SemesterSpring Semester, 2020
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 17     Introduction


Week 2   Feb 24     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. T4, Chs.1~3 (SEAsia) (46pages)



Week 3   Mar 02    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. Regina Abrami & Richard F. Doner. 2008. “Southeast Asia and the political economy of development.” In Erik Martinez Kuhonta, Dan Slater, Tuong Vu (eds.), Southeast Asia in Political Science. Stanford University Press. (25pages)



Week 4   Mar 09    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. T3, Chs.1, 2, 5, 6 (about Asian value and democracy/democratization in SEAsia) (54 pages)



Week 5   Mar 16    Authoritarianism & democracy (1): military (SEAsia, Thailand)

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

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

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

  4. T3, Ch. 20 (SEA militaries in the age of democratization) (14 pages)

  5. Yoshifumi Tamada. 2019. “Democratization and the Military in Thailand.” in Keiichi Tsunekawa and Yasuyuki Todo (eds.), Emerging States at Crossroads. Springer. (13 pages)

  6. Janjira Sombatpoonsiri. 2017. “The 2014 Military Coup in Thailand: Implications for Political Conflicts and Resolution.” Asian Journal of Peacebuilding 5(1): 131-154. (16 pages)

  7. Prajak Kongkirati & Veerayooth Kanchoochat. 2018. “The Prayuth Regime: Embedded Military and Hierarchical Capitalism in Thailand.” TRaNS: Trans-Regional and -National Studies of Southeast Asia 6(2): 279–305. (24 pages)

  8. Termsak Chalermpapanupap. 2018. “Daunting Uncertainties ahead as Thailand moves towards 2019 elections.” ISEAS Perspective 2018 (71) (14 Nov.) (5 pages)


Week 6   Mar 23    Authoritarianism & democracy (2): military (Indonesia, Myanmar)

  1. Rizal Sukma. 2013. “The military and democratic reform in Indonesia,” in Dennis C. Blair (ed.), Military Engagement: Influencing Armed Forces Worldwide to Support Democratic Transitions. Brookings Institution Press. (20 pages)

  2. 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. (13 pages)

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

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

  5. Gerard McCarthy. 2018. “Veterans’ affairs in Myanmar’s reform process.” ISEAS Perspective 2018 (78) (5 Dec.) (8 pages)

  6. Aung Aung. 2019. “Emerging political configurations in the run-up to the 2020 Myanmar elections.” Trends in Southeast Asia 2019-1. ISEAS. (about 32 pages)


Week 7   Mar 30    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. (24 pages)

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

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

  4. T3, Chs. 14, 15 (SEA electoral systems and party systems) (20 pages)

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


Week 8   Apr 06    Authoritarianism & democracy (4): Malaysia and Singapore

  1. Dan Slater. 2012. “Strong-state democratization in Malaysia and Singapore.” Journal of Democracy 23(2):19-33. (14 pages)

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

  3. Bridget Welsh. 2015. “Elections in Malaysia: voting behavior and electoral integrity,” in Meredith L. Weiss (ed.), Routledge Handbook of contemporary Malaysia. Routledge. (8p)

  4. Edmund Terence Gomez. 2016. “Resisting the fall: The single dominant party, policies and elections in Malaysia.” Journal of Contemporary Asia 46(4): 570-590. (17p)

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

  6. Cassey Lee. 2018. “Household income growth since GE13: implications for GE14.” ISEAS Perspective 2018 (22). (about 5p)

  7. 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)

  8. Nidhal Mujahid and Kenneth Cheng. 2018. “The East-West Divide in Malay Tsunami.” Paper presented in Wenzao International Conference on Southeast Asian Studies. (17p)


Week 9   Apr 13    Mid-term exam week (no class)

Week 10 Apr 20    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. T3, Ch. 10 (ethnicity & democracy in SEA) (19p)

  4. T4, Chs.7 & 8 (S’pore, M’sia) (31p)

  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. Ooi Kee Beng. 2018. “Persistent support for the opposition pays off for Malaysia’s Ethnic Chinese Minority.” Paper presented in Wenzao International Conference on Southeast Asian Studies, Kaohsiung, Taiwan. (7p)

  8. Lee Hwok-Aun. 2019. “Mid-term review of 11th Malaysia plan: reaffirming Bumiputra policy, but also signaling new attention to minority needs.” ISEAS Perspective 2019(5) (24 Jan.). (6p)


