The minorities in Southeast Asia comprise non-indigenous minorities, including immigrants as well as their descendants who have adapted to the local culture. Ethnic minorities across Southeast Asia continue to face very real clashes with their nation-states regarding sociocultural and political differences. Some indigenous political representatives try to covert ethnic/cultural specificity into some special collective rights at the national level and international fora regarding indigenous people (Swearer, 2012). Minorities’ communities within Southeast Asia have found democratic space to express and represent their cultures and values. Immigrants have shaped the political landscape in Southeast Asia. Authoritarian regimes have not given much space to minorities within their population.
There is an amazing persistence of poverty despite the rapid economic expansion in Southeast Asia. Poverty has declined largely in the last 30 years in most regions of Southeast Asia. The reduction in poverty has happened despite growing inequality. Long-term economic growth was been consistent in most parts of Southeast Asia despite the setbacks such as the financial crisis of 1997-98. Economic growth has not led to a total reduction of poverty due to inequality. Absolute poverty has reduced over time due to economic growth. The overall record in poverty reduction and growth has not been uniform in Southeast Asia as experienced in states like the Philippines, East Timor, Indonesia, Lao, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Myanmar. Southeast Asia has performed well in poverty reduction and economic growth (Ananta & Barichello, 2012). The economic crisis in the 1990s negatively affected the achievement of the Southeast Asia population. An obvious manifestation of poverty is malnutrition. Malnutrition reduces poverty alleviation efforts.
Southeast Asia’s concepts of kingship, as well as traditional legitimacy, were not incompatible with other autochthonous patterns that existed. Regarded against their Buddhist and Brahmanic background, concepts of kingship in Southeast Asia are not separable cosmology of a man’s world. Kingship post-1800s is a thing of the past in Southeast Asia as modern democracy and civilization take place. Authoritarian regimes have transformed into democracies or allowed open economies. The monarchical tradition within Malaya presently indicates that even Islamization within Southeast Asia did not impact the Hindu vision of the King being the preserver of the balance system within the Universe (Swearer, 2012). Divinity intertwined with Kingship in Southeast Asia. The concepts of kingship are continually fading within the Southeast Asia region.
Development in Southeast Asia has been largely shaped by interaction with other more powerful regions. Southeast Asia has a long history of crucial economic and security ties with the United States and is a very good place of strategic interest. In the course of the Vietnam War, Southeast Asia countries were ideologically divided as well as feuding. There was a simmering feeling of reorganization that began with economic development by forming a trading bloc. The United States has to maintain regional security by making sure it has a credible military presence, viable regional training as well as a support structure. The United States cannot ignore the region with its vast population and importance in regional balance and stability. The USA’s objective in the region is very complex and not merely balancing against China (Chou & Houben, 2006). The US alliances with Thailand and the Philippines represent two outstanding stands of interest. The Philippines is important in the management of the downside risk while Thailand’s significance is in its potential in assisting in maximizing the upside of the order. Southeast Asia is very significant to the USA’s foreign policy.
The Southeast Asia region represents an interesting as well as a significant arena for democratization in the world. The transition from authoritarian rule within the region to democracy in some countries like the Philippines has attracted a lot of attention. Political systems within Southeast Asia range from democracies to single-party states as well as some societies controlled by the military. There are countries where democracy is established and state leadership is normally elected. Some democracy is still in its infancy stage but is gradually being established (Chou & Houben, 2006). Some countries in Southeast Asia have government structures with combined characteristics from different societies and political structures operate between military rule and democracy. Some countries are single-party states but have opened up their economies like China and are undergoing economic reforms. Democracy in some countries is still a long way coming. They take strategic advantage of static ethnic stereotypes of the colonial kind as being part of the decolonization process.
Women in the Vietnamese Culture
Women within the Vietnamese culture are found in a disadvantaged position. The women do not have jobs outside of the house and up brought out more strictly as compared to men. Paradise for the Blind shows the resilience and power of women to be patient and ensure whatever they go through in life. Mother to Hang lives in Hanoi for 10 years until the husband shows up one day. Hang’s father kills himself out of shame since he cannot stand the repercussion of what he has done (Duong & McPherson, 2002).
Women in Vietnamese culture structure to fend for their families by working hard. Hang mother despite the poverty level in Hanoi struggles to sell snacks to earn a living. Hang’s aunt does back-breaking work in rebuilding a life for herself. She is much respected in the community since she has built herself a fortune through sheer hard work. Her uncle just wanted to take advantage of women and their situation in life to make it but the women work hard to get what they have. In Re-branding Islam women’s resilience stands out despite the religious discrimination that they face. In both Re-branding Islam women play an important role in growing the economy of the country.
Although women suffer because of how they are regarded in society they play an important part in bringing up their children and determining the destiny of men. In Indonesia where the Islam culture is prevalent, women are disadvantaged despite their struggles in everyday life.
Family values play an important role in the two scenarios giving women the strong will to achieve in life (Hoesterey & Hoesterey, 2015). Family values make women determined and sacrifice on behalf of their children and family. Family values bind the women to their goals and they struggle to make the family a success. The role of women as a bedrock of society and family wellbeing cannot be disputed in both cases.
- Ananta, A., & Barichello R.R. (2012), Poverty and Global Recession in Southeast Asia, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies,
- Chou, C., & Houben V. (2006), Southeast Asian Studies: Debates and New Directions Institute of Southeast Asian Studies,
- Duong T.H., McPherson, N. (2002). Paradise of the Blind: A Novel, HarperCollins, 2002,
- Hoesterey, J.B., & Hoesterey, J. (2015) Rebranding Islam: Piety, Prosperity, and a Self-Help Guru, Stanford University Press,
- Swearer D.K. (2012). Buddhist World of Southeast Asia, The: Second Edition, SUNY Series in Religious Studies, Bangkok: SUNY Press.
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