SemesterSpring Semester, 2021
DepartmentInternational Master's Program in International Studies, First Year International Master's Program in International Studies, Second Year
Course NameComparative Politics in Southeast Asia
InstructorSUN TSAI-WEI
Course TypeElective
Course Objective
Course Description
Course Schedule

Weekly Course Schedule

Week 1   Feb 22     Introduction

Week 2   Mar 01    Holiday (no class)

Week 3   Mar 08    SEAsia: past studies, political culture, nation, and state

  1. T1, Ch.1 (Intro of comparative methods and the evolution of comparative politics) (23 pages)

  2. Erik Martinez Kuhonta, Dan Slater, Tuong Vu. 2008. “Introduction: The Contributions of Southeast Asian Political Studies.” In Erik Martinez Kuhonta, Dan Slater, Tuong Vu (eds.), Southeast Asia in Political Science. Stanford University Press. (29pages).

  3. T1, Ch.4 (political culture and ethno-politics) (24 pages)

  4. T3, Chs.1~2 (historical context of SEAsia) (31 pages)


Week 4   Mar 15    Modernization, development, institutions, and institutional analysis

  1. T1, Ch.3 (Economics & pol development…) (20 pages)

2. Ronald Inglehart & Wayne Baker. 2000. “Modernization, cultural change, and the persistence of traditional values.” American Sociological Review 65: 19-51. (22 pages)

  1. Peter A. Hall & Rosemary C. R. Taylor. 1996. “Political science and the three new institutionalisms.” Political Studies 44(5): 936-957. (21 pages)

  2. Paul Pierson. 2000. “Increasing returns, path dependence, and the studies of politics.” American Political Science Review 94(2): 251-267. (15 pages)

  3. Steven Levitsky & Maria Victoria Murillo. 2009. “Variation in institutional strength.” Annual Review of Political Science 12: 115-133. (14 pages)

  4. T3, Ch.7 (Cultural perspective of SEAsia) (19 pages)


Week 5   Mar 22    Political regimes and comparative democratization

  1. T1, Ch.6 (Democratization & the global environment) (20 pages)

  2. Valerie Bunce. 2000. “Comparative democratization: big and bounded generalizations.” Comparative Political Studies 33(6/7): 703-734. (24 pages)

  3. Larry Diamond, et al. 2014. “Reconsidering the transition paradigm.” Journal of Democracy 25(1). (15pages)

  4. T4, Ch.13 (comparing governments in SEAsia) (30+ pages)

  5. Benjamin Reilly. 2015. “Democracy and development in SEAsia: China’s long shadow.” SEARC working paper series, #169. City University of Hong Kong. (15 pages)


Week 6   Mar 29    Authoritarianism & democracy (1)

  1. Jennifer Gandhi & Adam Przeworski. 2007. “Authoritarian institutions and the survival of autocrats” Comparative Political Studies 40(11): 1279-1301. (14p)

  2. Dan Slater & Sofia Fenner. 2011. “State power and staying power: infrastructural mechanisms and authoritarian durability.” Journal of International Affairs 65(1): 15-29. (11p)

  3. T3, Ch. 6 (varieties of authoritarianism in SEAsia) (19p)

  4. Teresita Cruz-del Rosario. 2016. “Lost in transition: the lessons of SEAsia for the Middle East and North Africa.” SEARC working paper series #173. City University of Hong Kong. (15p)

  5. T4, Chs. 4 & 7 (Indonesia and Myanmar) (52p)


Week 7   Apr 05    Holiday (no class)

Week 8   Apr 12    Authoritarianism & democracy (2): military (Indonesia, Myanmar)

  1. Muthiah Alagappa. 2013. “Military and democratic development in Asia: a complex narrative.” in Dennis C. Blair (ed.). Military Engagement: Influencing Armed Forces Worldwide to Support Democratic Transitions. Brookings Institution Press. (19p)

  2. Rizal Sukma. 2013. “The military and democratic reform in Indonesia,” in Dennis C. Blair (ed.), Military Engagement. (20p)

  3. Tim Lindsey. 2014. “Unlike any land you know about? Myanmar, reform and the Indonesia model.” In Melissa Crouch and Tim Lindsey (eds.), Law, Society and Transition in Myanmar. Hart Publishing. (13p)

  4. T7, Intro +Chs. 1 & 4 (about military in Myanmar…) (52p)

  5. Min Than. 2018. “The Tatmadaw in the Hluttaw.” ISEAS Perspective 2018 (73). (6p)


Week 9   Apr 19    Authoritarianism & democracy (3): parties and elections

  1. Beatriz Magaloni. 2008. “Credible power-sharing and the longevity of authoritarian rule.” Comparative Political Studies 41(4?5): 715?741. (24p)

  2. Yonatan L. Morse. 2012. “(review article) The era of electoral authoritarianism.” World Politics 64(1):161-98. (30p)

  3. T2, Chs. 1 (pp.1-16*) & 6 (the logic & manipulation of electoral authoritarianism) (34p)

  4. Meredith L Weiss. 2014. “Electoral patterns in Southeast Asia: the limits to engineering.” ISEAS Working paper #3. (23p)

