beatings of the masters. The current reality is much more complex. The ship captain and the crew do not always follow the same maps. The first-class passengers compete with crew and captain for control of the rudder. Some of the more discontented passengers in steerage threaten mutiny. The rest of the passengers can choose to lay down their oars. But, perhaps, a common, pragmatic concern for surviving an increasingly turbulent sea may yet bring the ship safely home. Dismissed as lacking autonomy, capacity, and coherence, the Philippine state, according to its critics, has been unable to formulate and implement a meaningful policy and programme of economic development. A 1994 report of the Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS) issued a scathing indictment of the country’s leadership. The report decried the Philippine economy’s “roller coaster” record of economic performance, which was “induced or exacerbated by illintentioned or incompetent management over the past three decades”, and the inability of the authorities to initiate and sustain economic development in the country. Some would see this reproof as also a mea culpa since PIDS is regarded as the think-tank of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) from which it recruits and to which it sends its key executives. But the PIDS target was the political leadership. One feature of the weak state is precisely the ease with which vested interests can marginalize the technocrats who staff agencies like NEDA and PIDS. In preparation for the president’s State of the Nation address at the end of July 1999,

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NEDA began meeting with civil society groups to brief them on its Medium-Term Development Plan covering 1999–2004. A meeting on 14 June brought together three cabinet ministers, four college and university presidents, four corporate CEOs, including the chairman of the Ayala Corporation, and several NGO leaders. NEDA’s objective was to persuade these groups to express public support for its plan in the hope that other power centres within government would also fall in line. Here was a case of government lobbying civil society to exert pressure on other government agencies, an implicit admission of the perceived incoherence of the administration. Given the weakness of the state and public ambivalence on how much power the state should wield, NEDA has recognized that the solution to the country’s development problems must increasingly involve civil society. But civil society itself, with its split-levelling tendencies, must be reformed. The General Assembly of the Bishops-Businessmen’s Conference (BBC) for Human Development on 9 July 1999, addressing the issue of Building the Church of the Poor, echoed this theme. The BBC had been a key player in the resistance against the Marcos regime. But one reaction paper suggested that the organization had become fixated on the failures of government and the political leadership when the political culture simply reflected the weaknesses of the society that produced it. It suggested that “the work of the BBC, in a period of political normalcy, more appropriately lies in renewing the life of the church and recharging its community with a sense of social responsibility (de Jesus 1999, p. 1). This task will obviously require a long time. Until significant progress is made towards this end, perhaps the country will simply muddle along. It will disappoint observers who feel that the Philippines should be moving much faster than it has done. But it will surprise those who periodically predict its imminent collapse. It is not likely to be as good or as bad as analysts anticipate: “Unspectacular growth and unspectacular achievement in social and political institutions might prove to be a more sustainable approach to economic development in the Philippines” (Montes 1999, p. 266). But Filipinos are a prayerful people who believe in miracles.

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NOTES An early version of this paper was delivered at the workshop on “Embedding Capitalism in Newer Asian Contexts: Authority Structures and Local Cultures and Identities in Southeast Asia” organized by the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore, 22– 23 March 1999. 1. The most elaborate application of the institution of compadrazgo surfaced in the media recently in connection with the investigation into an anomalous textbook purchase by the Department of Education, Culture and Sports. Julius Topacio, a godson of President Joseph Ejercito Estrada and Assistant Secretary for Finance and Administration of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), allegedly offered the P400 million contract to a publishing house on a 60/40 sharing arrangement. Before he assumed the DILG office a month before the alleged scam, Topacio was Assistant Executive Secretary and Head of the Office of Budget and Corporate Affairs. He was a member of a three-man committee in the Office of the Executive Secretary that reviewed contracts worth P50million and above. The fact that the official was a godson of the president would have attracted attention by itself. What caused a stir, however, was the report that Topacio was also reported as being the chairman of Inaanak ni Erap Foundation (Godchildren of Erap Foundation), an association of the godchildren of President Erap Estrada. The Foundation claimed a membership of 5,000 presidential grandchildren nation-wide (Philippine Daily Inquirer, issues of 1 April, 4 April, and 5 April 1999). 2. For the role of the Filipino clergy in the revolution against Spain, see Schumacher (1981). Religion in the Philippines, particularly with the articulation of liberation theology, provided a natural rallying point for resistance against perceived injustice. The role of the Church in the opposition against the Marcos regime was not without precedent. 3. Succeeding years saw this privilege extended to provincial ports: Zamboanga, Iloilo, and Sual, in Pangasinan, in 1855; Cebu in 1860; and Legazpi and Tacloban in 1873. Horacio de la Costa, SJ (1965) provides the basic source documents on the evolution of Philippine economy and society. 4. The strategic investment in education made by the Americans endowed the Philippines with a human resource base far superior to that bequeathed to their colonies by the European colonial powers. Compare the Philippine situation, for instance, with that which confronted Indonesia when it assumed the burden of independence after the end of the revolution against the Dutch in 1949. Of a population then already exceeding 60 million, only about 81,000 attended schools using Dutch as the medium of instruction. Of these 81,000, about 1,200 were in high school. Less than 600 had reached university level (see Dahm 1971, p. 157). In 1941, when the Philippines had a population of about 16 million, the Far Eastern University (FEU), then in existence for only thirteen years, already had 10,000 students, 400 of them from foreign countries. In the 1930s, the FEU had a Chinese

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Students’ Association and a Siamese Students’ Association. 5. EDSA (Epifanio de los Santos Avenue) is the acronym for the principal northsouth highway running through Metro Manila. The term has also been associated now with the movement that brought down the Marcos regime — the “EDSA revolution” — when the population blocked the highway and prevented the armoured columns of the government from moving against Fidel Ramos and the Reform the Armed Forces rebels. 6. “The Philippines is arguably in the best position of the five countries [the others being Indonesia, Korea, Thailand, Malaysia] hit by the currency and asset crisis in 1997 to swallow its problems” (Delhaise 1998, p. 162). “Most analysts and observers expect the Philippines to be one of the first countries in the region to grow out of the East Asian crisis” (Intal, Milo et al. 1988, p. 145). 7. These included a 20 per cent cap on the lendable funds it could extend to real estate loans, a 60 per cent real estate loan to value ceiling, a 30 per cent liquidity cover on foreign exchange liabilities of bank Foreign Currency Deposit Unit. The country banks, in Delhaise’s assessment, “remain in surprisingly good shape”. Capital adequacy ratios easily exceeded international guidelines, with many banks capitalized at more than twice the norm. At 6.9 times total liabilities to equity, the leverage position was the best in the region. Over 80 per cent of foreign currency debts was long term. Technical and management training for the banking sector was also among the best in the region (see Delhaise 1998, pp. 162–70). 8. Not to mention personal security and political stability issues. Perceptions of the country’s political stability, of course, affect the attractiveness of the country for foreign investors. Peace and order concerns affect everyone. But it is not the poor who are abducted and held for ransom. 9. “[R]ecent structural changes in the Philippines do stand some chance of being sustained, since they have come to correspond with a changed perception of national interest and purpose, especially among the elite” (de Dios 1998, p. 74). 10. “The social movement from which NGOs emerged represented reactions against the state and its policies, with distrust of the state for its failure to address the Philippines’ social problem evolving into outright opposition after the declaration of martial law”. But “cooperating with government officials and local elites in the crafting of public policy and program administration requires considerably different skills than mobilizing public protest against the government” (Silliman and Noble 1998, pp. 285, 302). 11. According to other SWS surveys, Filipinos are also apprehensive about the removal of government controls over prices (Mangahas 1994, pp. 148–50). 12. A recent example of “split-levelling” is former President Estrada’s declaration that he would not support a divorce bill because this was against the doctrines of the Church; but, with his acknowledged multiple liaisons with other women, he was less attentive to the Church prohibition of extramarital affairs.

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REFERENCES Anderson, Benedict. “Cacique Democracy in the Philippines: Origins and Dreams”. In Discrepant Histories: Translocal Essays on Filipino Culture, edited by Vicente L. Rafael. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1995. Briones, Leonor M. and Nepomuceno A. Malaluan. “Towards a Progressive, Simple and Buoyant Tax System”. In The State and the Market: Essays on a Socially Oriented Philippine Economy, edited by Filimeno S. Sta. Ana III. Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1998. Bulatao, Jaime, SJ. Phenomena and Their Interpretation. Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1992. Dahm, Bernardo. History of Indonesia in the Twentieth Century, translated by P.S. Falla. New York: Praegar, 1971. de Dios, Emmanuel S. “Philippine Economic Growth: Can It Last?” In The Philippines: New Directions in Domestic Policy and Foreign Relations, edited by David G. Timberman. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 1998. de Jesus, Melinda Quintos. “Where Are We Now in Building the Church of the Poor?” Paper presented at the General Assembly, Bishop-Businessmen’s Conference for Human Development, Westin Philippine Plaza, Manila, Philippines, 9 July 1999. de la Costa, SJ, Horacio. Readings in Philippine History. Manila: Bookmark, 1965. Delhaise, Philippe F. Asia in Crisis: The Implosion of the Banking and Finance Systems. Singapore: John Wiley & Sons (Asia), 1998. Hutchcroft, Paul D. Booty Capitalism: The Politics of Banking in the Philippines. Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1998a. . “Sustaining Economic and Political Reform: The Challenges Ahead”. In The Philippines: New Directions in Domestic Policy and Foreign Relations, edited by David G. Timberman. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 1998b. . “Neither Dynamo Nor Domino? Reforms and Crises in the Philippine Political Economy”. Paper presented at the Conference on “The Asian Economic Crisis”, University of Washington, Seattle, United States, 30 October–1 November 1998c. Ileto, Reynaldo C. Pasyon and Revolution: Popular Movements in the Philippines, 1840– 1910. Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1979. Intal, Ponciano, Jr., Melanie Milo et al. “The Philippines”. In East Asia in Crisis: From Being a Miracle to Needing One, edited by Ross H. McLeod and Ross Garnaut. London: Routledge, 1998. Mangahas, Mahar. The Philippine Social Climate: From the SWS Surveys. Manila: Anvil Publishing, 1994. McCoy, Alfred W. An Anarchy of Families: State and Family in the Philippines. Quezon

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City: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1994. McCoy, Alfred and Ed C. de Jesus. Philippine Social History: Global Trade and Local Transformations. Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1982. Miranda, Felipe B. “Political Economy in a Democratizing Philippines: A People’s Perspective”. In Democratization: Philippine Perspectives, edited by Felipe B. Miranda. Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 1997. Montes, Manuel F. “The Philippines as an Unwitting Participant in the Asian Financial Crisis”. In Asian Contagion: The Causes and Consequences of a Financial Crisis, edited by Karl D. Jackson. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 1999. Pinches, Michael. “The Philippines’ ‘New Rich’: Capitalist Transformation Amidst Economic Gloom”. In The New Rich in Asia: Mobile Phones, McDonalds and Middle-Class Revolution, edited by Richard Robison and David S.G. Goodman. London: Routledge, 1996. Schumacher, John, SJ. Revolutionary Clergy: The Filipino Clergy and the Nationalist Movement, 1850–1903. Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila Press, 1981. Searle, Peter. The Riddle of Malaysian Capitalism: Rent-Seekers or Real Capitalists? Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1999. Silliman, G. Sidney and Lela Garner Noble. “Citizens Movement and Philippine Democracy”. In Organizing for Democracy: NGOs, Civil Society, and the Philippine State, edited by G. Sidney Silliman and Lela Garner Noble. Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1998. Vatikiotis, Michael J. Political Change in Southeast Asia: Trimming the Banyan Tree. London: Routledge, 1996.

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CHAPTER 3

BATTERING DOWN THE CHINESE WALLS: THE ANTINOMIES OF ANGLO-AMERICAN LIBERALISM AND THE HISTORY OF EAST ASIAN CAPITALISM IN THE SHADOW OF THE COLD WAR Mark T. Berger

For decades, Anglo-American liberalism has provided the dominant interpretations of the post-1945 history of capitalism in Northeast and 1 Southeast Asia. According to influential Anglo-American perspectives, East Asia is, or at least ought to be, moving in the general direction of a romanticized version of the path taken earlier by North America and Western Europe (especially the United States and Great Britain). And, following the Asian crisis (1997–98), laissez-faire economics and bourgeois democracy continue more than ever to be seen as crucial and inter-connected elements in this idealized and universalized vision of the path to prosperity. For example, the speech by former U.S. Vice-President Al Gore to the annual meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) forum, in Kuala Lumpur in November 1998, sought to make a direct

This chapter is reproduced from Local Cultures and the “New Asia”, edited by C.J.W.-L. Wee (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2002). This version was obtained electronically direct from the publisher on condition that copyright is not infringed. No part of this publication may be reproduced, translated, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the Institute of © 2002 Institute Southeast of Southeast Singapore Asian Asian Studies Studies, < http://www.iseas.edu.sg/pub.html >

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connection between liberal economics, democratic politics, and the successful management of the economic crisis then sweeping the region. Gore argued (as had Bill Clinton) that “democracies have done better in coping with economic crises than nations where freedom is suppressed”. He noted further that even in “nations suffering economic crises, we continue to hear calls for democracy and reform in many languages” (cited in Gittings 1998, p. 5). The wider significance of this speech and the class-bound and culture-bound character of the neo-liberal understanding of the crisis in Asia (and of Asian capitalism more generally) is nicely captured by a well-known quotation from Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Over a hundred years ago, these pioneering historians of capitalism argued that the rising bourgeoisie of North America and Western Europe were bringing “civilization” to “even the most barbarian” parts of the world, battering down the “Chinese walls” and compelling “all nations” to embrace the “bourgeois mode of production” in order to create “a world after its own image” (1986, p. 84). The metaphoric and literal strands of this formulation are echoed in the post–Cold War era by the way in which the Chinese state is perceived by U.S. strategic planners as the major “threat” to U.S. hegemony in the Asia-Pacific, at the same time as China is also perceived as the possible inheritor of the mantle of the developmental state exemplified by Japan and South Korea in the Cold War era. During the Cold War and beyond, the South Korean and Japanese and, to a lesser extent, the Malaysian governments pursued comprehensive national-industrial strategies based on large corporations with high debt-equity ratios and the direct support of the state in an effort to gain competitive advantage in overseas markets. This model has considerable appeal (and is being followed with important variations) in China where the financial system is dominated by the country’s banks which continue to provide low-interest loans to large state-owned companies. And it is the threat of the rise of a Chinese developmental state (along Japanese and South Korean lines, but without the politico-military constraints of bilateral defence relationships with the United States) that is a key — if not the key — concern of U.S. policy in the region.

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From this perspective, the response to the Asian crisis of the United States, via the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in particular, represented an attempt to bring an end to East Asian–style statist developmentalism and send a signal to China and beyond (Cumings 1998, pp. 45, 51–52). But, at this juncture, the United States faces no serious challengers. For example, there was nothing resembling a unified regional response to the Asian crisis — and Japan-led initiatives, such as the promulgation of an Asian Monetary Fund, failed to gain sufficient support (Berger 1999c). Nor does China represent a serious politicomilitary or economic challenge to U.S. hegemony; the likelihood of China achieving economic superpower status needs to be set against the centrifugal forces which confront the Chinese leadership’s aspirations to national and regional greatness. In an effort to put the Asian crisis and the reassertion of U.S. hegemony in a wider historical context, this chapter explores the antinomies of Anglo-American liberalism and the relationship between the Cold War and the history of East Asian capitalism. I contend that neo-liberalism — as it emerged in the 1980s — went through substantial re-tooling by the 1990s so as to be able to subsume the newer East Asian development narratives, which made both regional and nationalist claims to “Asian” development. The re-tooling led to the concession that the state could have played a positive role in economic development; such concessions made a nod towards cultural and historical specificity. However, this incorporation of “culture” and “history” drew upon reductionist and essentialized notions of culture — the Anglo-American narrative remains élitist and technocratic (and thus universalist). Throughout this chapter, the importance of history will be emphasized and culture will be understood as flowing from historically particular practices in which meaning and significance are the result of ongoing contestations. Following a review of the rise and revision of the neoliberal approach to East Asian capitalism, and a discussion of the major challenge to neo-liberalism which emanated from the Japanese government and a range of increasingly influential Anglo-American advocates of industrial policy, I turn to an examination of the more historically grounded literature and debates about class, culture,

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nationalism, and the state as they relate to the history of capitalism in East Asia. This examination will take into account the history of the state in the wider process of capitalist transformation in Northeast and Southeast Asia (with a focus on South Korea and Indonesia). I will emphasize that the Cold War provided the crucial context for the emergence of various — usually authoritarian — developmental states at the same time as it imposed a range of constraints on the autonomy and sovereignty on virtually all states in the region. That is to say, that U.S. hegemony and Anglo-American liberalism generally, and neo-liberalism more specifically, while supposedly making concessions to cultural and historical difference, at the same time constrained various states’ ability to manœuvre beyond a certain point. I end with a brief discussion of the Asian crisis which brought the unequal international power relations that flow from the history of the Cold War into sharp relief. The Asian crisis represented a moment of deepening for U.S.centred neo-liberalism, but it also reflected a looming crisis of neoliberalism which is characterized by both regressive and progressive political possibilities (Berger 1999b; Brenner 1998). Power and Progress The Magic of the Market: Neo-Classical Economics and the Romance of Laissez-Faire Capitalism

The emergence and increasingly global diffusion of neo-liberalism — and its ability to deal with Asian claims to economic exceptionalism — is bound up with the conservative “counter-revolution” in North America and Western Europe in the late 1970s. The appearance of neo-liberalism in the 1980s also coincided with the renewal of the Cold War. In fact the decade from the end of the 1970s to the late 1980s is often described as the Second Cold War. In this period, the Reagan administration presided over an unprecedented historical military build-up and a reinvigorated anti-communist crusade directed at the Soviet Union and its allies. Against this backdrop, neo-classical economics and a romanticized version of laissez-faire capitalism increasingly meshed with the aims and assumptions of a complex array of transnational socioeconomic forces which possessed the power and influence to

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internationalize the neo-liberal project (a process which is broadly known as “globalization”). By the early 1980s, the main policy conclusions of neo-classical economics had become received wisdom among most of the senior officials in the OECD nations, the IMF, and the World Bank. While the shift to neo-liberalism was not as pronounced in East Asia as it was in other parts of the world, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore were increasingly held up by proponents of neo-classical economics, as exemplars of the success of laissez faire, while the experience of countries in Latin America and Africa were represented as evidence of the failure of the state-centred model (World Bank 1981). By the 1980s, the World Bank had become a key promoter of the idea that the history of East Asian capitalism conformed to the main tenets of neo-classical economics. At the same time, the second half of the 1980s witnessed a growing effort by the Japanese government to challenge the dominant neo-liberal understanding of development, which prevailed inside and outside of the World Bank (Berger and Beeson 1998). It was against this overall backdrop that the now famous 1993 World Bank report on The East Asian Miracle appeared (World Bank 1993). The report, funded by the Japanese Ministry of Finance, was a profoundly political document which reluctantly conceded that government intervention had played some role in economic development in East Asia. The effort to accommodate state-centred approaches to the wider neo-liberal understanding of capitalist development was even more apparent in “The State in a Changing World” (1997 World Development Report). This publication was premised on the idea that the state is not just an important factor in economic development, but that “its capability”, which was “defined as the ability to undertake and promote collective actions efficiently”, had to be “increased” (World Bank 1997, pp. 3, 6, 24, 46, 61; emphasis as in the original text). Overall, however, the World Bank’s 1997 study defined an “effective state” in a way which remained inoculated from historical and political questions, while the wider social and cultural context was side-stepped and the authoritarian character of most of the developmental states in East Asia was given implicit, if not explicit, legitimacy.

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The Significance of the State: Revisionist Political Economy and the Apologetics of Authoritarian Capitalism

The re-tooling of neo-liberalism, and the amplification of liberal ideas about a technocratic state was also facilitated in a significant fashion by the rise of the “new” political economy which was grounded in rational choice theory. As with the approach to economic behaviour taken by neo-classical economics, rational choice theory built its explanations for political behaviour on assumptions about the rational calculations which informed the policies and actions of the individuals and groups concerned. The shortcomings of rational choice theory, and its crucial role in the process of revising neo-liberalism in a way which accommodated the state-led development trajectory of East Asia to neo-classical economics, is apparent in The Key to the Asian Miracle, published in 1996. It was written by Jose Edgardo Campos, a World Bank economist and co-author of the 1993 Miracle report, and Hilton L. Root, an economic historian based at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. They argued that the long-standing perception of the East Asian regimes as “authoritarian” and “even dictatorial” is misleading and “occurs largely because of the failure of Western observers to recognize” the presence in East Asia of “systems for ensuring accountability and consensus building that differ from Western-style institutions”. Furthermore, although the different “High-Performing Asian Economies” (HPAEs) vary significantly from each other, they “share enough common elements to suggest a developmental model that differs from the trajectory of the Western democracies and from the autocracies of the past and present” (1996, pp. viii, 174–77). Ultimately their analysis of the HPAEs (Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia) legitimated the authoritarian character of the post-1945 history of most of the regimes. In important ways, a growing number of Anglo-American approaches to the developmental state that emerged in the 1980s (and emphasized the importance of industrial policy) also implicitly, if not explicitly, worked to legitimate authoritarianism in East Asia. The 1982 study of industrial policy in Japan by Chalmers Johnson is usually seen as the foundational text of revisionist political economy (1982). Other

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important studies in the revisionist canon include the work of Alice Amsden (1989), Robert Wade (1990), Stephan Haggard (1990), Peter Evans (1995), Sanjaya Lall (1996), and Linda Weiss (1998). The work of revisionist political economists has been embraced with varying degrees 2 of enthusiasm by opponents of neo-liberalism. However, the progressive credentials of the revisionist tradition ought to be, and are being, subject to increasing scrutiny. Within the revisionist tradition the developmental state is generally narrowly defined as a policy-making body with insufficient recognition of the complicated and contested social relations in which it is embedded. For proponents of the developmental state, economic development involves the subordination of major social actors to state power, while complicated historical processes are reinvented as technocratic and managerial practices (Choi 1998, pp. 51, 55–56). Alice Amsden’s overall argument — that industrialization in South Korea flowed from “government initiatives and not the forces of the free market”, and that this is “applicable to similar countries” — captures the élite-centred, technocratic, and ahistorical perspective of a great deal of the revisionist political economy (1989, p. 27). And Amsden’s identification of South Korea in the 1960s and 1970s as a positive model provides implicit, if not explicit, intellectual justification for military dictatorship and authoritarian developmentalism.3 The Hand of History: Historical Sociology and the Dynamics of Capitalist Transformation

The legitimation of authoritarianism, and the élitist, ahistorical, and technocratic character of neo-liberalism and its revisionist opponents has been challenged directly and indirectly from numerous angles. Many writers have sought, over the years, to understand capitalist development generally, and capitalist trajectories in Northeast and Southeast Asia more specifically, in social and historical terms, while often drawing on Marxism and theories of historical change derived from Marxism that emphasize class structure and social power. Studies that have become cornerstones of what is now the sub-discipline of historical sociology include books by Joseph Schumpeter (1976), Karl Polyani (1944), and Barrington Moore, Jr. (1966). More recently the social history of capitalism has been illuminated by the work of writers such as Perry

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Anderson (1974), Giovanni Arrighi (1994), Robert Brenner (1987), T.J. Byres (1991), Robert W. Cox (1987), Hill Gates (1996), Michael Mann (1993, 1986), Jeffrey M. Paige (1978, 1997), Dietrich Rueschemeyer et al. (1992), Immanuel Wallerstein (1974, 1980, 1989), Eric Wolf (1982), and Ellen Meiksins Wood (1991). In general terms these authors attempt to theorize the historical development of capitalism in various parts of the world, although the European and North American experiences still tend to get more coverage. They have sought to explain variations in capitalist development via considering social structure and material forces, as well as colonialism and other historical factors. Many of these writers have a direct relationship to Marxism, and their work intersects with the structural tradition in political economy (see, for example, Hewison et al. 1993). There are also a number of approaches (influenced by Marxism and world-system theory) that adopt an explicitly regional approach to the history of capitalism in East Asia, linking their analysis to global trends even while they also emphasize historical specificity (Cumings 1987; Arrighi et al. 1993; Stubbs 1994; Cumings 1997; Berger and Borer 1997; Anderson 1998; Cumings 1999; Berger 1999a). The work of Mitchell Bernard represents an explicitly Marxist example of this wider trend. He has recently argued that the Asian economic crisis resulted from the historical “contradictions of dependent capitalist development and the pressures of the globalization of production and finance”. From his perspective, the Asian crisis and its aftermath needs to be seen not just as a financial crisis, but as a “crisis of production and political regulation” which signals the demise of “exportoriented” dependent capitalist development (1999, p. 178). Bernard is particularly concerned to distinguish his approach from that taken by dependency theorists. He emphasizes that, despite the importance of transnational influences, “dependent capitalist development” can only be understood with reference to the “nationally specific configuration of class forces and form of state”. The rise of “dependent capitalism” in East Asia after 1945 was grounded in the “confluence” of three related “processes”; first, “the particular forms of state and class configurations that emerged from de-colonization”, second, the onset of the Cold War in the region “which enmeshed the state élites” in anti-

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communist alliances with the United States; and third, “the regionalization of Japanese industrial capital in a manner that integrated fractions of local capital with their Japanese counterparts” (1999, pp. 181–82, 184). This type of approach is important but, despite its historical emphasis, Bernard and a number of other Marxists still tend to conflate class analysis with historical analysis. They also tend to represent class and state as universal categories and as the only salient axes of power. Their analyses are weakened by the way they view power in centralized terms as embedded in class relations and state structures, while implicitly or explicitly treating “culture” as an irrelevant or unproblematic ideological function of the dominant national and/or international capitalist élites. Linked to this is the ahistorical treatment of nations as natural units of analysis. As a result of these methodological shortcomings; such approaches, despite their claims to the contrary, do not draw out the historical particularity of capitalist integration and differentiation 4 and the role of culture in that process as effectively as they could. The Concept of Culture: Anthropology and the Cultural Construction of Capitalism

In contrast to the work of writers such as Bernard, a new book, edited by anthropologist Robert Hefner (1998), represents a recent effort to re-establish the importance of culture in capitalist development in Northeast and Southeast Asia. Hefner’s approach avoids the reductionist 5 formulations associated with influential culturalist explanations. It also attempts to skirt the pitfalls of the universalizing and ethnocentric descriptions and prescriptions associated with neo-classical economics and with those strands of political economy and historical sociology which conceptualize capitalism in excessively unitary terms. He does this by reintroducing the concept of “embeddness” to examine the different ways in which capitalism is domesticated to specific historical circumstances. The conceptualization of culture is one that thinks of culture “in pluralistic and contingent terms, examining its history and social genesis, its dependency on different social carriers and its interaction with other forces in Asia’s ongoing transformation”. Hefner argues that “culture and social relations are intrinsic to politics and the economy,

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not free-stranding social spheres” (1998, pp. 2–5). At the same time, his analysis operates within a revised modernization paradigm which still conceptualizes change as gradual and evolutionary. Hefner’s approach also downplays the role of the state in the wider process of capitalist development and naturalizes the nation as a unit of analysis. Another approach to culture’s role in the wider history of capitalism that differs from Hefner’s analysis, in so far as it makes a concerted effort to retain class as a key concept in understanding cultural change, has been outlined by anthropologist Michael Pinches. He argues for the need to “conceive of the relationship between” the discursive “sphere of symbols and meanings” and the material sphere as “a broadly dialectical one, whose path is historical and largely indeterminant”. Furthermore, regardless of how “problematic” class relations and class differences “may be conceptually and analytically”, they remain “fundamental to an understanding of the cultural construction” of the identities and subjectivities integral to the wider dynamics of the history of capitalism in East Asia (1999, pp. 2–5; also see Brook and Luong 1999). My own approach in this chapter takes into consideration the cultural dimension thus outlined. Additionally, I operate on the assumption that Marxism remains an important point of departure that ensures that the study of the history of capitalism is insulated from the evolutionary conception of economic development at the centre of liberal and neoliberal theory. This allows for an overall understanding of the transformation of Northeast and Southeast Asia since the 1940s that acknowledges the uneven and destructive (as well as creative) processes of capitalism. This also involves a continued emphasis on class, but in an historically and culturally contingent fashion. There also needs to be an explicit effort to problematize the nation as a key site in the wider process of cultural change and the relationship between political economy, class structure, and social transformation: a “nation is not only a political entity but something which produces meanings — a system of cultural representation” (Hall 1992, p. 292). At the same time, the significance of the state in this process of “cultural representation” (and in capitalist transformation more generally) needs to be foregrounded as the administrative and coercive institutions of government have been critical to shaping the cultural, social, and

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economic spheres and attempting to define the very idea of the nation. Such a perspective allows for a critical and historically grounded understanding of East Asian capitalism that highlights the specific trajectory of the state in the context of the history of the wider colonial and post-colonial social formation, at the same time as it takes into account important regional and global trends in the Cold War and post– Cold War eras, periods essential to locating the emergence of the authoritarian developmental state, along with a subsequent weakening of state-centredness. Dominoes and Dynamos The Rise of the Cold War in Northeast Asia and the Impact of the Korean War

During much of the Cold War the “domino theory” guided U.S. policy in Asia and beyond. And, with the end of the Cold War many of the countries of East Asia were said to have gone “from being dominoes to 6 dynamos”. If nothing else, this observation draws attention to the fact that the Cold War and the way it interacted with specific social and political struggles are central to the history of East Asian capitalism since 1945. In particular, the economic growth of a growing number of nationstates in northeast and southeast was increasingly shaped by the interaction of the geo-political and geo-economic interests of the United States and its key ally in the region, Japan. The United States emerged from the Second World War as the dominant global power increasingly driven forward by an anticommunist globalism and a commitment to the construction of an open world economy within which U.S. investors and manufacturers would play a central role. In the immediate post-1945 period the United States accounted for almost 50 per cent of world economic output (White 1996, p. 383). Beginning in the late 1940s, the United States embarked on a fullscale effort to facilitate the industrial rebirth of Germany and Japan as part of its wider effort to turn Western Europe and Northeast Asia into capitalist bulwarks against the Soviet Union and “international communism” (Hogan 1989; McGlothen 1993). In East Asia, the Cold

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War formed the backdrop to the emergence and consolidation of various types of capitalist and authoritarian developmentalisms based on the repression and political exclusion of important social forces such as workers and peasants. By the time of the Chinese Communist Party’s victory in China on October 1949, and especially with the onset of the Korean War (1950–53), the U.S. defence industry and the governmental institutions and bureaucratic structures of U.S. Cold War hegemony, began to develop into distinct instruments of regional and global power. The Korean War provided the crucial stimulus to industrial production in Japan, as a result of the dramatic increase in the purchase of military equipment and war-related products by the United States after 1950. During the War, the United States spent as much as US$4 billion on services and manufactured goods provided by Japanese companies. This, combined with the limiting of Japanese defence spending to 1 per cent, resulted in major financial benefits for the government which were redirected into national reconstruction. At the same time, by the end of the 1940s, the U.S. fear of social upheaval and even revolution in Japan itself had already ensured the effective restoration of the “old order” minus the most notorious militarists. While the co-operative labour relations system which emerged in Japan in the 1950s is often characterized as a “class compromise” between capital and labour, it was firmly grounded in labour’s subordination to capital following the defeat of the militant labour movement in the 1940s, a process which was facilitated by the United States (Brenner 1998, pp. 78–79). Meanwhile, the reversal of U.S. plans to break up the pre-war industrial conglomerates that had direct links to the pre-1945 imperial government resulted in the resurgence, in a modified fashion, of the old zaibatsu, such as Mitsui, Sumitomo, and Mitsubishi. At the same time, new firms, such as Toyota, Toshiba, Nissan, and Hitachi, which were established along the lines of the old zaibatsu, also took root, going on to benefit enormously from the Korean War. The Making and Unmaking of the Authoritarian Developmental State in South Korea

The sustained U.S. economic and military aid that went to South Korea and Taiwan in the 1950s and 1960s played a crucial role in strengthening

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the capabilities of these emergent national security states — and in the making of the authoritarian developmental state. This is not to deny other factors in the rise of South Korea and Taiwan, but the emergence of capitalist, and authoritarian, developmental states in Northeast Asia after 1945 was grounded explicitly in U.S. Cold War imperatives. Between 1945 and 1979, U.S. military aid to South Korea was US$7 billion, while U.S. economic aid from 1945 to 1973 was US$5.5 billion dollars. This was more than all the U.S. economic aid to Africa (except for Egypt) and half the figure for all of Latin America over the same period. In the 1950s more than 80 per cent of South Korean imports 7 were financed by U.S. economic assistance. The growing power of these states was also linked to the relative weakness of capitalist élites in South Korea and Taiwan and the undercutting of large landowners after 1945, as a result of the implementation of land reforms under U.S. auspices. In the 1950s and increasingly in the 1960s, manufacturers based in South Korea and Taiwan also gained privileged access to the North American market, while at the same time the United States tolerated Taiwan and South Korea’s protected markets and tight controls on foreign investment. Furthermore, South Korea, Taiwan (as well as Singapore and Hong Kong) entered the North American and international export markets in the 1960s when a consumer boom was under way. Meanwhile, by the 1950s, Japanese-based corporations had begun to emerge as a key element in the wider U.S.-centred Cold War political economy of East Asia. And, in the 1960s and 1970s, under U.S. auspices, Japanese companies avoided the rising cost of labour in Japan by relocating operations to their former colonies. Japanese trading companies also controlled 50–70 per cent of the international trade of South Korea and Taiwan by the 1970s. In this period Japanese corporations also provided a substantial portion of the machinery and other components needed for industrialization in Taiwan and South Korea, and were also important sources of technology licences (Stubbs 1994, pp. 5–6). Japan also represented a model of development for its one-time colonies. Japanese colonialism laid the foundations for authoritarian developmentalism prior to 1945, even as it provided a pattern for capitalist development (Cumings 1984). For example, Park Chung Hee, who ruled South Korea from 1961 until 1979, had been an officer in

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the Japanese Kwantung Army during the Pacific War. His thinking was clearly influenced by the Japanese colonial industrial pattern, most importantly the state’s close links with the zaibatsu (Woo 1991, pp. 7– 8, 20–21, 40). Between the 1960s and the 1980s, authoritarian developmentalism in South Korea rested on a close relationship between the national security state and the country’s burgeoning conglomerates, while workers and trade unions were kept under tight control via topdown corporatist arrangements. National economic development was represented as a “sacred mission” and specific cultural practices and national narratives emerged as constitutive elements of authoritarian developmentalism. As Roger Janelli and Dawnhee Yim have argued, the organizational form of the South Korean chaebol is a “unified, top-down, chain-ofcommand system of control” which is best understood in relation to the “pervasive military influence” in South Korea. During the Cold War, South Korea’s corporate élite and their allies in the national security state sought to advance their economic and political interests by deploying selected aspects of Korean culture to mobilize employees and the population generally, while downplaying cultural traditions which might contribute to resistance to their rule. For example, the corporate managers justified their control via the use of selected elements of popular knowledge about father-son relations and they represented the founding and operation of the chaebols as an integral part of a wider national project for the benefit of all citizens effectively imposing a “moral duty” on their employees which blurred the boundaries between employee of the company and citizen of the nation (Janelli and Yim 1993, pp. 232– 34, 238–39). Such authoritarian developmentalism was repeatedly legitimated via appeals to “tradition”, militarism, anti-communism, and nationalism, backed up by a coercive national security apparatus. Despite, or because of, these authoritarian efforts to emphasize harmony and hierarchy, South Korean history in this period was a history of ongoing social and political struggles. The rapid economic growth of the 1960s and 1970s and the dramatic social changes of that era paved the way for the relative decline of the authoritarian developmental state in the 1980s. During the regime of General Chun Doo Hwan (1980– 88), the security alliance with the United States was reinvigorated;

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however, Washington increasingly began to question South Korea’s financial and trading practices. U.S. pressure for economic liberalization intersected with growing domestic pressure for political (and economic) liberalization and there was an élite-negotiated transition to parliamentary democracy by the end of the 1980s. With the Asian crisis in 1997–98, however, the pressure for neo-liberal economic reform in South Korea increased dramatically. IMF loans to South Korea (as well as Thailand and Indonesia) were conditional on the implementation of a range of austerity measures and liberal economic reforms. The setting up of new regulatory procedures, the shutting down of a range of banks and financial institutions, and the liberalization of capital markets were required. The IMF also demanded that public enterprises be privatized and cartels be broken up. However, evidence of economic recovery in South Korea by 1999 had been accompanied by signs that the pace of IMF-style reform had slowed somewhat. The Rise of the Cold War in Southeast Asia and the Impact of the Vietnam War

In the 1960s, at the same time as Cold War imperatives were providing the overall context for the rise and consolidation of authoritarian developmentalism in South Korea, they were also leading to an increasing level of direct U.S. military involvement in Vietnam. Beginning in the 1950s, Washington’s support for the French government’s effort to hold on to Indochina had become a focal point of the wider commitment to containing communism in Southeast Asia. While communism was eventually “contained” within the boundaries of the former French colonial possessions in the region, the U.S. effort at nation-building in South Vietnam between the 1950s and the 1970s was a dismal failure. The inability of the United States to turn South Vietnam into a Southeast Asian version of South Korea or Taiwan, despite a truly massive military and economic commitment, highlighted the limits of Washington’s power in the region and beyond. This also indicates that although the Cold War provided the overall framework for the rise of authoritarian developmental states, it can be seen as a necessary but not sufficient condition for the industrial rise of East Asia. For example, the Philippines was a major Cold War ally of the United States, and it was seen to have

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the best economic prospects of virtually any Southeast Asian country in the 1950s. However, by the 1970s, it had succumbed to “crony capitalism” under the predatory ministrations of Ferdinand Marcos, a long-time client of the United States, who was ousted by a broad-based populist revolt in 1986. Nevertheless, the U.S. effort to turn South Vietnam into a stable nation-state on the front-line of the Cold War brought major developmental benefits to the other nation-states in the region. For example, South Korean chaebols, such as Hyundai and Daewoo, gained significant war-related construction contracts in South Vietnam, while trade between Singapore and South Vietnam — particularly in petroleum products — increased precipitously between 1964 and 1969, going from US$21.5 million to US$146 million. The city-state’s entrepôt trade also rose dramatically. And Singapore, as well as Hong Kong, and other countries — Thailand especially — experienced the mixed benefits which flowed from the provision of “rest and recreation” for the large number of U.S. soldiers stationed in Southeast Asia. Thailand’s role in the “rest and recreation” economy was linked to its position as a major staging area for the war in Vietnam. In fact, since the mid-1950s, geo-politicians in Washington had viewed Thailand as a key “domino” in the wider effort to “contain communism” in Southeast Asia. U.S. military aid augmented the capabilities of the Thai state and reinforced the rise of authoritarian developmentalism under military stewardship. U.S. aid and the security imperatives of the Cold War led to the dramatic improvement in the country’s communication and transportation networks. For example, by the middle of the 1960s a new nation-wide system of roads and highways had been built, while deepwater ports and airport facilities were extensively upgraded. The total amount of U.S. war-related spending in Thailand went from about US$27 million in 1963 to US$318 million by 1968. This is thought to be have been the equivalent of over 8.5 per cent of the country’s gross national product (GNP). From the mid-1950s to the mid-1970s, U.S. expenditures in Thailand totalled at least US$3.5 billion, much of it at the height of the Vietnam War. This Cold War foundation was a critical factor in what became known as the “Thai boom” (Stubbs 1994, pp. 368–69).

