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ASEAN ANALYSIS  21 September 2010

Asean governments adopt western agenda

By David Swartzentruber
AseanAffairs   21 September 2010

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With Asean countries currently enjoying a period of economic success, in fact leading the rest of the world out of a global recession, it is worthwhile to examine the path that the governments have embarked on in their development.

As an historical footnote, the governments of most Asean countries are simply not as developed as the governments of western countries.

The reasons for this are many. Most of the countries simply have not been governing themselves in a democratic manner for a very long time, while the forms of governing in western countries have been evolving for centuries.

Other factors are some of the countries went from an absolute monarchy to a democratic model in a short time, Thailand is a good example of this. Other countries have different backgrounds that are not out of the democratic model.
For example, Vietnam and Laos are communist countries trying to embrace a private enterprise model.

With foreign investors currently pouring money into Asean countries, let’s follow the money and see what they’re doing with it.

Thailand has just approved an 8 percent wage increase for its teachers in an attempt to attract better qualified individuals to the profession. In addition, for the first time, it is imposing tax on real estate to provide funds to develop social programs to help bridge gap between the rich and poor in its society.

Thai public schools have always been badly underfunded and the results are quite obvious in the poor education that has been provided to students. Perhaps this unfortunate situation is now being reversed.

To the north of Thailand, Laos, has realized that it needs to collect more taxes. The Philippines is also a country that has trouble collecting sufficient revenues to fund its operations and is looking to collect more from the foreign professionals that work within the country.

These are small steps but suggest that Asean countries are putting in place programs that have long been part of the western model of what a government should provide for its citizens.

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