  5. Mark R. Thompson. 2019. “SEAsia’s Troubling Elections: is there a silver lining?” Journal of Democracy 30(4): 149-157. (8p)


Week 10 Apr 26    Authoritarianism & democracy (4): Malaysia and Singapore

  1. T4, Chs. 6 & 9 (Malaysia & Singapore) (50p)

  2. Lee Morgenbesser. 2017. “The autocratic mandate: elections, legitimacy and regime stability in Singapore.” The Pacific Review 30(2): 205-231. (15p)

  3. Nur Amali Ibrahim. 2018. “Everyday authoritarianism: a political anthropology of Singapore.” Critical Asian Studies 50(2): 219-231. (10p)

  4. Kai Ostwald. 2017. “Malaysia’s electoral process: the methods and costs of perpetuating UMNO rule.” Trends in Southeast Asia 2017-19. ISEAS (28p)

  5. Wong Chin Huat. 2018. “Malaysia’s evolving party system: from one-coalition predominance to regional two-coalition system?” Paper presented in Wenzao International Conference on Southeast Asian Studies, Kaohsiung, Taiwan. (15p)

  6. Cassey Lee. 2020. “The lowered voting age in Malaysia: who will benefit?” ISEAS Perspective 2020(5) (23 Jan.). (6p)


Week 11  May 03   Identity politics (1): nation and ethnicity (SEA, Singapore, Malaysia)

  1. Ashutosh Varshney. 2003. “Nationalism, ethnic conflict, and rationality.” Perspectives on Politics 1(1):85-99. (11p)

  2. James Fearon & David Laitin. 2003. “Ethnicity, insurgency, and civil war.” American Political Science Review 97(1): 75-90. (31p)

  3. Sana Jaffrey & Dan Slater. 2017. “Violence and regimes in Asia: capable states and durable settlements.” In The State of Conflict & Violence in Asia. The Asia Foundation. (8p)

  4. T3, Ch.3 (nationalism & ethnicity in SEA) (14p)

  5. Lily Zubaidah Rahim. 2012. “Governing Muslims in Singapore’s secular authoritarian state.” Australian Journal of International Affairs 66(2): 169-185. (14p)

  6. Tsai-Wei Sun. 2015. “Governing Singapore: the group representation constituency (GRC) system and its effect on inclusiveness and electoral participation.” Asian Education and Development Studies 4(3): 282-298. (12p)

  7. Abdul Rashid Moten. 2019. “The 14th General Elections in Malaysia: Ethnicity, Party Polarization, and the End of the Dominant Party System.” Asian Survey 59(3): 500-20. (21p)


Week 12 May 10   Identity politics (2): ethnic conflicts in Indonesia & Myanmar

  1. Johanes Herlijanto. 2017. “Old stereotypes, new convictions: Pribumi perceptions of ethnic Chinese in Indonesia today.” Trends in Southeast Asia 2017-6. ISEAS (25p)

  2. Quinton Temby. 2019. “Disinformation, violence, and anti-Chinese sentiment in Indonesia’s 2019 elections. ISEAS Perspective 2019(67) (2 Sept). (5p)

  3. Leo Suryadinata. 2019. “The Papua question: historical contexts and international dimensions.” ISEAS Perspective 2019(91) (31 Oct). (5p)

  4. Max Lane. 2019. “The Papuan question in Indonesia: recent developments.” ISEAS Perspective 2019(74) (19 Sept.). (6p)

  5. T7, Ch.5 (Myanmar: ethnic/religious cleavages) (14p)

  6. T6, Chs.4 (nation identity) (23p)

  7. Ashley South. 2017. “‘Hybrid governance’ and the politics of legitimacy in the Myanmar peace process.” Journal of Contemporary Asia. (14p)

  8. Jacques Bertrand, Alexandre Pelletier & Ardeth Maung Thawnghmung. 2020. “First Movers, Democratization and Unilateral Concessions: Overcoming Commitment Problems and Negotiating a “Nationwide Cease-Fire” in Myanmar.” Asian Security 16(1):15-34. (15p)

  9. Gerard McCarthy & Nicholas Farrelly. 2020. “Peri-conflict peace: brokerage, development and illiberal ceasefires in Myanmar’s borderlands.” Conflict, Security & Development 20(1): 141-163. (16p)


Week 13 May 17   Identity Politics (3): Islam in SEAsia, Malaysia & Indonesia

  1. T3, Ch.8 (Islam in SEA) (14p)

  2. T5, Ch.10 (Islam & minority in SEAsia) (16p)

  3. Kerstin Steiner. 2018. “Branding Islam: Ilam, law, and bureaucracies in SEAsia.” Journal of current SEAsian Affairs 37(1):27-56. (26p)

  4. Daniel Finnbogason & Isak Svensson. 2018. “The missing jihad. Why have there been no jihadist civil wars in Southeast Asia?” The Pacific Review 31(1):96-115. (15p)

