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A commitment to new and innovative work on South East Asia.

ISSN 0967-828X (print); 2043-6874 (online)

Editor: Dr Rachel Harrison,
Dept of the Languages and Cultures of South East Asia, SOAS, University Of London

This journal is covered by Thomson Reuters in the Arts & Humanities Citation Index, and Current Contents/Arts & Humanities.

This journal is indexed in Scopus

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Other Sites Of Interest:

AAS Association of Asian Studies

ASEASUK Association of South-East Asian Studies

Cornell University Publications: Southeast Asia Program


Lontar Foundation

Royal Asiatic Society

SEARC Southeast Asia Research Centre

SEAS Society for South-East Asian Studies

SOAS Centre of South East Asian Studies

Editorial coverage

Published quarterly by IP Publishing on behalf of SOAS. South East Asia Research includes papers on all aspects of South East Asia within the disciplines of archaeology, art history, economics, geography, history, language and literature, law, music, political science, social anthropology and religious studies. Papers are based on original research or field work.

SOAS is the leading centre in this field in Europe and one of the most prestigious centres of South East Asian studies in the world.

Submissions - Notes for authors

Please send papers to Dr Rachel Harrison, Dept of the Languages and Cultures of South East Asia, SOAS, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG, UK. E-mail: rh6(at)soas.ac.uk.

Length and presentation of contributions

Papers may be submitted as e-mail attachments in Word or in hard copy. The text should be double-spaced and, for hard copy submissions, an electronic copy in Word should also be supplied on a disk or CD. Papers should preferably be in the range of 6,000-8,000 words long, and no more than 10,000 words.

The title page should contain the full names and addresses of the authors, their professional status or affiliation and the mailing address to which correspondence should be sent. As this page will not be forwarded to referees, the title of the article (without author names) should be repeated on the first page of the text.

An abstract should be provided, comprising 100-150 words. Between 3 and 6 keywords should appear below the abstract, highlighting the main topics of the paper. The text should be organized under appropriate cross-headings (not numbered paragraphs).

A citation should preferably be by footnote, but the Harvard system may be used. The following style should be applied to references:

  • Books:Peter Zinoman (2001), The Colonial Bastille: A History of Imprisonment in Vietnam, 1862-1940, University of California Press, Berkeley, CA.
  • Journal articles: Martin van Bruinessen (2002), 'Genealogies of Islamic radicalism in post-Suharto Indonesia', South East Asia Research, Vol 10, No 2, pp 117-154.

If the Harvard system is used, the author's surname should appear first (Zinoman, Peter) and textual citation should take the form '(Zinoman, 1990)'. For textual citations, where there are two authors please use the word 'and', not the ampersand (thus: '(Smith and Jones, 2012)'. Where there are more than two authors, please use the first-named author only, followed by 'et al' in italics (thus: Smith et al, 2012).

In the case of a reference in a footnote to a work already cited, the note in which the full citation is given should be stated, with the use of 'supra': for example, 'Zinoman, supra note 9, at p 90'.

Tables and illustrations should be presented on separate pages at the end of the text: they will be placed as close as possible to the first textual reference to them.

South East Asia Research uses British spelling throughout (thus 'colour' not 'color'), with the '-ize' verb suffix (thus 'organize' not 'organise').

Prior Publication

Articles are received on the understanding that they are original contributions, and have not been published officially, either in print or electronic form, or submitted for publication elsewhere. In this respect, ‘discussion’ or ‘working’ papers, conference presentations and proceedings are not considered to be official publications, unless they have been formally deemed so by conference organizers, or presented as edited works through recognized publishing channels. If in doubt, authors are asked to draw the attention of the Editor to any prior dissemination of the paper in their letter of submission. Please note that articles should not be posted on personal Websites or social networking sites before or after submission.


 All papers submitted for publication are subject to a 'double blind' review; that is, the anonymity of both author and referees is maintained throughout the reviewing process.