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The Making and Unmaking of the Authoritarian Developmental State in Indonesia

The rise of a profoundly patrimonial version of authoritarian developmentalism in Indonesia in the 1960s also needs to be located in the wider context of the Cold War (Berger 1997a). The bloody foundation of Soeharto’s New Order coincided with the deepening of the U.S. presence in the region at the same time as it marked a restoration of conservative social forces that had been partially marginalized during the early national period under Soekarno. At the outset, the official interpretation of the ousting of Soekarno and the violent transition of 1965–66 became a key element in the state-centred discourse on the communist threat. It was instrumental to the social reorganization of the New Order around a version of Indonesian nationalism based upon anti-communism and a complex mix of politico-cultural ideas which emphasized the relevance of “Eastern” and “Indonesian” traditions, in contrast to unsuitable “Western” ideas such as Marxism and liberalism. While in the later years of the Soekarno era, the state had increasingly promoted a “populist indigenism” grounded in egalitarian concepts of community, under Soeharto a “conservative indigenism” was central to the dominant national narrative promoted by the New Order state. Though conservative indigenism shared common roots with populist indigenism, the former promoted a conception of national community grounded in hierarchy and the “traditional” pre-colonial social order (Bourchier 1998, pp. 203–4, 212–13). This was backed up by the dramatic deepening of the role of the military in the political system, the economy, and Indonesian society more generally. Meanwhile, Soeharto’s elimination of the Parti Kommunis Indonesia (PKI) and his regime’s anti-communist credentials ensured that the United States and its allies quickly embarked on the (re-)incorporation of Indonesia into the world economy. This included generous quantities of aid and a considerable amount of debt rescheduling. Under the guidance of a group of U.S.-trained technocrats — the so-called Berkeley Mafia — the New Order solicited foreign investment, particularly from the United States and Japan. From the mid-1960s until at least the early 1980s, the regime pursued an import-substitution industrialization (ISI)

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strategy financed by growing foreign investment, as well as by foreign aid and some domestic investment. Until the mid-1970s, Soeharto was indebted to the U.S.-backed international agencies particularly, and a range of foreign investors more generally, for both the alacrity with which they had moved to support his regime and the quantity of their assistance. This led to an economic stance that was receptive to foreign investors and to the U.S. vision of liberal capitalism. However, the dramatic increase in oil prices in the 1970s provided the New Order with the means to move to an even more state-centred approach to capitalist development. This trend was short-lived, however, and the decline in oil prices in the 1980s resulted in increasing debt and a decreased capacity on the part of the state to facilitate local capital accumulation, while greater use of foreign loans and foreign aid led to greater leverage on the part of the World Bank, the IMF, and foreign investors. By the second half of the 1980s, important liberalizing reforms were under way. This shift in economic policy facilitated an increase in the influx of foreign capital in the late 1980s, much of it from Japan (as well as South Korea and Taiwan), and the rapid rise of an export-industry sector, especially in Java. With the deepening of the authoritarian structures of the Indonesian state by the 1970s, the New Order increasingly sought to rework and entrench Pancasila (the five principles of belief in one God, humanitarianism, nationalism, consensus, democracy, and social justice, which had first been promulgated in 1945 as the philosophical basis for an independent Indonesia). By 1975, the New Order rested on a comprehensive surveillance and security network and a tightly controlled political system that had eliminated or completely reorganized the country’s political parties. This was complemented by a large and growing state bureaucracy, linked to the military and centred on President Soeharto, who had a range of patronage and control mechanisms at his disposal. In the case of labour, the approach of the New Order at the outset was aimed at eliminating the instability and worker unrest of the pre1965 period. A state-sanctioned and corporatist trade union body was set up, while the ideas on which it was founded were increasingly infused with Pancasila ideology and conservative indigenism. Along with the

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denial of the right to independent organization, workers in New Order Indonesia were generally denied the right to strike. In 1974 Pancasila Industrial Relations (Hubungan Industrial Pancasila — HIP) was promulgated. This legitimated widespread state intervention as it nullified the legitimacy of strike action because of its emphasis on familial and harmonious relations between labour-capital and the state. The Indonesian military (ABRI, now TNI) also played an important role in the trade unions and labour relations (not least being the practice of retired army officers taking up positions in the official trade union movement) (Hadiz 1997, pp. 59–109). In 1978 the New Order embarked on a comprehensive programme of Pancasila indoctrination that targeted government employees, university students, and schoolchildren, and by the early 1980s, Pancasila was represented as the “sole basis” of Indonesian national identity. The major emphasis in the Pancasila campaigns after 1978 was on order, leadership, hierarchy, and family. While Pancasila as interpreted by the New Order was backed up by a powerful state apparatus, its success also flowed from the way the Soeharto regime identified itself and Pancasila 9 with what it defined as national character and national tradition. While the importance of loyalty to the New Order was increasingly mediated through state-defined ideas about Pancasila, against the backdrop of an image of the Indonesian nation as a united and harmonious family (with Soeharto as the father), a related aspect was the production of a powerful Indonesian development (pembangunan) discourse, which exhorted Indonesians to work together to develop the nation and bring about economic takeoff, under the “father of development” (Bapak Pembangunan) at the same time as the benefits of years of economic growth were distributed in an increasingly inequitable fashion. When the financial crisis began in mid-1997 it acted as a major catalyst for a looming social and political crisis centred on the rentseeking and corruption of the Soeharto regime in general, and the Soeharto family in particular. While 13 million Indonesians were living on less than US$1 a day in 1997 the number rose to at least 34 million people by 1999 (Speth 1999, p. 13). By early 1998 the Indonesian economy was on the verge of hyperinflation as unemployment escalated. In May 1998 Soeharto responded to growing student-led protests by

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resigning and transferring presidential power to B.J. Habibie, his longtime protégé and vice-president. Habibie, who promised to move the country towards democratic elections, held the presidency for over a year, during which political unrest and social instability prevailed. General elections in June 1999 saw the most open campaign since 1955, while the selection of Abdurrahman Wahid (also known as Gus Dur) and Megawati Soekarnoputri as president and vice-president by the People’s Consultative Assembly (Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat — MPR) in late 1999 was viewed by many as bringing an end to the Soeharto era. However, the initially cautious and consensus-building approach taken by the Abdurrahman government points to the fact that the new president and his advisers continued to operate in the shadow of the country’s powerful military and the influential social and political forces who were the main beneficiaries of Soeharto’s rule. At the same time, the Asian crisis aggravated profound vertical and horizontal socioeconomic and ethnic cleavages that were already threatening the New Order before 1997 (Berger 1997b). The dissatisfaction with Jakarta’s rule on the part of people and movements in Aceh, Irian Jaya, and elsewhere in the archipelago was given increased impetus with the decision by the East Timorese to opt for independence and the very survival of Indonesia’s current “national” boundaries, which are a legacy of the Dutch colonial era, has emerged as an important issue in the post-Soeharto era. It of course remains to be seen how the new president, Megawati Soekarnoputri, deals with the social and political 8 forces she has inherited from Wahid. China’s Reorientation and Rise, Japan’s Renaissance and Decline, and the Limiting of State-Centred Capitalism

The deepening of authoritarianism in Indonesia in the 1970s coincided with an important shift in U.S. regional hegemony. In 1968, Richard Nixon was elected president of the United States. From the outset, he stressed that the United States would seek to avoid direct intervention to contain revolution and increasingly move to assist its allies with military and economic aid. The so-called Nixon Doctrine was explicitly aimed at avoiding another Vietnam and is generally linked to what the Japanese called the second “Nixon Shock”. This stemmed from U.S. overtures to

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China (against the backdrop of an emerging U.S. détente with the Soviet Union) which led to Nixon’s historic visit to Beijing in 1972. This resulted in the establishment of ambassadorial-level relations by the end of the 1970s, by which time the Chinese government’s overall economic policy had shifted dramatically towards the market. China’s (re-)turn to capitalism was a victory of sorts in the Cold War, in so far as this shift marked an implicit acknowledgment of the relative success of capitalism generally, and of the post-war capitalist dynamism of Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan more particularly. However, the victory was ambiguous because China’s “discovery” of capitalism actually did little to change the United States’ long-term assessment of the Middle Kingdom as a major “threat” second only to Russia. From Washington’s perspective, Japan was also becoming an ambiguous Cold War success story by the 1970s, and it was Japan’s economic renaissance which precipitated the first “Nixon Shock”. In 1971 Nixon floated the U.S. dollar and suspended its convertibility to gold, while introducing a new 10 per cent surcharge on all imports into the United States. This led the Japanese government to sign the Smithsonian Agreement which devalued the dollar by 7.89 per cent against gold at the same time as the yen was revalued by 16.88 per cent against the dollar. But despite Nixon’s efforts, the Japanese trade surplus continued to rise during the 1970s (Brenner 1998, pp. 116–24). This trend was linked to the way in which Japan had begun to surpass the United States as East Asia’s most significant source of aid and investment. Then, with the ratification of the Plaza Accord in September 1985 — which reversed the rising U.S. trade deficit with Japan by getting the major G-5 central banks to increase the value of the Japanese yen against the U.S. dollar — an ever-growing number of Japanese corporations moved their operations to Northeast and, increasingly, Southeast Asia to bring down production costs. By the end of the Cold War, the regional influence of the Japanese state and Japanese-based corporations had increased dramatically and a trend towards regional economic integration was apparent. By 1991, US$30.26 billion worth of exports from the ASEAN countries went to Japan and 32 per cent of these goods were manufactured goods (Shiraishi 1997, pp. 187–88; Stubbs 1994, pp. 371– 73).

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Regardless of the increasing regional economic integration centred on Japan, which was apparent by the end of the Cold War, there were important constraints on Japan’s ability to become a regional hegemon in East Asia. Trade within East Asia had risen to surpass trade between the United States and East Asia, but the North American market remained very important to all the economies in the region. Meanwhile, the end of the Cold War coincided with a growing array of economic problems linked to the decrepit character of Japanese politics. At the end of the 1980s, Japan went into recession, followed by a long period of exceedingly low growth. Throughout the 1990s various efforts to kick-start the Japanese economy via lower interest rates, tax cuts, and public spending continued to be unsuccessful. At the same time, the onset of the Asian crisis provided the United States with the opportunity to more effectively domesticate, if not bring an end to, state-centred developmentalism in Japan itself, as well as in most of the rest of the region, except China (Cumings 1998, pp. 71–72). The overall approach taken by the United States via the IMF reflects the dominant neo-liberal perspective that Japan’s problems and the Asian crisis flow from the inefficiencies and distortions of the various state-centred approaches to capitalist development which prevail in East Asia (Wolf 1998). The neo-liberal approach is reinforced by the fact that the dominant structures and discourses of the current international political economy remain grounded in those from the Cold War, and they continue to constrain the sovereignty of governments and political actors in Northeast and Southeast Asia. Even while U.S. hegemony is mediated through numerous and complex sets of power relations, economic arrangements, social structures, and cultural practices, Washington maintains control over the important things and continues to set the boundaries as far as acceptable and unacceptable political and economic behaviour is concerned. Still, at the same time as the Asian crisis represented a moment of consolidation for neo-liberalism, it has also signalled the onset of a crisis of neo-liberalism. The processes driving post–Cold War capitalism generally, and neo-liberal economic policies more specifically, are contributing to both integration and fragmentation, helping to throw up new and reconfigured fault lines, as the case of Indonesia indicates.

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Battering Down the Chinese Walls

This chapter has attempted to put the Asian crisis and the reassertion of U.S. hegemony which accompanied it in historical context by examining the contours of the international development debate as it relates to East Asia and the way in which the overall trajectory of East Asian capitalism was conditioned by the Cold War. It looked first at the process whereby neo-classical economics increasingly provided the most influential understanding of the East Asian “miracle” and capitalist development in general since the 1980s. Attempts to challenge neo-liberalism by the Japanese government and influential proponents of the developmental state were discussed. In particular, I emphasized that these challenges were subordinated to the dominant neo-liberal narratives and that this process was facilitated by the emergence of rational choice theory. While the dominant Anglo-American discourses were renovated in a number of ways, by the late 1990s, they and their main revisionist challengers continued to rest on an élitist, historical, and technocratic approach to capitalist development which at least implicitly worked to legitimate authoritarianism. I also argued that the rising, mainly authoritarian, developmental states of East Asia were domesticated to U.S. Cold War hegemony in ways that allowed ruling élites a great deal of autonomy over “national” affairs and conferred a range of economic privileges, even while there were important limits on their actions regionally and internationally. Focusing on South Korea and Indonesia in particular, I also drew attention to the complex cultural construction of capitalism and national identity which occurred within the wider matrix of authoritarian developmentalism and U.S. hegemony in the shadow of the Cold War. Finally, I contended that the Asian crisis not only provided an opportunity for the deepening of neo-liberalism in the region, but also exemplified the widening crisis of neo-liberalism. Such a situation opens up the possibility for progressive alternatives to gain ground, and even overturn the dominant Anglo-American visions of the late twentieth century. But in East Asia significant change will only come about when the institutions and structures of political and social power which came

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into being during the Cold War are brought low by radical reform or social revolution. NOTES Support for the research and writing of this paper was provided by the Asia Research Centre (Murdoch University, Australia), the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (Singapore), and the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (University of New South Wales, Australia). Support was also provided by a Small Australian Research Council Grant. In particular, I would like to thank C.J.W.-L. Wee and Philip Holden for their assistance and comments. Thanks also to all the participants in the two-day workshop at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore, in March 1999, where an earlier version of this paper was presented. And, of course, thanks to Anthony Aspden, Jasper Goss, and Sarah Graham for research assistance. Naturally I bear full responsibility for any errors of fact or interpretation. 1. Anglo-American liberalism can be defined as the commitment to individualism, gradual political and social change, representative government, free trade, and the sanctity of private property and the market. Since the end of the eighteenth century, liberalism has been an overarching element of political, economic, and intellectual life in Great Britain and North America. It shaped and was linked to the rise of the “second” British Empire and the emergence of the United States as a great power by the end of the nineteenth century. Since the turn of the century, and particularly since 1945, liberalism has become a dominant force in the international political economy, reinforcing and informing U.S. hegemony. Neo-liberalism is defined here as a narrower fundamentalist version of Anglo-American liberalism, which rose to dominance in the 1980s and 1990s. 2. The importance of the state in socialist and social democratic thinking has often resulted in the uncritical acceptance of revisionist work by progressive intellectuals seeking alternatives to neo-liberalism (for example, see Castan`eda 1994, p. 434). 3. Or, for example, see Linda Weiss who criticizes the way in which “the South Koreans have increasingly relinquished state control over the past decade” (1998, pp. xiii– xiv; emphasis in original). This approach side-steps the authoritarian and repressive character of the state prior to the late 1980s and the way in which the relinquishing of state control over the economy was linked to wider political and social struggles and the transition from authoritarian to parliamentary politics. In fact, there is an important intersection between revisionist conceptions of the developmental state and the politics-of-order approach, which emerged as a challenge to classical modernization theory in the 1960s (Huntington 1968; Moertopo 1972). The politics-of-order approach (sometimes called “military modernization theory”) was explicit in the way it treated the emergence of authoritarian regimes, such as Park Chung Hee’s national security state in South Korea (1961–79) and Soeharto’s New Order in Indonesia (1965–98) as a necessary response to instability, and focused on

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the need for, and the ability of, centralized authoritarian states and governments to better pursue capitalist development. On the shift from classical modernization theory to military modernization theory, see Berger (1995, pp. 129–33). 4. For an approach which nicely overcomes many of these shortcomings, in relation to Central America, see Paige (1997). 5. On culturalist explanations and the wider debate, see Berger (1996). 6. This expression was used by Bill Clinton at the November 1993 APEC meeting in Seattle (Bresnan 1994). 7. A comparative analysis of over thirty countries points to the “positive effect” of U.S. military aid on national economic development up to the early 1970s in those instances where levels of aid were particularly high as a result of geo-political considerations. Of the thirty-two countries examined, the four “success” stories were South Korea and Taiwan, Greece and Turkey (Chase-Dunn 1989, p. 253). 8. At the present juncture, the post-Soeharto state appears intent on maintaining “national unity” via centralized political and military means. The history of the New Order suggests that this will only encourage and strengthen secessionist sentiment, aggravating the crisis of the Indonesian nation-state. The populistnationalism of the new president lends itself to both an authoritarian style of politics and a potential commitment to neo-liberal austerity. But while she has appointed a well-regarded team of ministers to manage the economy and ushered in muchimproved relations with the IMF, the prognosis for the Indonesian economy, particularly in the wake of the events of 11 September 2001 in the United States and the global economic downturn, is not good. The U.S.-led “war on terrorism”, although focused on the Middle East and Central Asia, has serious implications for Indonesia’s complex political dynamics, given its status as the world’s largest Muslim nation. The new global war is already strengthening the military’s position in Indonesia, while the small but active radical Islamic groups draw attention to the various destabilizing ways the global confrontation could be played out. Meanwhile, the implications for the secessionist struggle in Aceh, given its radical Islamic tone, could be significant. 9. While the impact of Pancasila should not be exaggerated, in so far as many Indonesians were aware of its contradictions and shortcomings long before Soeharto stepped down in early 1998, it acted as a powerful complement to the more coercive aspects of state power and successfully constrained political debate in Indonesia for many years (Bourchier 1996, pp. 80–83, 212–57).

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World. London: Verso, 1998. Anderson, Perry. Lineages of the Absolutist State. London: New Left Books, 1974. Arrighi, Giovanni. The Long Twentieth Century: Money, Power, and the Origins of Our Times. London: Verso, 1994. Arrighi, Giovanni, Satoshi Ikeda, and Alex Irwan. “The Rise of East Asia: One Miracle or Many?” In Pacific-Asia and the Future of the World-System, edited by Ravi Arvind Palat. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1993. Berger, Mark T. Under Northern Eyes: Latin American Studies and US Hegemony in the Americas 1898–1990. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995. . “Yellow Mythologies: The East Asian Miracle and Post–Cold War Capitalism”. Positions: East Asia Cultures Critique 4, no. 1 (1996). . “Old State and New Empire in Indonesia: Debating the Rise and Decline of Suharto’s New Order”. Third World Quarterly: Journal of Emerging Areas 18, no. 2 (1997a). . “Post–Cold War Indonesia and the Revenge of History: The Colonial Legacy, Nationalist Visions, and Global Capitalism”. In The Rise of East Asia: Critical Visions of the Pacific Century, edited by Mark T. Berger and Douglas Borer. London: Routledge, 1997b. . “Bringing History Back In: The Making and Unmaking of the East Asian Miracle”. Internationale Politik und Gesellschaft 3 (July 1999a). . “Up from Neo-Liberalism: Free-Market Mythologies and the Coming Crisis of Global Capitalism”. Third World Quarterly: Journal of Emerging Areas 20, no. 2 (1999b). . “APEC and Its Enemies: The Failure of the New Regionalism in the AsiaPacific”. Third World Quarterly: Journal of Emerging Areas 20, no. 5 (1999c). Berger, Mark T. and Mark Beeson. “Lineages of Liberalism and Miracles of Modernisation: The World Bank, the East Asian Trajectory and the International Development Debate”. Third World Quarterly: Journal of Emerging Areas 19, no. 3 (1998). Berger, Mark T. and Douglas A. Borer. “Introduction: The Rise of East Asia: Critical Visions of the Pacific Century”. In The Rise of East Asia: Critical Visions of the Pacific Century, edited by Mark T. Berger and Douglas A. Borer. London: Routledge, 1997. Bernard, Mitchell. “East Asia’s Tumbling Dominoes: Financial Crises and the Myth of the Regional Model”. In Socialist Register 1999: Global Capitalism versus Democracy, edited by Leo Panitch and Colin Leys. New York: Monthly Review Press, 1999. Bourchier, David. “Indonesianising Indonesia: Conservative Indigenism in an Age of Globalisation”. Social Semiotics 8, no. 2/3 (August/December 1998).

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. “Lineages of Organicist Political Thought in Indonesia”. Ph.D. thesis, Monash University, Melbourne, 1996. Brenner, Robert. “Agrarian Class Structure and Economic Development in Pre-Industrial Europe”. In The Brenner Debate: Agrarian Class Structure and Economic Development in Pre-Industrial Europe, edited by T.H. Austin and C.H.E. Philpin. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987. . “Uneven Development and the Long Downturn: The Advanced Capitalist Economies from Boom to Stagnation, 1950–1998”. New Left Review 229 (1998). Bresnan, John. From Dominoes to Dynamos: The Transformation of Southeast Asia. New York: Council on Foreign Relations Press, 1994. Brook, Timothy and Hy V. Luong. “Introduction: Culture and Economy in a Postcolonial World”. In Culture and Economy: The Shaping of Capitalism in Eastern Asia, edited by T. Brook and Hy V. Luong. First published 1997. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1999. Byres, T.J. “The Agrarian Question and Differing Forms of Capitalist Agrarian Transitions: An Essay with Reference to Asia”. Rural Transformation in Asia, edited by Jan Breman and Sudipto Mundle. Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1991. Campos, Jorge Edgardo and Hilton L. Root. The Key to the Asian Miracle: Making Shared Growth Credible. Washington: The Brookings Institution, 1996. Castan`eda, Jorge G. Utopia Unarmed: The Latin American Left After the Cold War. New York: Vintage, 1994. Chase-Dunn, Christopher. Global Formation: Structures of the World-Economy. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1989. Choi, Alex H. “Statism and Asian Political Economy: Is There a New Paradigm?” Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars 30, no. 3 (1998). Cox, Robert W. Power, Production and World Order: Social Forces in the Making of History. New York: Columbia University Press, 1987. Cumings, Bruce. “The Legacy of Japanese Colonialism in Korea”. In The Japanese Colonial Empire 1895–1945, edited by Ramon H. Myers and Mark R. Peattie. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984. . “The Origins and Development of the Northeast Asian Political Economy: Industrial Sectors, Product Cycles and Political Consequences”. In The Political Economy of the New Asian Industrialism, edited by Frederic C. Deyo. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1987. . “Japan and Northeast Asia into the Twenty-First Century”. In Network Power: Japan and Asia, edited by Peter J. Katzenstein and Takashi Shiraishi. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1997. . “The Korean Crisis and the End of ‘Late’ Development”. New Left Review 231 (1998).

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Moertopo, Ali. Some Basic Thoughts on the Acceleration and Modernization of 25 Years of Development. Jakarta: Centre for Strategic and International Studies, 1972. Moore, Barrington, Jr. Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Lord and Peasant in the Making of the Modern World. Boston: Beacon Press, 1966. Paige, Jeffery M. Agrarian Revolution: Social Movements and Export Agriculture in the Underdeveloped World. New York: Free Press, 1978. . Coffee and Power: Revolution and the Rise of Democracy in Central America. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997. Pinches, Michael. “Cultural Relations, Class and the New Rich in Asia”. In Culture and Privilege in Capitalist Asia, edited by Michael Pinches. London: Routledge, 1999. Polyani, Karl. The Great Transformation. Boston: Beacon Press, 1944. Rueschemeyer, Dietrich, Evelyne Huber Stephens, and John D. Stephens. Capitalist Development and Democracy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992. Schumpeter, Joseph. Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy. New York: Harper and Row, 1976. Shiraishi, Takashi. “Japan and Southeast Asia”. In Network Power: Japan and Asia, edited by Katzenstein, Peter J. and Takashi Shiraishi. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1997. Speth, James Gustave. “The Plight of the Poor”. Foreign Affairs 78, no. 3. (1999). Stubbs, Richard. “The Political Economy of the Asia-Pacific Region”. In Political Economy and the Changing Global Order, edited by Richard Stubbs and Geoffrey R.D. Underhill. London: Macmillan, 1994. Wade, Robert. Governing the Market: Economic Theory and the Role of Government in East Asian Industrialisation. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990. Wallerstein, Immanuel. The Modern World-System — I: Capitalist Agriculture and the Origins of the European World-Economy in the Sixteenth Century. New York: Academic Press, 1974. . The Modern World-System — II: Mercantilism and the Consolidation of the European World-Economy 1600–1750. New York: Academic Press, 1980. . The Modern World-System — III: The Second Era of Great Expansion of the Capitalist World-Economy 1730–1840s. San Diego: Academic Press, 1989. Weiss, Linda. The Myth of the Powerless State: Governing the Economy in a Global Era. Cambridge: Polity Press, 1998. White, Donald W. The American Century: The Rise and Decline of the United States as a World Power. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996. Wolf, Charles. “Blame Government for the Asian Meltdown”. Asian Wall Street Journal, 5 February 1998.

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Wolf, Eric. Europe and the Peoples Without History. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982. Woo, Jung-En. Race to the Swift: State and Finance in Korean Industrialization. New York: Columbia University Press, 1991. Wood, Ellen Meiksins. The Pristine Culture of Capitalism. London: Verso, 1991. World Bank. Accelerated Development in Sub-Saharan Africa: An Agenda for Action. Washington, DC: World Bank, 1981. . The East Asian Miracle: Economic Growth and Public Policy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993. . World Development Report: 1997. The State in a Changing World. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997.

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CHAPTER 4

RELIGION, VALUES, AND CAPITALISM IN ASIA Syed Farid Alatas

The question of the relationship between religion and other phenomena that come within its conceptual and semantic field, such as values, on the one hand, and modern economic development, on the other, have occupied the minds of scholars since the last century. While the issue was first dealt with theoretically and sociologically by Ibn Khaldun in the fourteenth century AD, it was taken up again in systematic fashion by European classical social theorists in the nineteenth century. By the turn of the twentieth century, North American, Japanese, and Indian sociologists, economists, and political scientists began to write about the work ethic and other cultural or non-economic factors of development. Since the Second World War many others have joined in the debate. The purpose of this chapter is to discuss a number of fundamental problems that underlie the media and academic discourse surrounding the question of religion and development in East Asia that have to do with problematic Orientalist constructions. Owing to the vastness of the field, however, there is the problem of delineating my area of concern for this chapter. The field is vast, covering various world religions, numerous disciplines in the social sciences, and a multitude of topics such as industrialization, economic growth, education, and business firms. In addition, one has also to consider the budget of concepts that are related to religion such as ideology, culture, values, and the work ethic. Even if one chooses to focus on a region such as Southeast Asia, one is not left with a more manageable task.

This chapter is reproduced from Local Cultures and the “New Asia”, edited by C.J.W.-L. Wee (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2002). This version was obtained electronically direct from the publisher on condition that copyright is not infringed. No part of this publication may be reproduced, translated, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the Institute of Asian Asian Studies Studies, < http://www.iseas.edu.sg/pub.html > © 2002 Institute Southeast of Southeast Singapore

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What I propose, therefore, is to define my interest in the relationship between religion and economic development by way of limiting it with reference to a related concern, that of “Asian values”. In what follows, I take the Asian values debate as my entry point into the topic of the religious work ethic and its relationship with capitalist modernization in Southeast Asia. I link this debate to scholarly concerns among economists and sociologists, beginning in the 1960s and 1970s, with the so-called Weber thesis and its implications for the study of the influence of non-Western religions on economic development. I then turn to a discussion of Max Weber’s Protestant ethic thesis, highlighting some of his insights as well as his Orientalist “errors”. The sections after then discuss a number of problems associated with attempts to apply Weber’s theory of capitalism to the East Asian area. These are, first, that the wholesale and uncritical adoption of a Weber-type inquiry by many writing on East Asia (within which I include Southeast Asia) unwittingly leads to a curiously auto-Orientalist position with regard to the role of Confucianism and Islam in the East Asian “miracle”; second, the instrumental use of “values”; and third, the failure to understand the complexity of Weber’s argument on the nature of the relationship between Protestantism and the rise of capitalism. These problems are found in both media and academic discourses. I follow with a discussion on the state and Asian values, concluding with some suggestions as to what a research agenda on the work ethic and the broader issue of values that is conscious of the above-mentioned problems might look like. Asian Values, the Work Ethic, and the Spirit of Capitalism

The topic of Asian values began to appear in academic discourse in the 1970s and in the media discourse of the West as well as East and Southeast Asia from the 1980s. Nevertheless, the antecedents of this discourse are to be found in the social science literature of the early 1970s, which sought to distinguish the process of “modernization” from that of “Westernization” (Alatas 1970). This was in response to prevalent ideas in modernization theory that values, attitudes, and cultural patterns as a whole change in the process of modernization and that such changes, however painful they may be, are inevitable (Rudolph and Rudolph 1967; Kahn 1979). In response to this, there were Asians, particularly

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the Indians and the Japanese, who insisted that a form of modernization that selectively kept out Western influences and retained tradition was possible. Compatible with this position was the “discovery” that there were functional equivalents to the Protestant ethic to be found outside of the West. At the same time, efforts were being made to define Asia in terms of its various “culture areas” (Bacon 1964; Benda 1972). The logical step was then to define Asianness in order that the elements that distinguished Asian from Western civilization could be identified and then made to constitute theoretical accounts of modernization in Asia. As a result, from the late 1960s onwards, several works appeared that either attempted to identify functional equivalents to the Protestant ethic in non-Western societies or at least made a case for the existence of factors conducive to modern rational capitalism in the various world religions. It was in this way that religion became a category in the discourse on development. It is, therefore, fitting to begin with the work of Max Weber himself in order to establish the criteria of assessment of those works that make Weberian or Weberian-inspired arguments in favour of a positive correlation between “Asian” religions and modern rational capitalism. The Protestant Ethic Thesis of Max Weber

The relationship between values and economic development is complicated. Capitalism as an economic system requires an attitude that Weber called the “spirit of capitalism”. This attitude obtained its content from Protestantism. For Weber, the “question of the motive forces in the explanation of modern capitalism is not in the first instance a question of the origin of the capital sums which were available for capitalistic uses, but, above all, of the development of the spirit of capitalism” (Weber 1958a, p. 68). He also says, “Where [the spirit of capitalism] … appears and is able to work itself out, it produces its own capital and monetary supplies as the means to its own ends, but the reverse is not true” (Weber 1958a, pp. 68–69). In other words, the spirit of capitalism creates the institutions but not the reverse. The spirit of capitalism is a unique phenomenon that existed in a certain historical period in Europe. It has specific traits and characteristics whereby the acquisition of money was combined with the avoidance of

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spontaneous enjoyment of life. In other words, the acquisition of money is not for the satisfaction of material needs, but for a higher reason as is evident from a quotation Weber gives us from the Bible: “Seest thou a man diligent in business? He shall stand before kings” (Weber 1958a, p. 53). The attitude in pre-capitalist times was one of traditionalism — man does not wish to earn more and more money but wants to live as he is accustomed to living, and to earn as much as is necessary for that purpose (Weber 1958a, p. 60). This is the backwardness of traditionalism from a capitalistic point of view. In contrast, in the spirit of capitalism both labourer and entrepreneur regard work as an end in itself, as if it were a religious calling (Weber 1958a, p. 63). Therefore, the chances of overcoming traditionalism were greatest where there was religious upbringing. There was something about Protestantism which instilled an attitude in people that was very capitalistic in nature. It is opposed to traditionalism that is expressed, for example, in Catholicism that “activity directed to acquisition [of capital] for its own sake was at bottom a pudendum which was to be tolerated only because of the unalterable necessities of life in this world” (Weber 1958a, p. 73). Weber thus makes a distinction between the Catholic world and the Protestant world. In the successful capitalist centres of trade — merchant capitalism — in Florence, Italy in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the capitalist spirit was considered ethically unjustifiable. In eighteenth century Pennsylvania, where there were very small, poor enterprises, the same attitude was “considered the essence of moral conduct” (Weber 1958a, p. 75). Modern capitalism was to develop in those areas with the spirit of capitalism. Capitalism requires an outlook on life that makes acquisition of capital a religious calling. Only then can it become a systematic way of life. Weber never claimed that capitalism could not exist outside the Occident. Rather, he claimed that the spirit of capitalism — an attitude of commercial gain and profit based on rational calculation — could originate only in the West, and was a result of certain characteristics peculiar to the worldly asceticism of Puritanism, a Protestant movement in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries derived in part from the

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doctrines of Calvin. Puritanism is not against activity in this world. It is not even against wealth acquisition. The moral objection to wealth is the “relaxation in the security of possession, the enjoyment of wealth with the consequence of idleness and the temptations of the flesh, and above all, distraction from the pursuit of a righteous life” (Weber 1958a, p. 157). For Weber, modern capitalism was the result of the melding between capitalist enterprise and ascetic Protestantism, above all, of the Calvinistic version (Weber 1958a, p. 128) in which worldly asceticism was a means of salvation. The effect of this ethic was psychological – it freed the acquisition of wealth from the inhibitions of traditionalistic ethics (Weber 1958a, p. 171) and drove its adherents to hard work, discipline, and frugality, since the attainment of wealth as a fruit of labour was a sign of God’s blessing. The practical result was an ascetic compulsion to work hard and to save, and to avoid spontaneous enjoyment. This attitude towards life is what Weber calls the spirit of capitalism. There are two important theoretical points to make about the effect of the Protestant Ethic on the development of the spirit of capitalism. First, there was an elective affinity or congeniality between Calvinism and the modern capitalist attitudes or ethics. There is a connection between the irrational value commitments of Calvinism with rational, calculative economic conduct. The one seems irrational from the other’s point of view, but they come together in capitalism. Second, the fact of congeniality is related to the idea that Calvinists did not consciously seek to create a capitalist system. Capitalism was an unintended consequence of the Protestant ethic. In other words, we ought not to take a mechanical approach to values. We cannot simply invoke certain values and expect them to have the desired effects once people accept these values. Weberian Orientalism?

Can we accept Weberian arguments, or do they have what can be called an “Orientalist” dimension to them? A case for Weberian Orientalism can be made in two ways. One would be an inherent Orientalism in the works of Weber, and the other would be how Weber’s writings have become “Orientalized”.