Week 11  Apr 27    Identity politics (2): Islam in SEAsia & Malaysia

  1. T5, Ch. 8 (SEA & Global jihad) (30p)

  2. 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)

  3. T5, Chs.5, 7, 13 (history pf political Islam in Malaysia) (61p)

  4. 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)

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


Week 12 May 04   Identity politics (3): Islam in Indonesia

  1. Leo Suryadinata. 2018. “Pancasila and the challenge of political Islam: past and present.” Trends in Southeast Asia 2018-14. ISEAS (20p)

  2. T5, Chs. 6 &12 (56p)

  3. Abdil Mughis Mudhoffir. 2017. “Islamic militias and capitalist development in post- authoritarian Indonesia.” Journal of Contemporary Asia 47(8): 495-514. (16p)

  4. Vedi R. Hadiz. 2018. “Imagine all the people? Mobilising Islamic populism for right-wing politics in Indonesia.” Journal of Contemporary Asia. (15p)

  5. Ahmad Najib Burhani. 2018. “Islam Nusantara as a promising response to religious intolerance and radicalism.” Trends in Southeast Asia 2018-21. ISEAS (24p)


Week 13 May 11   Identity Politics (4): Islam, ethnicity, parties, & 2019 elections in Indonesia

  1. Ulla Fionna & Dirk Tomsa. 2017. “Parties and factions in Indonesia: the effects of historical legacies and institutional engineering.” ISEAS Working paper. (21 pages)

  2. Thomas B. Pepinsky. 2014. “Political Islam and the limits of the Indonesian model.” Taiwan Journal of Democracy 10(1): 105-121. (17p)

  3. Diego Fossati & Eve Warburton. 2018. “Indonesia’s political parties and minorities.” ISEAS Perspective 2018(37) (9 July). (8p)

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


  1. Max Lane. 2018. “The further erosion of an Indonesian political taboo.” ISEAS Perspective 2018(6) (1 Feb.). (6p)

  2. Eve Warburton. 2018. “West Java’s 2018 regional elections: reform, religion, and the rise of Ridwan Kamil.” ISEAS Perspective 2018(42) (3 Aug.). (8p)

  3. Charlotte Setijadi. 2018. “West Kalimantan Gubernatorial election 2018: identity politics proves decisive.” ISEAS Perspective 2018(58) (24 Sept.). (8p)

  4. Deasy Simandjuntak. 2018. “North Sumatra’s 2018 election: identity politics ruled the day.” ISEAS Perspective 2018(60) (1 Oct.). (6p)

  5. Siwage Dharma Negara. 2018. “Positioning for elections amidst uncertainties: Indonesia’s 2019 budget.” ISEAS Perspective 2018(67) (26 Oct.). (8p)

  6. Max Lane. 2018. “An empty start to the 2019 election campaign.” ISEAS Perspective 2018 (75) (27 Nov.). (6p)

  7. Budi Irawanto. 2019. “Young and faithless: wooing Millennials in Indonesia’s 2019 Presidential election.” ISEAS Perspective 2019(1) (4 Jan.). (6p)

  8. Leo Suryadinata. 2019. “Which Presidential candidate will Chinese Indonesians vote for in 2019?” ISEAS Perspective 2019(7) (1 Feb.). (5p)


Week 14 May 18    Identity Politics (5): ethnic conflict in Myanmar

  1. Ian Holliday. 2014. “Addressing Myanmar’s citizenship crisis.” Journal of Contemporary Asia 44(3): 404-421. (16p)

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

  3. T6, Chs.4,5,7 (nation identity, Shan, & Kachin) (73p)

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


Week 15 May 25    Identity Politics (6): The Rohingyas in Myanmar

  1. T8 (whole book)

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

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

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


Week 16 Jun 01     Identity Politics (7): 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. USAID 2014. The success and the barriers to women’s representation in Southeast Asia: between state policies, political parties and women’s movement. (82p)

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

  4. 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)

  5. 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 08     Final essay proposal presentation


Week 18 Jun 15     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. William Case (ed.). 2015. Routledge Handbook of Southeast Asian Democratization. Routledge. T3

  4. Leo Suryadinata. 2015. The Making of Southeast Asian Nations: State, Ethnicity, Indigenism and Citizenship. World Scientific. T4

  5. Gordon P. Means. 2009. Political Islam in Southeast Asia. Lynne Rienner Publishers. 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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