Author Checklist for Final versions

Editorial Board

  • Editor: Dr Rachel Harrison, Dept of the Languages and Cultures of South East Asia, SOAS, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG, UK.
    E-mail: rh6(at)soas.ac.uk
  • Regional Editor: Professor Tony Day, Independent Scholar, Singapore, and CT, USA.
    E-mail: samdayweiss(at)gmail.com
  • Book Reviews Editor: Dr Ben Murtagh, Faculty of Languages and Cultures, SOAS, London, UK. E-mail: bm10(at)soas.ac.uk.

Editorial Advisory Board

  • Professor Peter Boomgaard
    KITLV, Leiden, The Netherlands
  • Professor Anne Booth
    SOAS, University of London, UK
  • Professor Chua Beng Huat
    National University of Singapore
  • Dr Angela Chiu
    SOAS, UK
  • Professor Penny Edwards,
    University of California, Berkeley, USA
  • Professor Michael Herzfeld
    Harvard University, USA
  • Dr Mark Johnson
    University of Hull, UK
  • Professor Benedict J. Kerkvliet
    Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
  • Professor V.T. King
    University of Leeds, UK
  • Dr Gerry van Klinken
    KITLV, The Netherlands
  • Dr Joseph Chinyong Liow
    Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
  • Dr Tamara Loos,
    Cornell University, USA
  • Dr Michael J. Montesano
    Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore
  • Dr Pavida Pananond
    Thammasat University, Thailand
  • Professor Michael G. Peletz
    Emory University, USA
  • Professor Bambang Purwanto
    Gadjah Mada University, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
  • Professor Vicente L. Rafael
    University of Washington, USA
  • Dr Kostas Retsikas
    SOAS, UK
  • Professor J.D. Rigg
    National University of Singapore
  • Dr Mandy Sadan
    SOAS, UK
  • Professor Henk Schulte Nordholt
    KITLV, Leiden, The Netherlands
  • Professor John T. Sidel
    London School of Economics and Political Science, UK
  • Dr Thitinan Pongsudhirak
    Chulalongkorn University, Thailand
  • Professor Thongchai Winichakul
    University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA
  • Dr Ben Tran
    Vanderbilt University, USA
  • Dr Sarah Weiss
    Yale-NUS College, Singapore
  • Dr Jack Yeager
    Louisiana State University, USA
  • Professor Peter Zinoman
    University of California at Berkeley, USA

September 2014 issue (VOL 22, NO 3)

285 Cultural rhetoric and social practice in the search for social justice in Thailand: a case history from Bangkok

Michael Herzfeld

303 Muslim schools (pondok) in the south of Thailand: balancing piety on a tightrope of national civility, prejudice and violence

Nathan Porath

321 Heresy and authority: understanding the turn against Ahmadiyah in Indonesia

Jacqueline Hicks

341 Learning by doing: trade unions and electoral politics in Batam, Indonesia, 2004–2009

Michele Ford

359 The co-evolution of sacred and secular: Islamic law and family planning in Indonesia

Jeremy Menchik

379 Land readjustment for upgrading Indonesian kampung: a proposal

Andri Supriatna and Paul van der Molen

399 Market power, credit risk, revenue diversification and bank stability in selected ASEAN countries

Nafisa Zabeen Ovi, Shrimal Perera and Sisira Colombage

417 The conflict of love and Islam: the main ingredients in the popular Islamic novels of Malaysia

Mohd Zariat Abdul Rani

Book reviews

435 Regime Change and Ethnic Politics in Indonesia: Dayak Politics of West Kalimantan, by Taufiq Tanasaldy
(reviewed by Shane J. Barter)
437 Commodities and Colonialism: The Story of Big Sugar in Indonesia, 1880–1942, by G. Roger Knight
(reviewed by William Gervase Clarence-Smith)
441 Gambling, the State and Society in Thailand, c. 1800–1945, by James A. Warren
(reviewed by Tamara Loos)
444 Austronesian Soundscapes: Performing Arts in Oceania and Southeast Asia, edited by Birgit Abels
(reviewed by Jenny McCallum)
446 Law, Disorder and the Colonial State: Corruption in Burma c. 1900, by Jonathan Saha
(reviewed by Robert H. Taylor)
450 Local Traditions, Global Modernities: Dress, Identity and the Creation of Public Self-Images in Contemporary Urban Myanmar, by Georg Noack
(reviewed by Mandy Sadan)