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To begin with, Weber’s own possible Orientalism. Weber’s arguments about the origin of modern rational capitalism in the West as embodied in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism should be read in the light of his comparative sociological studies of religion as seen in The Religion of India (1958b) and The Religion of China (1951). In The Religion of India, Weber’s reading of “caste” and “Hinduism” as defining and distinct features of Indian society is problematic on two counts. It betrays a textual reading of the phenomenon and an essentializing of Indian society. For example, Hinduism derived its name after a river, the Indus River in the Indian sub-continent, but is a name which was imposed from the outside to encompass a wide variety of beliefs over a vast area of land. The adherents of such beliefs did not always consider themselves as belonging to a single entity that we now know as “Hinduism”. Yet many textualist and essentialist studies of Hinduism subscribe to such constructed myths. Similarly, Weber’s reading of Confucianism and Taoism in The Religion of China is an instance of the imposition of the Judeo-Christian notion of “religion” as if it were a universal category. Furthermore, Weber’s characterization of Confucianism as “world affirming” and of “Confucian rationalism” as a “rational adjustment to the world” contributed to the image of Chinese society as static, unchanging, or at least as not inclined towards change. This again feeds into Orientalist constructions of the non-West as “passive”, lacking a history and essentially “different” from the West. Weber’s Orientalism, therefore, can be characterized as: (a) mixing fact and fiction; (b) imposing categories and concepts from the outside that clash with internal cultural self-understandings; (c) homogenizing heterogeneous entities; (d) adopting a textualist approach; and (e) essentializing whole societies. In contrast to the above, the attribution of Orientalism to Weber is the result of some reactions to his scholarship. According to Weber, the form that capitalism took in the West could only originate in the West because it required an attitude of commercial gain and profit, a “spirit” that generally emerged in Protestant-dominated areas of Europe. He acknowledged that although the Islamic and Confucianism world-views do stress frugality and hard work, the capitalist spirit did not emerge in

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the Arab world or in China because of these missing elements: an ascetic compulsion to work, a this-worldly asceticism and the rationalization of life. The nature of Third World consumption of Weber has taken place with an assumption that for Weber, capitalism was an advanced, progressive economic system, and thus something “good and desirable” and, following from this, that Western society was in this respect superior. As a result, some non-Western students and scholars took a defensive position and attempted to show that their own religions (Islam, Buddhism, Confucianism) were conducive to the development of capitalism, or that they were not against wealth acquisition. In such cases, Orientalist tendencies were attributed to the works of Weber, even though they are not to be found there. The result of some such related reactions to these notions of Western superiority lead to the later claim that “Asian values” had the functional equivalents to the Protestant capitalist “spirit”. The Search for Functional Analogues to the Protestant Ethic

Initial discussions on Asian values did not always have these intentions. A paper by Singapore sociologist Peter S.J. Chen dealt specifically with the nature of Asian values (Chen 1976). Chen’s goal, however, was not to discover any functional equivalent to the Protestant ethic but rather to suggest that Asian values such as group spirit, mutual assistance, filial piety, friendship, and value-ladenness (among scholars) would “definitely play a role in rectifying the adverse effects of modernization” (p. 14). John Hall (1965), Ronald Dore (1967), Robert Bellah (1968, 1970), and Herman Kahn (1979) were among the first to suggest a positive relation between a Confucian ethic and economic growth in East Asia. This idea, in the hands of those who attributed an Orientalist stance to Weber, provided the material on the basis of which defensive searches for functional analogues to the Protestant ethic in religions and philosophies such as Islam, Buddhism, and Confucianism could be made. The idea had been taken up by the political élite and in the media in many East Asian nations during the last two decades. In Singapore, this took the form of the “Speak Mandarin” Campaign, the introduction of

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“Religious Knowledge” as part of moral education in secondary schools in the early 1980s, and the later parliamentary White Paper on “Shared Values” (Kwok 1995; Wee, this volume). In Malaysia, there were provocative attempts to compare Confucianism with Islam, as well as to understand Confucianism from the point of view of Islam. Osman Bakar suggests: A Muslim does not go against the teachings of his or her religion if he makes the claim that Confucius was a prophet of Islam. … The Chinese, being an ancient race and civilization, surely must have received at least one message from Heaven. Confucius deserves to be considered as a candidate for the recipient of that message. If he were indeed a prophet, then his prophetic function would be that of a Law-bringer, that is, one who brings the Shari’ah to the Chinese people. The Analects is, in fact, basically a source of moral and ethical teachings for the organization of society, which is what the Shari’ah is all about. (Osman Bakar 1995, pp. 98–99)

Time and time again, it has been suggested that values explain economic progress. The values that were singled out, including the ones highlighted by Chen (1976), are strong family ties, filial piety, frugality, discipline, thrift, diligence, hard work, and self-sacrifice. These values were not only held to be important factors in the process of economic development, but also the basic ingredients of a religious ethic. It should be fairly obvious to most that these values are important for development. But it is also obvious that that these values are to be found in all the major philosophies and religions of the world. Certainly, they can be found in the doctrines and practices of Confucianism, Buddhism, and Islam. Yet, modern rational capitalism did not originate in the Islamic or Sinic civilizations. Even if the argument is made that a Confucian ethic interacts successfully with a capitalist system transplanted from the West, there are a number of objections that can be raised vis-àvis the Confucian or Islamic ethic explanation of economic growth, the first six of which come under the general heading of “auto-Orientalism”. The first is the problematic presence of Eurocentric terms of reference. The point of departure is Eurocentric in that the terms of reference imply the superiority, uniqueness, and desirability of capitalism, the Euro-Protestant dimension of capitalism, and the propensity of Asia to become like Europe. It is contradictory that scholars suggest that

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Asian religions are unlike Christianity when in fact their own arguments suggest that they are quite similar, as far as the conduciveness to capitalist development is concerned. The second objection is that many pro-Asian values arguments offer textual rather than concrete studies of values and societies. The values discussed above indeed are to be found, historically, in the “high” Confucianism of the literati class. They provide the ideological and normative foundation for statecraft, social control, and self-discipline (Kim 1994, p. 96). But it is not clear to what extent the values identified in text and doctrine were actually practised by the literatis themselves. Furthermore, as Kim Kyong-Dong rightly points out, a more important question is the extent to which these were adopted and practised by the non-literati (pp. 96–97). The same point can be made of the “low” Confucianism (Wang 1988) or the “Confucian habits of the heart” (Tu 1989a, p. 15, cited in Kim 1994, p. 99). In the case of this “low” Confucianism, the value elements that supposedly make up a Confucian ethic are a this-worldly orientation, faith in the perfectibility of the human condition, selfcultivation, discipline, hard work, frugality, respect for authority, a group orientation, the importance of the family and the primacy of education (MacFarquhar 1980; Berger 1988; Tu 1989b). But, as Kim stresses, many of these items are derived from the old Confucianism of the “high” tradition and are no longer operative in contemporary times — and this quite apart from the question of whether these items are “purely” Confucian (Kim 1994, p. 99). It is one thing to claim that certain values are found in religious doctrines and texts, and another to claim that these values are expressed empirically and are operative in the rationalization processes of daily life. Consider another example. The claim that individualism is suppressed in East Asian societies has often been made by recourse to texts. Masayuki, for example, compares Christian symbolism with the symbolic universe of Japanese religions and concludes that Japanese religious traditions do not legitimate the status of the individual (Masayuki 1998). There is nothing wrong with this approach as long as it is not concluded that in practice, Japanese societies encourage the suppression of individual identity. While this may be true of Japanese

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society, this truth cannot be arrived at simply through the examination of Japanese religious symbols and texts. The third problem is the widely recognized danger of essentializing the “nature” of a society’s culture. This culturalist approach contends that there is a uniquely East Asian driving force behind the process of Asian capitalist development — Confucianism in the case of Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore, Islam for Malaysia, or the “shared values” of Singapore. The problem here is not the normative explanation but rather the positing of essential attributes of the system that appear to have been derived arbitrarily (Jayasuriya 1997). Another problem aspect of the self-Orientalization of the culturalist explanation of East Asian development is the claim of uniqueness. For example, Harry Oshima agrees with Weber’s description of the East Asian religions as being “more rational, pragmatic, and utilitarian than the ethical systems found in the other religions of Asia and hence conducive to the assimilation though not the emergence of capitalism” (Oshima 1986, p. 7). But, as pointed out by Kim, features such as “this-worldliness” and benevolent authoritarian government are not confined to Confucianism alone, but are found in Taoism, Shintoism, and Mahayana Buddhism (1994, p. 100) and, I may add, other religions as well. A related fifth objection is that even if it is true that economic practices informed by certain values can be identified, what remains unclear is if these values can be “located exactly in the Confucian portion of the culture” (Kim 1994, p. 88). Sixth, there is also the tendency to make sweeping statements that homogenize regions. It has been said of Confucian values that it “proved surprisingly durable and found acceptance within the ethical fabric of modern Japan.… Similar attitudes and values, whether directly attributable to a Confucian legacy or not, are now powerfully felt elsewhere in Asia and have been incorporated into the world transformation that has taken place with the rapid emergence of the economic power of the nations of East Asia” (Collcutt 1995, p. 109). Such statements need to be backed by empirical research into the beliefs and practices of communities. It appears, therefore, that the social sciences in East Asia, at least as far as a section of the discourse on Asian values and the work ethic are

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concerned, are constituted by textualist, essentialist, and homogenizing approaches that emphasize the uniqueness of East Asia, in the tradition of what John Lie refers to as auto-Orientalism (1996, p. 5). Seventh, the analogy between Asian values and the Protestant work ethic is an ex post rationalization. Capitalism was introduced to a region devoid of an ethic analogous to that of Puritanism. In general, it is not incorrect to say that capitalism was grafted on to pre-existing modes of production and that it did violence to the social and intellectual systems of those times. We need to being seriously reconsider what is being retrospectively claimed regarding high rates of growth being due to Confucianism or Islam. The work ethic “embedded” in Confucian consciousness and corporatist Islam seems to have followed rather than preceded economic development in the region. An eighth and final objection is that Confucianism and traditional values are being invoked in a very instrumentalist manner. Consider the title of an article that once appeared in the Singapore Straits Times (8 October 1994) entitled “The Cash Value of Values”. Very often, values are discussed in the context of their direct and intended function in economic development, with the dimension of unintended consequences totally ignored. I have in mind, here, a discursive “clash of civilizations” as an unintended consequence. The belief in the efficacy of values for growth and the subsequent flexing of Asian economic muscles, at least at the rhetorical level and prior to the Asian financial crisis of 1997–99, fits in nicely with the thesis of the clash of civilizations. The idea of inter-civilizational rivalry made its entry into international political discourse with the publication of Samuel Huntington’s “The Clash of Civilizations” (1993). While many in Asia did not subscribe to Huntington’s thesis that national and ideological conflicts are being replaced by civilizational oppositions, it did appear that a clash was taking place, at least at the discursive level. For example, the thorny nature of the Anglo-Malaysian relationship in 1994 took on overtones of moral rivalry between East and West, if only at a rhetorical level. This is certainly the case on the Malaysian side of the argument, as Kuala Lumpur had criticized the British for doubting the competence of Malay-Muslims, and for their condescending colonial attitude towards Malaysia.

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When the British media started to scrutinize and criticize Britishfunded development projects in Malaysia — which included the massive Pergau dam — and then proceeded to allege corruption among Malaysian leaders, including a “special payment” of US$50,000 to high-level politicians (“Wimpey Offered Contract Bribes to Malaysian Prime Minister”, Sunday Times [London], 24 February 1994), Kuala Lumpur imposed a ban on awarding government contracts to British firms, including privatized projects, and curbed the outgoing flow of government-sponsored undergraduate students to Britain. (Malaysia has the largest number of overseas students in the United Kingdom.) Clearly, Kuala Lumpur saw the British actions as not just as an attack on the integrity and honesty of Malaysian politicians but an expression of prejudicial views held by former colonial masters on, as former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim put it, “a country led by a brown Muslim” (Sunday Times [London], 13 March 1994). The imagery here was not simply one of an Anglo-Malaysian business war, but of a civilizational conflict between “white” and “brown” peoples. In fact, even before AngloMalaysian affairs came under the halogen glare of publicity, Anwar had spoken of an “Asian renaissance” not only in economic but also in cultural and intellectual terms. He mentioned the need to launch a counteroffensive against the “imperialistic diffusion of Western or Westerninfluenced cultural products” (Straits Times, 1 February 1994). Not only must Asians be clear about their economic and political priorities, they must also set their own intellectual and cultural agendas, he added. After the Kuala Lumpur–London row broke out, Dr Mahathir himself had said that his government’s decision to stop giving government contracts to British firms constituted a means of economic arm-twisting which “we learnt from Western countries” (Sunday Times [London], 20 March 1994). He accused the British media of still possessing a colonial mentality and of believing that “non-whites can be easily bribed and can be bribed at any time …” (Sunday Times [London], 20 March 1994). In an interview by the London Sunday Times, Dr Mahathir agreed that there was a racist element in the British media coverage of the Pergau dam affair and that there was an assumption that “all these people — these natives — are not straight. They all receive money and they run

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tinpot countries, banana republics and things like that” (Sunday Times [London], 20 March 1994). The then Defence Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, also accused the Western media for characterizing Islam as an anti-democratic and war-mongering religion. Although Najib was not referring to the row with the British, his statement expressed sentiments in Kuala Lumpur that what Malaysians were up against was not just the critical media of advanced capitalist nations but a colonialist mentality that was prejudiced against Islam and condescending towards coloured peoples. Indeed, this reading of the Anglo-Malaysian fracas resonates well with a question put forward by Singapore’s Ambassador-at-large, Professor Tommy Koh, to the West at the 1994 World Economic Forum. After having considered Asians as their subordinates and menials for 200 years, could the West “go through a wrenching psychological change and contemplate that in the next twenty to fifty years, Asian states will equal if not surpass you [the West]?” (Straits Times, 31 January 1994). Kuala Lumpur’s view was undoubtedly that the British have not been able to deal with this. Another example of the discursive clash of civilizations is the bout of criticisms of Western values and lifestyles which some have referred to as “West-bashing”. Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong of Singapore, in his 1994 National Day Rally Speech, highlighted a number of aspects of Western civilization which were in difficulty, including the breakup of the family, falling educational standards and a decline in morality. Malaysia’s Prime Minister, in a similar vein, had referred to the “corrosive individualism” of the West (Financial Times, 5–6 March 1994). He had also called upon Malaysians “not to accept Western-style democracy as it could result in … moral decay, homosexual activities, single parents and economic slowdown” (Voice of Malaysia radio broadcast, 29 May 1993, cited in Financial Times, 5–6 March 1994). The State and Asian Values

Apart from issues of auto-Orientalism, the instrumental use of “values” in economic discourse and a failure to see the nuances in Weber’s arguments on the relationship between Capitalism’s rise and Protestantism,

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we also need to consider “Asian values” and the interventionist state in the analysis of values and development. Following the Second World War and formal independence, many governments in Southeast Asia sought to expand the role of private capital in the economy. In many countries, the governments failed to create a viable indigenous capitalist class. The traditional role of the state in terms of regulatory functions by way of monetary, fiscal, and tax policies, licensing and subsidy programmes, and so forth, did not work. Many Southeast Asian states then decided to involve themselves in the sphere of capital accumulation beyond their regulatory and infrastructural roles. These states became directly involved in the process of capital accumulation through the establishment of state-owned enterprises and financial institutions. This role of the state manifests itself in a number of ways. First, there are corporations established by the state, as well as those nationalized by the state. This is a well-known phenomenon in Southeast Asia and examples are plentiful. Next, there is also the phenomenon of ruling political parties becoming major owners of, and investors in, business and properties. For various reasons, ruling political parties in Southeast Asia have acquired the means to buy, own, and manage major concerns. The extent to which this transpires varies from country to country, and it is most prominent in Malaysia. It is not easy to trace the links between the corporate sector and a political party. For example, while it is well known that the United Malays National Organization (UMNO) in Malaysia has a significant corporate presence in publications, communications, banking, insurance, property development, construction, hotels, manufacturing, and food retailing, it is hard to trace its links to these sectors because of the “informal way in which party assets are held, that is, through trustees or nominees appointed by party leaders, often as a means of political patronage” (Gomez 1990, p. 29). Another aspect of the state’s involvement in the process of capital accumulation is corporate sector ownership by major political personalities, gained by virtue of their position in, or connections with, government. This may or may not be the result of nepotism. The group of capitalists that have evolved this way are known in Indonesia as “client

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businessmen” (Muhaimin 1990, p. 1), but the term applies equally to other Southeast Asian countries. Such “clients” include those from within and without the bureaucracy. State involvement in economic development in terms of the role of political parties and client businessmen is potentially damaging to the economy because very often those who obtain rights, licences, franchises, and the like are neither qualified nor competent in business. Patronage represents a major means by which such businessmen join the ranks of the economic élite. The disadvantage of this is that major corporations that were established through patronage or through political party connections are not up to standard as far as efficiency, technical knowhow, and entrepreneurship are concerned. In this sense, the role of the state in development is negative. Kleptocrats or “corrupters” extend various forms of favours to private capitalists, and such favours may include incentives, licensing, protectionism, funding from state banks, concessions, and joint ventures. The relationship between kleptocrat and capitalist is one between patron and client. This is a special relation between a politically powerful patron and a client who needs his/her protection due to the inadequacies of the formal economic institutions. Since colonial times, the Chinese were the clients of colonial patrons and although this relationship — now with the post-colonial state — continued after independence, patronage was also extended towards the development of indigenous capital. Patronage involves rent-seeking. This problem applies specifically to the kleptocrat-capitalist relationship and has to do with the incentives facing potential monopolists in the economy. Monopolists make profits over and above the normal returns to capital. These profits represent a real net loss to society. However, there are further costs to society that arise from rent-seeking behaviour. In economics, “rent” refers to the return to a factor of production that is in strictly limited in supply. In a competitive industry, economic profits are in limited supply and rentseeking behaviour here refers to actions taken by firms to obtain and preserve extra normal profits. Part of the profits are eaten up by the expenses of rent-seeking behaviour such as bribes and other forms of payment to state kleptocrats. Therefore, the social costs to society include the extra-normal profits of monopolists as well as the payments made

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by the rent-seeking behaviour itself which aims to restrict competition and preserve such profits. Given such a role of the state, and the fact that leaders like Soeharto and Park Chung-Hee ruled by appeal to certain elements of “Asianness”, such as Javanese culture or indigenous democracy, it is not surprising that many had become sceptical of the notion of “Asia”. The “Asian” idea “is a kind of sales gimmick, used for political and commercial public relations” (Buruma 1995, p. 66). Apart from the fact that many local cultural practices are disappearing in Asia, what is often presented as “Asian values” either suspiciously promotes an authoritarian style of government, or is universal enough in practice so as to make them indistinguishable from, say, American values. Towards a Positive Appropriation of Weber

Given the serious problems associated with the consumption of Weber in Asia, and the bad press that the “Asian values” discourse has received as a result of the conduct of many Asian states, what should our attitude be with respect to the utility of a Weberian sociology of religion as far as the study of the relationship between values and development are concerned? Despite the various substantive and methodological weaknesses in Weber, the value of his theoretical contributions should be noted. For example, while he may have been mistaken about the nature of caste in India and about Confucianism in China, the larger point about the relations between and connectedness of religious, political, and economic structures is worth pursuing. Some positive aspects of his work follow. The first is the balance between ideal and material factors. In The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Weber seems to explain the rise of capitalism in terms of psychological or ideological motivations and refers to historical materialism as “patent nonsense”. On the other hand, Weber stresses that it was not his intention to substitute a onesided idealism for a one-sided materialism. This issue can be resolved by making a distinction between Weber’s conception of sociology and how he actually practised sociology. To put it crudely, his conception of sociology was that it was an interpretive science which examined social action in terms of its meaning

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for actors — that is, how actors consciously master their reality and legitimate their actions by way of various types of rationality. For example, Weber’s interest in sixteenth century Puritanism was in regard to capitalist activity as meaningful social action. This led many to suggest that Weber was an idealist because of his alleged stress on the religious/psychological causes of the rise of capitalism. But Weber himself was very conscious of the complex interplay between ideal and material factors. In the General Economic History (1961), Weber refers to many materialist preconditions of the rise of capitalism: appropriation of the means of production; freedom of the market; mechanized technology; calculable, non-arbitrary adjudication and administration; free labour; and the commercialization of economic life. One could argue that Weber saw the Protestant ethic as one ideal factor that could be added to a list of material factors. What this implies is that a serious approach to the problem of religious ethics, values, and development would entail a more sophisticated application of Weber. Both material and ideal factors are important in explaining East Asian economic development. East Asia then presents us, by way of an empirical field, with the opportunity to go beyond the Weber thesis and to develop his general sociology, taking into account his sociology of law and authority in addition to his sociology of religion. One may disagree with Weber as far as his understanding of the substance of Confucianism, Hinduism, and Islam go, but may find his institutional approach valid and useful (Hamilton and Kao 1987, p. 292). Another aspect of Weber’s work on the Protestant ethic that warrants more serious attention is the question of unanticipated consequences. For example, against the commonplace view that Confucianism hindered capitalist development, could one suggest that it in fact may have been an unwitting impetus to capital accumulation as Confucianist as craftsmen and merchants tried to “buy” their way out of their occupations and to place themselves in a less despised class? Or, assuming that status attainment is central to the Confucian world-view can it be argued that the effort to accumulate capital was directed to the goal of status attainment and upward mobility, the unintended consequence being the accumulation of vast stores of capital?

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Such questions cannot be answered without empirically oriented research to which the prevailing textualism and other problem remain as obstacles. Conclusion

In looking at this relationship between values and development, there is a task of demystification at hand that is not simply an exposing of a gimmick, followed by placing oneself in the institutionalist rather than in the culturalist camp. A third position is possible, where local discourses on development are “authentic” in the sense that they are consciously theoretically articulated while at the same time grounded in the realities of the region and mindful of the pitfalls of auto-Orientalism. I do not suggest that there is no such thing as “Asia” or “Asian values” (as long as Asia is not understood as a homogeneous entity). It is now fashionable to dismiss the individualist-collectivist dichotomy when discussing differences between the West and Asia. But it is unfortunate that potential sound concepts that may emerge from the positing of such dichotomies are nipped in the bud because so many of us have become sceptical of a now-discredited discourse that was largely stateinitiated and dominated. Undoubtedly, for example, differences between Singapore and the United States as far as individualism is concerned exist. Those differences cannot be fruitfully captured by tendentious phrases such as “the corrosive individualism of the West”. This is not to say that there are no areas of life in which Americans may display a greater or lesser sense of individualism than Singaporeans but only that intellectuals must not abdicate the serious investigation of values and developments. A critical assessment of both the social sciences and “Asian” discourses on the question of values and development should lead to a counter-Orientalist, counter-auto-Orientalist, and non-instrumental appropriations of classic works, such as those of Weber, for alternative thinking on religion, values, and capitalism in Asia. NOTE An early version of this paper was delivered at the Workshop on “Embedding Capitalism in Newer Asian Contexts: Authority Structures and Local Cultures and Identities in Southeast Asia” organized by the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore, 22– 23 March 1999.

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Kim Kyong-Dong, “Confucianism and Capitalist Development in East Asia”. In Capitalist Development, edited by Leslie Sklair. London: Routledge, 1994. Kwok Kian-Woon. “Social Transformation and the Problem of Social Coherence: Chinese Singaporeans at Century’s End”. Asiatische Studien 49, no. 1 (1995): 217–41. Lie, John. “Sociology of Contemporary Japan”. Current Sociology 44, no. 1 (1996): 1–95. MacFarquhar, Roderick. “The Post-Confucian Challenge”. Economist, 9 February 1980, pp. 67–72. Masayuki, Ito. “The Status of the Individual in Japanese Religions: Implications for Japan’s Collectivist Social Values”. Social Compass 45, no. 4 (1998): 619–33. Muhaimin, Yahya A. Bisnis dan Politik: Kebjaksanaan Ekonomi Indonesia, 1950–1980. Jakarta: LP3E8, 1990. Oshima, Harry T. “East Asia’s High Growth”. Singapore Economic Review 31, no. 2 (1986): 1–22. Osman Bakar. “Confucian Analects in the Light of Islam”. Pemikir (Kuala Lumpur) 1 (1995): 92–99. Rudolph, Lloyd and Susanne Rudolph. “The Place of Tradition in Modernization”. Development Digest. Washington, DC: National Planning Association, 1967. Tu Wei-ming. “The Confucian Dimension in the East Asian Development Model”. Paper presented at the Chinese Institute for Economic Research, Taipei, Taiwan, June 1989a. . “The Rise of Industrial East Asia: The Role of Confucian Values”. Paper presented at the Centre for East Asian Studies, University of Copenhagen, May 1989b. Wang Gungwu. Trade and Cultural Values: Australia and the Four Dragons. Current Issues in Asian Studies Series 1. Victoria: Asian Studies Association of Australia, 1988. Weber, Max. The Religion of China: Confucianism and Taoism. New York: The Free Press, 1951. . The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1958a. . The Religion of India: The Sociology of Hinduism and Buddhism, translated and edited by Hans Gerth and Don Martindale. New York: The Free Press, 1958b. . General Economic History. New York: Collier, 1961.

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CHAPTER 5

FROM UNIVERSAL TO LOCAL CULTURE: THE STATE, ETHNIC IDENTITY, AND CAPITALISM IN SINGAPORE C.J.W.-L. Wee

There has been much discussion within cultural theory and anthropology as to whether global capitalism and its associated culture homogenize the world, or whether modernity is indigenized differently in various locales (Appadurai 1990; and Rabinow 1988). Also, we understand that the very resistance to capitalist forces can revivify “tradition” in the form of — one of the most-cited instances — the misnamed “fundamentalist” Islam. “Culture” seems to be that which emerges from the margins as a contestatory reaction to capitalism. We may ask, however, if the state’s relation to culture is only that of the above. The prominent issue of culture and the state in the discussion 1 of the “East Asian Miracle” has led to a renewed interest in the state itself and to some Asian states’ cultural differences from laissez-faire 2 capitalism in managing development. Much has been made of the “Asian values” identitarian discourse and debate that transpired in relation to the contentious claim, made in both the West and Asia, that there may be cultural causes for these successes. The statist experimentation with (re-)invented or “ethnicized” cultural identities in the case of the Asian values experiments in Singapore,

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I contend, represented a complicity with global capital which fostered space via an adversarial style (Wee 1997). At the very least, these experiments indicate that states are capable of managing culture as an instrument to maintain national competitiveness within global capitalism and in themselves represent a shift in local cultural values. I will investigate these questions by examining Singapore as an instance of the flexible statist management of culture and, also, the economistic cultural logic that led to this “national culturalism”, as I will call it. Dramatic changes occurred in the People’s Action Party (PAP) government’s cultural management through ethnicity from the 1970s, when the state had an “ethnically neutral” policy undergirded by a rational commitment to cultural modernization, to the international appearance of the “Asian values” discourse and the 1980’s re-ethnicization of Singaporeans into hyphenated identities. In the process, the PAP claimed that an Asian modernity should be able to bridge the gap between 3 tradition and modernity that existed in the West. The changes in Singapore’s ethnic management suggest that the universalizing of capitalism’s culture so as to create markets is a complex process. For Singapore — an offshore hub for global capital flows — the semiperipheral, post-colonial state is not disempowered on accepting contemporary capitalist formations. Singapore’s example of managed culture also moves attention away both from cultural contestation from the margins and the idea of the West and the Rest — that is, from a question of centre and margin — to semi-peripheral states and the institutions of advanced capitalism. The larger context for this phenomenon would be the rise of the East and Southeast Asian trading economies and intra-regional integration, which has contributed to capitalism being more multi-centric. Such developments offer opportunities for national economies to participate in the emerging global economy — but, as Singapore illustrates, this participation can create the need for alternative identity and political legitimacy foci. “National Culturalism” and Capitalism

To begin with, we may ask how we might think through states experimenting with large-scale cultural formations within capitalism’s

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present configuration. This question by no means indicates that the state maintains full control of its cultural experimentation: external conditions will change, and the state functions on contradictory terrain within and without its own territory. As David Harvey observes, “State power can, in the end, be neither more nor less stable than the political economy of capitalist modernity will allow” (Harvey 1990, p. 109). Having said this, Singapore’s example indicates the scope of manœuvre possible within capitalist modernity. At the moment a rational modernity seemingly free of cultural specificity dominates, or so the new era of free-market ideology is trumpeted (Kristof 1998) — but this is unlikely to mean the death of cultural identity politics played at the national and perhaps even regional levels. Anthropologist Arjun Appadurai is right to argue that what he calls “culturalism” may be rife. Culturalism “designate[s] a feature of movements involving identities consciously in the making”; what Appadurai has in mind is less statesponsored identities than “movements … usually directed at modern nation-states. … Culturalism, put simply, is identity politics mobilized at the level of the nation-state” (1996, p. 15). Subversive micro-narratives can be seen in “re-emergent” Eastern European nationalisms, or the diasporic championing of an independent Khalistan in India. However, we could well enquire if the culturalism “of the margins coming into representation” (Hall 1997, p. 183) is the most significant form of culturalism. We need not take transnational or diasporic identity politics to be the central manifestation of Appadurai’s “modernity at large”. The so-called globalizing economy may lead modern subjectivies to “reimagine” themselves not only against nation-states, but at the level of the nation-state itself — resulting in a “national culturism”, to follow Appadurai. In Singapore’s case, there are indeed “margins coming into representation” — but it is the marginality of the semi-peripheral, postcolonial nation-state which, while not possessing the heft and significance of India, for example, are determined to enter the higher-stakes band of the capitalist game. Thus, the “ethnicization of the national” (Zizek 1997, p. 46) should not be taken generally as a negative nativist reaction against 4 “the universal dimension of the world market” (ibid., p. 52), as some do, but as one that can reinforce the Real of capitalism.

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In this instance, I think, Singapore is indicative of what identity may become at the nation-state level when it wants to develop a statesponsored national culture that is able to mobilize the country towards the economic goal of becoming a first-world society under the conditions of a burgeoning international economy. The city-state itself is a national project taking place in an offshore economy, and a particular formation important to the supporters of free trade. In that sense, it is not an eccentric cultural-economic formation, displaying the tensions within and the cultural (il)logic(ality) of global capitalism. From 1959 to the 1970s, the PAP leadership supposed that if what they took to be the progressive, Enlightenment-derived logic of capitalism could be managed, Singapore would be integrated into the world via a rationalizing expansion that would ignore race, language, religion, and entrenched histories. A rationalizing capitalism — an assumption, we will see, never dispensed with — was also preferable to the other 1960’s manifestation of modernity in Southeast Asia, namely, communism. Stuart Hall observes that: As a consequence [of our belief in capitalism’s rationalism], we have lost sight of one of the most profound insights in Marx’s Capital — capitalism only advances, as it were, on contradictory terrain. … And until we can see the nature of that contradictory terrain — precisely how particularity is engaged, how it is woven in, how it presents its resistances, how it is partly overcome, and how those overcomings then appear again — we will not understand it. That is much closer to how we ought to think about the so-called logic of capital in the advancement of globalization itself. (1997, p. 180)

With the conjuncture of a seemingly less superior West and Japanese emergence in the 1970s, Singapore leaders began to think that part of industrial development could work through both retaining fading and even inventing aspects of local specificity, as a newer means to discipline the plural nation. A balancing act would need to be worked out where state-sanctioned “Asian” morality could constrain both the weaknesses of and encourage participation in a less-regulated and predictable capitalism: a contradictory “neo-traditional modernity” is wanted. Capitalism must homogenize, while also producing differences, becoming a “multicultural” capitalism. Arif Dirlik notes the increase in the “insistence on culture areas in

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the mapping of the world, whether promoted by Samuel Huntington, Jiang Zemin or Lee Kuan Yew”. The cause of this, however, it seems to me, is not only the falling back to “earlier Orientalist or nationalist reifications” (1999, p. 49) — though it is that — but also the result of a direction towards a regionalism which, in the 1990s, “represents [the] concentration of political and economic power competing in the global economy, with multiple interregional and intraregional flows” (Mittelman 1996, p. 190). Thus, though there seem to be the regional hegemonies of the United States, the European Union, and the AsianPacific zone, we need to see that there are other tendencies to an increasing interpenetration of the so-called “triad powers” as complementarities develop, along with the changes in spatial hierarchies within each triad’s region (the result of uneven development), leading, for example, to newer North-South divides (Jessop 1999). Given the emerging terrain of an uneven, multi-centric world order, and recognizing that the nation-state’s ability to function is subject to capitalist modernity’s politico-economic stability, we can say that the PAP government has flexibly manœuvred its way through even the years of Vietnam’s fall and the height of 1960’s anti-Singapore feeling in the region by re-forming the nation to the needs of international capital. Traversing Homogenization

A national culturalism articulating the relationship of tradition to modernity via ethnic management goes back to 1960, and this section examines its origins. The intellectual genealogy leading up to it is older, reaching back to Enlightenment discourses on modernity, though the immediate precursor model is the colonial cultural policy of “Malayanization”, which meant, in practice, entrenching English as the 5 first language of the post-colonial élite. PAP culturalist policy was first directed at promoting a universal society, so as to make Singapore a site in which the supposedly neutral demands of capitalism’s actual specific cultural requirements could be met. Hence, the party reckoned early with the need to be a pro-active “developmental state” — anachronistically put — with a commitment to socio-cultural engineering in order to survive Singapore’s precarious politico-geographical position and tame its ethnically mixed population.

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What were the probable external conditions and standards that contributed towards the early ethnic-cultural management policy? The local or internal labour needs which led to the multi-ethnic migrations to colonial Malaya and Singapore in the nineteenth century, along with this legacy’s consequences for nation-building, are well known (for 6 example, Benjamin 1976; Brown 1994). However, it is worth recalling that the resulting pluralism was itself the product of a colonial economy set within the larger international framework. The voluntary mass migrations of the century after 1815 are unsurpassed: about 12 million Chinese emigrated to Eastern and Southern Asia, and a half million left 7 India for Eastern Asia, and South and West Africa (Segal 1993, p. 12). Capitalism’s needs lead to involuntary modernities that are internally heterogeneous, divided, and contested — and this questions the full autonomy of the local in some contexts, while not erasing local conditions. The post-war Western growth — also the period of decolonization — were “Golden Years” during which the seemingly inevitable cycle of boom and slump became a succession of mild fluctuations, an accomplishment attributed to Keynesian economics and the resultant macroeconomic management. It remained for the telos of progress to reach the “Third World”. This “progress” gathered pace in Singapore after its Separation from Malaysia and the loss of a potential Malaysian common market. With no possibility for import-substitution, industrialization intensified with a turn outwards to manufacturing for export. The state exerted itself via national agencies such as the Economic Development Board to co-ordinate this drive. The newly independent city-state’s leaders maintained a deep respect for and envy of their former colonial master, as did other post-colonial leaders. Though the Western metropole by the 1970s seemed to be crumbling — inner-city decay, narcotics problems, structural unemployment — surely modernity hailed from the West. It was only in the late 1970s, with marked economic success, that the ongoing talk of “Western decadence” in Singapore seemed translated into a new ethnic policy. I shall return to this. In the meanwhile, however, the PAP proceeded with a modernizing “creative destruction” to homogenize and discipline local “irrationalities”

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as the means to create the physical and cultural conditions to catch up with the West. Singapore gained its rapid development in manufacturing through “imported” entrepreneurs, the multinational corporations (MNCs). In this way, the PAP “obviated any need … to look to the Chinese-educated and China-oriented Chinese who had traditionally made up Singapore’s entrepreneurs” (Huff 1994, p. 320). Local cultures, with problematic diasporic dimensions and displaying a militantly leftist modernity, even when associated with trade, could impede modernization. By 1975, wholly or majority foreign firms produced 71.3 per cent of the S$12, 610.1 million output of manufactures (figures from the Economic Development Board 1975; see Huff 1994, p. 319). The above represents, broadly, the external, modern capitalist dimensions and standards that the Singapore government took into account in relation to a cultural and ethnicity management policy which stridently incorporated instrumental rationalism to domesticate local identities. The idea of being “modern” is at the core of the PAP’s national culturalism (Wee 1993), even if subsequent cultural re-inscriptions have an increasingly multi-layered rationale. As for the “racial” model we are now familiar with — the so-called “CMIO” (Chinese-Malay-Indian-Other) model — sociologist Sharon Siddique reminds us that that was “first articulated in the 1950s, when indigenous political leaders were grappling with the creation of a political system capable of catering to a heterogeneous political clientele. … The political perspective incorporating these concepts crystallized in the ‘Malaysian Malaysia’ campaign that was launched at the Malaysian Solidarity Convention … in May 1965” (1989, pp. 563–64). This “Malaysian Malaysia” idea later (after 9 August 1965) became the “Singaporean Singapore”, an ethnically equalitarian and modernizing idea of national identity associated with former Culture and Foreign Minister S. Rajaratnam. However, up to 1965, given the reality of Malaysian life, the idea of the “ethnic mosaic” animated “multiracialism”; in practice, this meant guaranteeing Malays’ “special position”. Still, even before 1965, the “modern” entered public life as the standard emanating from the imperial metropole. In 1963, Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew told the public why he thought modernizing culture was necessary: “We are hoping to build a

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modern society in which everybody will have a better life because we will have factories to make more and more of the things which make life easier.” What of a more traditional nation-building strategy via a people’s high culture? “Recitation of poetry and writing of essays are important in a civilized society. But important also is the turning of screws and lathes. They make our modern world hum.” Lee radically endorses the destabilizing forces of capitalist modernity, and is willing to evacuate the history and cultural memory that could define a nation’s identity — older Malayans, after all, were “brought up in a … backward community” (quoted in Josey 1968, pp. 172, 173). At least Singapore had an urban centre — this made creating the requisite subjectivity for the capitalist-industrial leap easier. In 1972, at a University of Singapore meeting, Dr Goh Keng Swee, the economic architect of Singapore, bluntly said: “We do not have benighted peasants to modernize. This is a great advantage because, to the best of my knowledge, no country has devised a system whereby peasants can be modernized by deliberate planned effort in a short span of time” (1977, p. 188). Who, then, would run the brave, new world? In 1961, Lee told students at the English-language medium University of Malaya in Singapore that they “were the nearest to the norm of what a Malayan should be … [f ]or in no other educational group has there developed more homogeneity of attitudes, of values and social cohesion, cutting across racial and cultural lines” (quoted in Josey 1968, p. 151).8 A society promoting racial equality and national unity required progressive, homogeneous attitudes to the world. “Race” was less important than becoming a member of the numerically small English-educated élite — meaning, above all, the graduates of the University of Malaya (later the University of Singapore). Thus from the mid-1960s to the 1970s, the emphasis in managing inter-ethnic relations was on the creation of a “Singaporean Singapore” as a society not predicated on “retrogressive” Asian values. There was also a movement away from the accommodationist politics of the “ethnic mosaic” with Separation and the resultant unchallenged PAP authority, along with industrialization, to “a new set of [common] national values conducive to such development … [leading to] the portrayal of Singapore

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national identity in terms of ‘meritocracy’” (Brown 1994, p. 80). The “ethnically neutral” state was the result. Singapore was further urbanized, with traditional social organizations deliberately replaced with economically rational forms based on function and efficiency which could support the universal industrial society. The Singaporean would be able to speak English as the “neutral” language of development, have access to technology and be interested in collective consumption. By 1966, the campaign to promote Malay as the national language (bahasa kebangsaan) had ceased. While the PAP was undertaking a recognizable modernist revamp of culture via capitalist institutions and practices, it is the level of brash confidence expressed (and maintained over the long haul) that deepens their national culturalism’s significance. S. Rajaratnam, the firstgeneration leadership’s philosophe, articulates most crisply the promulgated cultural policy and logic. Communal cultures, he writes in 1960, should be “transformed through interaction with and assimilation from other cultures”, for what links the races together are “economic institutions … and twentieth century economic practices and beliefs” 10 (1987, p. 127). Forget about organic cultural development: statist social engineering will wrought it. We get the strongest early statement of the social engineering that will pervade Singaporeans’ lives: “Malayan culture, for us, is an essential part of nation-building. It is … an instrument for reshaping society along lines we think desirable” (pp. 119–20). The government has “modern methods of propaganda to persuade them [Malayans] to recognise this [common] Malayan culture and give their loyalty to it” (p. 128). The idea of culture as the superstructural expression of an economic base is dismissed; instead, culture will be mobilized to create the base. Later, Rajaratnam also articulates the advantages of embracing the new global economy — and, also, of the dangers. In 1972, he addressed the Singapore Press Club on the issue of Singapore as a “Global City”, virtually delivering a manifesto for flexible accumulation: “As far back as 1968, it was noted that the growth rate of internationalized production exceeded the growth rate of their exports” — and this form of production was “only in its infancy”; by “linking up with international and multinational corporations, Singapore not only becomes a component

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of [the] world economy, but … catch[es] up or at least keep[s] apace with the most advanced … societies” (p. 229). These are now-familiar goals of other aspiring global cities. The dangers? “The political, social and cultural problems [which may result], I believe, would be far more difficult to handle [than Separation]” (p. 231). Therefore, “it is up to us to equip our people intellectually and spiritually to make the Global City into the Heavenly City that prophets and seers have dreamt of since time immemorial” (p. 231). The invoking of a simultaneously technologized but still humanistic Cosmopolis — indicating an overall harmony between the order of the heavens and the order of human society (Toulmin 1992) — can only sound ironic in the light of the PAP’s consistent elevation of the material over the spiritual, generally taken, in their social order. And the irony deepens for Rajaratnam, the PAP leader most committed to an authoritarian Utopia, for that “equipping” does occur, but in a form he 11 later found unpalatable. The Critique of the Industrial West’s “Universality”

The “equipping” comes about in a state interest in “Asianizing Singapore” (Vasil 1995), which was a rapid turnaround from policing the traditional. The attempt to universalize cultures seemed to foster “rootlessness” — and so it looked as if capitalist participation now required stable notions of individual and collective Asian-ness that can express grounded, inherent meanings. Public rhetoric rejecting the West as Universal Civilization resulted, even while a discernible modernizing continued. While internal cultural dissonance relating to the nation-building agenda contributed to the change, it is apparent that there were overlaps with concerns with the state’s consistent external orientation and ongoing relationship with global capitalist forces. What marks the difference of PAP culturalist practice at this stage from older modernist use and abuse of collective memory is the willingness to have combined (if superficial) national and transnational/regional ideas of collective identity and memory. I will outline the significant changes from the late 1970s, along 12 with some of the resistances within society, and then proceed to suggest some of the shifts in external factors that the government was adapting to.

