aibrahim2 Getty Images

To Democracy and Back in Southeast Asia

From Thailand to Malaysia, Southeast Asian countries are grappling with rapid democratic erosion, facilitated by the COVID-19 crisis. Given that good governance, accountability, and transparency are the cornerstones of inclusive economic growth, this trend spells disaster, especially for the poor.

KUALA LUMPUR – For several decades, “people-powered” grassroots movements across Southeast Asia have fought for democratic reforms, human rights, improved access to quality education and health care, and, ultimately, an end to extreme poverty. These movements have been motivated by a vision of inclusive prosperity and social justice that stands as an alternative to the neoliberal “road to serfdom” on which much of the region has been traveling by default.