Political Science 371 Southeast Asian Politics


Jim Ockey

Office:  Zulauf 406

Office Hours: Monday 4:00-5:30; Wednesday 1:00-2:30

Email: jockey@niu.edu


Course Objectives

In a world where distance and borders are becoming less relevant, Southeast Asia, with a population of some 500 million people, has become increasingly important to the United States.  It is a region of tremendous religious, cultural, and political diversity, containing Animism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Christianity, and Islam, democracy, communism, and authoritarianism.  In this class, we will study the economies, politics, and cultures of Southeast Asia.  The course will not only seek to advance your knowledge of this world region, but also to convey some important concepts of comparative politics.  It also aims to develop critical thinking skills and the ability to analyze contemporary events in context.



We have the privilege of being at a university with one of the top Southeast Asian Studies programs in the world.  I hope you will take advantage of the resources available to you here.  As you will see, many of the readings in the syllabus were written by members of the program.  The center regularly hosts visiting scholars as well.  The library has an extensive collection on the region, including many works in Southeast Asian languages.  You can find out more about the program and the staff members who are a part of it on the program webpage, at http://www.niu.edu/cseas/ 


As most of you will be aware by now, we also have an excellent political science department.  If you haven’t done so yet, it is well worth your time to investigate the breadth of knowledge of staff members in the department, as well as the specific expertise of individual staff members.  For details on staff members and their work, see the department website, http://polisci.niu.edu/  The website also has a lot of other useful information, including information on other courses, information on awards, and a syllabus archive.



In the course, there will be two tests and one assignment.  You will also be graded on participation.  The tests are to assess your knowledge of the material, and your ability to think critically.  The test will focus on your understanding of concepts and patterns, rather than historical details.  The assignment is intended to help you develop skills necessary for future research papers and research seminars, and skills necessary for effective participation in many jobs.  In particular, it will help you develop the skills to research and evaluate a current event.  You may choose to do it as if you were a scholar, as if you were a journalist, or as if you were a policy analyst.  The assignment should be about 7-10 pages.  Further information on the assignment will be available in class.  One extra credit assignment is available at your option.  It is an assignment aimed at getting you to learn to use library resources effectively and will be worth up to 5%.



Participation                                  10%

Contemporary Event Analysis   25%                     November 15

Mid-term                                      30%                     October 11, in class

Final                                             35%                     December 6, in class


Library Assignment (Extra Credit)   5%                 


Assignments should be handed-in to a Department secretary in ZU 415 to be time-stamped and recorded.  Any assignment that is not handed in according to this procedure will be deemed to have arrived only on the day a secretary receives it.  In other words, if you slip it under my door, it is considered to have arrived only when I give it to the secretary, which may be several days after you slip it under the door.  This is to ensure that there is verification for all assignments received.


Classroom Etiquette


Students are to arrive at class on time. Two tardy arrivals are equivalent to one class absence. Students are to remain for the entire session unless excused by the professor beforehand or confronted with a serious personal emergency. For instance, it is not acceptable for students to walk in and out of class to answer cell phones, take casual bathroom and smoking breaks, or attend to other personal matters. Cell phones, pagers, or any electronic devices that make noise must be turned off during class unless the instructor has been notified beforehand of a special circumstance (e.g., sick family member, pregnant wife, special childcare situation, etc.). No one should talk while someone else is talking; this includes comments meant for a classmate rather than the entire group. Overall, classroom dialogue and behavior should always be courteous, respectful of others, and consistent with the expectations set forth by the university.



Undergraduate Writing Awards

The Department of Political Science will recognize, on an annual basis, outstanding undergraduate papers written in conjunction with 300-400 level political science courses or directed studies. Authors do not have to be political science majors or have a particular class standing.  For details, see the department website, http://polisci.niu.edu/ 



Plagiarism is the use without proper acknowledgement of the ideas or work of another person.  To do so is cheating.  All quotations and all paraphrasing of the ideas of others must be referenced.  All sources, including the internet, must be clearly referenced by a recognised form of footnotes, endnotes or in‑text referencing, and in a bibliography. The Undergraduate Catalog states: "students are guilty of plagiarism, intentional or not, if they copy material from books, magazines, or other sources without identifying and acknowledging those sources or if they paraphrase ideas from such sources without acknowledging them. Students guilty of, or assisting others in either cheating or plagiarism on an assignment, quiz, or examination may receive a grade of F for the course involved and may be suspended or dismissed from the university."


Note that all internet referencing must include the author or institution in the reference, and with all of your sources, but particularly with the internet, you must be careful to use only reputable works that are appropriate to academic writing. 


Late Penalties

Late work will be penalized at the rate of up to 5 percent per day. Since students have been given the assignment on the first day of class, late penalties will be waived only in extreme circumstances.


Make-up Exams

Makeup exams will only be given in extraordinary circumstances. If such circumstances arise, please contact me as soon as possible and where possible before the scheduled exam. Students will be asked to support requests for makeup exams with documentation.  No makeup exam will be allowed unless arrangements are made before the regularly scheduled exam has been graded and returned.


Incomplete requests will be granted only in unusual circumstances, when supported with documentation.  Missing an exam in itself is not a reason for an incomplete.