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By the mid-1970s, with the economy firmer, a West-toxification discourse arose, with increasing opposition being made between “Western” and “Asian” values. On the one hand, citizens were enjoined to abjure the heart’s dictates and to encourage their children to learn English, the language of rational science and trade — and of deculturation — and to not be sentimental about the impending loss of non-English medium schools in 1987. On the other hand, families were said to be weakened by what Prime Minister Lee called “fundamental social and cultural changes” (“Real Threat to Culture”, 1984): the loss of commitment to the family and to society at large for a hedonistic individualism gained from the media. Thus the Confucianist and Asian values debate was the consequence of questions raised by the 1970s; and the debate’s élite origins are clear, as there had been no public discussion of Confucianism before 1979 (Wong and Wong 1989). Nation-building now offered “cultural ballast”. By 1982 the “Ordinary”-level religious knowledge courses for fifteen to sixteen-year-olds set up in Bible Knowledge, Buddhist Knowledge, Confucian Ethics, and so forth, encouraged individual ethnic communities to “recuperate” their individualized cultural identities. In the late 1970s, educational reform had already begun that gave a renewed role to vernacular languages and to Mandarin — not a dominant Singapore Chinese language — and to the “Asian values” they encapsulated. While one sociologist suggests that this stood for a “revitalization movement” (Kuo 1992), the curriculum that resulted filtered out folk beliefs and the more “superstitious” elements, so that there simultaneously was a “rationalization of religion” (Tong 1992). Soon, ethnically delineated self-help groups were encouraged into being by the state: first, MENDAKI13 for the Malay-Muslims in 1981, followed by groups for the Indians and the Chinese. Also, significantly, in 1979 the “Speak Mandarin” campaign took off, which alienated minority groups from the nation, even if their “mother tongues” were encouraged. The rationale for bilingualism (language policy was a key area of ethnic management since the 1960s), the reasoning for which varied with historical context (Wilson 1978), also changed in the late 1970s. Lee told the Malay Teachers’ Union in 1978 that cultural homogenization

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would receive less stress: “In 1959 … I believed we could encourage our people to unite as a society which would be more closely knit and uniform, with more or less the same … thinking; but after five years, I came to the conclusion that if we want to develop a Singapore society of which the people can be proud, we cannot impose a model for our people”; so, instead, “Let each language, culture, religion follow its own course” (quoted in “Lee: Need for a Value System” 1978). While the laissez-faire-ism must be qualified, the move away from the “ethnically neutral” state is clear. While the belief in universal and instrumental reason was not lessened, organicism, apparently rehabilitated from the “inside”, is dragooned to support an Asian-Singapore modern. In January 1991, a White Paper on Shared Values — which emphasizes collective behaviour in formulations such as “nation before community and society above self” — was debated in Parliament. This change, it was hoped, would mollify the Malays, who had reacted negatively to the seeming elevation of Chinese-ness to national-cultural primacy. Still, the Shared Values project did not differ significantly in content from the religious knowledge project. It was allowed to lapse into obscurity, though issues of a deep Asian-ness in common between groups were still advanced — it was argued, with a large logical leap, that Confucianism was pan-Asian as it was part of Japanese and Korean cultures — if cautiously articulated within a renewed promulgation of 14 the old “ethnic mosaic” pattern of plural coexistence. The 1980’s national-culturalist direction was a sea change in the management of ethnicity, suggesting that a problem had developed in what it meant to be an ideal-type “modern” Singaporean — free from the past’s stultifying burdens so inimical to industrial modernity — in the 1970s, at the point when economic growth had “taken-off ”, to use the then-fashionable Rostovian term. A key moment enabling the self-fashioning of national-regional Asian identity was Japan’s success, which offered the opportunity to say that the form of capitalism adhered to in the 1960s was only a “Western” form. The indigenized Japanese version stressed state direction of enterprise, consensus, loyalty to the company, and so forth (elements of which Singapore had tried to use from 1981 in forms such as “Quality Control Circles”); such cultural differences were packaged for world

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consumption in Ezra Vogel’s Japan as Number One (1979). In the same year, Herman Kahn wrote in World Economic Development: 1979 and Beyond of a link between neo-Confucianism and the Japanese success. Thus, a non-retrograde ethnically Asian capitalist mode was conceivable: Orientalist conceptions of “Asia” were reversed and married to the modern. Also, the economic opportunities that arose in China in 1978, as Deng Xiaoping implemented economic reforms based on the mini-dragons’ success, were not lost on Lee and the PAP. The fading of the communist revolution meant that Chinese-Confucianist culture 15 could be highlighted for capitalist opportunities. The older discourse on capitalist value and values could now be interrogated: full homogenization may lead to decaying Western habits inimical to development. The discussion of Confucianism did move away from the inoculation against Western values to it being a positive work ethic appropriate for Asian capitalisms. And as the discourse moved towards the more generic Asian values enshrined in the Shared Values project, the key influential book became George Lodge and Ezra Vogel’s edited Ideology and National Competitiveness (1987), which posited two ideal-types, the communitarian and individualistic national ideologies. Lodge in 1991 became the Lee Kuan Yew Distinguished Visitor. Yet another irony surfaces here: Asians now “learn” from the “West” what the “West” in turn “learned” from Asia. Lodge and Vogel write: “Can the West learn from the Asians for so long as they learned from us?” (Lodge and Vogel 1987, p. 124). Thus the Asian values positioning was enabled by shifts in the global economy since the 1970s which allowed for a multi-centric economic order. A “flexible” regime of accumulation developed, versus the more nationally rooted, standardized mass production of the oligopolistic corporation predicated upon the labour practices, consumption habits, and the technological innovations of “Fordism-Keynesianism”. MNCs evolved, along with smaller, more agile firms — and with them, the “New International Division of Labour”. Companies started setting up factories in developing countries with cheaper labour. If the advanced economies exported more to the rest of the world, developing societies also began to export substantial manufactures back to them. Transport

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and communications growth meant tiny, semi-peripheral units like Hong Kong and Singapore became hubs in the new capitalist flows. Japan, as the first modernized Asian country, became the (problematic) first country (given memories of the Second World War) of the “New Asia”. Other chinks in the West’s industrial armour could be seen. The collapse of Bretton Woods and the OPEC (Organization of PetroleumExporting Countries) oil crisis produced volatility in the major economies. U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War also created instability. Manufacturers and financial institutions compensated for domestic instability by seeking wider outlets during the inflationary 1970s, leading to large Third World bank loans. An acceleration in the internationalization of the financial markets took place via market deregulation in the late 1970s, though the Louvre and Plaza Accords reigned other volatile currency markets in the 1980s. “Deindustrialization” occurred in the United Kingdom and the United States, and long-term unemployment in Western Europe, leading to the weakening of the welfare state which had promised security for all, and had been (in theory at least) a model for many post-colonial leaders. As noted, Singapore’s “emergence” occurs in the 1970s, in the midst of the above changes, and the timing of the emergence carry implications for the change in earlier national-culturalist policies. Despite the government’s strong industrialization push, for the second half of the 1960s, the economy still relied heavily on staple exports, rubber and petroleum. It was not until 1973 — when the industrial West’s ability to represent itself as the unquestioned development standards becomes uncertain — that direct manufactured goods exceed primary commodity products (excluding petroleum) (Huff 1994, p. 312). And thus, the point when Singapore firmly transcends Third Worldism is also when cultural distinctiveness is increasingly marshalled to sustain competitiveness. Negotiating Homogenization and Differentiation as Neo-Traditional Modernity

What were the practices that constituted a neo-traditional modernity? The newer economistic national culturalism included a simultaneous homogenization and differentiation. Ethnic groups and the dichotomization of “East” and “West” were further differentiated; there

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also was an attempt to rationalize each ethnic group and the interior of their traditions, mainly with the Chinese. While cultural memory now had a role, it was circumscribed so that a selective historical amnesia could still be encouraged. A neo-traditional modernity hence required the irrational be suitably domesticated to be truly modern, indicating a continuity in the state’s flexible national culturalism from the 1960s and 1970s, even as it traversed new terrain. The incorporation of the “irrational” was possible because many basic values and structures of an industrial-consumerist society had been internalized by the population by the 1980s. An Asian values discourse and hyphenated-subject strategy which promised a non-deracinating modernity — a wish to have one’s cake and eat it, if ever — was addressed to citizens, whose collective resolve had to be further emboldened to continue the modernity race. The Institute of East Asian Philosophies was started under Dr Goh’s auspices to give academic weight to such 16 endeavours. The contradictions show a modernist mentality functioning in a fragmented world, desiring harmoniously organized masses and order even if, by the late 1990s, the state started planning for a lessregulated, post-industrial economy in the shape of knowledge-based industries, and for the “creative”, individualist freedom to encourage such industries. Lee Kuan Yew’s Preface to the Report on the Ministry of Education 1978 indirectly admits that turning Singapore into an industrialconsumerist society “has resulted in startling social transformations. This makes more important the teacher’s role as moral and social anchormen” (1979, p. v). A major goal now was: “No child should leave school after 9 years without carrying the ‘soft-ware’ of his culture programmed into his consciousness” (ibid.). Lee’s well-known modernist-scientific imagery is now applied — jarringly but fittingly, given the desired neotraditionalism — to that opposed to the mechanistic: “culture”. The teaching of “mother tongues” would re-create — for Lee, reinforce — local identities and values: “The principal value of teaching the second language is in the imparting of moral values and understanding of cultural traditions” (ibid.). The major first-generation PAP leaders were well aware of industrialization’s problems. Dr Toh Chin Chye, once deputy premier,

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wrote that “as technology spreads the cultural differences between cosmopolitan cities tend to narrow. … It is the rate at which modernization spreads that produces ‘culture shock’. It creates problems of adaptation” (Toh 1981, pp. 21–22). Lee’s adaptation to deculturation also entails a selective blending of traditional and modern cultures: “The best of the East and of the West must be blended to advantage in the Singaporean. Confucianist ethic, Malay traditions, and the Hindu ethos must be combined with sceptical Western methods in the search for truth. We have to discard obscurantist and superstitious beliefs and practices of the East, as we have to reject the passing fads of the West” (Lee 1979, p. v). Despite the commitment to “re-racination”, the Orient is still seen as superstitious, pre-modern, and therefore partially irrational. Part of the need for change seemed to be that the universal meritocracy of the 1970s was not in itself a viable long-term nationbuilding strategy — the dominance of English did not satisfy those who 17 supported Chinese-medium schools, and social mobility eluded the Malays. A new national socio-ethnic containment rationale had to be formulated that could sustain the stability for development; thus the rational emphasis on the primordial in the shape of local cultures and history. The actual Goh Report reiterates this: “One way to overcoming the dangers of deculturalisation is to teach children the historical origins of their culture. Chinese pupils could be taught in the Chinese language in secondary schools early Chinese history …” (Goh 1979, pp. 1–5). Language usage, tied into a notion of history, therefore, was to be key in neo-traditional modernization in the late 1970s and the 1980s. Mandarin was promoted at the expense of other Chinese languages (also known derogatively as “dialects”), and this led to widespread dissatisfaction, given the emotional identitarian baggage involved. One of Lee’s calls to make Mandarin the Chinese lingua franca occurred in March 1978, in similar addresses to crowds at Tanjong Pagar (his constituency in Chinatown) and a chap goh mei (Chinese new year fifteenth day) gathering at the Istana: “Heaven forbid that we lose our own cultures and fail to absorb the [deeper] culture, the spirit, the values, the philosophy of life of the English-speaking civilisations” (quoted in Chia 1978). But, in order to achieve this biculturalism — as we have

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already seen, a sign of the modern in our midst — bilingualism must remove children from their parents’ dialects, or we get a “fractured multilingual society”. That is, an internal homogenization was required, re-tooled for a more literate — and docile — Chinese-ness: “To be literate, they must be Mandarin-speaking, able to read the books, … so that they know what a good upright man should do …” (ibid.). Further, “why cut him off from the wider world of Mandarin speakers and workers beyond Singapore” (ibid.) — a gesture to a transnational Chinese-ness (and business opportunities) unthinkable in the 1960s. The state’s economic rationality had not simply gone soft. By December 1978, the government announced that nine élite Special Assistance Plan (SAP) schools were to be created, with Chinese and English to be taken at the same level. This, the press noted, was an effective admission that Chinese education as it was no longer would exist. Journalist Ilsa Sharp noted the irony involved in preserving a modicum of Chinese education when, in the 1950s, the Chinese commitment to social involvement had led to riots by the Singapore Chinese Middle School Students’ Union: “Perhaps paradoxically, it is for this very sense of social involvement that Mr Lee Kuan Yew and his colleagues feels [sic] the Chinese schools should be valued, and he himself recalled the historical background in his speech at this year’s National Day Rally” (1978). Lee had said that in the traditional Chinese value system “society takes first precedence over everything else” (ibid.). With leftist Chinese-ness dissipated, we can now desire this part of the past. With the above, we get a reference to Western “individualism” — in some way, the progressive and collectivist British West the Fabian Lee once admired had let him down, and Singapore must re-invent itself apart from this failed West. Sharp quotes Lee saying that he hopes his proposed new Singaporean would say, as he described his son saying, “I am me: I have come to learn your science, your technology and how you made this breakthrough into industrial production. … I have not come here to have long hair, … [and] wear T-shirts with strange slogans on them” (ibid.). And thus, Lee allows in the irrational so that we can be really modern: “young Singaporeans need the protection of traditional values, including religion, to protect them against the perils of their increasingly affluent society” (quoted in ibid.) — in order that they may

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become more affluent. The race to be modern is run on a treadmill. It becomes clear that neo-traditional modernity itself is part of the global revamping of liberal economics and values that the Reaganite and Thatcherite revolutions signified. Hence, the rebirth of “Victorian values” which stressed self-help, the equivalent of Asian-Confucian values, along with the dream of Victorian free markets. Singapore’s own cultural history, naturally, is mediated by British imperialism and thus British history. What sort of past and tradition did the three ideological soul mates look for through the 1980s? If turn-of-the-century Britain saw Socialism, as a political theory and movement, with some obvious success replace liberalism, because Socialism had a critique of liberalism which appealed to a level of social explanation the latter lacked, then what we have is a sort of reversal of this transformation. Lee, unlike Reagan or Thatcher, though, still was interested in some form of collectivism, even while he did not want “lazy” welfarism. However, this element, being discredited in neo-liberal discourse, needed to be sneaked back in, albeit in a weakened communitarian conception of Asian values (Chua 1999; Wee 1999). In December 1983 the government announced the impending arrival of “national stream” schools using English as the first language and the eventual elimination of non-English medium schools, though bilingualism remained important. Thus another intensification of the tension in a cultural formation that helps citizens survive the technological era: more Asianization with more English-language usage under the umbrella of national integration. One of the Prime Minister’s responses to the expected dissatisfaction allows us to unearth his notions of culture and history undergirding his neo-traditionalism. To parents at a Chinese New Year dinner in February 1984, Lee asserted: “A culture [in an anthropological sense] incorporates all the shared knowledge, expectations and beliefs in a group. Language gives access to the literature which expresses a culture, but language is not culture” (Lee 1984). This flatly contradicts the Goh Report’s rationale for language learning. Thus, though Chinese could no longer be the first language of instruction, that was not the end of “profoundly traditional Chinese values”. The question is more how historical values are to be transmitted. The Chinese have no strong religion with a universal

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core which, in the case of Christianity, remained “the same faith” even though the Bible is translated into “hundreds of languages”. Most Chinese are folk religionists who “neither read holy books nor say prayers every day”. In that sense, they have a weak culture, not one — we may observe — as modern as the West’s. The nexus of tradition (and thus of culture) lies unsurprisingly, in placing “the interests of the family and society above those of the individual”: such values are “crucial to the continuity of any civilisation”. Lee adds: “Hongkong, Taipeh and Guangzhou [Chinese] are different … but there are common features in all of them” (ibid.). What tradition is not is the cultural memory of a previous way of life, of “old Chinatown, the bustle of lights of the street hawkers packing the roadsides selling New Year fruits and flowers”: “There are more fundamental attributes in our way of life than the sound of crackers, … however much joy these memories may bring” (ibid.). This history is not real history but an always already sepia-toned nostalgia and a “soft” view of cultural identity. Among the weakest links in transmitting culture are women, freed by economic empowerment from the home: “Working mothers who do not spend enough time with their children, plus the breakup of the extended families — these two changes are the real dangers to the transmission of our traditional values, our culture” (ibid.).18 PAP ideological pragmatism is, with Lee, married to what many would consider a dodgy social biology: families and mothers — these are the sources of values and identity, not history or culture. This would contribute towards understanding why, without any intended irony, in the presently designated Heritage District, many older markers of our collective urban memory are gone, and the surviving older buildings covered under air-conditioned structures can become signs of the pioneering poverty-stricken migrants, even while there is a stronger emphasis than ever in the nation since 1997 on multiracial but national rootedness. The “real” past lies elsewhere. Re-Emphasizing the Nation and the Universal

While the changes in Singapore’s flexible national culturalism — within which Singapore’s cultural identity is first homogenized, and then

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“Asianized” — seem confusing, what underpins all changes is an economic rationality. The changes we see are not contradictory at all, for global capitalism is well capable of producing differences not in order to weaken itself but to better enable competition within itself. And the Asian economic crisis that began in July 1997, with the devaluation of the Thai baht, seemed to confirm, for the government, yet another need to re-invent cultural identity. The 1980’s formation of a disciplinary society with an idea of panAsian capitalist culture started to weaken by the early 1990s. However, in a quieter way, national culturalism proceeded — but now via a simultaneous affirmation of the national and the global, rather than the regional or the pan-Asian. This was prescient, given how problematic the Asian-Pacific “triad power” was about to become with the Asian crisis, and given an already poor community sense in the Pacific. In September 1996, during the Teachers’ Day Rally, Prime Minister Goh spoke of the need of a “National Education” programme in schools. A newspaper survey indicated that the younger citizenry’s consciousness of Singapore’s post–Second World War trials and tribulations was not strong. Goh argued that the “basic facts” of nationhood, and the principles of meritocracy and multiracialism (Goh 1996, p. 2) have to be rediscovered and a national symbology firmly foregrounded for the young to see. Issues of ethnicity, history, and meritocracy now became removed from the realm of Asian regional identity and re-inserted into the realm of the national. Of course, there was no discussion of the state’s socio-cultural engineering role in the national amnesia. The launch of the National Education Plan took place in May 1997, under the auspices of Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien-Loong. He told school principals and teachers that one key part of the national memory not to be erased was that of thorny, past inter-racial relations: “amnesia is not an option” (Lee 1997). In general, the plan is “to equip … [the young] with the basic attitudes, values and instincts which make them Singaporeans”. This Lee calls our “common culture”, and says it is the “DNA to be passed from one generation to the next”. The concept “common culture” — with its organicist implications, as with the senior Lee, still jarringly used for a rationalist commitment to cultural identity formation — is continued from the “Asian values” discourse. A

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multicultural and historicized sense of nationhood, and the PAP’s established ideology of economic survival, seem at the core of National Education. At the same time, Singapore campaigned hard to host the first ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in December 1996. And as the Asian currency crisis broke out in July 1997, the PAP government demonstrated without any doubt its official commitment to a universal neo-liberalism and the institutions of the global economy, despite criticisms of the handling of the crisis by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). It would have been hard, in any case, for Singapore’s leadership to have regional solidarity with all three affected Southeast Asian countries. While Thailand responded to their IMF package stolidly, Indonesia did not, and displayed erratic economic and political behaviour in the midst of the crisis (Jacques 1998, p. 7; Aglionby and AP 1998, p. 4). Senior Minister Lee himself, while not personally abandoning Asian values or the relevance of regional institutions such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), acerbically responded to an interviewer’s statement that public officials’ corruption is done “because this is the Asian way”: “Then you have this kind of crisis.” Lee affirmed the need for universal business standards: “If it is the best way of doing business, it doesn’t matter where it comes from.” (“Interview” 1998, p. 24). So, what emerges from the crisis — at least for now — is an affirmation of the nation and its place within contemporary, universal capitalism. The production of national identity and culture must not shut down borders and be seen as irrational (as former President Soeharto’s behaviour was seen to be). Overly rooted identities may scare off free-floating capital. In fact, the crisis has led the PAP government to further (if cautious) deregulation of the domestic economy. A major, if not the only, concern that underlies the National Education thrust thus is the balance of identity versus economic survivalist concerns. Former Information and Arts Minister George Yeo spoke of the need for “cultural reserves” in the face of globalization trends — though no retreat was possible (quoted in “Key Challenge” 1997). And Teo Chee Hean, the Education Minister, during the Budget Debate in March 1998, indicated that “[p]roviding a good education” is, more

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than ever, an “investment”: “The currency crisis and its ripple effects underscore the importance of good fundamentals” (1998, p. 1). And National Education as part of “good fundamentals” will “help our young understand the challenge and constraints confronting Singapore” (ibid., p. 4). Thus, a final irony: the National Education plan and narrative returns us to the type of specificity and memory that the PAP initially wanted to get away from through its national culturalism, though of course the national narrative preferred entrenches the PAP as an essential part of the nation. One guesses that the PAP government has discovered that building a national identity erected on the basis of multinational investment attracted and protected by a developmental city-state, any more than some abstract notion of a “global community”, may not work in driving a people on after the obvious marks of underdevelopment are eradicated. National culturalism must remain flexible so that it can offer the “moral” or the “spiritual” dimension to further sustain discipline for a labour force that competes within global capitalism. Conclusion

In Singapore, to catch up not only with the West, but also with later modernizers like Japan, the government embraced the destabilizations of capitalist modernity for a place in what turns out in the end to be the neo-liberal sun. Later, this came to mean that the earlier national culturalist experimentation with a more definitively universalist orientation became a peculiar simultaneous denial of and encouragement for the search for roots. That is, the state learnt that to forge ahead in the game of free-market neo-liberalism required Asian difference (and différance, it could be added), with the result being an official (“postmodern”) pastiche Asian identity and identities overlaid on a universal, modernizing project committed to capitalism as the Real. As such, I do not think that we can say the modernist impulse of the Enlightenment has given way unproblematically to “post-modernity”; the concerns in Southeast Asia, both in the Malay Archipelago and on the mainland, are “modern” — having to do with national development, free trade, and some (admittedly circumscribed) notions of progress. One question may be: does Singapore’s national culturalism

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transcend the level of pastiche and become a significant site of cultural practice and transformation? Singapore itself cannot be seen merely as pastiche, even given the comments often made of “the city resembles a clean and efficient theme park”, the result of deliberate, non-organic nation-building. Still, at many levels, the nation self-consciously coheres as a society. The larger discourse on modernity enshrined in the national culturalism used by the PAP government does represent, I believe, a significant site of cultural practice. The transformative power of the specific East Asian discourse in the 1980’s national culturalism is less clear, though even that should not be ruled out — predicting the future is always tricky. It has been argued that the historical juncture we find ourselves at is such that economics has come to overlap with culture, and that culture itself has become profoundly economic- or commodity-oriented. It seems likely that within such a context, in a world where “de-linking”, as Samir Amin calls it, seems increasingly difficult, arriviste societies such as Singapore will continue to use the signifier “Asia”, with its manifold meanings, to continue to function distinctively within the web of global capitalism. The Asian success stories have given many countries a taste of being “advanced societies”, and it is unlikely that such societies will in the long run desire to return to the older ways of national being, whatever the economic privations of the present. NOTES Thanks to Chua Beng Huat, Sharon Siddique, Lee Weng Choy, Ray Langenbach, Lucy Davis, and Tay Kheng Soon, who read an early version of the chapter, and to Vince Rafael, Arjun Appadurai, Beth Helsinger, Kwok Kian Woon, Marc Askew, Gillian Koh, and Ron Inden for ongoing discussions. Thanks also to the participants at the Workshop on “Embedding Capitalism in Newer Asian Contexts: Authority Structures and Local Cultures and Identities in Southeast Asia”, 22–23 March 1999, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore, where an early version of this paper was presented. 1. “Some economies — notably Japan, Korea, and Taiwan — … intervened in markets with industrial, trade, and financial sector policies. On balance, some of these interventions contributed to their extraordinary growth, but this was only possible because of highly unusual historical and institutional circumstances [emphasis mine]” (World Bank 1993, p. 366).

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2. Examples are: Hofheinz, Jr. and Calder (1982), Wade (1990), and Weiss (1996). 3. Neo-Confucian champion Tu Wei-ming provocatively argued at the debate’s height that a socio-historical explanation of societies “predicated on the exclusive dichotomy of tradition and modernity [as societies are thought to be in the West] is no longer workable” (1989, p. 92). Tu seems to have since changed his mind; he surprised a Singapore audience in 1995 by saying that industrial East Asia’s rise embodied the worst aspects of the Enlightenment heritage of “growth, development and exploitation”: “Japan and the four mini-dragons [are] … characterised by mercantilism, commercialism and international competitiveness” (quoted in “Democracy ‘Better for Confucian Ideals’” 1995, p. 22). 4. In other respects, Zizek is right to assert that “the ideal form of this global capitalism is multiculturalism, the attitude which … treats each local culture the way the colonizer treats colonized people — as ‘natives’ whose mores are to be carefully studied and respected.… [In any case,] the strain of particular roots is the phantasmatic screen which conceals the fact that the subject[’s] … true position is the void [capitalist] universality” (1997, p. 44). 5. See Harper (1999, pp. 274–307). The dominance of the English language was part of a continuation of a colonial modernity. See Kwok (1993). 6. The other causes usually adduced for seeing the political in ethnic terms are: the political consciousness of being Chinese in a largely Malay region; and the link between what the PAP called “Chinese chauvinism” and leftist movements. Such concerns allowed the state to promote an internal crisis mentality — an “ideology of survival” (Chan 1971) — that helps maintain PAP political “indispensability”. 7. The Indian migration statistics are probably underestimated. Migration and its consequences for an integrated labour market is one broad area of analysis in the history of the international economy. 8. Hence, Chan Heng Chee and H.-D. Evers’ analysis that the national identity proposed was “suspected … as being … nothing but the expression of values among the English educated élite, and by those with socialist leanings as being an ideology of a capitalist economic system with totalitarian political features” (1973, p. 315). 9. Brown adds: “a [‘neutral’] meritocracy … had the additional function of discouraging political participation” (1994, p. 81). Cultural political actions have both external and local dimensions. 10. One scholar observes: “As the [English-language] university base expanded, and English became more widely embraced, the fast-track passport status [of the Englishspeaking] was diluted, and with it, the Singaporean Singapore identity. It was probably no accident that Raja[ratnam] was the proponent of this because as a Ceylonese Tamil, he was the … the beneficiary under the colonial era” (private email communication to the author). The 1966 National Pledge was the result of a meritocratic modernity mode: “We, the citizens of Singapore, pledge ourselves as

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one united people, regardless of race, language or religion, to build a democratic society, based on justice and equality, so as to achieve happiness, prosperity and equality for our nation.” 11. In 1990, Rajaratnam wrote voicing his concern with the hyphenated form of the Singapore identity being promulgated: “At this rate, there will be a long ethnic queue of Singapore citizens proclaiming Sikh identity, … Hokkien identity — and goodbye Singapore identity” (Rajaratnam 1990, p. 3). 12. The latter is not the primary focus; for detailed analyses, see Brown (1994), Hill and Lian (1995), and PuruShotam (1998). 13. Short for Majlis Pendidikan Anak-Anak Islam, or the Council on Education for Malay children. 14. Chua Beng-Huat comments that the PAP first “racialized [ethnic] boundaries” and subsequently homogenized the population “to arrive at a definition of Singapore as an ‘Asian’ nation”; he also notes: “it is of strategic economical and political importance for Singapore to insert itself into a larger piece. Asia may not need Singapore, but Singapore needs Asia” (1998, pp. 186, 198). 15. In 1980, Roderick MacFarquhar had used the term “post-Confucian challenge” in The Economist, and U.S. academic Edwin O. Reishauer, the expression “Sinic world” in Foreign Affairs. 16. In January 1987, the Institute organized a major conference on “Confucian Ethics and the Modernization of Industrial Asia”, and in 1990, “Confucian Humanism and Modernization: The Institutional Imperatives”. As the rationale for its being ran out, it was changed into first the Institute of East Asian Political Economy and then the present East Asian Institute. 17. In 1971, the state had even detained some members of the Chinese daily, Nanyang Siang Pau, because of this discontent (Chan and Evers 1973, pp. 312–14). 18. For the relationship between motherhood, sexuality, Confucianism, and race, see Heng and Devan (1992).

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“Real Threat to Culture: It’s Not the End of Chinese Schools, but the Loss of Traditional Family Values, Says PM”. Straits Times, 19 February 1984. Segal, Aaron. Atlas of International Migration. London: Hans Zell, 1993. Sharp, Ilsa. “Part of a Daring Experiment … to Preserve That ‘Part of Ourselves’ and to Imbibe the Best from the West”. Straits Times, 2 December 1978. Siddique, Sharon. “Singaporean Identity”. In Management of Success: The Moulding of Modern Singapore, edited by K.S. Sandhu and Paul Wheatley. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 1989. Teo Chee Hean. “Ministerial Statement by the Minister of Education, Rear-Adm. Teo Chee Hean at the Budget Debate on 19 Mar. 98”. Ministry of Education (Singapore) website, 19 March 1998. http://www1.moe.edu.sg/speeches/ 030697.htm. Toh Chin Chye. “Cultural Heritage versus Technological Development: Challenges to Education”. In Cultural Heritage versus Technological Development, edited by R. E. Vente, R.S. Bhatal, and R.M. Nakhoda. Hong Kong: Maruzen Asia, 1981. Tong Chee Kiong. “The Rationalization of Religion”. In Imagining Singapore, edited by Ban Kah Choon, Anne Pakir, and Tong Chee Kiong. Singapore: Times Academic Press, 1992. Toulmin, Stephen. Cosmopolis: The Hidden Agenda of Modernity. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992. Tu Wei-ming. “The Rise of Industrial East Asia: The Role of Confucian Values”. Copenhagen Papers in East and Southeast Asian Studies 4 (1989). Vasil, Raj K. Asianising Singapore: The PAP’s Management of Ethnicity. Singapore: Heinneman, 1995. Wade, Robert. Governing the Market: Economic Theory and the Role of Government in East Asia. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990. Wee, C.J.W.-L. “‘Asian Values’, Singapore and the Third Way: Re-Working Individualism and Collectivism”. Sojourn: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia, Special Focus on “Asian Ways: Asian Values Revisited”, 14, no. 2 (1999). . “Contending with Primordialism: The ‘Modern’ Construction of Postcolonial Singapore”. Positions: East Asia Cultures Critique 1, no. 3 (1993). . “Framing the ‘New’ East Asia: Anti-Imperialist Discourse and Global Capitalism”. In “The Clash of Civilizations?” Asian Responses, edited by Salim Rashid. Dhaka: University Press, 1997. Weiss, Linda. “Sources of the East Asian Advantage: An Institutional Analysis”. In Pathways to Asia: The Politics of Engagement, edited by Richard Robison. St. Leonards, NSW: Allen and Unwin, 1996. Wilson, H.E. Social Engineering in Singapore: Educational Policies and Social Change,

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1819–1972. Singapore: Singapore University Press, 1978. Wong, John and Aline K. Wong. “Confucian Values as a Social Framework for Singapore’s Economic Development”. In Conference on Confucianism and Economic Development in East Asia. Taipei: Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research, 1989. World Bank. The East Asian Miracle: Economic Growth and Public Policy. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993. Zizek, Slavoj. “Multiculturalism, or, the Cultural Logic of Multinational Capitalism”. New Left Review 225 (1997).

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CHAPTER 6

TELEPHONY AT THE LIMITS OF STATE CONTROL: “DISCOURSE NETWORKS” IN INDONESIA Joshua David Barker

With the advent of the gramophone and the telephone toward the end of the last century, it finally became possible for the human voice to endure through time and to travel across long distances, circulating in ways hitherto reserved only for ghostly and other supernatural communications. In the Dutch East Indies (DEI), the first steps in this transformation took place at the height of the colonial modern period, which was also the period during which various nationalisms were starting to take shape. Like the printing press before them, these mass media provided new networks through which discourses moved, and provided 1 new objects for reflection on life in the DEI at that time. This chapter examines the genealogy of telephony in the DEI. This genealogy, I argue, has many different strands. Some of these strands are paths that come to an abrupt end, some of them are paths that continue on as “minor” histories, and others that continue on only as fantasies of what might had been had socio-political forces and technical 2 developments converged and been articulated differently. The account I provide is not exhaustive but is meant to show that even the history of a technology like the telephone — an artefact whose meaning seems obvious and closed — can be read in quite different ways.3 Indeed,

This chapter is reproduced from Local Cultures and the “New Asia”, edited by C.J.W.-L. Wee (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2002). This version was obtained electronically direct from the publisher on condition that copyright is not infringed. No part of this publication may be reproduced, translated, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the Institute of Southeast AsianAsian StudiesStudies, < http://www.iseas.edu.sg/pub.html > © 2002 Institute of Southeast Singapore

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there is no reason that telephony need always be understood as an agent of modernization, globalization, capitalism and the like. Under particular conditions, for example, telephony has been used to constitute local rather than national or global identities — and this despite the fact that the major history of telephony seems to tend towards political and economic centralization, flexible forms of capital accumulation and a celebration of national or global communities. Arguing that Indonesian telephony has minor histories challenges the notion that the modernity (and the international capitalism it was connected with) that arrived in the archipelago around the turn of the century was a singular modernity. By emphasizing the uniqueness of Indonesian telephony, as opposed to telegraphy, post and radio (and by 4 emphasizing variations within the “discourse network” of “telephony” itself), I will show that Indonesia’s modernity had many possible strands. These strands are apparent in the variety of meanings that were attached to the telephone, in the different directions that the telephone network developed and in the different types of community telephony gave rise to. In regard to the last point, I suggest that Benedict Anderson’s (1991) method of analysing print capitalism’s role in shaping the “imagined community” of the nation may also be applied to other types of community-making rooted in different discourse networks. In the case of telephony, the forms of identity that emerged early on were quickly transformed by state monopolization of the network and by its subjection to capitalist principles. So strong were those constraints that it became impossible to imagine a “local” identity based on telephonic discourse networks. Recently, however, telephony has recovered some of its locality and even provided the grounds for fantasies about imagined telephonic communities. This chapter will show that the state has an important role to play in establishing the conditions for the possibilities of the expression of identities. Specifically, it will demonstrate how state controls over the organization and use of communication technologies have constrained the expression of local identities. The chapter will also indicate, however, that state domination was never complete: local identities and minor histories continue to matter.

