The top 20 of ’17, in order of popularity…
#1 Pavin Chachavalpongpun—Kingdom of fear (and favour)
Academic-in-exile Pavin Chachavalpongpun assesses King Vajiralongkorn’s ruthlessness in claiming political power for himself.
#2 Thomas Pepinsky—Jakarta’s new governor doubles down on identity
Thomas Pepinsky struck a nerve with his analysis of what many saw as a racist dog whistle in Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan’s inaugural address.
#3 Cherian George—Governing Singapore, beyond Lee Kuan Yew
An reflection on the LKY legacy, extracted from Cherian George’s new book on Singapore’s arrested political development.
#4 Danang Widoyoko—Ahok and the rise (and fall?) of state capital
The political economy background to Jakarta’s election was more complicated than many assume, argued Danang Widoyoko.
#5 Ian Wilson—Jakarta: inequality and the poverty of elite pluralism
Ian Wilson’s piece set the terms of the debate over what Jakarta’s gubernatorial election was about, by arguing that framing the Jakarta election as a referendum on pluralism ignores the structural inequalities behind many voters’ anger.
#6 Nick Cheesman—How Myanmar’s ‘national races’ trumped citizenship
Writing before the latest outbreak of violence in Rakhine State, ANU Myanmar expert Nick Cheesman provided a critical look at the concept of ‘national races’ which lies behind the persecution of Rohingya.
#7 Jim Taylor—The perplexing case of Wat Dhammakaya
An expert’s take on the politics behind a “puzzling and intensely concerning” crackdown on a controversial Buddhist group by Thailand’s junta.
#8 Christine Gray—Risk, gossip and retribution in Thailand
Thoughts on what naked skydiving says about rumour, insubordination and control under Vajiralongkorn’s reign.
#9 Masturah Alatas—Four decades of a Malay myth
Masturah Alatas takes a close look at the legacy and impact of her father’s seminal study of “Malayness”.
#10 Pavin Chachavalpongpun—Dear Princess Bajrakitiyabha
Some advocacy tips for the UNODC’s new ambassador for the rule of law in Southeast Asia.
#11 Marcus Mietzner and Burhanuddin Muhtadi—Ahok’s satisfied non-voters: an anatomy
ANU’s Marcus Mietzner and Burhanuddin Muhtadi looked at the exit polls from the Jakarta gubernatorial election, and saw warning signs for Jokowi in the number of voters who approved of Ahok’s job performance but voted against him for religious reasons.
#12 Hendri Yulius—Indonesia and ‘transparent sex’
Hendri Yulius reflected on a year of moral panic over LGBT rights, arguing that conservative attacks on homosexuality and LGBT in Indonesia have branched out into a broader assault on feminism and the intrusion of the state into previously private spheres of life
#13 Andrew MacGregor Marshall—Eyes on the spies in Thailand
Andrew MacGregor Marshall gives his overview of some of the CIA files on Thailand that have now been declassified and made widely available to the public for the first time.
#14 Lee Jones—A better political economy of the Rohingya crisis
Lee Jones made a plea for more sophisticated political economy analysis of the ethnic cleansing in Rakhine State.
#15 Tan Zi Hao—Language shaming in Malaysia
A Malaysian soccer player’s speech in English at an awards ceremony provoked controversy and, to Tan Zi Hao, speaks to how fraught the politics of language in Malaysia remain long after independence.
#16 Marzuki Mohamad—Najib doesn’t have GE14 in the bag
Marzuki Mohamad makes the case for why there’s a path to victory for Pakatan Harapan in 2018’s general election, despite the challenges presented by the gerrymander and the “spoiler” role of PAS.
#17 Eli Elinoff—Despotic urbanism in Thailand
Eli Elinoff drew on his field work among urban poor communities in Northeast Thailand to reflect on how the junta is trying to “criminalise the poor and their politics”.
#18 Vedi Hadiz—Behind Indonesia’s illiberal turn
Vedi Hadiz’s post, based on his paper at the 2017 ANU Indonesia Update, took at the look at the structural factors behind why Indonesian politics appears to many to be degenerating into a contest between Islamic populism and hyper-nationalism.
#19 Ray Yen—Consuming orphans in a Jakarta mall
Some captivating photos and field notes from a variously bizarre and crass iftar with orphans in a Jakarta shopping centre.
#20 Nick Nostitz—Capturing Yingluck
A blast from the past: as Yingluck fled Thailand, Nick Nostitz shared some photos and reminiscences on covering the country’s first female prime minister as a photojournalist.