I believe that it is appropriate to participate not only by speaking, but also by listening respectfully to others.  However, it is impossible to participate, in any way, without attending.  Thus your participation grade will be based on attendance, on thoughtful spoken contributions, and on paying attention to the contributions of others. 


Students with Disabilities

Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, NIU is committed to making reasonable accommodations for persons with documented disabilities. Those students with disabilities that may have some impact on their coursework and for which they may require accommodations should notify the Center for Access-Ability Resources (CAAR) on the fourth floor of the Health Services Building. CAAR will assist students in making appropriate accommodations with course instructors. It is important that CAAR and instructors be informed of any disability-related needs during the first two weeks of the semester.


Contacting Me

I will endeavor to answer email in a timely manner.  However, I do not access my email every day, particularly on the weekends.  As a general guideline, you should expect that a response to your email may be no quicker than meeting me during my office hours.  You should be aware that email messages can go awry, while coming to my office guarantees that I am made aware of your problem.  Keep in mind, too, that your tuition helps to pay for the time I devote to students during my office hours, so don’t be shy about coming to see me.  Make an appointment to see me outside office hours if necessary.




Please note

1.  The most important component of the course is the material presented in the lectures. The readings are meant to supplement the lectures, not replace them.  When you study for exams, you should spend about 90% of your study time on the lecture notes.

2.  Some readings are marked with an asterisk.  Those will be the most useful. 

3.  The best source for the latest information on the region is the January-February issue of the latest Asian Survey (for this class, that means January-February 2006).  I strongly recommend you read the article on each country as we study it.  I use it myself in preparing the lectures (and I’m writing the Thailand one for next year).


1.      August 30 Pre-colonial Southeast Asia: Structures of Government


   Recommended Reading:   In Search of Southeast Asia, ch. 7-10


            Note:  For this week, all the material you will need for the exam will be provided in the lecture.  However, we will need to cover a lot of material during this week.  The readings will help to reinforce the material from the lecture, especially for those with little previous knowledge of Southeast Asia.  This reading will get you off to a good start.


I also recommend you familiarize yourself with the entries on Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor Leste, and Vietnam in any of the following:  the Statesman’s Yearbook (my personal favorite), CIA World Fact Book, online at http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/ or any online or printed encyclopedia.  (Please be careful with Wikipedia, which, while convenient, is done by amateurs, not experts, and sometimes contains errors.)


2.      September 6  Colonialism and Nationalism


   Readings: Vella, Chaiyo! pp. 176-96


3.      September 13     Indonesia (1): Military Authoritarianism


   Readings:      *Robinson, The Dark Side of Paradise ch. 11


                        King, “Corruption in Indonesia: A Curable Cancer?” Journal of International Affairs 53 (Spring 2000):603-


4.      September 20          Indonesia (2): Institutionalizing Democracy

Independent Timor


   Readings:       Liddle and Mujani, “Indonesia in 2004: The Rise of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono,” Asian Survey 45 (January/February 2005):119-126.

*King, “East Timor's Founding Elections And Emerging Party System” Asian Survey 43 (Oct 2003):745-757


5.       September 27    Philippines: People’s Power and Democratization


   Readings:       *Nemenzo, ‘A Season of Coups: Military Intervention in Philippine Politics’, Diliman Review, 34, nos. 5–6, 1986, pp. 1, 16–25.

*Ruland, “Constitutional Debates in the Philippines,” Asian Survey 43 (May/June 2003):461-484


Note: Review Essay Due October 1


6.       October 4     Malaysia Plural Society, Consociational Democracy?


   Readings:      *Furnival, Colonial Policy and Practice, pp. 303-12


Readings:       *Welsh, “Malaysia in 2004: Out of Mahathir's Shadow?” Asian Survey 45 (January/February 2005):153-160


7.       October 11      Midterm



8.       October 18        Singapore: Development and Asian Values


   Readings:      Dixon, Southeast Asia in the World Economy, pp. 149-72


9.       October 25     Vietnam: Communism and After


   Readings:      *Duiker, Vietnam Since the Fall of Saigon ch. 1-2.


10.   November 1    Cambodia (1): Comprehending the Incomprehensible


 Readings:         *Quinn, "Explaining the Terror," pp. 215-240, in Jackson, ed.,     Cambodia, 1975-78


11.   November 8  Laos: Beyond Dependency

Thailand (1): The Vicious Cycle


   Readings:       *Evans, The Politics of Ritual and Remembrance, ch. 4

  Chai-Anan Samudavanija, The Thai Young Turks, ch. 2



12.   November 15     Thailand (2): Parties and Politics


Note: Contemporary Analysis Paper Due


   Readings:       *Ockey, Making Democracy, ch. 2

 Pasuk Phongpaichit and Baker, Chris. “Thaksin Dismantles the

           Opposition,” Far Eastern Economic Review 168 (March 2005):25-29.


13.     November 29     Burma: Military Authoritarianism and the Democratic Alternative


   Readings:       *Silverstein, Burma: Military Rule and the Politics of Stagnation, ch. 4

   Aung San Suu Kyi, "In Quest of Democracy" in Freedom From Fear


14.   December 6   Final Exam in class