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1870: The Great Post Road and the World Telegraph Net

In the years prior to the introduction of telephony in the DEI, the two most important forms of point-to-point long-distance communication were the postal service and telegraphy. While postal services of various types had been around in the Indies for centuries, the modern postal service had its beginnings in the early nineteenth century with the construction of the Great Post Road (Groot Postweg) in Java. The road was built by order of Governor General Daendels; it stretched across Java from Anyer in the west to Panarukan in the east. Building the road was a tremendous project, mobilizing tens of thousands of forcedlabourers along its 1,000-kilometre length. It was built for military reasons, providing means for sending orders and reports between commanders and troops with a minimum of delay and for quickly moving troops across the island to defend against coastal incursions by rival colonial powers. That the road was primarily built for purposes of streamlining defence and government administration was indicated by the fact that the first segment of the road to be built was that which connected Batavia (Jakarta), seat of colonial government, and Buitenzorg (Bogor), the site of the Governor General’s residence. What was it about this road that distinguished it from the complex networks of paths and roads that had serviced travellers and letter carriers until that time, marking the beginning of modern communications in the archipelago? It was not only that it was a state project, but that it established a new type of space where the criterion of functionality was speed. Speed of travel along the road was increased by making it as straight as possible, by replacing ferry crossings with bridges, and by providing posts — every six paal (approximately 6 kilometres) in coastal areas and five paal in mountainous areas — at which those travelling on government business could change horses, eliminating the need to rest one’s horses. The system reduced travel time across Java from more than forty days to just six days (Directorate-General of Posts and Telecommunications 1982a, p. 54). As a result of this emphasis on speed, the space of the Great Post Road was no longr subordinated to place and the limits on speed imposed by locality and distance. In transcending locality it sometimes had the

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capacity to alter the character of the places it passed through. One example of this was the capital of Bandoeng regency in the Priangan region of western Java. As myth has it, Daendels ordered the town of Bandoeng moved 14 kilometres to the north so that it would be located on the Great Post Road (Barker 1999, p. 79). Whereas the former location has been selected according to calculations based on geomancy — which sought to find the most auspicious location based on considerations about the specific characteristics of the sacred landscape — the new location was determined by the requirements of a trans-local speed. In the DEI, as in many parts of the world, this trans-local speed emerged first under highly controlled conditions imposed by the state. Telegraphy was first introduced in 1856, 21 years after its invention and 17 years before it was introduced in the neighbouring Philippines. According to one colonial observer, telegraphy was viewed as “nothing but an extension and acceleration of the postal intercourse” (Hovig [1929b], p. 22). Indeed, telegraphy followed the pattern of development established by the Great Post Road. It too tended towards increasing detachment and abstraction from the landscape and towards monopolization by the state. Thus, whereas initially the network of telegraph wires was attached to living kapok trees, the trees were gradually replaced by standardized poles; and since these lines were expected to traverse long distances with a minimum of cable and clearing work, they tended to follow the other great lines already cut into the Javanese landscape: the Post Road and the emerging railway network. The similarities did not end there. Both in its construction and its network evolution telegraphy followed the pattern established by the Great Post Road. Thus, the first connection in the telegraph network was built under the supervision of military engineers using forced labour (Nasruddin 1997, pp. 30–31), linking Batavia to Buitenzorg. The colonial government emphasized its goals of establishing high-speed communication networks that linked together all the nodes in its administrative apparatus. Telegraphy in the colonial period also constituted a new infrastructure to facilitate the extraction of the colony’s resources. For example, attempts were made as early as 1859 to lay a submarine cable between Batavia and Muntok, Bangka, the site of a huge tin mine whose revenues equalled

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5 per cent of the colony’s total annual budget (Hovig [1929a], p. 123). This line was also to connect the Indies to Holland via a submarine cable to Singapore with a branch that extended to Palembang, potentially linking Java, Sumatra and Bangka to Great Britain’s global telegraph network. However, the cable snapped several times and never became entirely operational. It was only in 1870 that a permanent connection was established in Singapore. This was therefore the year in which the Indies were first integrated into the world telegraph net. With this integration, the use of the telegraph for carrying news, stock prices and personal messages began to develop in earnest. Thus, just as “Daendels previously required a post-road for the quick and reliable conveyance of letters to rule Java effectively so as to bring it to its present prosperity, … the Government [too] in a later stage of this development require[d] the telegraph for the same purpose” (ibid., p. 122). The state viewed the new communication systems of international capitalism as strategic enough to warrant government control. Thus, in 1862, when the government took steps to fully rationalize the postal service according to emerging international standards (by replacing a “tipping system” with stamps, by standardizing postage rates, and by integrating rural postal services into the main services), it also declared an official monopoly over the postal service. Several years later, in 1875, the administration of post and telegraphy were finally combined under the Post en Telegraaf Dienst, a division of the Department of Public Works. The modernity envisioned by the government was clear: state-controlled, large-scale networks that had high levels of standardization and were dually integrated into the world communications net and the international capitalist system. 1900: Hidden Forces

In partial contrast to the histories of the postal services, the first two decades of telephone development took place largely through the initiative of private enterprises working under concessions granted by 5 the government. In this respect, the DEI followed the pattern found in France, Italy, and the United Kingdom (and not the United States, Japan, or Germany): an early disaggregation of control over telephony from control over postal services and telegraphy. One effect of this was that

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the development of the telephone network in these early years differed markedly from its predecessor, the telegraph. Whereas the telegraph had emerged primarily as a mode of long-distance communication, the telephone emerged primarily as an instrument of local communication within districts and towns. The first telephone link in the Indies was indicative of this fact. It was built in 1883, and linked together Weltevreden, Batavia, and Tanjung Priok, the residential district, business-quarter and harbour of the Indies’ largest commercial town (ibid., p. 124). Other local networks quickly emerged throughout Java and other islands such that by 1905 there were thirty-eight private telephone companies, each operating its own local network. What were these local networks like? The case of Bandung is probably typical. Its first telephone company, the Preanger Telefoon Mij., was established in 1895 by K.A.R. Bosscha, a well-known tea plantation 6 owner. It had 157 subscribers, most of whom were able to keep up with events in Bandung, or during their weekend stays in the city, to keep track of what was happening on the plantations (Kunto n.d., p. 3). Alongside this private network for subscribers, the Post and Telegraph Services (PT) also developed its own network for administrative purposes. For the PT, the telephone was seen largely as an extension of the telegraph which, however, was much less expensive to install and also much easier to use (as it did not require knowledge of Morse code). Initially, therefore, the PT used the telephone merely to supplement those telegraph services in small towns for which the building of a telegraph office would have been too expensive” (Hovig [1929a], p. 124). This network grew to the point that by the beginning of the century all the districts within the kabupaten of Bandung had a switchboard of at least 15 lines, and all could be reached from the municipality (Kunto [1929], p. 4). The PT referred to these offices not as telephone offices, but as “telegraph branchoffices”; and telephone operators were trained in writing down “‘spoken’ telegrams” (Hovig [1929a], p. 125). What we see is an opposition between two approaches to integrating the new technology into prevailing discourse networks. The first approach was to treat telephony as a subsidiary technology of telegraphy. This was the approach followed by the government, which administered the colony primarily through the medium of print. For state officials and those

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accustomed to working in the postal and telegraph services, the oral discourse allowed by the telephone was merely a supplement for the printed word transmitted by telegraph, a supplement that was necessary given the lack of technical capabilities in remote areas and the high costs of training telegraphy personnel. The second approach was to use the technology to wire together one’s local social and business network. This approach meant putting telephones in offices and in sitting rooms or on the back verandas of people’s homes. While the former approach to telephony did not disturb the hierarchy of existing discourse networks, the latter approach did as is apparent in 7 Louis Couperus’s famous 1900 novel, The Hidden Force. The telephone appears as an aside. It has no particular plot function and does not work as an important symbol. Yet it is precisely the gratuitousness of a passage describing the telephone that makes it interesting. The tone used is one of dismissive disgust; it begins with a description of Eva’s first impressions of Batavia: Eva did not find Batavia the ideal city of Eurasian civilisation that she had pictured in eastern Java. In this great centre of worry about money, of desire for money, every trace of spontaneity had vanished and life dozed off into an everlasting seclusion in the office or at home. People never saw each other except at receptions, any other conversations took place over the telephone. The abuse of the telephone for domestic purposes killed the intimacy among friends. People no longer saw one another, they no longer had any need to dress and send for the carriage, because they chatted over the telephone, in sarong and kabaai, in pyjamas, almost without stirring a limb. The telephone was close at hand and it rang constantly on the back veranda. People called each other for nothing, or just for the fun of it. Young Mrs De Hartemann had an intimate friend, a young woman who she had never seen, but whom she talked daily, for half an hour at a time. She sat down when she talked, so it did not tire her. … She did the same with other friends; she visited then by telephone. (Couperus 1985, p. 220)

The telephone could be said to either extend or replace the culture of oral, face-to-face encounters. As Couperus terms it, people liked to “visit” each other by telephone rather than by carriage. This new articulation of discourse networks represents a disturbance of colonial life, epitomizing a new kind of isolation: it allows for sociability without movement. What Couperus portrays, therefore, is not the explosion of movement and

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traffic that one normally associates with this modern period of trains, steamships, newspapers and the like, but a kind of retreat into the safe confines of the home. As Rudolf Mrazek has argued in his analyses of the period, the technologies that inaugurated an “age in motion” (Shiraishi 1990) for Indonesians, appear also to have inaugurated a kind 8 of escapist hyper-stasis for the colonial Dutch. It is noteworthy that for Couperus the emergence of this colonial hyper-stasis is closely associated with women. Women stop dressing up, they stop circulating in the marketplace and the intimacy of friendships is therefore disrupted. The passage cited above continues thus: In Labuwangi Eva had not been used to this endless jangling and ringing, which killed all conversation, which on the back veranda revealed only half of a dialogue — the answer being inaudible from anyone sitting away from the instrument — in the form of an incessant, one-sided jabbering. It got on her nerves and drove her to her room. And, amid the boredom of this life, full of care and inward brooding for the husband and penetrated by the chatter of the wife’s telephone conversations, Eva would be surprised to hear suddenly of a special excitement: a fancy fair or rehearsals for an amateur opera performance. (Couperus 1985, pp. 220–21) 9

The “abuse of the telephone for domestic purposes” would therefore seem to have two aspects. Not only does the telephone induce physical isolation, it allows for the opening up of a discourse network among wives that involves speech that is audible but incomprehensible. It is a kind of noise that dislocates the proper form of discourse that would normally take place on the back veranda, one which could be overheard and spatially located. One might speculate that this new discourse network most threatens the old network when it allows women to develop friendships without even having met each other in person — when it allows for the beginnings of an imagined community that, in Couperus’s fictional depiction, short-circuits the controls of repressive, patriarchal families.10 Thus, the early period of DEI telephony shows a certain openness, both in terms of the pattern of network development and administration and the manner in which telephonic discourse was positioned in relation to other discourse networks. It did not tend towards long-distance communication over grand networks but towards very local communication. In many towns and regions, it was possible to know all

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the people on one’s network, since there might be only a few dozen lines. And even if one did not know everyone on one’s network, one would certainly know who it was that owned and administered it. We might surmise, therefore, that telephony in this period would have given rise not to global or national identities (both of which emerged first through print), but to a new sense of local community identity. Unlike the newspaper, radio or telegraph, telephony did not immediately give rise to an imagined community of anonymous users. Nonetheless, the sense of community provoked by the telephone was not what it had been in the past for it was a community based in “electric speech” (Ronell 1989) rather than in face-to-face encounters. It thus had greater elasticity since it was less constrained by the materiality of the body, weather, distance and so forth. One consequence of this was that the disciplines normally brought to bear on public and domestic spheres (by way of overhearing and seeing, for example) became far less effective in controlling communication. Indeed, as we have seen above, the capacity of telephonic discourse to bypass mechanisms of social control (proper hours of sociability, proper dress code, public conversation) gave rise to a fear that telephony could extend the sphere of women’s sociability beyond its spatial confines and open up a discursive channel that escaped surveillance and discipline. 1930: Holland’s Colonial Call

In 1930 the Dutch government published a thick book entitled Holland’s Colonial Call (Hovig 1929b). Aimed at defending the Dutch administration of its colonies against critique, the papers in the volume present a celebration of the civilizing and progressive effects of Dutch Ethical Policy in the domain of what is termed “traffic” or “conveyance”. The papers, one introduction states, are for the “motherland” (ibid., p. vii). They show the world that “the future development of the Indies can safely be entrusted to the Dutch government” (ibid., p. viii). The section of this book that deals with telephony is highly enthusiastic about telephony’s role in this “development”: In the large towns and even in the most of the smaller places on Java it is just as natural to receive one’s letters and papers punctually once or more times a day, to walk to the letter-box or to the telegraph-house, to take the telephone

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and order something from your supplier for the guests you are expecting, to ring up your friends, relatives, or business relations at a distance of some hundreds of kilometres, as it is in Western Europe. This is done without any further thought. (Ibid., p. 118)

Later, the text continues: To realize in full that the post is a mighty factor in the pioneer’s work, that is ever and unweariedly going on in tropical Holland, one must have been far away in the interior. … One must have experienced this [isolation] to know what a difference it makes when … the first post office is opened, with a telephone line, … how it suddenly seems as if everything looks brighter, as if the world is no longer such a long way off. … From that moment one can see such a place make progress day by day. With the arrival of the post the problem of the roads automatically pushed into the foreground and as soon as the roads have been improved motorcars appear on the scene. A lasting Native and Chinese middle-class of tradesmen and brokers comes into existence, gradually there comes a “passar” (periodical market), also a “passangsahan” (sort of hotel). A new village has come into existence, an outpost, a fresh support from where the Western civilization can again develop itself. (Ibid., pp. 119–20)

The story told of the telephone here is almost opposite from that found in The Hidden Force. Telephones do not cause isolation but bring people together, they are a source of civilization and Westernization, and thus of modernity itself. Through technological modernization, the colonial state opens up the local sphere to international circulations, and in so doing, re-defines the terms in which the “local” can be expressed. In the thirty years since The Hidden Force was published, the archipelago’s telephone network had undergone profound transformations. In 1906, shortly after a private company was established that aimed to link together some of the existing local Javanese telephone nets with long-distance connections, the government stepped in and asserted a monopoly over all telecommunications. The PT was turned into the PTT (Post, Telegraf, en Telefoon Dienst), a government corporation with authority over all three services. The government also took the additional step of replacing the subscription-based pricing system used by the private companies with a time-based pricing system. The short period of the telephone functioning as a simple link between colonial homes and between businesses therefore came to an end. Increasingly,

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the networks followed the pattern already established for the postal and telegraph services, shifting away from local developments to long-distance connections. An important enabling factor for the shift toward long-distance was experiments in radio transmission, both in the Indies and in Europe. First with high frequency waves, and later with short waves, these experiments proved capable of linking together increasingly distant stations. According to Cornelis Disco (1990), many of these innovations occurred through experiments made under the aegis of trying to establish a “direct link” (here meaning telegraphy) between the DEI and Holland. The reasoning for such an effort — something which, according to Disco, “no one had ever tried to [do]” or was even planning to do — was primarily strategic: to reduce dependence on British-owned international telegraphic lines (Disco 1990, p. 27). Capitalism has its nationalistic dimension. However, for those in the Indies, the “direct link” with Holland via radio was something more than just an insurance policy against future 11 wars; it was an intimate line to the “motherland”. As one contributor to Holland’s Colonial Call explained: The Dutchman in the tropics often thinks of his home-country. In day time, when working under the scorching sun, or during the sultry evenings, seated on the gallery of his house, on the terrace of the club, or even in the cinema, his mind will sometimes suddenly picture some typical small Dutch town, a landscape with a narrow channel, a windmill, some cows at pasture, with the gray clouds above, or a shopping-street brightly illuminated. … [O]ne thinks longingly of the home-country, and sometimes even real homesickness takes its place. How one wishes to be in Holland if only for a few moments, to mix with one’s own countrymen, to feel again one with Holland. But although hankering after the unattainable, one learns to accept the inevitable. When radio development brought new possibilities, direct communication between Holland and the Dutch East-Indies again became the centre of all hope and the desire for a “living” contact with Holland, with the civilization of the mother-country, became more and more intense. (Hovig 1929b, p. 36)

Indeed, the DEI radio engineer, De Groot, was so determined to establish the connection that he had already been transmitting telegraph messages

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to Holland for a year before his counterparts in Holland built a station capable of even receiving the signals (Disco 1990, p. 32). De Groot’s messages were still in Morse code and thus not really telephonic. The first “radio-telephonic” link was established by Philips, with its short-wave transmitters. The first broadcasts picked up were of gramophone music and announcements of the broadcast. A representative of the Philips company describes the response: [N]ot before the Indian mail arrived, four weeks later did Eindhoven fully realise the emotion of those in the East Indies, upon suddenly hearing for the first time a voice from the mother-country. Not softly or distorted — no, the announcements were clearly heard by means of the headphone, informing the listener that the Philips Radio Laboratory at Eindhoven was broadcasting. The tremendous distance — 12000 km — which separated the listeners in the tropics from Holland, no longer existed and perfectly clear sounded the voice of the announcer…. A wave of emotion swept over the Dutch in the Indies and everyone now wanted to hear this voice from the mother-country, this mysterious voice from Eindhoven which bridged oceans to speak to the sons of Holland in the distance Indies. … The voice of Holland was heard in the town, on the plantation, even at the isolated outstations, where many a man, sitting near his receiver, overcome by emotion, was head in hand. Staring into space. These were moments, memories of which, like a precious possession, rest in the treasure-houses joy when contact with the home-country was established was wonderful to behold. … ([Author not named] [1929], pp. 138–39)

The “colonial mother’s” voice arrives at last for her homesick sons in the Indies. Who was this mother? It was not just any mother but the mother12 country, the state mother. Indeed, shortly after these tests proved successful, an official inauguration of the link was held in which Queen Wilhemina and Princess Juliana spoke. The Queen began her address by announcing herself as the “first Dutch sovereign to be able to speak directly to her colonial subjects” (Disco 1990, p. 54). And so began the history of the short-wave broadcasting to the colonies. It was a history not only about isolating oneself from the “native” population and from war (see Mrazek 1995), but about discovering an imagined community of new Dutch compatriots. The passage above continues with a description of radio listeners that recalls Anderson’s description of

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newspaper readers in Imagined Communities.

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The lucky owner of a receiving set, suitable for ultra-short-wave reception, became a local celebrity, a positive nucleus, attracting the electrons of the Dutch colony. Suddenly he saw himself the centre of a large number of friends and acquaintances, many of which he met for the very first time, not even knowing their names. ([Author not named] [1929], p. 139)

However, the Dutch and their emerging diaspora nationalism had no future in the Indies, so we cannot know the extent to which the nostalgia and imagined community of radio were merely a fetishized escape from the “reality” of daily life in the Indies and to what extent they were a “real” alternative to Indonesian nationalism. As regards telephony in the sense that we understand it today — as point-to-point duplex communications — the Indies had to wait more than two years. In 1929 the government PTT inaugurated its first twoway direct telephonic link between Holland and the Indies. The inaugural call in 1929 was made by the Queen Mother, who reportedly “chatt[ed] amicably” with the wife of the Governor General of the DEI (Disco 1990, p. 54). After this call, stations were gradually opened in the major Indies cities that were capable of carrying the public’s radio-telephonic calls to Holland. By the time Holland’s Colonial Call was published, the channels of European women’s chatter had largely been incorporated into discourse networks under state control. In the domain of broadcast radio, a masculinist nationalism had been provoked that could be entirely assimilated to the demands of the colonial state, for it united its subjects — its “sons” — under the Queen of the “mother-country”. This monopolistic control extended, in a slightly less extreme fashion, to telephone lines. Not only had all the local networks been incorporated into a government-owned long-distance net, but the ultimate transmitters and receptors in this new discourse network were celebrated symbolically, in the inauguration ceremony, as the Queen Mother and the Governor 14 General’s wife. Thus, the telephone discourse network had been brought under state control both administratively and symbolically. While telephonic transmissions never experienced the kind of strict government controls that broadcasts did, they remained a kind of “back room” of state power, a discourse network where the women behind the

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figures of state power could “chat”. Such chat was different from that described in The Hidden Force in two important ways. First, it was no longer restricted to a particular locale but spread across oceans. Second, it was now subject to strict economic disciplines. Time-based fees ensured that only the well-to-do could afford to engage in the type of aimless chat that Couperus had such distaste for; and somewhat insidiously, they ensured that even “aimless chat” could be turned to state profit. 1976: Automatization

One might presume that by the late-1970s telephony would have been successfully “black boxed” (see Bijker et al. 1987, pp. 5, 14–15; Rip and Kemp 1998, p. 329): fixed in meaning and lacking in variation, making it difficult to imagine other telephonic genealogies and futures — and indeed, in terms of the foundations of the telephonic discourse network, nothing much had changed since the late-colonial period. Although postal services had been placed under a different authority from that of telecommunications and a special company for international telecommunications had been established, state companies still 15 monopolized all the services. Culturally too, there had been few changes. Throughout both the Soekarno and Soeharto periods, each new telephone network and switching device was inaugurated with a heavily ritualized conversation between government officials. Thus, for example, Soekarno was ceremonially photographed in 1950 “making a telephone call to the Indian Government on the opening of radio telephony between Indonesia and India” (Directorate-General of Posts and Communications 1982b, p. 154) and Soeharto in 1976 making a “trunk call to the governors of Aceh and Irian Jaya” (Directorate-General of Posts and Telecommunications 1982c, p. 183). Furthermore, the ideological emphasis on disciplining users to respect the need for economical and functional uses of the telephone continued. For example, telephone books from the 1950s provided lessons on how to use the telephone correctly (both technically and in terms of conversational etiquette), and more recently the state provider began using stickers for telephones that encouraged people to “talk only as much as necessary” (bicara seperlunya). In terms of its technology, the telephone network had become even

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more closed and centralized than it had been in the colonial era. This was primarily the result of automatization. While the first steps had been started during the colonial period (some distribution and switching was automatized), the introduction of fully automatic exchanges only began in earnest during post-war reconstruction. Automatization proceeded in a centralized manner, with manual exchanges being replaced according to the government hierarchy; thus Jakarta and Bandung were automatized first, followed by all the provincial capital cities, followed by rural districts on Java, and finally by the remaining non-urban districts outside of Java. It was a slow and costly process that received great attention from the government bureaucracy. In keeping with the logic of New Order cleansing operations, relevant people of a region would be mobilized to “membebaskan” (free) the region of so-called engkol (crank) phones. Once the operation was completed, a ceremony would be held at which a government official would declare the region “bebas engkol” (crank-free). on some of those occasions, the President himself was the one to make the declaration. By 1976, these efforts had ensured that the number of subscribers with automatic connections finally outnumbered those with manual connections. The “closedness” of the automatized network came from the fact that it reduced the intervention of humans in network operation by eliminating the need for switchboard operators. With the demise of the operator, the system lost a significant trace of its locality. After all, the intermediary that linked two speakers together was no longer associated with a familiar voice and accent; rather, connections were provided by an invisible machine. Furthermore, with the loss of a human intermediary, the telephone discourse network became far more anonymous. Subscribers could receive calls that were both unaccounted and could not be traced to a recognizable location or numeric address (only in 2000 would the operator’s ability to identify callers be automated and passed on to subscribers). Both these aspects closed off the telephonic discursive space from other oral discourse networks. In addition to increasing the “closedness” of telephony, automatization also increased its centralization, as evidenced both in switching and in power supply. Early switchboards could handle only a few dozen connections at a time and therefore could be geographically dispersed.

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However, with automatization (and later digitization) the capacity of exchanges increased to thousands of connections, making it possible for a single “central” to service the population of an entire town or part of a city. In the domain of power supply, automatization reinforced a trend already underway to replace the so-called “local battery” system with the “central battery” system. In the local battery telephone system, the telephone had to be cranked to generate a current. This current announced to the switchboard operator that the caller was requesting a connection. The operator would then ask who the caller wanted to reach and make the necessary manual connection. With the central battery system (which was available in later models of manual exchanges and was universal in automatic exchanges), the current originating at the central and travelling over the telephone line was enough to power the caller’s telephone handset too. This eliminated the need for a local power supply, making the network as a whole more susceptible to centralization. In sum, while automatization may have been a great technological advance from the standpoint of the speed and scale of interconnections, it also had the important effect of hard-wiring centralized control into the network. In conjunction with the elimination of human operators, this centralization served to deepen the late-colonial trend of pushing locality — in both its human and spatial sense — out of the network. While the push to transcend locality in favour of deterritorialized central control continued unabated after the war, there were nonetheless significant changes in the character of the trans-local identity that telephonic progress was being associated with. One can trace, for example, how the celebration of Dutch nationalism and the connection to the mother-country gave way, after the war, to Soekarno’s internationalism. Thus, under Soekarno, Indonesia’s radio-telephonic links to foreign countries expanded tremendously and the possibilities of satellite use were explored. This expansion was guided by the ideology that telephony provided a link not so much between the motherland and her colonial sons between the brotherhood of nations (most famously celebrated in 16 the Bandung Conference). More recently, under former President Soeharto, this ideology was discarded in favour of a state-nationalist ideology in which telecommunications would support the spread of a so-called wawasan

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Nusantara, or “archipelagic world-view”. Promoted by both military leaders and telecommunications engineers, this ideology argued that telecommunications should serve the interests of defending national 17 unity. In keeping with this ideology, Soeharto’s rule saw the completion of two huge nationalist telecommunications projects. First, the construction of a microwave backbone from Sumatra to Papua (consisting of the Trans-Sumatra Microwave link, the Java-Bali Microwave link and the Eastern Indonesia Microwace link) known as sistelkomnas, an acronym for “national telecommunications system”. Second, the launching of Palapa, the developing world’s first domestic telecommunications 18 satellite. Both these projects emphasized that telephony and other telecommunications technologies should be used to eliminate sentiments of ethnic and regional solidarity in order to strengthen the integrity of a heavily centralized nation-state. 1982/2000: Interkom and Telephonic Imagination

It is against the backdrop of automatization and national communication projects — but with a memory of a more locally oriented Indies telephony — that one can begin to understand the significance of two events: the appearance of Sori Siregar’s novel entitled Telephone (1982) and the advent — in the same year — of what is known as “Interkom”. Siregar’s novel tells the story of Daud, a bookstore clerk who cannot resist his desire to make crank calls on unsuspecting people, passing on false news about the deaths of their loved ones and other traumatic events. Daud sees himself as a “pioneer of using the telephone for aimless needs”, someone whose crank calls “liberate the telephone from its functionality” (Siregar 1982, p. 59). As Daud begins to come to terms with his vice, he dreams of setting up an institute that will allow people with problems to “form a unity whose members do not recognize one another”. “It would be enough to have just a telephone number,” he figures. The problem with this, however, is that “this makes it possible to know the identity of the members” since their name and address can be found in the telephone book (ibid., p. 50). To maintain anonymity it therefore would be necessary for the institute to have a switchboard and an operator that could link together members without revealing their phone numbers to one another. And this is where the problem begins, for as Daud reflects,

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“to make the institute an operator [of a network] will clearly not be permissible to the directorate ot directorate general of telecommunications” (ibid., p. 51). It is strange to think of an imagined community based entirely on a 19 shared need for aimlessness and namelessness. Yet this is precisely what Siregar’s protagonist thought the telephone might call forth if only it could be liberated from its “functionality” and government control. In terms of my analysis above, it is as if Siregar’s protagonist wants to liberate telephony from its major history. To do so means not only eliminating the government monopoly but opening up the channels of desire to the possibility of aimlessness. Thus, the aimlessness of “chat” that we saw in The Hidden Force is recovered; however, unlike Couperus’s protagonist, who would dismiss such aimlessness, Daud celebrates it. It would appear, therefore, that Siregar’s novel takes a stand against the numerous attempts by the state to channel such desires (to the mother country, the brotherhood of nations, and so forth) or to dismiss them as “abuse” or escapism. In doing so it keeps alive in virtual form the possibility an alternative telephonic genealogy: a discourse network carrying desires with no particular object — that is, a telephony without communication. The strongest case against Sirengar’s identification of the policing of aimless desires with the power of the state can be found in a local and “real” minor history: the history of Interkom. Interkom began in the early 1980s as a fad. It reportedly grew out of walkie-talkie use, that great 1970’s phenomenon that provided a less expensive alternative to the other great fad of the era: CB radio. Dissatisfaction with the limited capabilities of walkie-talkies and the high costs of batteries led to a whole host of innovations that eventually became known as Interkom. In its present form in Bandung, West Java, Interkom is a cable-based technology that works much like a “souped-up” telephone party-line: it allows for a dozen or more people to communicate on a single line and possesses audio quality that approaches that of a cheap Sony walkman. Users build the network themselves using their own money. Anyone who wants to link up merely has to buy the necessary cable and make or buy an Interkom device (usually a gutted amplifier which has been rebuilt using individual components). Historically, the cables that constitute Interkom first emerged as

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inter-household links and gradually grew into what users refer to as “locals” (lokal) that linked together several different households in a neighbourhood. This is when the fad more or less ended, and it is this configuration that most educated and middle-class people still associate with Interkom. However, although Interkom lost most of its middleclass followers (many of whom now use the Internet), it continued to develop and expand throughout the late 1980s and 1990s. In this sense, it can be seen as a counterpoint to larger economic developments, as this was also the time that Indonesia was moving from an oil-based economy to one more reliant on non-oil exports, private sector investment and international integration. Nowadays, if one looks closely at the trees, telephone poles and electricity poles in many of Bandung’s kampung (poor residential quarters), what one sees is coloured wires stretched between them and passing into houses. The city’s kampung, street-side noodle stalls, and cigarette kiosks are wired with Interkom. However, unlike in the 1980s, the locals now have been linked together into inter-local networks. Some of the lines in Interkom stretch for several kilometres, linking together disparate parts of the city. Moreover, since many of Interkom’s users have more than one jalur or line, it is actually possible to communicate with people on other “lines” that are dozens of kilometres away by asking someone who has both lines to temporarily splice them together using nails and alligator clips (a kind of switchboard). From the standpoint of the history of telephony, what is remarkable about Interkom is that it is completely liar (wild, or illegal). It represents an oral telecommunications network that developed almost completely outside state control, one that was not subjected to capitalist disciplines, and one that carried little baggage about being a beacon of modernity. As the country’s educated elite discussed the problem of the poor being left out of the future information economy, the poor have built for themselves a communication network which in terms of user costs and ease of usage far superior to the Internet. In terms of its organization, Interkom is therefore not far from the dream of telephony found in Siregar’s novel. In discursive terms too, it provides something approaching the anonymous space of pure voice and non-functionality that Daud fantasized about. Not only is the vast

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majority of airtime used for joking, gossip, and sexual banter (with only a few interruptions from such serious topics as notifications about illnesses and deaths or discussion about problems with the network), but people develop reputations based purely on the sound of their voice. However, even a brief investigation of Interkom shows that this discourse network is far more contained and safe than what Siregar wrote about. For although Interkom is not regulated by the state, it is local enough to allow for self-policing. Such policing takes place in a number of ways. Occasionally, for example, members of one line will join together to unplug someone who is considered disruptive. Under these circumstances, they will physically trace the user by following the wires and figuring out who it might be. In a more friendly vein, members of a line will sometimes organize outings and shared meals where they can meet one another “on land” and put “land names” and bodies to the “air names” and voices they already know. This has the effect of taking the anonymity out of Interkom, reducing the pure orality of the network to a face-to-face oral community. Finally, there is the form of policing that uses gentle reminders. For instance, the general advice that users give to newcomers is not to spend too much time on-line or to neglect their work. As one user explained to me: “Interkom is a hobby, so don’t let it 20 disturb your work or your family life.” Such advice clearly indicates that Interkom “ought to be” subordinated to more “real” face-to-face interactions — desires part of a minor history that manages to resist the totalizing dreams of capitalism. Conclusion

In sum, while Interkom does constitute an imagined community of aimless desires it is a community that consistently polices itself for disruptive behaviour, admonishes uncontrolled desires (for example Interkom addiction), and subordinates its discourse to other discourse networks. Although it represents a clear departure from the major history of telephony — in that its exchanges are not monopolized by the state and its costs are fixed so that “unnecessary” chatter is possible — it does not achieve the fantasy of telephony found in Siregar’s novel. If we were to express the contrast in broader terms, we might say the following: the path to modernity Interkom follows is neither state-modern nor

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revolutionary-modern but local-modern. For although Interkom may have succeeded in “liberating the telephone from its functionality”, it did not facilitate the creation of a truly anonymous community of unconstrained desires. In the future, the fantasy of such a community may therefore have to attach itself to another, more anarchic discourse network than telephony and its variant. The Internet perhaps? NOTES 1. There have already been several excellent studies describing the particular characteristics of the discourse networks opened up by the printing press. Benedict Anderson (1991) showed how the introduction of the printing press provided a new cosmopolitan discursive space in which nationalist identities could take shape against the backdrop of colonial-instituted ethnic identities. Siegel (1997) took this idea further, showing that this cosmopolitan discursive space — which he defines as lingua franca — was already internationalist before it was nationalist. Indeed, he shows that for many early writers in Melayu, the lingua franca provided a space in which anyone, any language, could appear and do so without fear of recognition. It was only later that the effects of print capitalism and government repression introduced identity-policing into this space. 2. I am using the Deleuzean distinction between minor and major (that is, minoritarian and majoritarian) histories. The minoritarians has only a ghostly existence and are virtual histories. 3. Despite its importance, the history of the telephone in Indonesia has yet to be studied in detail. There are very few regionally focused studies of non-print communications technologies in general. Two studies that have dealt briefly with telephony are Rudolf Mrazek’s “Let Us All Become Radio Mechanics” (1995) and Cornelis Disco’s (1990) thesis on early twentieth-century Dutch engineering culture. Mrazek’s study is part of his research on the coming of modernity to the archipelago; he shows how colonial radio — both in terms of its content and its organization — came to articulate the Dutch dream of a plural society and to provide the Dutch with a technological escape from an increasingly unwelcoming Indies “reality”. For Mrazek, the telephone is a predecessor technology to radio. It is a modern device that relies on cables to function. These cables are initially bare and hung from trees, but are later given casings, buried or strung from poles designed to resist bad weather and moisture. This movement towards a world immune from disturbances is carried to its extreme with radio. The rush to radio by the Dutch was part of a broader attempt to create a safe, isolated world in which they could escape realities such as the encroachments of nature, the effects of war and vandalism by unruly colonized subjects. In this context, the telephone appears as a step on the road to a colonial modernity rooted in escapist fantasies. Cornelis Disco, in contrast, provides a rich

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account of the social construction of the first wireless connection between Holland and the DEI. He focuses in particular on the role of engineers, whose public debates provided a means for mobilizing “know-how” and resources to establish this connection, and examines the direct radio link that Dutch and Indies engineers built between Holland and the Indies in the 1920s (which was used first for telegraphy, and later for broadcast and telephony). Telephony is just one of the uses to which this radio link is put. Disco is not so much concerned with the general social and cultural significance of the link for Indies society but with the debates and conflicts that emerged in constructing this link and how they helped to shape the organization and culture of Dutch engineering. 4. The term “discourse networks” is taken from Kittler (1990). 5. The contrast between telephony on the one hand, and telegraphy and the post on the other, may be overdrawn. It is likely that a detailed examination of the genealogies of post and of telegraphy would also reveal minor histories contrasting with the major histories presented here. 6. The Bosschas were one of eight large plantations families around Bandung. K.A.R. Bosscha owned the Malabar tea plantation in Panglengan, a region that would later be home to De Groot’s famous international radio transmitter. He sponsored the construction of the largest telescope in Southeast Asia above Bandung on the road to Lembang in 1923 and helped to found the first technical school in the Indies (now Institut Teknologi Bandung). He also sponsored the Annual Fairs (Jaarbeurs) in Bandung, where the latest in telephone and electric technologies were given prominent positions. 7. Published seventeen years after telephony was first introduced in the DEI, the novel provided an early critique of Dutch colonialism. It described a Dutch colonial modernity in denial of the “hidden forces” of “native” magic and traditionalism. 8. Mrazek (1995) shows how this movement led to the formation of a colonial modern project which sought stasis, fixity, and remote control. Elsewhere, I have argued that this Dutch escapism came increasingly to be coupled with a fetishization of surveillance technologies as tools of social control (Barker 1999). 9. This literacy theme also mattered in the USA, where the telephone was viewed by its propagators as an instrument that ought to be used for transmitting information of economic value, and its appropriate place was therefore in the office. Conversations ought to be short and to the point, in the manner of telegraphy. What disturbed American phone company officials in these early days were the use of the telephone by rural housewives, who used the telephone for socializing, which they viewed as clogging up the switchboards, preventing more important information from being transmitted. Capitalist technology could be deployed for other cultural possibilities. 10. This is more or less what happened — at least in fantasy — when Indonesia’s

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celebrated nationalist, Kartini, established postal intercourse with her friends in Europe. In a passage cited by Mrazek (p. 1), Kartini writes: “It would seem as though an invisible telephone cable ran from here to Lali Djiwa and back again.” For Kartini, writing and talking were interchangeable, both enabling the establishment of intimate community outside the confines of family. The idea of a long cord running from Holland all the way to the north coast of Java was especially liberating for Kartini, who was dipingit, confined to her home until her arranged marriage. 11. According to one observer, “it was the case that in Indie everyone from high to low, had a greater fear of and felt much more directly affected by the threatened telegraph blockade and the concomitant isolation this would impose, than in the Netherlands, where it was not a question of their own isolation …” (Anonymous, “De radioverbinding Indie-Nederland”, De Ingenieur 43, p. 850 [cited in Disco 1990, p. 39]). 12. Avital Ronell (1989) has provided an unusual analysis of the relation between the state, telephony, and Oedipal desire in the West. Her analysis inspires many of the ideas that run through this paper. 13. “The significance of the mass economy — Hegel observed that newspapers serve modern man as a substitute for morning prayers — is paradoxical. It is performed in silent privacy, the lair of the skull. Yet each communicant is well aware that the ceremony he performs is being replicated simultaneously by thousands (or millions) of others of whose existence he is confident, yet of whose identity he has not the slightest notion. … What more vivid figure for the secular, historically clocked, imagined community can be envisioned?” (Anderson 1991, p. 35) 14. A photograph of the Queen making the short-wave call is included in the book immediately following the title page. One might say, in fact, that it was this call from the Queen that elicited the articles in the book, all of which were written by former and acting government functionaries in the DEI. 15. In 1961 the PTT was renamed Perusahaan Nasional Pos dan Telekomunikasi. In 1965 it was split into two state-owned companies: PN Pos dan Giro and PN Telekomunikasi. As it gained financial independence from the government (allowing it to take on private debt) and became profit-oriented, its status and name changed again to Perumtel in 1970 and to Telkom in 1991 (Telkom 1994, p. 1). In 1980 the administration of domestic and international telecommunications were separated; the former continued to be handled by Telkom, the latter by Indosat. 16. The idea of the brotherhood of nations may have been an extension of the ideology of a brotherhood of revolutionaries that Benedict Anderson (1972) has argued predominated during the war. In that intermediary period, PTT workers were very active in the independence struggle, clandestinely passing on information they received from abroad and from other regions and even engaging in battles against the Japanese and Dutch. On the revolutionary period and telecommunications,

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see Amar (1963), who tells the story of events among PTT revolutionaries in Bandung. Also see the rich biographies of PTT revolutionaries across the nation collected by the Directorate-General of Posts and Telecommunications. 17. As Willy Moenandir, Telkom’s director from 1973 to 1988, wrote in his essay about telecommunications and national development and wawasan Nusantara (n.d., pp. 3–4, 18): “One of the basic patterns of national development is that of ‘Wawasan Nusantara’, literally ‘concept of Archipelago’. This visualizes the establishment of Indonesian islands as a single country with unity in politics, unity in socio-cultural conditions, unity in economic life and unity in defence and security. Unity in politics encompasses the national territory as a unified whole for the nation to live in; the unified nation despite its being composed of diverse ethnic groups, speaking diverse regional tongues and having diverse religions; the unified intent to achieve the national ideal; the credence of Panca Sila (the five principles) is the one and only state’s and nation’s philosophical ideology; and the validity of a single national law. … We believe that materialism of the ‘Concept of Archipelago’ could not be worked out so easily without suitable telecommunications means.” 18. On the relation between Palapa and wawasan Nusantara, see Barker and Simon (forthcoming). 19. One might speculate that it has to do with the disembodied voice. While the voice has the power to call forth desires, in the case of the telephone it stops short of providing a clear object on which the desires can be fixed. 20. Interview with “Arwis”, 13 February 2000. The recognition that telephony-asInterkom is classifiable as a “hobby” should not have the effect of making it uninteresting as a topic of further study. Rather, it should have the reverse effect, namely, to heighten our awareness of the importance of hobbyists and amateurs in the history of telephony and other communication devices. Both Mrazek (1995) and Disco (1990) mention the importance of radio amateurs in the colonial period (the former in the context of the popularity of an amateur radio journal, the latter in the context of explaining whose experiments caused the shift from long wave to short wave for long-distance signalling), for example. Unfortunately, neither investigates the culture of these amateurs further. Certainly for later technologies, like television and internet, the early role of amateurs and hobbyists is absolutely central to their emergence.

REFERENCES Amar, Djen. Bandung Lautan Api. Bandung: Dhiwantara, 1963 Anderson, Benedict. Java in a Time of Revolution: Occupation and Resistance 1944– 1946. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1972. . Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism.