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Title: Cultural rhetoric and social practice in the search for social justice in Thailand: a case history from Bangkok

Author(s): Michael Herzfeld

Abstract: A Bangkok community that has successfully warded off the threat of collective eviction for over 20 years, Pom Mahakan – located in the symbolically dense historic old dynastic city, next to the wall associated with the latter’s foundation – has aimed at a plan of accommodation between housing rights and historic conservation that deserves serious consideration as a model for emulation. Yet the community still struggles to stay on-site; its currently dubious legal status, resulting from an ill-advised acceptance of an eminent domain order on which the community subsequently reneged on the grounds of inadequate compensation, may typify other such cases, and this suggests an urgent need for legal reform so that the authorities can ratify the community’s plan and enable other communities to follow its lead. This article thus explores the wider implications of the Pom Mahakan case for social justice as well as heritage conservation in and beyond the Thai polity, taking particular account of the tension between egalitarian and authoritarian impulses that continues to characterize this nation-state and especially its political and bureaucratic life.

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Title: Muslim schools (pondok) in the south of Thailand: balancing piety on a tightrope of national civility, prejudice and violence

Authors: Nathan Porath

Abstract: This paper focuses on the ponoh/pondok Muslim schools of the south of Thailand. These schools, which are traditional institutions of religious learning and places of religious piety, have experienced conflict and contestations throughout the twentieth century. Pondok have been pulled by different modernizing forces including separatist violence. The paper concludes that the contestations and negotiations with the Thai government are about the development of the local Malay people’s modern civic identity within Thailand. It suggests that the introduction of a secular curriculum has had (and still has) its benefits for empowering the Malay-speaking population by supplying them with the cultural tools to contest and civically negotiate their position, culture and heritage within the Kingdom. The paper also provides a history of these schools and their political relationship to the Thai government’s policies and to separatist organizations, as well as an update of events relating to the schools during the recent period of separatist and counter-separatist activities.

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Title: Heresy and authority: understanding the turn against Ahmadiyah in Indonesia

Author(s): Jacqueline Hicks

Abstract: This article adds to the literature explaining a rise in the levels of violence and intimidation against the Islamic sect Ahmadiyah in Indonesia. In contrast to approaches that stop at describing the actors or doctrinal differences involved, this article situates the anti-Ahmadiyah discourse in wider processes of maintaining or securing political and social authority. The author first describes how charges of heresy have historically served to consolidate state and political authorities. This analysis is then extended into the post-Soeharto landscape by showing how the charges of heresy against Ahmadiyah have supported fragments of the New Order state to claw back some of the authority lost after the 1998 political transition. Finally, the author situates this process in the context of increased competition among religious authorities. The implications of using such an approach are twofold: first, the Indonesian state’s role in the conflict is not defined only by its absence but also by its active involvement; and second, understanding the rise of conservative ulama as part of a wider process of an increase in many different voices weakens the claim that Indonesia is becoming more religiously conservative. The more general conclusion is that the role of academic writing should be to contextualize contemporary discourses of heresy by revisiting some of the methods used in classic heresiology.

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Title: Learning by doing: trade unions and electoral politics in Batam, Indonesia, 2004–2009

Author(s): Michele Ford

Abstract: Academic studies of local politics in post-Suharto Indonesia focus on the emergence of coalitions between parties and candidates, arguing that the entrenched and dominant role of political elites has effectively excluded non-elite interests from the electoral arena. The question, then, given the very real and serious obstacles to popular participation, is: what possibility is there for non-elite actors to engage in a meaningful way in electoral politics? One example of an attempt at such engagement can be found in the industrial city of Batam, where the local branch of the Federation of Indonesian Metalworkers Unions set up a purpose-specific structure to promote the political interests of its members in successive local executive and legislative elections. This paper argues that, despite the ultimate failure of the union’s electoral experiments between 2004 and 2009, the process of ‘learning by doing’ embedded in them presents a significant challenge to analyses that discount the possibility of substantive popular participation in electoral politics.