  5. Kirsten E. Schulze & Joseph Chinyong Liow. 2018. “Making Jihadis, waging Jihad: transnational and local dimensions of the ISIS phenomenon in Indonesia and Malaysia.” Asian Security. (14p)

  6. Mohamed Nawab Mohamed Osman & Aida Arosoaie. 2018. “Jihad in the Bastion of ‘Moderation’: understanding the treat of ISIS in Malaysia.” Asian Security. (11p)

  7. Jeremy Menchik. 2019. “Moderate Muslims and democratic breakdown in Indonesia.” Asian Studies Review 43(3):415-433. (14p)

  8. Norshahril Saat & Aninda Dewayanti. 2020. “Jokowi’s Management of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU): A New Order Approach?” ISEAS Perspective 2020(1) (3 Jan.). (5p)  


Week 14 May 24    Identity Politics (4): The Rohingyas (a): from Azeem Ibrahim’s perspective

  1. T8 (whole book)


Week 15 May 31    Identity Politics (5): The Rohingyas (b): other perspectives

  1. T6, Chs. 6 & 12 (history of Rohingyas & monks in the democratic transition) (52p)

  2. Gerry van Klinken & Su Mon Thazin Aung. 2017. “The contentious politics of anti-Muslim scapegoating in Myanmar.” Journal of Contemporary Asia. (20p)

  3. Nyi Nyi Kyaw. 2019. “Interreligious conflict and the politics of interfaith dialogue in Myanmar.” Trends in Southeast Asia 2019-10. ISEAS (26p)

  4. International Crisis Group. 2018. “Bangladesh-Myanmar” the danger of forced Rohingya repatriation.” ICG Asia Briefing #153 (12 Nov.) (5p)

  5. Su-Ann Oh. 2019. “The Rohingya crisis, two years after: impasses and deadlocks.” ISEAS Perspective 2019(65) (25 Aug.). (6p)

  6. Moe Thuzar. 2019. “Repatriating the Rohingya: what regional cooperation can and cannot do.” ISEAS Perspective 2019(73) (13 Sept.). (5p)


Week 16 Jun 07     Identity Politics (6): Women in Southeast Asian politics

  1. Mala Htun. 2004. “Is gender like ethnicity? The political representation of identity groups.” Perspectives on Politics 2(3): 439-458. (14p)

  2. Tracy-Ann Johnson-Myers. 2017. “The impact of electoral systems on women’s political representation.” In Mixed Member Proportional System: Providing Greater Repreentation for Women? Springer. (7p)

  3. Melanie M. Hughes, Mona L. Krook. 2015. “Transnational Women’s Activism and the Global Diffusion of Gender Quotas.” International Studies Quarterly 59:357-72. (11p)

  4. USAID 2014. The success and the barriers to women’s representation in Southeast Asia: between state policies, political parties and women’s movement. (82p)

  5. Netina Tan. 2014. “Ethnic quotas and unintended effects on women’s political representation in Singapore.” International Political Science Review 35(1): 27-40. (10p)

  6. Ben Hillman. 2017. “Increasing women’s parliamentary representation in Asia and the Pacific: The Indonesian experience.” Asia & the Pacific Policy Studies 4(1): 38-49. (10p)

  7. Yeong Pey Jung. 2018. “Making Women Count: Women’s Representation in Malaysia’s 14th General Election.” Paper presented in Wenzao International Conference on Southeast Asian Studies, Kaohsiung, Taiwan. (15p)


Week 17 Jun 14     Holiday (no class)

Week 18 Jun 21     Final essay submission deadline

Teaching Methods
Teaching Assistant



Class participation and presentation   30%

Every week’s short “response paper” 30%

Final essay 40%

Textbook & Reference

  1. John T. Ishiyama. 2012. Comparative Politics: Principles of Democracy and Democratization. Blackwell Publishing Ltd. T1

  2. Andreas Schedler (ed.). 2006. Electoral Authoritarianism: the Dynamics of Unfree Competition. Lynne Rienner Publishers. T2

  3. Alice D. Ba & Mark Beeson (eds.). 2018. Contemporary Southeast Asia: the Politics of Change, Contestation, and Adaptation. Palgrave. T3

  4. Aurel Croissant & Philip Lorenz. 2018. Comparative Politics of Southeast Asia: an Introduction to Governments and Political Regimes. Springer. T4

  5. Ahmad Suaedy. 2018. Islam, Minorities and Identity in SEAsia. INKLUSIF. T5

  6. Renaud Egreteau & Francois Robinne. 2016. Metamorphosis: Studies in Social and Political Change in Myanmar. National University of Singapore Press. T6

  7. Renaud Egreteau. 2016. Caretaking Democratization: the Military and Political Change in Myanmar. Oxford University Press. T7

  8. Azeem Ibrahim. 2016. The Rohingyas: Inside Myanmar’s Hidden Genocide. Hurst. T8

  9. Journal articles

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