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Revised edition. London: Verso, 1991. [Author not named]. “Philips’ Omprep Holland Indie” (Broadcasting Service, Holland-Dutch East Indies]. In De Koloniale Roeping Van Nederland. De Middelen van Verkeer in Nederlandsche-Indie. De Spoor- en Tramwegen In NederlandscheIndie [Holland’s colonial call. Means of transport in the Dutch East Indies. Railand tramways in the Dutch East Indies], edited by P. Hovig. The Hague: DutchBritish Publishing, [1929]. Barker, Joshua. “The Tattoo and the Fingerprint: Crime and Security in an Indonesian City”. Ph.D. dissertation, Cornell University, January 1999. Barker, Joshua and Bart Simon. “Imagining the New Order Nation: Materiality and Hyperreality in Indonesia”. Theory, Culture, and Society (forthcoming). Bijker, Wiebe et al. “Introduction”. In The Social Construction of Technological Systems. New Directions in the Sociology and History of Technology, edited by Wiebe Bijker et al. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1987. Couperus, Louis. The Hidden Force. Amherst: University of Massachussets Press, 1985. Directorate-General of Posts and Telecommunications. History of Posts and Telecommunications in Indonesia. Volume I: Pre-Republic Era. Jakarta: Directorate-General of Posts and Telecommunications, 1982a. . History of Posts and Telecommunications in Indonesia. Volume III: Liberal Democracy Era. Jakarta: Directorate-General of Posts and Telecommunications, 1982b. . History of Posts and Telecommunications in Indonesia. Volume V: New Order Era. Jakarta: Directorate-General of Posts and Telecommunications, 1982c. . Tokoh-Tokoh Sejarah Perjuangan Dan Pembangunan Pos dan Telekomunikasi di Indonesia. Jakarta: Directorate-General of Posts and Telecommunications, 1985. Disco, Cornelis. “Engineers in Action II: The Radio Link with the Dutch East Indies”. MMS thesis, University of Twente, April 1990. Hovig, P. “Post-Department, Telegraphy, and Telephony”. In De Koloniale Roeping Van Nederland. De Middelen van Verkeer in Nederlandsche-Indie. De Spoor- en Tramwegen In Nederlandsche-Indie [Holland’s colonial call. Means of transport in the Dutch East Indies. Rail- and tramways in the Dutch East Indies], edited by P. Hovig. The Hague: Dutch-British Publishing, [1929a]. Hovig, P., ed. De Koloniale Roeping Van Nederland. De Middelen van Verkeer in Nederlandsche-Indie. De Spoor- en Tramwegen In Nederlandsche-Indie [Holland’s colonial call. Means of transport in the Dutch East Indies. Rail- and tramways in the Dutch East Indies]. The Hague: Dutch-British Publishing, [1929b]. Kittler, Friederich. Discourse Networks 1800/1900. Translated by Michael Metteer and Chris Cullens. Foreword by David E. Wellbery. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1990.

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Kunto, Haryoto. “Hallo Dewan Pelanggan PT Telkom”. Mimeographed. N.d. Moenandir, Willy. Indonesian Telecommunications Development: An Overview. Bandung: Perumtel, n.d. Mrazek, Rudolf. “Let Us All Become Radio Mechanics: Technology and National Identity in Late-Colonial Netherlands East Indies”. Mimeographed, 1995. Nasruddin, Hars et al. Telekomunikasi Indonesia. Sejarah, Perkembangan dan Proyeksi ke Depan. Jakarta: PT Telkom and Yayasan Ikatan Alumni Lemhamnas, 1997. Rip, Arie and Rene Kemp. “Technological Change”. In Human Choice and Climate Change. Volume Two. Resources and Technology, edited by Steve Rayner and Elizabeth L. Malone, pp. 327–99. Columbus: Batelle Press, 1998. Ronell, Avital. The Telephone Book: Technology, Schizophrenia, Electric Speech. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1989. Shiraishi, Takashi. An Age in Motion: Popular Radicalism in Java, 1912–1926. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1990. Siegel, James T. Fetish, Recognition, Revolution. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997. Siregar, Sori. Telepon. Jakarta: Balai Pustaka, 1982. Telkom. Lintasan Perjalanan Telkom. Periode 1989–1993. Bandung: PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia, 1994.

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CHAPTER 7

RETHINKING MODERNITY: STATE, ETHNICITY, AND CLASS IN THE FORGING OF A MODERN URBAN MALAYSIA Goh Beng Lan

In recent discussions, a well-established conception of “modernity” is viewed as a structure of temporal contradiction.1 While a temporal form of modernity allows a diversity of historically concrete modernisms, differences are supposedly worked out within a hierarchical logic of contemporaneity. The modern experience is equated with the history or trajectory of capitalist modernity and technical rationality in the West, along with a culturally and socially accomplished form of life that go along with industrial society. A privileging of the Euro-American narrative of modernity as the normative leads to the mis-recognition of new meanings of the “modern” in the non-Western world. This misrecognition in turn explains the pervading language of original and copy, first and late comers, and alternative, aberrant, or deviant modernities in the theorization of non-Western modern conditions. The endeavours of non-Westerners — along with the notion of their autonomy — and their new categories and meanings of the “modern” are rendered as insignificant — or worse, as simply derivative. Instead, such new meanings should force us to rethink the conceptions and categories of “modernity” itself.

This chapter is reproduced from Local Cultures and the “New Asia”, edited by C.J.W.-L. Wee (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2002). This version was obtained electronically direct from the publisher on condition that copyright is not infringed. No part of this publication may be reproduced, translated, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the Institute of Southeast AsianAsian StudiesStudies, < http://www.iseas.edu.sg/pub.html > © 2002 Institute of Southeast Singapore

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Using evidence from Malaysia, this chapter calls for a move away from notions of general patterns to more concrete and historically specific conditions, and for the incorporation of different and even conflicting principles beyond that of capitalist or instrumental rationality when theorizing modernity. I suggest that the contests around the changing notions of nation, “Malay-ness” and class are central sites for the rethinking of Malaysian modernity and ideas of the modern. The city, as a key site for the formation and expression of a “modern” society, is not only an important locale where these contests are played out, but also more importantly, the locus where emerging identity discourses and various cultural visions of modernity are actively reconstituting urban space. The new socio-cultural subjectivities and spatial transformations in contemporary Malaysia can be understood not so much in terms of the logic of a universal capitalist progress — these days called “globalization” — or development but instead as a way by which people struggle to derive power, class, and cultural status from their positions within the state’s modernizing discursive practices. Newer constructions of nation, ethnicity, class, and new urban built forms express a profound uncertainty of preference for the post-colonial or the colonial; East or West; new or traditional; Islam or Malay; and class or ethnicity. As much as this unsettled modernity is a reflection of a similar indecisive stance at the state level, it is also the outcome of a condition of constant flux, and the contestation and negotiation over the meaning of modernity at various levels below the state. Modernity in Malaysia is thus bounded by contradictory claims, making impossible one homogeneous or coherent meaning of modernity. Despite the state’s greater power, a top-down vision/meaning of modernity cannot be implemented. Local identities, conceptions of place and ways of life can and do resist the state’s vision of market development and its supposedly concomitant socio-cultural forms, causing the state to continuously redefine its vision of modernity through ethnicity, class, and urban space. The formation of the local, as seen from the bottom up, thus is not an attempt to leave behind old identities or to overcome the past by carving out an empty space for new identities. Rather, it is an attempt to juxtapose “old” and “new” identities. Colonial categories,

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in this case, turn out to be a potential cultural framework for re-formed identities. This chapter will first lay a background to discuss the centrality of the changing notions of the nation, Malay-ness, and class in Malaysia’s pursuit of modernization and its links to a changing cityscape. Using both macro findings and the city of Georgetown as a case study, it will then demonstrate how the power politics around the shifting notions of ethnicity, class, and modernity are played out in the urban terrain, actively reconstituting the material and cultural conditions in modern urban Malaysia itself. Malay-ness, Political Ideology, and the Malaysian Nation-State

The essence of Malay-ness is central to the foundation of the Malaysian nation-state. Malay nationalism has always centred on the ideological problem of the character of the Malay “race” — or bangsa — that constitutes Malay-ness. It has been argued that the construction of Malayness began in the seventeenth century as a direct response to European colonial presence and the arrival of Chinese immigrants (see Milner 1994). The notion of Malay-ness in colonial Malaya shifted around competing ideals over Islam, Malay royal authority, and Malay ethnicity. By the eighteenth century, Malay-ness became referred to as “race”, which was used to describe both royalty and their subjects not only in the Malay peninsula but also in Sumatra and the surrounding islands in the Malay Archipelago. The extension of the term Malay to subjects in the Malay Archipelago indicates a supra-local usage of it. However, by the late 1800s, this supra and loose usage of the term Malay became a localized, definite, and legal category with the introduction of the colonial population census which categorized populations in the colony according to racial typologies under the influence of scientific racism (Hirschman 2 1987). Indeed the strains and unions between supra/fluid and localized/ rigid notions of Malay-ness continue to be the bases for the discursive conceptions of Malay identity in post-colonial Malaysia. The rigid colonial and legal category of Malay-ness was inherited and perpetuated by the newly independent Malaysian nation-state where Malay-ness becomes constitutionally defined. A Malay is defined in

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Article 160 (2) of the Malaysian Constitution as one “who professes the religion of Islam, habitually speaks the Malay language, [and] conforms to Malay custom”. In addition, Malays are the largest of three officially designated bumiputera or indigenous groups, whose rights and special 3 privileges are inscribed in the Constitution. Bumiputera means “sons of the soil”, and Malays are the definitive bumiputeras of Malaysia. In 1969 the state’s commitment to its Malay nation-building project was put to its first test. The 13 May 1969 ethnic riots in Kuala Lumpur, following a highly charged Federal Election where issues of language and education were fought along ethnic lines threatened to tear the new Malaysian nation-state asunder. The revelation of strong animosity between the various minority groups brought to light the problems of de-colonization, nation-building, and development in the newly independent Malaysia — divide and rule policies had left a plural society divided along racial and occupational lines. The Malays were deliberately left to a traditional peasant economy, while Chinese and Indians were recruited to work in tin mines and rubber estates respectively, becoming more integrated into the capitalist economy. The problem of Malay backwardness created in colonialism became exacerbated under the laissez-faire development policies after independence. Malay dissatisfaction at having been left out of their homeland’s development reached a point and the problem could no longer be ignored. The pressing question was how could a united and enduring Malaysian nation-state that safeguards Malay interests be forged? In response to this dilemma, the Rukunegara — a new national ideology — and the New Economic Policy (NEP) 1970–90 was formulated. The Rukunegara (“Articles of Faith of the State”), which draws on both universalistic and traditional principles in presenting a modern and future-oriented Malaysian nation, was formally proclaimed on 31 August 1970, the country’s Independence Day. The NEP, in contrast, was a twenty-year affirmative action policy founded on a mixture of rationalist and ethnic/primordialist arguments, re-emphasizing the privileged position of the Malays as the solution for national unity. The NEP attempted the redistribution of economic wealth, largely from the Chinese and to an extent from foreign investors, to the predominantly Malay bumiputeras. Its aim was to create a Malay business community,

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and aimed to increase the Malay share of corporate capital from 2.4 per 4 cent in 1970 to 30 per cent by 1990. The post-1969 period saw rapid modernization: the NEP provided the major impetus for growing state intervention and public sector expansion as the government embarked on an ambitious plan to accelerate economic growth via industrialization and urbanization in the name of Malay development. Thus, the crisis of 1969 saw the ideology of creating the “economic Malay” as the materialist basis of the re-imagined Malay nation embodied in the Rukunegara and the NEP. This ideology helped legitimize Malay empowerment by the differentiation of Malays from non-Malays through an ethnic discourse using Islam, language, and culture as markers of Malay distinctiveness. The growth of the state’s presence increased the power of the ruling politicians and the bureaucracy; the development of patronage networks became an important feature of post-colonial Malaysian society. This situation gave rise to what has come to be known as “money politics” — the close relationship between business and politics especially in the channelling of state economic resources and protection to individuals, groups, and private companies, particularly those associated with the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the dominant party representing Malay interests in the National Alliance government. The struggle for political and economic power in the context of growing politics and business entwinement led to increasing differences 5 within the Malay community, resulting in the UMNO split of 1987. Growing differences over the NEP ideology within the Malay political leadership also contributed to this political discord. By the late 1980s, doubts over the patronage policy appeared within the Mahathir government where, in line with a government push for Malay capitalists’ independence from the state, there was significant policy shift away from direct state sponsorship of Malay business interests (Khoo 1992, pp. 65–67). This shift created tensions and strains within the Malay leadership as well as resulted in an oscillation between more liberal and more protectionist government policies (Goh 1998, pp. 173–79). Another divisive factor was the resurgence of Islam in the early 1980s. The pan-Islamic revival after the Iranian revolution fragmented the Malay community. In the 1970s, Islam was taken as a unifying and to an extent a “primordial” essence of Malay identity. In the 1980s, Islam had become

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a globally widespread religious struggle that could no longer be contained within the domain of Malay nationalism. The Malaysian government and UMNO, the very powers supposed to safeguard Malay interests, were increasingly challenged by the Muslim community for not being Islamic enough. Islamic groups have challenged the Malaysian Constitution, the NEP philosophy that grants a privileged position to the Malays over others, and even Malay culture (adat) as un-Islamic (Hussin Mutalib 1990; Jomo and Ahmad Shabery Cheek 1992). Another contributing factor to the fragmentation of the Malay community is a growing disaffection among the Malay “middle-class” towards the government’s modernist but undemocratic practices. Inevitably, the above actions had consequences for existing Malay identity. Anomalies in the official definition of Malay identity have been noted (Kessler 1992; Kahn 1992). For instance, it has been pointed out that there are now Muslim Malays — such as immigrants from Aceh in Indonesia — who are not bumiputeras, and that there are Malay bumiputeras who are not Muslims — such as certain orang asli (aboriginal groups) and the Thai minorities (Kessler 1992, p. 139). Besides the incoherence in the current official definition of Malay identity, there is also a trend in the reconstructions of Malay identity to play down the role of Islam while emphasizing the symbols of “traditional” Malay culture such as aspects of Malay court life and aristocracy (Kahn 1992, p. 164; Kessler 1992). Given the differentiations in society by the late 1980s, and the growing economy, the Malay fragmentation created a space for other ethnic groups to assert their specific interests and to challenge the government on grounds ranging from civil liberties to the NEP itself (Lim and Chee 1984). It was within this context that the new National Vision 2020 was launched in 1991. Vision 2020: Grand Narrative of Modernity

Vision 2020 was launched in February 1991, at the height of Malaysian economic confidence. It was part of a period of intense development, industrialization, and urbanization beginning in the late 1980s. It is not surprising, therefore, that Vision 2020 expects Malaysia to achieve the status of an “industrialized” country by 2020 by accelerating

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industrialization and modernization. Launched by Prime Minister Mahathir in a speech entitled “Malaysia: The Way Forward”, Vision 2020 sets twin goals: it aspires for the development of a competitive, scientifically and technologically proficient economy with strong industrial links; and it envisions the forging of a culturally and morally 6 excellent Malaysia. There was also a lessened emphasis on ethnic redistributive goals, 7 when compared with the NEP. Importantly, Vision 2020’s explicit commitment to the forging of a “Malaysian Nation” (Bangsa Malaysia) transcending ethnic identities and loyalties greatly encouraged the nonMalays, who responded enthusiastically to the more open ethnic reimagining of the nation. Inevitably, there was a concomitant relaxation of the definition of Malay identity as the nation and Malay-ness as entwined categories. However, while the ethnic redistribution goal has been de-emphasized, it was by no means abandoned. For example, while the shift to liberalize economic policies appeared to mean a declining emphasis on the NEP’s distributional goals, whenever foreign capital was seen to jeopardize the interests of Malay capital, the government quickly reacted by re-imposing restrictions (Goh 1998, pp. 175–77). Diverging Cultural Identities

Since the launch of Vision 2020, a series of promotions via the local media and government campaigns have attempted to convince Malaysians that Malaysia’s rapid economic growth and dramatic urban transformation signal the dawn of a new and vibrant era. Perhaps the most notable of these attempts was the decision to play the National Anthem — the Negaraku — to a faster tempo during the 1993 National Day Parade. The decision to increase the tempo was made by the Parliamentary Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Department, who specifically sought to explain the decision in terms of keeping up with the nation’s changing aspirations (Star, 5 April 1993, p. 1). Along with the preoccupation with the themes of “change” and “newness”, the dominant political parties started re-tooling ethnic identities in response to the country’s aspiration for modernity. Some time in 1992, Dr Mahathir, the Prime Minister himself, started the ball rolling by introducing and popularizing the use of the term Melayu Baru

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(the “New Malay”). The term refers to a Malay who has experienced both mental and cultural reformation and now possesses “a culture suitable to the modern period, capable of meeting all the challenges, able to compete without assistance, learned and knowledgeable, sophisticated, honest, disciplined, trustworthy and competent” (Khoo 1995, p. 335). In a speech delivered in the 1992 UMNO General Assembly, Dr Mahathir reiterated that while the “new culture of the Melayu Baru can be ‘ours’”, “we must raise our effort to make ourselves into people who are able to take their appropriate place in this modern world” (quoted in Khoo 1995, p. 335). Clearly, the “New Malay” idea indicates an anxiety over the future of Malay culture within the nationstate’s modernist aspirations. This culturalist revamp of Malay-ness gained even wider attention when members of a dominant faction within UMNO, headed by (the now deposed former Deputy Prime Minister) Anwar Ibrahim, who see themselves as archetypal “New Malays”, decided to call themselves the Wawasan (Vision) team during the 1993 party 9 elections. The claiming of “new” cultural virtues is accompanied by the strong evocation of tradition. It has been argued that this “evocation” should not be accepted as the reproduction of pre-existing traits, but as artifices fashioned from customary or antique elements which are essentially new and contemporary (Kessler 1992, pp. 134, 140). These reworkings of tradition thus can be read as expressions of anxiety over the loss of tradition in the face of modernity. One manifestation of this fear is romanticization of kampung (village) culture. This nostalgia can perhaps be better put in perspective if we consider that rapid Malay urbanization has seen the emptying of villages as Malays are pushed into cities under various government programmes.10 While Malay ruralism was seen as somewhat “backward” and in need of change during the early independence era, this current, largely urbanoriginated imaginary is “rediscovering” the rich cultural tradition of the kampung. A noticeable greater appreciation of kampung culture, for example has been noted in recent Malaysian literature (Banks 1987). The government also contributed to this mood for a greater appreciation of the kampung by launching the national Kampungku (My Village) project in 1991 that designated certain traditional Malay villages for

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preservation in order to showcase them as living “museums”; the younger generation then will know how their ancestors lived. As the construction of Malay-ness is predicated on the construction of its “others”, it is not surprising that the repositioning of Malay identity within UMNO resonated with the other partners in the National Alliance who endorsed the construction of a series of other “new” identities which, 11 they argued, best suited the new era. The Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) called for the realization of a Bangsa Malaysia (Malaysian race) and opened its membership to all Malaysians of “Chinese origin”, even those bearing non-Chinese names (Star, 1 March 1993 and 16 January 1994). The MCA’s “liberalization” of its party membership policy was in step with UMNO’s liberalization of its Malayonly membership ruling, when it extended party membership to certain non-Malay and non-Muslim groups, such as the Thais in the north of peninsular Malaysia and bumiputera groups in Sabah around this 12 period. This change in membership policy drew a swift response from the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), which announced that they had always been opened to all Malaysians of “Indian ancestry”. The other remaining partner in the National Alliance, the Gerakan party, responded by launching in November 1993 its own vision of the “New Malaysian”. This fervour among the dominant political parties to rework ethnic identities in response to the country’s aspirations to modernity sparked off similar moves among some minority groups. In particular, a number of communities made claims for bumiputera status. The two leading claimants were the Portuguese-Eurasians and the Baba-Nyonya, or Straitsborn Chinese communities from Melaka.13 In 1993, they made strong claims on the bumiputera status on the grounds of their long historical presence in Melaka, the symbolic birthplace of Malay civilization in the fifteenth century, and that they were similar to the Malays in terms of culture, tradition, and language. In addition, they called upon UMNO 14 to allow them to join as party members. The discourses around the changing notions of ethnicity and modernity are not merely abstract imaginings but can have a materiality as these discourses are appropriated by the state and a host of urban actors, and then inscribed onto modern urban built forms in the pursuit of diverse notions of Malaysia.

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Concrete Modernities

Malaysia’s continuing rapid economic growth in the early 1990s has, among other things, dramatically affected the urban skyline. Of course, changes in Malaysia’s cityscapes have an earlier history. In the early 1980s, the government embarked on a spending spree on public infrastructure projects, resulting in a construction boom and urban transformations. However, my point of departure is the more recent 1990’s transformations. Malaysian urban growth prior to the late-1980s was most immediately related to the need to expand Malaysia’s heavy industry and high-technology resources. Construction in the early 1990s took a somewhat different turn, evidenced by the more recent fetish for height and magnitude: This brings us to the national obsession with the tallest, the biggest, the longest and the widest. In these urban centres, we have witnessed the construction of, for instance, the tallest tower, the highest building, the biggest shopping mall, the longest bridge, etc. All these modern constructions are proudly considered by the country’s leadership as physical reminders of the country’s tremendous achievements. (Aliran Monthly 15, no. 3 [1995]: 5)

The first of these successful constructions was the construction of the 421-metre tall Kuala Lumpur Tower, a M$270-million joint venture between Syarikat Telekom Malaysia Berhad (the semi-privatized, national telecommunications company) and a German company, completed in 1995. Then came the construction of the National Science Centre by the Public Works Department, which was said to be the country’s “truly intelligent building” (Star, 3 December 1993). The ultimate pride in this spate of constructions is the 1,457 feet, 88-storey Petronas Tower. Owned by the national oil corporation and designed by Cesar Pelli, the Argentine-born, New York–based architect who designed London’s Canary Wharf and the Financial Center in New York. The Petronas Tower has twin stainless steel and glass-clad peaks linked by a bridge at the forty-fourth floor. Though globally modern, there also is much attention paid to “traditional” Islamic motifs on the external design of the towers, and Islamic geometric principles of superimposed squares and circles in the internal floor design that are said to reflect the building’s cultural and regional identity. By balancing state-of-the-art facilities with

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careful details of Islamic tradition, the building is officially presented as a “true embodiment of the tradition and future of Malaysia” and a “new global symbol for the city and the nation” (Pelli 1995, p. 35; also see Glancey 1994, pp. 3–4). Amid such new constructions, there also is the emergence of a peculiar modernized form in Malaysian urban centres: the countless reproduction of miniature or life-sized models of the Malay kampung (village) house in public spaces and the incorporation of motifs of kampung architecture, especially the funicular roof and window designs, 15 in modern urban built forms. Indeed, the popular acceptance of the trappings from this vernacular architecture prompted the Malaysian Institute of Architects (MIA) to submit a proposal to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government in 1993 recommending a new style of township, the Kampung-minium. According to the president of the MIA, “Kampung-minium [is] coined from the words kampung and condominium [and] will incorporate the best of the kampung and condo living. In other words the best of the East and the West” (Star Business, 23 February 1993). Since then, the Kampung-minium concept has been 16 applied to various condominia developments in the country. This demonstrates that the kampung cultural imaginary in the reworking of Malay identity is not merely nostalgic, but is shaping a modern discourse on urban built forms and reconstituting the Malaysian city as this discourse is appropriated from state-sponsored forms of modernization by urban actors with their own agenda. Despite the idealized view of kampung living in the concept of the Kampung-minium, there is a noticeable ambivalence towards the actual village house situated in urban centres. Ironically, villages in urban centres are considered an eyesore and out of keeping with Malaysia’s modern aspirations. Consequently, urban kampung have been destroyed at an incessant rate in the name of development and national pride. This ambivalence towards the kampung house is reflected in the outward appearance of the “traditional” house in the urban arena. Such showpieces are elegantly built, sanitized, and modernized. This gap between their reality and the representation of the village house is noticeable if one looks at the many existing rural kampung around the country. Many existing rural houses are architecturally eclectic — even messy — and

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are often dilapidated and lack modern facilities. The model kampung house has been romantically reconstructed in a way that makes it acceptable for modern consumption. These series of unprecedented changes in the 1990s have a direct impact at the ground level as state governments assiduously draft their own developmental plans in line with the national vision of progress. A case study of a local conflict over urban development in the city of Georgetown, Penang, shows the degree to which the politics around the notions of ethnicity, class, and modernity are intricately connected to the struggle over the new material circumstances of Malaysian cities. Such politics not only determine the position of the urban actors but also effectively modify the cityscape changes. The Case of Penang

Penang’s rapid and continued economic growth has been a critical factor for the construction industry. Its transforming urban landscape is the result of an intersection of economic growth with a number of political and cultural interests, one of them being the state government’s interest. Through its component bodies and sphere of influence, the state encouraged the development of infrastructure to support Penang’s industrial, tourism, and cultural sectors. This resulted in a number of (competing) coalitions between private capital, the state, and community groups. The heritage movement provides a case in point. Originally initiated by a privileged group of Penangites opposed to the wholesale redevelopment of Georgetown, the notion of “heritage” inevitably became interlocked with discourses of ethnicity, class, and modernity as they are put to new and different uses by state bodies, federal agencies, capitalists, and local community groups. These competing visions are representative of the various economic, political, and cultural imperatives held by diverse groups as they respond to the push to modernize Penang. Penang is as one of the most urbanized states in Malaysia with urbanization rates reaching 80 per cent in 1995 (Ali Abu Hassan 1994, p. 4). The hub of Penang’s development takes place mainly on the island on which Georgetown is located. While there is much pressure on the island’s land utilization, unlike other island cities such as Singapore, Georgetown’s skyline has not changed much since British colonial days.

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This retention of older buildings results from the majority of the buildings in the urban core being protected under the Rent Control Act, 1966, 17 which applies to all buildings built before 1 February 1948. The Act limits the rents of pre-war buildings and stipulates that landlords must apply to a Rent Tribunal for permission for redevelopment. Consequently, much of Penang’s development occurs on the outer periphery of the urban core. There, is however, a federal move to phase out the Act by 2000. The Gerakan Party has ruled Penang without interruption since first coming into power in 1969 as an opposition political party. In 1972, Gerakan switched political affiliations to become a member of the National Alliance. The Chief Minister’s position has always been held by a Chinese Malaysian, the only West Malaysian state to be administered by non-Malays. This situation has been possible due to 18 the state’s Chinese majority. The Chinese also control much of the state’s economic power. A state report reveals that in 1989, Chinese owned 49.4 per cent of total share of capital in Penang’s corporate sector while Malays only owned 2.1 per cent (ISIS and Penang Development Corporation 1991, pp. 2– 22 and table 2.8). Penang thus falls significantly behind in achieving the NEP’s goals. There is much pressure on the state government to speed up the commercialization and urbanization of the Malays. Adding to this pressure are the new goals of the New Development Policy (NDP), which aims for the rapid development of an active bumiputera commercial-industrial community. The push for greater Malay participation comes from the Penang branch of UMNO and the federal government. Penang UMNO has frequently voiced its concern that Malays should not be left out of the state’s development, and UMNO state politicians have used their better access to powerful federal authorities to push for various special programmes to help Malays catch up with the non-Malays. It is no coincidence that early 1990s saw greater involvement of federal agencies in Penang’s urban development. The resulting tension between the state and the federal governments constitutes a significant dimension of contemporary Penang urban politics. In November 1990, Penang became the first state in the country to

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formulate and unveil its own strategic development plan in line with the national “Vision 2020”. “Penang into the 21st Century” offers a vision of Penang as a fully industrialized and culturalized city, and wants to establish Penang as a manufacturing, tourism, business, education, professional services, transportation and technology centre, as well as a hub for culture and the arts (Koh 1994; Kang 1994; Boonler 1994). As noted, the state government’s goals brought about an intensification of new building construction in the early 1990s. What distinguished this more recent construction boom is an emphasis on high-rise construction, epitomized by the prominence of the condominium, which has come to symbolize modern living. Since the Rent Control Act was still in force, these developments took place largely on Georgetown’s periphery, such as the Pulau Tikus area and the larger metropolitan region where there was land not subject to the Rent Control Act. Property developers were most aggressive in constructing and promoting the condominium. Pervasive government control of the property development industry posed a major hindrance to developers’ pursuits. Forging connections with important political figures is an effective way of bypassing regulation and it is common for property developers to have partners who are ex-senior federal government officials, members of royalty or ex-senior staff of local councils.19 Developers were not the only ones with distinctive material interests in urban Penang. Some state and federal agencies were also involved in condominium construction. For instance, the Penang Development Corporation, a state statutory board, ventured into the condominiumconstruction game, despite its role as a provider of low-cost housing. Another agency involved was the Penang Regional Development Authority (PERDA), a federal statutory body under the Ministry of Land and Regional Development created in 1983 to redress the developmental imbalances between urban and rural Penang. While PERDA’s original focus was on rural development, it increasingly moved into urban development. In 1993, PERDA constructed what it called the “country’s first low-cost apartments” in the southern metropolitan town of Teluk Kumbar. Since PERDA is a federal authority associated with the promotion of Malay interests in Penang, this testified to the

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federal desire that Penang’s Malay community be able to afford apartments. There were also significant developments of tourism and leisurerelated infrastructure development. The importance of the tourism industry, together with the promotion of Penang as a “resort environment” in order to attract skilled workers, led to a surge in the level of investment in hotels and leisure resorts. Facilitated by economic deregulation at the national level, which allowed total foreign capital ownership in hotels and tourism related projects, Taiwanese, Hong Kong, Singaporean, Indonesian, and American capital entered into the hotel development area. Some condemned Penang’s construction frenzy. One influential group was the Penang Heritage Trust (PHT), who began to lobby for the preservation of “heritage” buildings in old Georgetown. The PHT was formed in 1985 to preserve architectural and cultural heritage in the wake of widespread demolition by property developers. Comprised largely of professionals and élite members of Penang society, the PHT has been successful in winning a level of government sponsorship where its endeavours have corresponded with the state’s plan to promote the heritage and cultural industry. The PHT was the force behind the identification of the central heritage area of Penang (the Acheen Street– Armenian Street enclave). Significantly, this area has a historical Malay urban legacy. As part of this project, the PHT restored a historic building in the area — the Syed Alatas Mansion built in the 1880s — and turned it into a Heritage Training Centre to teach skills on traditional building skills. Syed Mohamed Alatas, the owner of the mansion, was the leader of a Muslim society that teamed up with the dominant Chinese secret society in the Penang Riots of 1867. The riots saw two Chinese secret societies, each with its own Muslim society as an ally, fight for the control of Georgetown. Syed Mohammed Alatas also married the daughter of the leader of his Chinese ally. While the preservation of the locality is seemingly motivated by the state’s interests in promoting tourism, the significance of Malay identity in this project implies that it is as much shaped by the larger nation-building concerns. Given Penang’s need to prove its commitment to the national project of modernity, the conservation of the Malay precinct is symbolic of the state’s and urban

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élite’s desire to firmly place Malay-ness as part of Penang’s cultural life, which is largely Chinese-dominated. UMNO politicians, Malay businessmen, and community leaders are not left out in this effort to landmark the Penang Malay presence. They are responsible for the conservation of the Acheen Street Mosque built in 1808 within this heritage precinct. The group established a committee known as the Acheen Street Malay Mosque Heritage Committee Association in order to promote the history of the area as a centre of Malay academics, writers, and prominent traders during the 1920s and 1930s and to restore the “glory” of the street, and also lobby for the continued existence of Malay communities in the centre of Georgetown (New Straits Times [City Extra], 26 May 1993). The project was largely financed by the Penang UMNO branch and the public enterprise, PERNAS (Perusahaan Nasional, the National Corporation), but the state and federal governments also contributed. The conserved area houses an art gallery, mini museum, and a pilgrimage office. These struggles had immediate repercussions on the spatial and cultural conditions in the Pulau Tikus (literally “mouse island”) area, a particularly fast-developing neighbourhood in Georgetown. Apart from less congestion — the result of being in the outer periphery of the citylimits, with significantly fewer buildings subject to the Rent Control Act — Pulau Tikus also offers panoramic views. All these made Pulau Tikus an attractive area to developers. Pulau Tikus — the New Address

Pulau Tikus has been a middle and upper-middle class residential town since the 1920s. Until the 1970s, the area consisted largely of semidetached and terrace houses, large “country bungalows” and commercial low-rises. The construction boom in the early 1980s saw the beginning of several high-rise residential projects there. It was only during the last property boom that began around 1989 that a large number of upmarket condominia and apartments sprang up in the area. The first apartment project in Penang — the Sunrise Tower — was built in Pulau Tikus. By 1993, Pulau Tikus was famous for two rows of prestigious condominia along the shoreline of Gurney Drive (epitomized by the prestigious No. 1, Persiaran Gurney); and Cantonment Road,

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featuring the Mediterranean-style Cascadia project. The construction of high-rise commercial and retail commercial complexes also mushroomed, signifying a growing preference on the part of business to relocate there. One of the largest of these commercial projects was an “integrated development” called Midlands-One-Stop-Centre, which included a retail complex, a water-theme park, hotel, and apartment towers. This project also marks the first privatization of land belonging to Penang City Council. The Roman Catholic Church, one of the largest landowners in the area, was one of the earliest non-commercial entities in Pulau Tikus to realize the financial potential of urban development, and in 1980s, sold an 18.68-hectare seminary site to a local private development company. What has all this development meant for the existing residents of Pulau Tikus? Communities in the Pulau Tikus Area

Pulau Tikus has been the locale for a variety of communities: Serani or 20 Eurasians, Burmese, Indians, Chinese, as well as Malays of South Indian, Arabic, and Javanese descent. There are pockets of “urban kampung” in Pulau Tikus, but they are slowly going out of existence. The ongoing reconfiguration of the area into an exclusive domain transpires not only through the activities of developers but also through recent endeavours among Pulau Tikus’s wealthy, long-term residents. This was evident in the residents’ protest over the seemingly innocuous renaming of Scott Road (named after the English businessman, James Scott, a friend of Francis Light, the founder of Penang) — an exclusive enclave of bungalow units — by the Penang City Council in 1990 as D.S. Ramanathan Road, after the deceased second mayor of Georgetown. New road signs put up by the Council were vandalized, whitewashed over, and pulled down. By 1993 at least twenty road signs had to be replaced (New Straits Times, 8 August 1993). This spate of vandalism coincided with strong protests from wealthy residents, including residents of the nearby streets of Scott Avenue and Scott Crescent. The chairman of the protest panel said: “Ramanathan is relatively unknown to the people in Scott Road. Moreover, areas with a proliferation of British names should be maintained to sustain their uniqueness; like Brown,

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Park, Rose, Briggs, and Wright [which are roads in the Scott Road vicinity]” (New Straits Times, 14 August 1993). Residents continued to use “Scott Road” as their postal addresses and deliberately wrote the words “Scott Road” on their letterboxes, in defiance of the Council’s decision. Clearly, the name symbolized the uniqueness of the British legacy in the area, and the residents wanted to maintain this prestigious identity. But the actions of the Scott Road residents had wider repercussions. As Ramanathan was a member of the MIC (which he joined after the Labour Party that he headed was banned), the continued defacing of the D.S. Ramanathan Road signs led members of the Penang branch of the MIC to organize a gotong-royong (Malay: community effort) clean-up of the road sign as a sign of protest (New Straits Times, 28 August 1993). In the midst of this controversy, the Penang Malay Association, Pemenang (Malay: “winner”), announced that it had acquired a new headquarters and activity centre on Cantonment Road in Pulau Tikus at a cost of M$600,000. According to the Association’s president, the purchase of the building was a step towards realizing the aspiration to see more Malay land ownership in Georgetown (New Straits Times [City Extra], 21 September 1993), especially as it transpired in fashionable Pulau Tikus — a mark of distinction for the Penang Malay community. Pemenang is a community organization and heavily involved in promoting Malay economic participation and cultural representation. In 1992, it called on the state government to set up a Malay Cultural, Customs and Regalia Council and to construct a Balai Istiadat (Ceremonial Centre) to revive “traditional Malay culture and ceremonial activities” (New Straits Times, 29 August 1992). A Ceremonial Centre was necessary as Malays were left out in the state’s year-round cultural programmes, which were heavily biased towards Chinese cultural activities. At the same time, the Association also requested the state government to name roads after famous Penang Malay personalities, including the founder members of the Association. While this struggle to maintain prestige and difference continues, alongside it another struggle of graver consequence took place. This was over the history, life, and future of a community of Eurasian people who became reluctant participants in the battle over urban space. I now

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examine how the reconstruction of the Portuguese-Eurasian identity within the context of Malaysian identity politics was played out within a local conflict in Pulau Tikus. The politics around the notions of Malayness, class, and modernity, not only determined the positions between the players in the conflict but also effectively modified the intended cityscape plans. Kampung Serani: History and Heritage

Kampung Serani was an “urban village” on a 4.8-acre site located in Pulau Tikus consisting of about 150 working-class residents who were 21 predominantly Eurasians. The residents strongly identified themselves as Portuguese-Eurasians although people of various ethnic origins could be found among their ancestors. Apart from the Eurasians, there were a large number of Indian Catholic sub-tenants residing in the kampung and a Chinese Catholic family. Title to the land is registered at the local Land Office under the name of the Titular Catholic Bishop of Penang. The residents were tenants of the Church. The village consisted of thirteen houses (of which the Church owned three), two sheds, a coffin-making company, and a building known as “Noah’s Ark”. The kampung houses were an assortment of wooden houses with zinc roofs. Of the structures in Kampung Serani, Noah’s Ark was the largest, but also the most dilapidated. A timber structure with a masonry foundation, raised from the ground like a traditional Malay house, it was named Noah’s Ark because it was said to resemble a ship. While there are no written historical records regarding the building, it is popularly believed that it was built over a hundred years ago by the then Pulau Tikus parish priest and that it served as the first “village school” in Pulau Tikus (Sibert, n.d.).22 In 1980, the Church entered into a joint venture with a local property development company to convert the village land into shop-houses and terrace houses. However, the severe mid-1980s recession delayed this redevelopment. It was only in 1992 that redevelopment re-commenced. By this time the company had been taken over by an Indonesian-domestic joint-venture capital company, and — in line with the then construction trends — the development was redefined as a commercial centre and a condominium project.