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Title: The co-evolution of sacred and secular: Islamic law and family planning in Indonesia

Author(s): Jeremy Menchik

Abstract: While scholars of the Islamic revival have devoted attention to the increased prominence of Islamic law [the shari’a] in the once-secular public sphere, less attention has been paid to a countervailing trend. By mapping the evolution of Islamic law over the twentieth century, the author demonstrates that the shari’a is a product of decades of negotiations between Islamic institutions and more secular authorities including government ministers, doctors and social movements. This evolution suggests that secular authority and secular forms of knowledge have influenced but not displaced religious authority and religious forms of knowledge. The opposite is also true. This finding raises questions about the binary distinction between secular and sacred authority and suggests the co- evolution of religion and secularism in modern Muslim societies.

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Title: Land readjustment for upgrading Indonesian kampung: a proposal

Author(s): Andri Supriatna and Paul van der Molen

Abstract: A majority of Jakarta’s population resides in unregulated and densely populated settlements called kampung, with no access to utilities. The urban development policy of previous municipal governments focused strongly on modernization of the city to the neglect of the poor kampung population. The Kampung Improvement Programme, started in 1969, is considered a notable exception to this tendency. However, despite efforts to improve the conditions in kampung, the number of kampung dwellers is increasing. The governor of Jakarta aims to revitalize 350 kampung in his first term of office (by 2017). This paper investigates whether the land readjustment procedure that is applied in many countries may contribute to the realization of this ambition. The findings indicate that such is indeed the case and a pilot project is recommended.

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Title: Market power, credit risk, revenue diversification and bank stability in selected ASEAN countries

Author(s): Nafisa Zabeen Ovi, Shrimal Perera and Sisira Colombage

Abstract: This paper investigates the effects of market power on credit risk, revenue diversification and bank stability in selected Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member countries (Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam) using a sample of 153 commercial banks during 1998–2010. The authors find that bank market power is positively associated with credit risk and revenue diversification. Nevertheless, these associations diminished during the global financial crisis (GFC), implying that banks with greater market power have been better able to manage their non- performing loans during the crisis period. Bank stability, however, is not associated with market power. Instead, it is found to be a negative function of state ownership, asset composition and banking freedom. Overall, even though ASEAN banks with greater market power have higher credit risk, they are more diversified, thus leaving their overall bank risk unaffected.

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Title: The conflict of love and Islam: the main ingredients in the popular Islamic novels of Malaysia

Author(s): Mohd Zariat Abdul Rani

Abstract: This study arises from a recent development in Malaysia – the emergence of what is commonly known as the phenomenon of ‘popular Islamic novels’. The phenomenon is characterized by overwhelmingly positive public reception of novels overtly displaying Islamic external features in their titles, covers and blurbs. The development is particularly interesting because the novels that previously dominated the general literary market in Malaysia were teenage romance novels with erotic nuances. Thus there has been a marked shift in the popular literary tastes of the public. This shift invites a number of questions: are the stories in the popular Islamic novels of Malaysia actually Islamic, as suggested by their external features? If so, just how is Islam represented in these novels? And in relation to that question, what narrative strategies have the writers of these novels employed to garner such an extraordinary response from the public? To answer these questions, the present study analyses two popular Islamic novels, Salju Sakinah by Zaid Akhtar and Hidayah Cinta by Ilham Hamdani. The aim of the analysis is to identify the representations of Islam contained within these books, and subsequently to summarize the narrative strategies in both novels. The author finds that romantic conflicts are the overriding theme in the two novels, with Islam being employed as the moral scheme according to which these romantic conflicts are evaluated. It is also noted that romantic conflicts and Islam are the two main ingredients that are exploited as narrative strategies to appeal to the popular literary tastes of the Malaysian reading public.

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