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The Church’s decision to form a joint venture with a private developer to redevelop this site should not be interpreted as motivated by simple greed. The Church faced two additional pressures that contributed to the redevelopment decision. First, as a large landowner in Penang, the Church had good cause to fear the land acquisition powers under the 23 National Land Acquisition Act (1960). The second pressure arose directly from the pro-modernizing aspirations of Malaysians. The vernacular “non-modern” enclave of Kampung Serani posed an unhappy contrast to the adjoining new, “modern” high-rise projects. The Church shared in this widespread negative assessment, and cited the “dilapidated” and “eye-sore” condition of the buildings in the “lallang-covered” (weedgrown) kampung as reasons in favour of redevelopment. The Church’s decision may well have been a pre-emptive move to prevent compulsory redevelopment. Of course, before any construction activities could proceed, the buildings of Kampung Serani had to be demolished and its inhabitants moved out. Consequently, it was at this time that the conflict between the residents, the Church, and the developer escalated. The crux of the tussle lay in the close historical ties between the villagers and the Roman Catholic Church. The Kampung Serani Eurasian community were said to have descended from a group of PortugueseEurasian migrants who arrived in Penang with some Portuguese priests in the early 1800s from the island of Phuket, in Thailand (Chong 1975, p. 118; Teixeira 1963, p. 327; Augustine 1981, p. 10; Lee 1963, p. 46). Village life had centred on the Church of the Immaculate Conception, built in 1811, and located at the edge of the kampung. The Church had been responsible for the administration of the kampung land. As the pioneer settlement of Portuguese-Eurasians, the village was the cultural nucleus of this ethnic group. Not surprisingly, the redevelopment plans met with strong opposition from residents. They began by reclaiming the Portuguese-Eurasian cultural heritage and historic Catholic identity of Kampung Serani — centring on Noah’s Ark, especially — in order to demand compensatory low-cost housing from the Church and developer. Noah’s Ark, they argued, was also part of Penang’s history as many older Penangites, even those not Eurasian, had received their early education there. With this cumulative heritage, the residents contended that the Church had a moral responsibility to

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provide alternative accommodation. In the midst of negotiations, the Penang Eurasian Association (PEA), whose leaders are élite members of the community (none of whom lived in Kampung Serani), stepped in to assume the role of mediator in the conflict. Élite Identity Construction

We need to turn to the larger national context within which the current redefinition of Portuguese-Eurasian identity is occurring to understand how the PEA used arguments that also laid claim to Malay-ness to win a heritage house as compensation from the Church and the developer, even while the residents lost out in their demands for compensatory housing in the Kampung Serani conflict. The PEA was set up in 1919, but has undergone major changes in its vision for the Eurasian community. From the 1980s, there has been an increasing number of university graduates and professionals on the PEA executive committee. With “élite” Eurasians as its leaders, the PEA has increasingly legitimized its position as the guardian of Eurasian culture and identity made possible by political developments in Malaysia in recent years. In 1984 the Malaysian government opened the Amanah Saham Nasional (ASN), a national unit trust scheme, to Portuguese-Eurasians. The ASN is a unit trust investment scheme established under the NEP to promote the distribution of corporate wealth among the Malay/ bumiputera groups. The Portuguese-Eurasian “eligibility” to the privileged ASN scheme was made possible due to the manœuvres of an élite section of the Eurasian community in the early 1980s. At that moment, the Thai community, who are a non-Malay, largely Buddhist, and non-bumiputera group found largely in states along the Malaysian-Thai border, were given access to the ASN investment 24 scheme. The opening up of the Malay/bumiputera-only ASN scheme to the Thais was unavoidably a sign of liberalization in the official definition of the Malay and bumiputera identities. This action provoked a response from the Eurasians, who share similarities with the Thai community. Both minority groups are known to practise a mixture of Thai/Eurasian and Malay customs and language (Nagata 1979, p. 50).

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Early descriptions of Eurasians in the northern states of Kedah and Penang who immigrated from Phuket, have noted that they spoke a mixture of Malay, Siamese, and Portuguese (Augustine 1981, p. 10; Chong 1975, p. 123). Sections of the northern Eurasian community as well as the leadership from the Portuguese-Eurasian Settlement in Melaka, who were engaged in claiming genealogical, cultural, and linguistic closeness to the Malays due to the community’s historic association with Melaka as part of a long-standing fight to preserve the Melakan Portuguese Settlement, joined hands to lobby the government at both the state and federal levels to seek this privilege (Sta Maria 1982; Chan 1983; Sarkissian 1997). The question arises as to why the government chose to open a privileged sphere to the Portuguese-Eurasians (and the Thais). One of the central problems in Malaysian society since the 1980s, as I earlier noted, has been the political fragmentation of the Malay leadership and community. The UMNO party split; the resurgence of Islamic revivalist movements; the growing discontented Malay middle class: they all contributed to a fractious political climate and anomalies in the official definition of Malay/bumiputera identity. The emergence of a major Malay political opposition coupled with the splintering of the Malay community, significantly, created an urgent need for the government to win supporters. One strategic way for the government to gain clear advantage over its rivals was to therefore to increase the pool of “Malay” supporters by accepting new members from selected minority groups which could demonstrate a cultural, social, and linguistic affinity with the Malays.25 The subtle message was also that there are other groups in the country to whom the government could extend its patronage, if the Malays were not duly loyal to the government. Admission to the ASN scheme was thus an important symbol of a community’s patronage by the government, and this admission not only encouraged Portuguese-Eurasians to make more vocal claims to their supposed Malay-ness, but also directly empowered further self-identity 26 reinforcement by the various Eurasian Associations. In order to qualify for the ASN, individual Portuguese-Eurasians must be able to prove their Portuguese descent. Entry to the scheme is regulated by a set of bureaucratic stipulations, one of which gives the power to vet applications

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to the various Eurasian Associations in each state. The various Eurasian Associations thus have gained increased legitimacy as the guardians of Portuguese-Eurasian culture and identity. Parallel to these national developments, the PEA leaders have been actively engaged in constructing a Eurasian history and culture and identity centred on their Portuguese heritage in spite of the heterogeneous nature of Eurasians in Penang. For example, in 1991 the Association established a community centre called Kaza Eurasian in a rented building, marking the first time ever the PEA had established a premise for its activities. One of the first activities offered at the community centre was a Kristang language class, introduced to encourage the learning of the 28 Portuguese patois. This was a peculiar move as Kristang is the mother tongue of the Melakan Portuguese-Eurasians and is not spoken in Penang. The community centre also organized a programme to send PenangEurasian youths to Melaka specifically to learn “traditional Portuguese” 29 cultural songs and dances. It was within this larger context of identitarian politics and identity reconstructions that the Association assumed the role of mediator in the Kampung Serani conflict in 1991. Prior to this, the PEA already had a vested interest in the Pulau Tikus area. In 1988, the Association made a formal request to the Penang state government to rename three roads in the Kampung Serani vicinity after prominent members of the early Portuguese-Eurasian community. Given the scramble by other community groups to maintain or acquire concrete expressions of their presence in Pulau Tikus, it is likely that the PEA seized the opportunity offered to ensure a continued expression of Eurasian cultural identity when invited by the kampung residents to act as their mediators. In the course of their mediation, the PEA leaders (none of whom lived in the village) reworked the residents’ discourses in two ways. Firstly, in highlighting the cultural significance of the Noah’s Ark building, the leaders asserted a distinct Eurasian contribution to modern education in Malaysia by claiming that Eurasians formed the majority of students in the Noah’s Ark school as well as predominated among the earliest school teachers in the country. Secondly, they injected arguments on the basic Malay-ness of Eurasians by stressing that the medium of instruction used in the early days of the school was Malay, and that the

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ancestry of the village’s community could be traced to the earliest Portuguese-Eurasian community in Melaka — they were the Eurasians who fled Dutch persecution in Melaka, who then settled in Celebes, moved to Phuket, and finally came to Pulau Tikus. It is not difficult to 30 see that a construction of Eurasians as Malay-speaking was being made. In addition, the PEA’s effort to evoke Melaka as the residents’ ancestral home was a means to validate its claims that Penang’s Portuguese-Eurasian heritage is inherently part Malay by virtue of its connection to the Melakan community. While historically, this link is very tenuous, it makes sense in the light of contemporary identity politics in Malaysia, giving a basis to a claim to indigeneity or Malay-ness. In fact, the PEA leaders coined the term Luzo-Malay to refer to themselves. Although initially motivated by a desire to preserve the historic Noah’s Ark, the PEA’s foremost concern — the recognition of PortugueseEurasian cultural heritage and identity — was easily transferred to, and accommodated by, the promise of a new “heritage” house as a simulation of the old Noah’s Ark building. Within the context of Penang’s modernist aspirations, the professional and affluent PEA leaders probably felt a degree of ambivalence towards the dilapidated, original wooden building. The opportunity to “landmark” Eurasian identity and culture within a “modern” development would have been doubly attractive to the PEA leaders. As it became obvious that the PEA had their own agenda, a group of kampung dwellers began to oppose them.31 In order to sustain their authority as the sole legitimate Eurasian representative, the PEA used its regulatory ability to determine Eurasian identity to disenfranchize the kampung residents of their negotiation rights by discrediting the role of their spokesperson, an ethnic Indian married to a Eurasian woman, on the grounds that he was not Eurasian. Through a series of complex negotiation and public campaigns, the PEA pressurized the Church and developer to give in to their demands for a contemporary “heritage” house to showpiece Eurasian culture and 32 identity, while the residents were evicted. As a supplier of high-cost condominia, the developer tolerated the PEA’s demand because it was in keeping with the image of a prestigious condominium-cumcommercial project. A modern heritage house could blend in with a

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modern building as such “heritage” structures had become a vogue in urban Penang. In contrast, the inclusion of low-cost flats on the redeveloped kampung site would affect the prestige of the project, as it was the norm among developers to separate high-cost condominia from medium- and low-cost developments to symbolize exclusivity. While there were shared values between the developer and the upper-middle class PEA leaders in their conceptions of a modern lifestyle, there were contrasting conceptions of urban space between the developer and the kampung residents. Conclusion

This chapter interprets Malaysian modernity as part of a broader set of contemporary political, social, and cultural transformations with nationalist or nation-building dimensions. The Malaysian state uses political ideology to legitimize itself and as part of a social control programme. The quest to realize nationalist objectives uses an ethnic differentiation that arbitrarily and selectively liberates/protects or contains/dominates particular individuals/groups, creating a situation where ethnic-cultural and class hierarchies in society are more the direct products of state practices of social control and material production, rather than direct products of universal capitalist development. The exertion of state power is necessitated by the fluid conditions of social, political, and cultural life in post-colonial Malaysia. The turbulence began with the 1969 riots, which represented discontent among local ethnic groups, particularly the Malays, over the nationbuilding project. In response to this discontentment, a top-down project of re-imagining the nation was formulated which saw the expansionary and powerful role of the state. By the late 1980s, the ethnically determined political ideology came under the pressure of a growing economy and an increasingly differentiated society. This compelled yet another re-imagination of the nation, this time in the form of an all-encompassing view of modernity embodied in the Vision 2020, which promulgated an intensified industrialization and cultural “excellence”. Still, Vision 2020 did not abandon the prior ethnic commitment and still strongly affirm stateimplemented policies and reforms which reflect the government’s own

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vision of the future. The government’s vision, however, does not go unchallenged, and the state’s conceptions of society are challenged and reworked by different groups, producing counter-paradigms for grasping contemporary realities — counter-paradigms that are linked to the state’s own politico-culturalist desires for the nation. The result of the above was a change in the nature of the urban experience as various fractions of capital, class, and community groups struggled to derive power, wealth, and ethnic/cultural status from their positions in relation to state socio-cultural policies, so as to achieve their own specific place and culture consciousness. Such struggles gave rise to diverging ethnic identity constructions, a highly contested urban arena, and a rapidly changing cityscape with no simple convergence of a conception of the “modern” at either the state level or at the concrete conditions of everyday life. The Malaysian experience of modernity indicates that changing notions of the nation, ethnicity, and class can be central sites for the very rethinking of modernity and the ideas of the modern. And, as ambivalent as the Malaysian experience of modernity may be for its citizens, this process of “rethinking” questions any understanding of modernization that is framed within a predetermined narrative and sets of categories of modernity. How we conceive of spaces, places, and cultural identities is — as is increasingly acknowledged — a historical problem. The Malaysian experience not only unsettles the idea and the categories of the modern but also highlights conflicting principles of modernity which force us to go beyond the logic of capitalist development and instrumental rationality in conceptualizing modernity. This is recognition that while the participation in the off-ground operations of the global capitalist economy is a condition of globalization, global futures need not inevitably entail a Euro-American pattern of modernity. NOTES 1. Some theorists have treated modernity as a quasi-temporal category (Osborne 1995) to allow a definition that embraces a variety of locally distinctive modernisms across different social boundaries. The modern experience, they argue, is diverse and unified only by the play between temporal form and history. While this formulation frees modernity from having a universal content, it posits a universal temporal logic in

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which differences are understood in relational or comparative terms. 2. In 1891, “race” replaced “nationalities” in the colonial census for the Straits Settlements in Malaya (Hirschman 1987). 3. See Articles 152 and 153 of the Constitution. The privileges range from quota protections in the field of education, scholarship, training, trade, business permits, and so on. 4. The bumiputera proportion of share capital rose to 19.3 per cent in 1990 versus that of the Chinese, which grew from 27.2 per cent in 1970 to 44.9 per cent in 1990 (Gomez and Jomo 1997, p. 179). 5. The immediate cause was due to the 1987 UMNO elections in which a faction, led by Tengku Razaleigh, a former Finance Minister, opposing Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s camp contested the validity of the party elections in the courts. The courts ruled that UMNO was an illegal party because it had contravened sections of the relevant acts governing societies. The reaction of the Mahathir camp was to register a “new” UMNO political party. 6. More specifically, its main objectives were to establish a united, peaceful, integrated, and harmonious nation; a secure, confident, respected, and robust society committed to excellence; a mature, consensual, and exemplary democracy; a “fully moral” society with citizens strongly imbued with spiritual values and the highest ethical standards; a culturally, ethnically, and religiously diverse, liberal, tolerant, and unified society; a caring society with a family-based welfare system; an economically “just” society with inter-ethnic economic parity; and a “fully competitive” dynamic, robust, resilient, and prosperous economy. The policy also envisaged a more competitive, market-disciplined, outward-looking, dynamic, self-reliant, resilient, diversified, adaptive, technologically proficient, and knowledgeable human resources, low inflation, an exemplary work ethic, and a strong emphasis on quality and excellence. 7. In mid-1991, the New Development Plan 1991–2000 (NDP) replaced the NEP. The NEP is more concerned with hard-core poverty, gives more attention to the rapid development of a bumiputera commercial and industrial community, emphasizes growth led by the private rather than the public sector to achieve restructuring, and give attention to human resource development to achieve the country’s growth and distributional objectives. The NDP is a medium-term policy in line with the Outline Perspective Plan 2 and the Sixth Malaysia Plan (1991–95) while Vision 2020 provides long-term objectives. 8. There is a view that Mahathir’s coining of the term Melayu Baru was a way to offset Malay unease over the idea of a Bangsa Malaysia (Khoo 1995, pp. 342 ff.). 9. Anwar was later appointed deputy prime minister. The manner in which he was sacked in 1998 and treated while facing charges of “immoral conduct” triggered off a “reformation” movement among Anwar’s supporters. The emergence of this

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predominantly Malay-based civil movement shows that the issue of “morality” which until now has been largely the state’s prerogative has become the very ground on which state power is challenged. 10. The total urban population classified as Malays rose from 19 per cent in 1947 to almost 40 per cent in 1980. The government policy sees progress for the Malays as coming through industrialization and urbanization and various federal government agencies such as the Urban Development Authority and MARA (Council of Trust for the Indigenous People) were set to ensure the participation of Malays in these processes. 11. Malaysia’s political arena is dominated by the ruling National Alliance (Barisan Nasional), which is made up of political parties representing the three major ethnic groups of the country: UMNO (the leading party of the Alliance) for the Malays; the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) for the Chinese; the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) for the Indians; and the Gerakan — supposedly representing the various ethnic groups but with a predominant Chinese membership. 12. This UMNO move was made public by Mahathir during his response to the MCA membership policy (Star, 17 January 1994). In 1992, UMNO started a branch in the eastern state of Sabah and opened its membership to the indigenous populations, marking the first time ever that other indigenous groups apart from Malays were allowed to join UMNO. The UMNO decision to enter into Sabah politics was associated with the federal government’s attempt to wrench control from Sabah’s opposition party government. 13. The Portuguese-Eurasian history in Melaka is said to begin in the sixteenth century, while the history of the Melakan Baba-Nyonya Chinese community dates back to the fifteenth century. 14. In the case of the Baba-Nyonya community, they provided documentary proof that some members of their community had joined UMNO more than twentyfive years ago (New Straits Times, 31 March 1993). Upon this claim, the Deputy Education Minister issued a statement to highlight the fact that during the early years of independence, the first prime minister of Malaysia had offered the bumiputera status to the Baba-Nyonya Chinese community but they turned it down (Star, 4 April 1993). 15. A famous reproduction of the model kampung house is the “Mini Malaysia” project in the state of Melaka (Kahn 1992). During my fieldwork, the private company managing the now privatized historical Fort Cornwalis in Penang constructed a kampung house beside a handicraft centre and a historical gallery in front of the fort as a tourist attraction. 16. One example is the Kampung Warisan condominium project in Kuala Lumpur (see the advertisement in the Star, 24 March 1994, with the copy, “Kampung

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Warisan. Back to the good old days”). The project features 275 units within five blocks, a clubhouse, kopitiam (a common Malaysian term for coffee-shop and a combination of the Wradoct word for coffee [kopi] and the Hokkien dialect for shop [tiam]), kedai runcit (grocery shop), 24-hour security, jogging and bicycle tracks, and so on. 17. Penang state has the highest number of rent-controlled houses — 12,000 out of the country’s 39,000. Rent control, however, was lifted just prior to the publication of this book, and it remains to be seen how Georgetown’s built environment will change as a result. 18. In 1990, Penang’s population stood at 1.15 million, in which Chinese made up 52.9 per cent, Malays 34.5 per cent, Indians 11.5 per cent, and other minority groups 1.1 per cent. 19. This information is based on my study of twenty property development companies that represented about 35 per cent of the total property development companies active in Penang during 1993. 20. The British introduced the term “Eurasian” in 1820 when it became an official population category for all persons born of mixed-blood between Europeans and Asians (Nagata 1979). In 1931 the Population Census defined a Eurasian as the product of “inter-marriage” of European and Asiatic, or European and Eurasian individuals (Chan 1983, pp. 279 ff.). From 1957, census enumeration for Eurasians has used this guideline. 21. Some examples of their occupations were: administrative personnel, telephone operator, school teacher, police inspector, hairdresser, land surveyor, factory production worker, manual labourer, mechanic, and hawker. 22. The administration of this school was handed over in 1906 to the Christian Brothers who ran mission schools in Penang at that time. The school then became a branch of the St. Xavier’s School set up under the Catholic mission. As one of the earliest schools in Penang, many other Malaysians, apart from Eurasians, also received their early education at the school. Some of the students are now prominent members of the community. After independence, its mission school status led to its closure in 1961. 23. Christian churches are among the largest landowners in Georgetown. According to Goh Ban Lee (1981, p. 127), Christian bodies owned 9.1 per cent of the land in the prime Northeast District. At the time the Church made the decision to develop Kampung Serani in 1980, the state authority had the power to acquire land on its own behalf or on behalf of a corporation undertaking work of a public utility. In 1991, the state was able to further acquire private property for any use that it deems to be economically beneficial to the country’s development. 24. Some Thais are Muslims and have been already officially categorized as “Malays”

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and therefore considered to be bumiputeras. 25. According to the 1980 Population Census, there were a total of 15,435 Eurasians in Malaysia. Of these, 2,501 Eurasians were from Penang, and they form about 16 per cent of the total Eurasian population (Penang Eurasian Community Population Survey 1987 ). There are about 50,000 Thais in Malaysia (statement made by the Chairman of the Thai Association, Star, 4 October 1993). 26. There are four officially registered Eurasian Associations in the country: the PEA; the Eurasian Association of Kedah; the Eurasian Association of Selangor and the Federal Territory; and the Regidor (government-appointed leader) in the Portuguese Settlement in Melaka. 27. The initial requirement is documentary evidence in the form of a birth certificate stating that the person’s ethnicity is “Eurasian”. Then come the various discretionary processes overseen by the Eurasian Associations. Verification of Portuguese descent is done through family names and adherence to the Roman Catholic faith. The legitimacy of these applications must first be vetted by the executive committees of the various Eurasian Associations in each state and ultimately by the Regidor. 28. Kristang or Cristao, the Portuguese patois spoken by the Eurasian community in the Melakan Portuguese Settlement is known by different names, such as Papia Kristang (“Christian speech”); Bahasa Serani (“Serani language”); Bahasa Katolik (“Catholic language”); Malaqueiro, Malaquense, Malaques, and Malaquenho, dialecto Portuguese de Malacca (Baxter 1988, p. 1); or Bahasa Geragau (“shrimp language”, as they are well-known for catching a small shrimp — zool acetes). 29. Nonetheless, the absence of Portuguese rule in Penang made it even more difficult for the establishment of exclusive Portuguese descent among the Eurasians. The differentiation of Portuguese-Eurasians from other Eurasians is made somewhat arbitrarily, often with the identification of a single Portuguese past in the line of descent. However, the main characteristic differentiating Portuguese-Eurasians from Anglo-Saxon Eurasians is their Roman Catholic faith (Chan 1983, p. 276; Baxter 1988, p. 7; Chong 1975, p. 129). 30. Chong Yoke Lin observed that the older generation of Eurasians in Kampung Serani spoke Malay along with some Portuguese and Siamese (1975, p. 123). Despite this past, I found that none of the Eurasian families spoke Malay at home or with each other nor with me, although like many other Malaysians, they were conversant with the national language. 31. This group of residents were later taken to court by the Bishop and the developer (for details of cases, see Goh 1997). 32. The levels of compensation varied greatly, as each deal was negotiated individually. The residents have found alternative housing all over Penang and even moved to the mainland. A majority of them are still tenants.

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REFERENCES Ali Abu Hassan bin Sulaiman, Tan Sri Dato’. “Penang’s Economic Performance and Future Prospects: Challenges, Issues and Developments”. Paper presented at the International Conference on Penang 2002: Into the 21st Century”. Penang, Malaysia, 26–27 July 1994. Augustine, James F. Bygone Eurasia: The Life Story of the Eurasians of Malaya. Kuala Lumpur: Rajiv Printers, 1981. Banks, David J. From Class to Culture: Social Conscience in Malay Novels since Independence. New Haven: Yale University Southeast Asian Studies, 1987. Baxter, Alan N. A Grammar of Kristang (Malacca Creole Portuguese). Canberra: Research School of Pacific Affairs, Australian National University, 1988. Boonler Somchit. “Meeting Penang’s Needs for More Trained Manpower and Overcoming Skills Shortage — The PSDC Experience”. Paper presented at the International Conference on Penang 2002: Into the 21st Century, Penang, Malaysia, 26–27 July 1994. Bowie, Alasdair. Crossing the Industrial Divide: State, Society, and the Politics of Economic Transformation in Malaysia. New York: Columbia University Press, 1991. Chan Kok Eng. “The Eurasians of Melaka”. In Melaka: The Transformation of a Malay Capital c.1400–1980, vol. 2, edited by Kernial Singh Sandhu and Paul Wheatley. Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, 1983. Chang Yii Tan. “Tilting East — The Construction Problem”. In Mahathir’s Economic Policies, edited by K.S. Jomo. Kuala Lumpur: Insan, 1988. Chong Yoke Lin, Linda. “The Portuguese-Eurasians (Serani of Penang)”. In Malaysian Ethnic Relations. Penang: School of Social Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia, 1975. Feuchtwang, Stephan D.R. An Anthropological Analysis of Chinese Geomancy. Vientiane: Vithagna, 1974. Glancey, Jonathan. “Far East Reaches for the Sky”. Star, section 2, 28 July 1994. Goh Ban Lee. “Urban Landownership by Capital in Penang”. Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles, 1981. Goh Beng Lan. “Modern Dreams: An Enquiry into Power, Cultural Production and the Cityscape in Contemporary Urban Penang, Malaysia”. Ph.D. dissertation, Monash University, Australia, 1997. . “Modern Dreams: An Enquiry into Power, Cityscape Transformation and Cultural Difference in Contemporary Malaysia”. In Southeast Asian Identities: Culture and the Politics of Representation in Indonesia, edited by Joel S. Kahn. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 1998. Gomez, Edmund Terence and K.S. Jomo. Malaysia’s Political Economy: Politics, Patron-

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age and Profits. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997. Guinness, Patrick. On the Margins of Capitalism: People and Development in Mukim Plentong, Johor, Malaysia. Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1992. Hirschman, C. “The Meaning and Measurement of Ethnicity in Malaysia: An Analysis of Census Classifications”. Journal of Asian Studies 43, no. 3 (1987): 555–82. Hussin Mutalib. Islam and Ethnicity in Malay Politics. Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1990. ISIS and Penang Development Corporation. Penang Strategic Development Plan 1991– 2000. Final Report to the Penang State Government. Penang: Penang Development Corporation, 1991. Jomo, K.S. and Ahmad Shabery Cheek. “Malaysia’s Islamic Movements”. In Fragmented Vision: Culture and Politics in Contemporary Malaysia, edited by Joel S. Kahn and Francis Loh Kok Wah. Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 1992. Kahn, Joel S. “Class, Ethnicity and Diversity: Some Remarks on Malay Culture in Malaysia”. In Fragmented Vision: Culture and Politics in Contemporary Malaysia, edited by Joel S. Kahn and Francis Loh Kok Wah. Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 1992. Kang Chin Seng. “Making Penang a Centre of Education — Challenges and Opportunities in the Age of Knowledge”. Paper presented at the International Conference on Penang 2002: Into the 21st Century, Penang, Malaysia, 26–27 July 1994. Kessler, Clive S. “Archaism and Modernity: Contemporary Malay Political Culture”. In Fragmented Vision: Culture and Politics in Contemporary Malaysia. Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 1992. Khoo Boo Teik. Paradoxes of Mahathirism: An Intellectual Biography of Mahathir Mohamed. Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, 1995. Khoo Kay Jin. “The Grand Vision: Mahathir and Modernisation”. In Fragmented Vision: Culture and Politics in Contemporary Malaysia. Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 1992. Koh Tsu Koon. “Preparing for the Next Major Transformation towards an Advanced Industrialised Economy for Penang”. Keynote Address at International Conference on Penang 2002: Into the 21st Century, Penang, Malaysia, 26–27 July 1994. Lee, Felix George, Rev. The Catholic Church in Malaya. Singapore: Eastern University Press, 1963. Lim Lin Lean and Chee Peng Lim, eds. The Malaysian Economy at the Crossroads: Policy Adjustment or Structural Transformation. Kuala Lumpur: Malaysian Economic Association and Organisational Resources, 1984. Milner, Anthony C. The Invention of Politics in Colonial Malaya: Contesting National-

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ism and the Expansion of the Public Sphere. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994. Nagata, Judith. Malaysian Mosaic: Perspectives from a Poly-Ethnic Society. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1979. Osborne, Peter. The Politics of Time: Modernity and Avant-Garde. London: Verso, 1995. Pelli, Cesar. “The Petronas Towers”. Progressive Architecture, March 1995. Penang Eurasian Association. “Penang Eurasian Community Population Survey 1987”. Mimeographed. 1987. Sarkissian, Margaret. “Cultural Chameleons: Portuguese Eurasian Strategies for Survival in Post-Colonial Malaysia”. Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 28, no. 2 (1997): 249–62. Sibert, Anthony E. “Preserve ‘Noah’s Ark’”. Mimeographed. N.d. Sta Maria, Bernard. My People My Country. Malacca: Malacca Portuguese Development Centre, 1982. Teixeira, Manuel, Fr. The Portuguese Missions in Malacca and Singapore (1511–1958), vol. 3. Lisboa: Agencia Geral do Ultramar, 1963.

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CHAPTER 8

THAI MIDDLE-CLASS PRACTICE AND CONSUMPTION OF TRADITIONAL DANCE: “THAI-NESS” AND HIGH ART Paritta Chalermpow Koanantakool

The mid-1980s in Thailand saw the establishment of an export-oriented industrialization (EOI) policy in place of import-substitution industrialization (ISI). The sharp decline in agricultural commodity prices had contributed to a downturn in the economy — but the silver lining here was that Thai manufactures became more attractive on the world market (Hewison 1997). Since then, in policy and production terms, EOI has grown and strengthened, and the economic results amazing; it remains to be seen whether the 1997 Asian economic crisis is but a blip in the way Thailand has chosen to develop or whether it heralds possible new economic directions. Either way, I begin with the 1980’s growth as it is the important context that has significantly contributed towards the phenomenon of new wealth in Thailand in the past two decades. This new wealth has been accompanied by novel forms of consumption among the more affluent members of society. This ill-defined group — which cannot be divorced from the state’s economic development and related economic growth — is represented by a range of social classification: the “middle class”, the “new rich”, the “white-collar” worker, the “salaried class”, and so on. While, as some scholars note, it is analytically dubious to speak of

This chapter is reproduced from Local Cultures and the “New Asia”, edited by C.J.W.-L. Wee (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2002). This version was obtained electronically direct from the publisher on condition that copyright is not infringed. No part of this publication may be reproduced, translated, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the Institute of © 2002 Institute Southeast of Southeast Singapore Asian Asian Studies Studies, < http://www.iseas.edu.sg/pub.html >

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a single middle class or middle-class culture, there appears to be a broad agreement that one dominant image of the new middle class is that of an avaricious consumer whose lifestyle is defined by the consumption of modern high-technology goods such as cars, mobile phones, residences in new housing estates, and the purchase of sumptuous goods from department stores. At the same time it is not uncommon for the newly affluent to be characterized as “superficially Western” and “fundamentally Oriental” (Pinches 1999, p. 1). This chapter will explore one aspect of middle-class Thai consumption: the adoption of traditional dance as a recreational activity for amateur practitioners. It argues that for the section of the middleclass population interested in traditional dance, dance practices embody a cultural notion of Thai-ness and reinforce the value of high art sanctioned by national institutions, and that, further, it has been the culture of capitalism that has allowed the spread of what was once largely a restricted cultural form into an emergent middle-class cultural landscape. Yet, the practitioners perceive their activity as an acquisition of knowledge that will constitute part of what can be called the “cultural capital” crucial for the formation of their social identity — which, to complicate matters further, will also enable a critique of state-sponsored configurations as to what should constitute “real” Thai-ness. The theoretical issue at stake is this: while the state constitutes cultural possibilities in the form of economic transformations that have cultural implications, and also in the form of cultural transformations that have economic implications, statist economism and the culture of capitalism remain in dialectical tension with the nation’s culture(s) (PuruShotam 1999). That is to say, the cultural-economic terrain that forms the site of cultural negotiation can and does privilege the official and the statesponsored — but never completely so. Thus, the identity question in traditional Thai dance, while it draws from earlier reifications of culture, is being reconfigured in ways that are not simply continuous with the way it had been mapped earlier. Construction of the Thai Middle Class

Let me commence with the question of the Thai middle class. A recent article notes that there has been little debate on what constitutes the

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middle class in Thailand and that what the middle class is remains largely undefined (Ockey 1999, p. 231). The Thai term for “middle class”, kon chan klang, as a socioeconomic label has been adopted for subjective identification only recently. The usage remains confined to intellectual discussion and media usage. Yet academic as well as popular writing on the subject are increasingly shaping and indeed confirming the reality of the middle class. A number of perspectives on the middle class has emerged from these analyses. The first focuses on and traces some major turning points in Thai history and suggests that an early form of bourgeois mentality had already existed in Thai history prior to the past two decades. The prominent social historian, Nidhi, suggests that a mercantile class emerged as early as the first half of the nineteenth century, when the expansion of external and internal trade during the reign of Rama III (1824–51) gave rise to the bourgeoisie or kadumphi and their distinct world-view, one which was reflected in a new wave of literary creations (Nidhi 1984). Some characteristics of this early bourgeois world-view — the urge to accumulate wealth, rationality, humanism, and realism — find parallels in the discussions of contemporary middle-class mentalities. Jiraporn dates the rise of the middle class from around the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as represented by merchants, bureaucrats, and intellectuals with Western-style education and Western-oriented tastes (Jiraporn 1992). In a later phase of class evolution, the administrative reforms of the later nineteenth century were seen as instrumental in the creation of a new class of salaried civil servants who then played a major part in the 1932 revolution. Rapid economic development since the 1960s, however, is taken to be the most important context for the emergence of the contemporary middle class. Field Marshall Thanarat Sarit, whose authoritarian regime introduced economic plans for Thailand sensitive to World Bank views, categorically stated in the rationale for his economic development policy — which promoted private investment within the context of an ISI strategy (Hewison 1997, pp. 101–3) — that the best way to build a strong nation was to increase the proportion of the middle class in Thai society. He said, “I strongly believe that as we can build and strengthen chon chan klang, so the new and happy society will be created for our nation. The economic plan has

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been drafted with this aim in mind” (cited in Anek 1992, p. 46). The second perspective focuses on the expansion of an urban and educated population (Pasuk and Baker 1995). Economic growth gave rise to the vast physical and population increase of Bangkok, resulting in the growth of the new population group whose identity, lifestyle, and vision are shaped largely by their experience of higher education, access to which has significantly increased since the 1960s. Between 1970 and 1991, the numbers of tertiary-educated persons in the work-force multiplied ten times. Primary and secondary education also increased during the same period. What is probably more dramatic than the growth of educational opportunities is the change in work options for graduates. The government continued to be the main employer until the 1970s. However, in the 1980s, the rate of government employment dropped, while the increasing number of businesses created new opportunities for professionals, managers, executives, technicians, and self-employed businessmen. From 1960 to 1990, white-collar employment increased by three times (Pasuk and Baker 1995, p. 368). A pioneering anthropology dissertation written in the mid-1970s to study middleclass aspirations examines two population groups in Bangkok: public enterprise employees and shopkeepers in a market district. The author emphasizes that the role formal education played in social advancement was crucial (Juree 1979). The third perspective looks at the political construction of the middle class — less important for my purposes — through their part in bringing about political reforms from the uprising of 1973 to the events of 1992 (Ockey 1999). Besides direct participation in political events, the middle class is also seen as piloting Thai non-governmental organization (NGO) movements. The leaders of these movements are often former activist students and intellectuals. Some of them are involved in the new trend of thought from the 1980s that has become known as the “community culture school”, which concerns itself with indigenous culture, folk wisdom, and traditional technologies. Finally, there is a perspective that takes into account the economic boom of the 1980s through the early part of the 1990s that saw the rise of the “new rich” and an accompanying ideology of consumption. The proportion of workers in the technical, sales, and services sectors of the

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economy increased from 9.85 per cent of the total work-force in 1960 to 20.2 per cent by 1990 (Ockey 1999, p. 234). They constitute the new rich who identify with the goods that they consume. In one volume of a local journal dedicated to the culture of consumption at the height of the economic boom, “modern” people are associated with shopping malls, travel, certain styles of architecture, alternative music, and nightlife (Siriphon 1995). The media and advertising agencies are the authors of such an image of the modern. Jim Ockey concludes that the diverse constructions of the middle class and the varied and various concerns brought up by Thai academics in analysing middle-class identity reflect this class’s fragmentary and indeterminate social character (Ockey 1999). Nidhi, however, observes that a distinctive characteristic of the Thai middle class is that their cultural world-view tends to depend on or be closely allied with that of the élites. The middle-class adherence to the law of karma — that past actions predetermine the state of suffering and enjoyment of the present life — and the belief in the existence of personal charisma (barami) is conducive to authoritarian rather than the democratic regimes the middle class are supposed to favour; and although the middle class’s social and economic relations are based on the principle of individual contract, they persistently adhere to models of primordial relations of kinship and patron-client (Nidhi 1993b). On the other hand, studies of new religious movements based upon some perceived lack in the status quo suggest that tendency to new forms of religious practices are responses to spiritual needs of the middle class that the more established traditions cannot supply (Nidhi 1993a; Apinya 1993). Given the uncertain results in the forms of the material and “cultural” goods that the Thai middle class consume or desire, middle-class cultural formation remains a significant area for investigation. One study argues, for example, that the affluent, or those who aspire to be affluent, do not blindly consume imported brand-name goods as some critics would have it, but through consumption they contest the meaning of the official discourse of Thai-ness, and therefore negotiate a new identity suitable for their social background and orientation (Kasian 1996). This chapter draws upon and contributes to the discussion on middle-class cultural consumption by exploring the consumption of local

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tradition, in this case a form of dance known as ram thai, or Thai dance. The first, second, and fourth research perspectives are most relevant for the chapter. The chapter continues by outlining the development of the state-sanctioned form of dance that has become synonymous with classical Thai dance, and the dissemination of this form of dance in the school curriculum. I then describe the development of new sites of dance practice (namely, commercial dance schools), dance societies in higher education institutions, and informal networks of dancers. Thereafter, I examine how amateurs who practise in these sites submit themselves to attaining and embodying a “Thai-ness” and a range of cultural values associated with the nationally sanctioned, classical dance culture of the court. Finally, I argue that though the new middle class emulates the lifestyle of the old élite, they negotiate their own identity in the everyday practices associated with dancing. Dance knowledge and practice serve as cultural capital, and this in turn delivers a perception of cultural competence that enables the cultivated middle class to contest the taste code of the national conservatory and the role of the state as the guardian of high art. The State and Sites of Dance Practice

The social organization of theatrical dance in pre-modern Thailand consisted of two related tiers: court dance and commercial dance.1 It is with economic development from the 1960s onwards that the possibility to gain access and assimilate what was once a privileged approach to being Thai comes about. Court dance was performed by courtiers who were retainers or minor members of the royal household. They were trained and performed for the pleasure of the monarch and for ceremonial purposes. Originally, the men performed the mask dance, or khon, and the women the dance drama, or lakhon. Both genres continually went through periods of decline and revival. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, Siamese theatrical art went through a period of major transformation in which old genres were modified and new genres developed. In this period, some princes and noblemen who were able to command the labour of commoners in their households began to form their own troupe of dancers for pleasure and as a marker of high social status. Dancers in

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such households were supported by their masters and performed at their command. Commercial theatre flourished in the latter half of the nineteenth century to cater to the urban population that expanded as a result of growing external and internal trade. Private theatrical troupes were groups of performers (usually related by blood and marriage) employed to perform as a necessary part of certain rituals such as cremation rites, vow fulfilment rites, and temple celebrations. Commercial and court theatres overlapped to some extent because their dancers were connected, either by kinship ties or by relations between master and pupil. Commercial theatres began to expand in number and started to cover a wider range of genres. Until the end of the nineteenth century, Siamese theatrical genres consisted of drama communicated by dancing, singing and music. Modern theatre using dialogue purely was introduced at the turn of the century, while the dancing component of the classical dance drama diminished. Commercial dance drama troupes nevertheless still occupied a special niche in Bangkok and the major towns in the central plains, staging vow fulfilment performances at popular temples and shrines (Paritta 1998). After the 1932 revolution, the patronage of classical dance and dancers moved from the royal household to the newly created Department of Fine Arts (DFA), which was set up in 1933 to supervise cultural activities. The music section of the DFA functioned as a national conservatory and was responsible for putting up nationalistic plays created in the late 1930s and 1940s. In 1934, a music and dance college was founded by the government based on the French l’Ecole des Beaux-Arts and l’Academie de Danse et Musique as a model (Mattani 1993, p. 189). Dancers and musicians who once were part of the music and dance departments of the royal household were transferred to the DFA as artists or dance masters. The formation of the national conservatory2 marked an important turning point in the social history of dance, for it was a moment when the modern state took over the role of being both the patron and producer of high art. For the following four decades, the national conservatory was solely responsible for staging public performances at the National Theatre and at official functions. The dance style adopted and popularized by the

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conservatory was heavily influenced by court dance and it is this version 3 that has become known as classical Thai dance or ram thai. Ram thai has eventually come to represent and encompass all other forms of local dance, especially when it is presented to outsiders. In time the music and dance school has become the most prestigious institution for training classical dancers specializing in khon and lakhon. These dancers made their careers as state dancers and choreographers of the national conservatory, as school and college instructors, and as dance scholars or freelance artists. From 1971, regional dance colleges were set up in the major provinces, and the number at present totals thirteen colleges. The national conservatory has specialized in creating incidental dance pieces rather than dance drama. Some of the simpler repertoire find their way into all Thai schools following the curricula designed by the Ministry of Education. The curriculum includes natasin, or the art of dance, as a regular subject. Most schools have positions for dance teachers who both teach and prepare students to perform on special festive occasions. New sites of institutional dance learning began as early as the mid1960s. A pioneering private dance school was the Samphan Dance School, founded in 1964 (Anchala 1991, p. 104). The founder-owner was trained in the state dance school and, after graduation, joined Channel 4 TV, Thailand’s first television station, as the head of its dance and music section. Soon after that she launched a programme teaching classical dance on television that became popular and attracted the attention of several parents who wanted their children to have private lessons. The demand was promising enough for Samphan to open a small school that later grew and became the best-known dance school in the 1960s. For urban schoolgirls in that period, Samphan Dance School was the only place that offered courses to the public for all performance levels. The school still exists, but its popularity has long been superseded by other institutions. Other then-contemporary Thai dance schools were the Plai Noen Palace and the Khab Mongkon. Both could claim a high cultural pedigree because the owners were descendants of a prince and a noblemen who were renowned patrons of dance and music. Many more private dance schools flourished in the 1980s and the early 1990s. The number of private music schools that also offer courses

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in ram thai has been estimated at 120 all over the country, and there is at least one music school in every province. The most prominent school is the Siam Konlakan-Yamaha music school, with several branches all over the country. The Siam Konlakan corporation began as a local firm importing Japanese Nissan cars after the Second World War. The firm expanded and formed a joint venture with Nissan, and then with Yamaha, for motorcycles and musical instruments. In 1980 a music foundation was set up by the corporation to encourage the study of music among Thai youth and to organize music and singing competitions. The schools attracted young children from urban, affluent middle-class backgrounds who were enrolled in a number of courses, ranging from piano, electone, 5 singing, ballet and dance, including Thai dance. Another site of dance training is the dance societies in higher educational institutions. Thammasat University and Srinakarinwirot University, for example, are known for their mask dance and dance drama 6 troupes and stage public performances regularly. Thammasat University has two such societies that give training and provide a platform for classical dancing: khon Thammasat (Thammasat mask dance troupe) and the chumnum dontri Thai, the Thai classical music society. The mask dance troupe was founded in 1966 by MR Kukrit Pramoj, writer, journalist, politician, former Prime Minister, teacher, dancer, and (some consider) the ultimate authority on Thai culture in his time. Kukrit was giving regular lectures on Thai civilization at the time and became the founder and, until his death in 1996, the patron of the mask dance troupe. The troupe recruited students on a voluntary basis and trained them in the art of dance in the khon style for men and the lakhon style for women. The “golden age” of the troupe was in its first decade, when the troupe performed regularly and acquired a good reputation. Performances were sponsored by Kukrit himself and business corporations that had personal connections with him, or other university alumni. In the 1970s, Kukrit’s involvement in politics meant that the troupe’s activities went into some decline, but they were subsequently revived by the university as a form of cultural heritage preservation. At present, khon Thammasat provides an umbrella for mobilizing students to get some classical dance training to perform for special occasions. For 1999–2000, these are to do with the celebrations of the

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king’s sixth birthday cycle. The university’s classical music society dancers often join the mask dance troupe for khon performances. The classical music society was founded in 1963, and has since engaged music and dance teachers to train students for performances given during the vacations in rural villages. These activities are promoted and sponsored by the university. There also exist less formal dance institutions in the form of networks of professional and amateur dancers, dance enthusiasts and individuals with some level of competence in Thai dance and music. They became acquainted with one another through networks originating in the family, college or workplace. Members occasionally meet in a private residence to practise or learn new pieces from dance masters or rehearse for either paid or charitable performances. Such networks function to channel information to relevant persons about dance opportunities made available by the government, private agencies, or individuals. These opportunities are numerous — business receptions, staff parties, birthday celebrations, cremations, restaurant and hotel shows, cultural fairs — and increased during the economic boom. The more opportunities created by tourism and affluence, the more active the networks. Such less formal institutions have an increasingly greater role in the dissemination of dance knowledge and in the training of dancers of classical Thai dance. The next sections will examine what contemporary middle-class practitioners gain and experience from learning this art form. Disciplining the Thai Body in Dancing

Learning to do Thai dance is learning to have an essential(ized) Thai body. Thai dance makes one, in some sense, classically Thai. One undergraduate reports that her parents decided to send her to a private dance school because she was boisterous and they thought learning to do Thai dance would turn her into a Thai lady. The domestication and the disciplining of the body in ram thai is achieved through the formal training aspects of the body in gesture and in movement; but it also involves constituting the student as a submissive body, gendering identity, and “making” the body both human and non-human. In reflecting court culture, ram thai privileges a hierarchical approach to becoming Thai, an approach ironically made more egalitarian by the spread of capitalism.

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Standardized Thai dance is a highly stylized form achieved by shaping every part of the body into the right position. All parts must relate to one another to form an integrated, whole body that must move according to rhythm. All postures and movements are finely prescribed, employing muscles not used in everyday movements. Ideally, through intense practice, these perfect postures and movements become second nature to the body. The process takes years to complete. The curriculum of the dance college, which admits seventh graders at the age of around twelve, requires six years to complete an intermediate level, two more years to reach an advanced level, and another two more to get a degree. It is said that palace dancers in the old days began training at the tender age of seven or eight, when their body joints were still supple, and that they could become full-fledged dancers by the time they were fifteen or sixteen. The memoirs of dancers are full of anecdotes of training that stress how rigorous, highly disciplined, and painful the entire process was: Whipping and beating were common, and long hours of repeated drilling sessions caused many unhappy moments for the dancers of a tender age. In the Ban Mo Palace of Chao Phraya Thewet, at the sound of the gong announcing the beginning of the dance training session, all dancers in the palace had to be present, or else they would be whipped or punished by some other method. (Mattani 1993, p. 174)

Though no physical punishment is inflicted in today’s training, the body still remains the site on which the power of the superordinate is exercised. At mask dance training sessions, as soon as the students enter the open space where tuition takes place, they take off their shoes and change from skirt or jeans to a red cloth that is wrapped around and tucked at the back to form a loose trouser-type garment (chong kraben). This type of garment was worn in the nineteenth century and dancecollege students still wear the red chong kraben. Although it may be argued that there is a pragmatic reason for wearing the chong kraben because it allows the greatest freedom of movement necessary for dance exercises, the teachers themselves do not change into this garment when they teach. Given this detail, the change into the garment by the students is a symbolic act of entering a novice’s status, and with that the acceptance of the submissiveness and obedience associated with it. In the terms of an anthropological analysis of ritual process (Turner 1969, p. 94), this

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change of garment is an example of the separation phase of the ritual when a person is about to begin a process of transformation to a new social status. Classes begin with a gesture that reflects the asymmetrical power relations between teacher and student. The students sit on the cement ground, legs and bare feet neatly tucked behind. At the sound of the group leader calling out, they lower their heads till their foreheads and palms touch the ground in a gesture of utmost respect to the teacher. This symbolic act of paying respect is performed at the beginning and the end of each day. The distance between the high position of the teacher and the low position of the students is maintained throughout a class: for example, when the teacher gives some explanation or demonstrates some movements, he or she stands while the students are prostrate on the ground. While this “high” and “low” distinction parallels in physical movement everyday life when people of unequal status — elder and younger, royalty and commoner, superordinate and subordinate — interact within the same physical space, the embodiment of this distinction in dance practice is one of the most intense versions of it. While dance can be a way of becoming aware of one’s own body and its expressive potentials, in ram thai such expression is constrained not only by asymmetrical power relations, but also by cultural notions derived from two sets of oppositions derived from the mythology of Rama — masculine and feminine, human and animal. The mask dance depicts the story of Ramakien, the local version of the Ramayana, a story of battle between good represented by Rama, the incarnated human form of the god Vishnu — assisted by an army of monkeys — and evil represented by the ogre king and his warlords. In the drama, Rama and other human characters are refined beings, morally and physically. The monkeys are playful and active, and sometimes boisterous, while the ogres are powerful. Dancers are chosen for each part based primarily on their physique. “Humans” are slender and effeminate; “ogres” tall and thickset; “monkeys” short and acrobatic. Learning to dance is to become aware not only of the formal characteristics of the Thai male and female bodies, but also of human and non-human bodies. After years of dancing, the masters of each dance group representing man, woman, monkey, and ogre, seem to have absorbed the distinct characteristics and

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mannerisms of the character that they adopt — these mannerisms become their everyday habit. The woman who supervises the group doing the female parts almost always dresses in a neat silk outfit, significantly, in the style of the Thai national dress. Her movements have a graceful rhythm as if they too are carefully choreographed. The monkey masters, on the other hand, are jovial, talkative, and active. The monkey group is the noisiest of all because the masters keep shouting and teasing their students all through the dance drills. Let me describe one dance session I have observed. One master is showing how to do a particular dance movement depicting a lady casting down her eyes. The student attempts the requisite movement a few times but cannot master the technique, which involves turning her head slowly while casting her eyes down at first before gazing straight at the audience. The movement is an interpretation of the libretto describing an enticing look. The master asks her student if she ever makes a khon look (an affected expression of slight annoyance, reserved for people for whom there is intimacy and affection) and shows her how to do it, explaining that if she knows that look, she will understand how to dance it. The girl laughs, saying she has never done it. The master explains that this is a specific woman’s manner. She replies that she is a modern girl and never uses that expression but now, she adds jokingly, she will have to practise it so as to be able to master that particular dance gesture. Learning to do Thai dance is literally to interpellate one’s body into a cultural formation rich in gendered Thai expressions. What is referred to as a “feminine” look in this context may be a movement created in an idealized form rather than represent an “actual” cultural practice. But as ram thai is accepted as a national dance, it will be this form that is disseminated and passed on as a “Thai” feminine expression. Kukrit Pramoj founded the Thammasat mask dance troupe not only to preserve what he perceived to be the highest form of the performing arts but also to instil Thai identity in the younger generation. Kukrit observes: “after a certain period of training, I noticed that the khon students began to show Thai etiquette and think and feel like a Thai” (Kukrit 1983, p. 44). This quality of Thai-ness, in his view, was clearly brought out when the khon students were presented to His Majesty the King. Kukrit notes that they could hold themselves appropriately and

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use the correct forms of address. Khon Thammasat is a testament to Kukrit’s canny ability to create an extra-curricular activity that could entrench a traditionalist Thai-ness among university students. Three decades after the mask dance troupe was founded, it still provides a disciplined location where a “habitual” way of being Thai can be 7 inculcated into the bodies of new generations. Michel Foucault (1977) notes that the Classical Age discovered the body as the object and target of power. A whole set of regulations relating to the army, the school, and the hospital constituted a useful and intelligible body suitable for economic utility. In the case of ram thai, the body is likewise subjected to the constraints of physical discipline so as to make it a docile and domesticated body; this body does not serve a utilitarian purpose as factory workers’ or soldiers’ bodies do, but instead expresses cultural conformity. It suggests that the section of the middle class who volunteer to have their body trained values a cultural code about bodily form and movement that is rooted in the court culture of the old élite, now reconstituted from royal culture into a national culture. While economic development has enabled the (re-)production of disciplined, docile bodies, the goal, notably, has less economic utility than the moral utility of an inculcated obedience to Thai-ness. Cultural Competence and Middle-Class Identity

Though Thai dance training is structured by cultural codes and values inherited from the old political élites’ view of the world, this section will argue that for the middle class who practise it, ram thai also signifies a form of cultural resource that also responds to their aspirations. Dance discipline is perceived as knowledge that empowers practitioners to speak with authority and enables them to challenge the competence and authority of national conservatory productions — and thus of the Thainess such productions may wish to convey. Communities of dancers, be it in the universities, dance schools, or private home, are part of locations where a cultural identity, or rather identities, of the Thai middle class are being produced, reinforced, and also, transformed. It is noticeable that the conversation among students and practitioners during training and rehearsals tend to fall into two categories of the “technical” — dance terminology or techniques — and

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the “historical” — recollection of training sessions or past performances, anecdotes about certain dancers who have become Thai dance legends. Practitioners thus develop a specific language in talking about dance and share a common identity as dance connoisseurs. Thus, for some, the experience of bodily and mental discomforts during training is transformed into a form of empowered authority that enables them to speak back to the cultural centre. The following cases illustrate this process of empowerment. 8 San was a member of the music society in his undergraduate years and now works as an airline employee. He started learning ram Thai when he was a high-school student and was later trained by the dance masters of the national conservatory invited by the music society. San says that he now goes to see performances at the National Theatre specifically to find fault with them. He is not impressed with national conservatory artists who only put on routine and routinized mediocre shows because it is their duty as government employees. He adds that he can say this only because he himself knows how to dance and, as a result, can spot mistakes or imprecise or unsure footing, even if these are often minute details that easily escape the untrained eye and body. Bird is even more critical, saying that the national conservatory artists only have false pride, and assume that their prestigious school is the only institution capable of accumulating a complete dance repertoire and producing dancers of the highest quality. He cites a number of independent groups and artists — himself included — who are true virtuosos and are superior to most state dancers: “I have made extensive studies on [the] history of dance and other practices related with it. I know and can explain why people do certain things like why they wear the red chong kraben during training, why pupils have to please their masters, etc. I have all the answers, what about them?” The contents of what he claims to know may not matter as much as his bold and confident statement. The additional learning that enables Bird and many in his position to talk about dance with an academic vocabulary is what distinguishes him from dancers who can dance but may not be articulate or intellectually trained enough to talk about it intelligently. Bird further claims the authority of his aesthetic preferences on the basis of his own rigorous training. He was an undergraduate at a

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commercial college but came into the network of Thammasat amateur dancers because he became a student of a khon Thammasat dancer. He describes his teacher as very strict: “he beat and pinched and dig his nails into my flesh and hurled abuses at me”. Still his narrative on the strict training ends on a happy note: he has acquired some valuable knowledge which now is inscribed onto his body. Accounts by others follow a similar structural pattern: the harsher the method, the more valuable the final result. How are we to account for this pattern of behaviour described above? Pierre Bourdieu’s notion of “cultural capital” may help here. Bourdieu remarks that the appreciation of certain pieces of piano music among members of the Parisian bourgeoisie presupposes some level of competence in piano playing, apart from the actual possession of the material piano (Bourdieu 1977). In Bourdieu’s formulation, cultural capital (which includes a range of non-economic goods and capabilities such as verbal facility, general cultural awareness, aesthetic preferences, education credentials) is that competence existing in an embodied form. Thus, the statements made by Thai middle-class dance practitioners indicate their possession of a similar “competence” that constitutes their cultural identity as a cultivated consumer. Their consumption celebrates the special quality of a cultural good, consumption here being an act of the deciphering or decoding of an art form. Dance can be consumed at many levels: for the tourists’ untrained eyes, the focus may be on the glittering costumes; but for the cultivated eyes of the trained bodies, it is the terminology, the co-ordinates of each gesture, meaning, and common memory that are being consumed. The emphasis on education as an instrument for acquiring cultural competence is particularly important for the middle class who, though they emulate the old élite and their culture, distinguish themselves from the aristocratic-born. While past aristocrats were born with a troupe of Thai dancers in the back quarters of their palace for them to possess as part of their status, the middle class have to work hard to salvage dance traditions after they have been left in ruins. In one gathering of the khon Thammasat alumni in 1999, a first-generation khon dancer who was very close to its aristocratic founder, and who is now acting as the informal leader of the group, made a nostalgic speech, recalling past memories

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when his generation of students were eager to learn, and of the good times they had. He lamented the present situation in which new students are no longer interested in the transmission and preservation of this exalted art form. The once-rich repertoire would disappear completely unless we all did our share of cultural salvaging. His speech sounded as if he was delivering an obituary for khon Thammasat, especially when it was preceded by another lecture on the glory of the mask dance during an unspecified past in which the lecturer’s romantic imagination took the audience to Ankor Wat, Ayuddhaya, Pagan, and finally culminated in khon Thammasat. Such speeches are indicative of the discourse of the “vanishing” so often found in the writings and speeches of educators, officials, dance connoisseurs, the media and students. An account of the foundation of khon Thammasat begins: “Since the mid-1950s there have been worries that Western civilization has inundated Thailand and [that] young Thais are moving further away form Thai culture. Thai dance and music in particular are being replaced by the Western forms. So in 1966 MR Kukrit Pramoj set up the khon Thammasat troupe” (Nion 1983, p. 38). Similarly, the Deputy Director of the National Cultural Commission has observed that “though the government has an intention to preserve art and artists and produce more [classical dance] artists, little interest has been devoted to creating the new generation of audience. Children should be taught what Thai art is and how they can enjoy it” (Chakkarot 1993, p. 122). Interestingly, such nostalgic yearnings often lead to a sense of noblesse oblige on the part of the speaker, who feels the obligation to revive or renew the imagined glory of the past. It almost imposes a moral obligation on the part of the audience to show appreciation for the effort. The story of Tha’s involvement with dance — with a role the informant himself describes as “a simian emulation of Rama” — is indicative of the role of noblesse oblige in the maintenance of Thai culture. Tha is currently the general manager of a medium-sized manufacturing establishment on the outskirts of Bangkok. A son of a bank manager from a western province, he was an undergraduate at Thammasat thirty years ago, and he joined the khon dancing the part of a monkey soldier of Rama. He finally took his degree from the Philippines

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and got his job at the present establishment, rising to the rank of a manager. The business expanded and he now has a secure and highly paid job. Tha is an enthusiast of traditional performing arts and now also has become a patron of the new art form. He began by getting acquainted with some dancers and musicians, and supporting them financially and socially. He has since built up a network of dancers and started a custom of holding an annual ceremony honouring teachers at his residence. His house, a Thai-style wooden building surrounded by a big lawn, trees and peacocks on the bank of a canal, has also become a small shrine and an information centre of khon and lakhon, housing his collection of antique masks and head-dresses (which are the object of reverence among dancers), old photos, books on theatre and dance, and biographies of famous dancers. Once a month, dancers gather to practise and learn new pieces from dance masters Tha has connections with. After the death of MR Kukrit three years ago, khon Thammasat suffered from a lack of patronage and sponsorship. As a consequence, Tha, on occasion, has lent some financial assistance. His support for the arts aside, Tha is known to be an informal community leader and an influential and well-respected man in his neighbourhood and workplace who maintains good relations with the police, members of the district council, and politicians. He has helped troubled youths and generally takes care of those affiliated with his social network, particularly elderly musicians and dancers. Though it looks as if he emulates the lifestyle of MR Kukrit, an aristocratic-born intellectual, politician, and businessman, Tha quickly distinguishes himself from the élite patron. He says that he is only a “monkey”, and a dancer who plays the monkey role will never rise to the top. Drawing a parallel between the dramatic role on the one hand and the social on the other, Tha describes himself as only a “local” patron whose position is not derived from birth but from his individual achievement. He is not as well endowed financially and culturally as Kukrit, but in his own middling way, he will try to save some of the esoteric dance repertoire which is quickly disappearing by learning them from dance masters belonging to his network. Unlike the élites who may support the art because of their birth and social status, and do so for their own pleasure,

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Tha is a patron because he thinks of art as knowledge which he can collect, share, or pass on to others who have a similar taste, or to the next generation. “The primary objective of every bourgeois is to become an aristocrat”, Immanuel Wallerstein observes (quoted in Pinches 1999). In the case of the Thai middle class and their relation to traditional art forms, it is true that the middle class draw on the old élite’s cultural resources — but they redefine these resources for their own identity purposes based on cultural competence through education. Further, the network and community Tha has helped form also has a moral underpinning. He defines his self-worth as an economically successful manager who accumulates wealth for a non-materialistic cause. While the consumption of tradition may be part of a process of identity formation of a morally superior entrepreneur, for aspiring middle-class parents, it can function as a form of cultural credentialization or accreditization that can be directly transformed into economic advancement. A recent newspaper front-page news reads: “Parents Pay Dearly to Push Children to Pass the Test: Hours of Extra Tuition in Race for Top Schools” (Bangkok Post, 16 March 1999). The story gives details of how a six-year-old boy studies many hours daily during the holidays to try to pass an entrance exam to one top school where children are accepted at the ratio of 1:20. Children in this fiercely competitive atmosphere are encouraged to develop a special talent to give them an edge over others. Parents then push their children to excel in music, dance, language, or sports as this will lead to special consideration by the top-ranking schools because these children will be the ones enhancing the schools’ reputation. In the economic boom of the 1980s, numerous agencies and activities sprang up to cater to the needs of aspiring parents by offering various options for parents to cultivate special talents for their beloved children — private tuition, summer courses abroad, and holiday camps abounded. Thai dance becomes one choice of cultural goods among many, and if it is to compete with them it has to be packaged appropriately and attractively. The Kab Mongkon school, the largest and arguably most successful school specializing in ram thai, is a clear illustration of how dance can be a fashionable commodity. The school’s director explains:

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Paritta Chalermpow Koanantakool my method is to compete with ballet dance. Modern parents want their children to learn ballet because the classroom is fashionable, the outfit is stylish. Here I try to do the same. Our school is fully carpeted and airconditioned. I have installed a large mirror so that children can see their reflection. The school building is located right downtown but I am prepared to pay the high rent for it. When parents drop their children here they can go shopping, have some snacks, find some things to do before they come back and collect the kids. The parents are not bored while the children learn dancing. We try to create an environment that is fashionable, not old-styled. (Quoted in Kantima 1993, p. 124)

The school is run and staffed mainly by a group of sisters whose paternal grandfather, Chao Phraya Thewetwongwiwat, was a highranking official assigned by Rama V to take care of several royal departments — entertainment, puppetry, mask dance, xylophone ensemble, and lantern dance — in the late nineteenth century. He also had his own dance and drama troupe which was considered the best in the city in that era (Mattani 1993, pp. 98–99). And so, ram thai is revamped and the social pedigrees of those who run the school contribute towards the school’s marketability. The school’s philosophy is to get children to show off what they learn almost instantly. Courses are organized in levels, and the first and most elementary level consists of rhythmic movements: “The first dance children learn is the wish dance. To do this one they sit down and just wave their hands. What we want children to feel is that within one or two months, they are already capable of performing a dance — maybe for their grandmother’s birthday party” (quoted in Kantima 1993, p. 124). The school puts on an annual show and collaborates with the DFA to stage their shows at the National Theatre and run a TV programme. These shows are important for the children to feel that ram thai is not beyond their ability and, as a consequence, will want to keep on learning. Parents, in turn, get the satisfaction that their money is being well invested. Modern competitive education and the economic boom opened up a space for classical dance to be repackaged for consumption by parents and young children. The private dance schools do a good business and customers get satisfaction in seeing that their kids are fully armed to face the challenges of competitive life ahead.

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Conclusion

One recent study notes that the effect of “globalization” in Thailand — a process the state is still ineluctably involved in — has been ambiguous and paradoxical, for it at once supports and undermines dominated indigenous traditions (Reynolds 1998). This chapter supports this view and points to the heterogeneity of Thai middle-class culture as evidence. Contrary to an image of the modern middle class as simple consumers of Western-oriented goods, some fraction of the Thai middle class embraces traditional forms of dance rooted in court culture as an assertion of the local while never relinquishing their self-consciousness of being “modern” people. Those who learn and practise ram thai also have an ambiguous relation to the state in its role as the guardian of art. They do not question the fact that the state that has constituted this style of dance as a national form. Thus, middle-class dance practitioners do not challenge the role of the state in selectively endorsing certain art forms and neglecting others. They also accept it to be “traditional” without being critical of the construction of this tradition. What they challenge is the aesthetic criteria and code for evaluating the art form and negotiate a place for themselves to possess an authority as Antibes of the code. This fraction of the middle class thus also remains complicit with the old élites. By sanctioning classical dance, they are prepared to learn and assimilate values related to the Thai body endorsed by élite culture. They also emulate an aristocratic outlook by taking upon themselves the responsibility to become the modern guardians of the art. However, they also distinguish themselves from the old élites because they are not only patrons who consume art for their own pleasure, but they also practise it as amateur performers themselves, gaining an “internal” knowledge as a result. This reflects the nature of the cultural capital that has to be accumulated in an embodied form through pedagogic activities by this fraction of the middle class as they consciously distinguish themselves from the élites. Their relationship to ram thai is also conditioned by the logic of capitalism too. Middle-class entrepreneurs have no qualms in packaging dance as a cultural good that fits a middleclass lifestyle.

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It has been argued that modern states are everywhere seeking to monopolize the moral resources of community by “systematically museumizing and representing all the groups within them in a variety of heritage politics” (Appadurai 1996, p. 39). The middle class in Thailand have managed to create a new space in which the management of high art can be contested, albeit in a partial way. What we are witnessing here is perhaps a new cultivated class in the making of a Thailand that — for better or for worse — would be part of the New World Order. NOTES This is a revised version of a paper given at the Workshop on “Embedding Capitalism in Newer Asian Contexts: Authority Structures and Local Cultures and Identities in Southeast Asia” organized by the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore, 22– 23 March 1999. 1. The following account is based on descriptions in Mattani (1993) and Jiraporn (1992). 2. I use the term “national conservatory” in this chapter to refer to the music section (kong kaan sangkit) and the music and dance school (witthayalai natasin) of the Department of Fine Arts. Both were unified under a single section (sathaban nataduriyangsin) in 1995. Even when they were administratively separate, there was a lot of overlap in terms of activities and personnel. The public too tended to regard them as a single unit and referred to them as krom sin, a shortened form for the DFA. 3. In this chapter, the terms ram thai, “Thai dance”, and “classical Thai dance” will be used interchangeably to refer to the style of dance that evolved in the national conservatory. 4. This figure is an estimate given to me by the president of the association of the private music schools in Thailand, Mrs Khomkham Chaloeypojana, in an interview in January 1999. 5. Fees range from 800 to 1,500 baht per month for four one-hour sessions (1999 figures). 6. Data used in this chapter are from my involvement in the Thammasat mask dance training, rehearsals, performances, and pithi wai khru ceremonies since 1995. Since December 1998, I have been undertaking a systematic ethnographic study of the present batch of students under training, as well as a number of former students. My study includes interviews with the said students and former students. 7. I am grateful to Khun Atcharaporn Khamutpitsamai, who is currently researching

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the history and political implications of khon Thammasat. He suggests that the foundation of the troupe can be viewed as an effort by Kukrit to instil a traditionalist element in a university that had a radical image. This strategy is in accord with the general political climate of the 1960s under military rule, one that tried to revive the use of the monarchy as a symbol of national unity. Several rituals and ceremonies associated with the monarchy were revived, and khon Thammasat made its name from the beginning by being aimed at a royal audience. 8. All students’ names in this chapter have been changed.

REFERENCES In English

Anek Laothamatas. Business Associations and the New Political Economy of Thailand: From Bureaucratic Polity to Liberal Corporatism. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1992. Apinya Fuengfusakul. “Empire of Crystal and Utopian Commune: Two Types of Contemporary Theravada Reform in Thailand”. Sojourn: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia 8, no. 1 (1993). Appadurai, Arjun. Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996. Bourdieu, Pierre. Outline of a Theory of Practice, translated by Richard Nice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977. . Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste, translated by Richard Nice. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1979. Foucault, Michel. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1977. Hewison, Kevin. “Thailand: Capitalist Development and the State”. In The Political Economy of South-East Asia: An Introduction, edited by Garry Rodan, Kevin Hewison, and Richard Robison. Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1997. Jiraporn Witayasakpan. “Nationalism and the Transformation of Aesthetic Concepts: Theatre in Thailand during the Phibun Period”. Ph.D. dissertation, Cornell University, 1992. Juree Namsirichai Vichit-Vadakan. “Not Too High and Not Too Low: A Comparative Study of Thai and Chinese Middle-Class in Bangkok”. Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, Berkeley, 1979. Mattani Mojdara Rutnin. Dance, Drama, and Theatre in Thailand: The Process of Development and Modernization. Tokyo: Centre for East Asian Cultural Studies for UNESCO, 1993.

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Nion Snidwongse Na Ayutthaya. Natasin Thai [Thai dance]. Bangkok: Bangkok Bank and Thai Whatthanaphanit, 1983. Ockey, Jim. “Creating the Thai Middle Class”. In Culture and Privilege in Capitalist Asia, edited by Michael Pinches. London: Routledge, 1999. Pasuk Phongpaichit and Chris Baker. Thailand: Economy and Politics. Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, 1995. . Thailand’s Boom! Chiang Mai: Silkworms Books, 1996. Pinches, Michael, ed. Culture and Privilege in Capitalist Asia. London: Routledge, 1999. PuruShotam, Nirmala S. Discussant’s Paper presented at the Workshop on “Embedding Capitalism in Newer Asian Contexts: Authority Structures and Local Cultures and Identities in Southeast Asia” organized by the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore, 22–23 March 1999. Reynolds, Craig. “Globalization and Cultural Nationalism in Thailand”. In Southeast Asian Identities: Culture and the Politics of Representation in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand, edited by Joel S. Kahn. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 1998. Turner, Victor. The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structures. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1969. In Thai

(Citations in the text have been translated into English by the author) Anchala Pochanasomboon. “Samnak Natasin Ekachon Kap Kan Tai Tod Sinlapa Kan Ram” [Private dance institutes and the transmission of classical dance]. In Boek Rong [Dance overture: issues on dance in Thai society], edited by Paritta Chalermpow Koanantakool. Bangkok: Thai Khadi Research Institute, 1991. Anek Laothammathat. “Ru Pen Yak Thi Phoeng Tun” [Sleeping giant awakens? The middle class in Thai politics]. Thammasat University Journal 19, no. 1 (1993). Chakkarot Chittrabhongse, MR. “Report of Discussions on the Role of the Public and Private Sectors in Promoting Thai Dance”. In Natasin Thai [Thai dance], edited by ML Wanwipah Burutrattanaphan. Special Seminar on the Occasion of the Third Cycle of HRH Princess Maha Chakri. Bangkok: Thai Khadi Institute, 1993. Kantima Thanasophon. “Report of Discussions on the Role of the Public and Private Sectors in Promoting Thai Dance”. In Natasin Thai [Thai dance], edited by ML Wanwipah Burutrattanapha. Special Seminar on the Occasion of the Third Cycle of HRH Princess Maha Chakri. Bangkok: Thai Khadi Institute, 1993. Kasian Tejapira. “Boriphok Khwam Pen Thai” [Consuming Thai-ness]. In Chintanakan So Pi 2000 [Imagination towards the year 2000: innovative paradigms in Thai studies]. Bangkok: Thailand Research Fund, 1996.

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Kukrit Pramoj, MR. “Khon Thammasat”. In Natasin Thai [Thai dance], edited by Nion Snidwongse. Bangkok: Thai Watthana Phanit, 1983. Nidhi Eosiwong. Watthanatham Kadumphi [The quill and the sail: collection of essays on literature and history of Early Bangkok]. Bangkok: Amarin Publishing House, 1984. . “Latthi Pithi Sadet Pho Ho Ha” [The cult of King Rama V]. Sinlapa Watthanatham Chabap Phiset (Bangkok), Special issue of Art and Culture magazine, 1993a. . “Watthanatham Khong Chon Chan Klang Thai” [Culture of the Thai middle class]. Thammasat Journal University 19, no. 1 (1993b). Paritta Chalermpow Koanantakool, ed. Phoe Rang, Phrang Kai [Revealing the body]. Bangkok: Khob Fai, 1998. Siriphon Sombunburana. Watthanatham kan Boripok [Culture of consumption: theoretical and analytical approaches]. Bangkok: Krirk University, 1995.

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CHAPTER 7

INDEX

A Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC), 31 Asian Monetary Fund, 79 Asian values, 108–9, 113–22 Asianization, 142–47 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), 17, 61, 97, 149 C capitalism agent of, telephony, 158–78 authoritarian, 82–83 Indonesia, 93–96 South Korea, 88–91 Taiwan, 88–89 East Asia, 77–100 cold war impact, 87–88 development, 80–87 Korean war impact, 91–92 Vietnam war impact, 91–92 history, 83–85 laissez-faire, 80–81 neo-liberalism, 80–81 spirit, 109–11 state centred, see authoritarian state involvement, see state China, 96–97 civil society, 42–45 challenges, 45–47 civil society organizations (CSOs), 18, 42–44, 46, 49 Confucianism, 1, 113–17, 123 culturalism, 131 national, 131

Malaysia, see Malay-ness Singapore, see national culturalism Thailand, see Thai dance culture, 9–16 definition, 2–3 role in capitalism, 85–87 D Dutch East Indies (DEI), 158, see also Indonesia E economic development, definition, 1 G government, see state H High-Performing Asian Economies (HPAEs), 82 homogenization, 1 Singapore, 133–38, 142–47 I import-substituting industrialization (ISI), 93 Indonesia authoritarian state, 93–96 Parti Kommunis Indonesia (PKI), 93 telephony history, 158–78 International Financial Institutions (IFIs), 36, 48 International Monetary Fund (IMF), 8, 31, 34–36, 48, 61, 63, 79, 81, 91, 98, 149

This chapter is reproduced from Local Cultures and the “New Asia”, edited by C.J.W.-L. Wee (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2002). This version was obtained electronically direct from the publisher on condition that copyright is not infringed. No part of this publication may be reproduced, translated, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the Institute of Asian Asian Studies Studies, < http://www.iseas.edu.sg/pub.html > © 2002 Institute Southeast of Southeast Singapore

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J Japan, 97–98

non-governmental organizations (NGOs), 42, 44–47, 64

M Malaysia, modernization, 184–209 bumiputera, definition, 187 concrete modernities, 193–95 cultural identities, 190–92 élite identity, 204–8 Malay, definition, 186–87 Malay fragmentation, 188–89 Malay-ness, 186–89, 204–7 Malaysian Chinese Association(MCA), 192 Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), 192 national ideology, 187–88 National Vision 2020, 189–90, 197, 208 New Development Policy (NDP), 196 New Economic Policy (NEP), 187– 90, 196 New Malay, definition, 191 Penang, 195–208 Amanah Saham Nassional (ASN), 204–5 Penang Eurasian Association (PEA), 204, 206–8 Penang Heritage Trust (PHT), 198 Penang Regional Development Authority (PERDA), 197 Perusahaan Nasional (PERNAS), 199 United Malays National Organization (UMNO), 188–89, 191–92, 196, 199, 205 modernity, 184–86 multinational corporations (MNCs), 135

O official development assistance (ODA), 45 Organization of Petroleum-Exporting Countries (OPEC), 142 orientalism, 111–13

N newly industrializing countries (NICs), 5, 7, 38, 41, 51 newly industrializing economies (NIEs), 7, 17

P Philippines, 51–69 Asian economic crisis, 62–64 response, 64–67 Bishops-Businessmen’s Conference (BBC), 69 capitalism, 55–57 civil society, 69 colonialism, 53–54 National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), 68–69 Philippine Institute of Development studies (PIDS), 68 Social Weather Station (SWS) national surveys, 64–66 split-level tendencies, 66–67 state, weakness, 57–62 electoral politics, 59–61 post-colonial, 59–61 post-revolution, 61–62 Protestant ethic, 109–11 Asian analogues, 113–19 S Singapore, 129–51 national culturalism, 132–42, 147–50 People’s Action Party (PAP), 130, 132–38, 143, 150–51 South Korea, authoritarian state, 88–91 state, 6–9, 31–50 challenges, 47–48 Southeast Asia, 34–42, 119–22 typologies of states, 34 Anglo-American style, 35–38 socialist/communist, 40–42 state-led and controlled, 38–40

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Index structural adjustment programmes (SAPs), 35, 41 T Taiwan, authoritarian state, 88–89 telephony, history, 160–78 Thailand, 217–38 Department of Fine Arts (DFA), 223 export-oriented industrialization (EOI), 217 import-substitution industrialization (ISI), 217 middle class, 218–21 national culture, see Thai dance non-governmental organization (NGO), 220 Thai dance, 222–38 cultural identity, 230–36

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history, 222–26 physical training, 226–30 sites, 223–26 transnational corporations (TNCs), 31 U United Nations Development Program (UNDP), 42, 49 W Weber, Max (1864–1920), 109–13, 122–24 World Bank, 10–11, 31, 34–35, 61, 81, 219 World Trade Organization (WTO), 31, 50, 149

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