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Trendnovation Southeast - Digital Politics

Trendnovation Southeast - Digital Politics

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Published by markpeak
Digital Politics
Digital Politics

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Published by: markpeak on Sep 27, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Coe hoo © A ghs esee b Mchae Laame
Boost, Block, and Ban: The Next Decade of Digital Politics in Southeast Asia
Digital Democacy: A Ne w Ea oDigitalConnectivity
DigitalPicketline:Future oPoliticalTechnologies
Interview with Kan Yuanyong
Bibliometr ics: AToolfor Foresight
 4 t h
 I S S U E
 S e p t e m b e r  2 0 1 0
Welcome to this fourth issue of 
which focuses onthe implications of the digital revolution on the political arena in Southeast Asia.The phenomenon of ‘digital politics’ has swept across the region, presentinggovernments with new challenges, dilemmas and threats, and citizens with newopportunities to mobilize and be heard. But we also see this past decade as justa period of ‘tooling up’. Convergence of digital tools and applications, along withincreasing political consciousness at grass roots level, promise far greater levelsof sophistication and perhaps even a transformation of the political game withinthis decade.
We begin with an article by Dr Pun-Arj Chairatana, who offers a structured de
-nition of digital politics. He points to technological innovation and convergenceas enablers for political and technological neophytes (‘netizens’, ‘cyber-libertar-ians’), allowing them to challenge the traditional political landscape through anew game of ‘virtual democracy’. Dr Pun-Arj reminds us too of the potentiallydisruptive nature of such a shift, using the recent technology intensive cyber-tactics used both by government and the red-shirt protesters in Thailand as anexample of the changing face of politics.The second article is written by Prof Ubonrat Siriyuvasak, media reform activistand Professor of Communications at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University. Con-tending that the digitization of Southeast Asia has created rising expectationsin regard to basic rights and freedom of expression, Prof Ubonrat anticipatesa political awakening among ordinary citizens. Citing campaigns mounted bythe global Burmese diaspora, she points also to the power of the Net to identifyand mobilize like-minded people not only in their respective countries, but alsoacross the world.Prof Ubonrat’s article is followed by a short commentary by Poomjit Sirawong-prasert, who, as President of the Thai Hosting Service Providers Club and guestlecturer in IT at Bangkok University International College, has long been a vocalcampaigner against internet censorship. She has played key roles not only in thedevelopment of the internet in Thailand, but also in monitoring the associatedsocial, ethical and regulatory issues at regional and global levels. Her uniqueperspective has enabled her to contribute an insightful article on the ascendan-cy of digital politics as a force for accountability and grass-roots democracy inSoutheast Asia.This month, TrendNovation Southeast interviews Kan Yuenyong, founder andDirector of the Siam Intelligence Unit, an alternative think tank and researchservice focusing on social, environment, business and economic issues. Mr Kan
discusses the origins of digital politics in this region, and particularly identiestight State control over traditional media as a major factor in fuelling the inuence
of digital media in Southeast Asia’s political arena.Finally, the Trend Tools section discusses the use of bibliometrics to evaluate the
inuence of emerging technologies or issues, and its versatility as a powerful tool
which can contribute new perspectives to foresight exercises such as scenarioplanning.
This issue is also available online at
and we value your feedback and comments.
Wyn EllisChief Editor 
3increasing embrace by mainstream political partiesof online platforms on social networking sites (espe-
cially Facebook and Twitter), individual and ofcial
party blogs and websites, community radio and SMSto communicate with voters. The networks, which arepowerfully anti-censorship, offer alternative platformsfor news, information, and political mobilization, So-cial networking sites are thought to be a factor in theorganizational effectiveness of the April-May streetprotests in Bangkok.In this new political cyber-battleground, old rulesdon’t apply. Cronyism, long entrenched in SoutheastAsian power structures, will have to make room for the newcomers- powerful incumbent groups of cy-ber-libertarians. In this article, we present three sce-narios for digital politics in Southeast Asia - Boost,Block, and Ban. These scenarios consider alterna-tive perspectives of the impact of digital interactionamong these three groups of power players and their constituents.
This scenario stems from the powerful and oftenoligopolistic market power of ICT / telecoms sectors
in Southeast Asian countries. Economic benets
(pricing, taxation and monopoly power) will continueto constrain network coverage, bandwidth and costs,thereby exacerbating the rural-urban digital divide.The good news is that Southeast Asia’s digitalinfrastructure is slowly being upgraded, allowing
The rst decade of the New Millennium saw a dramatic
increase in the extent and dynamism of the interfacebetween humans and information and communica-tion technologies (ICTs) in Southeast Asia; this erawas marked especially by many new applications of wireless and internet technologies. The emergenceof this ‘digital economy’ signals a new era of growththrough exploitation of a new asset or production fac-tor- information. Over the past decade, technologyhas greatly potentiated the power of information toshape the regional socio-political terrain. With ICTsclosely correlated with the spread of democracy, newspaces and modalities for political debate and par-ticipation have opened up, giving new meaning andmomentum to the democratic process.Over the next decade, we can anticipate these still-rudimentary tools to evolve towards a much higher level of sophistication. Waves of ICT applicationsin politics have empowered groups of political neo-phytes (‘netizens’, ‘cyber-libertarians’; ‘digitized-latecomers’), extending the power of people at thebottom of the pyramid to shape and transform theconventional Southeast Asian political game into astage of ‘virtual democracy”=’.The seeds of such a potentially disruptive shift havealready germinated, as groups of increasingly net-savvy citizens share political content in real time. In just seconds they can create exclusive cyber- andon-air societies in order to engage in political lobby-ing, networking, amplifying their own views, co-devel-oping tools for movements demanding free speech,transparency and human rights. Such groups canempower citizens, e.g. in roles such as watching thewatchers, political protest, or arranging direct action.It is important to note that direct action may manifestitself in violent, as well as non-violent ways.Today, Southeast Asia offers many examples of the
Dr Pun-Arj Chairatana,Managing Director –Noviscape Consulting Group
Disclaimer : The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reect the ofcial positions of Noviscape Consulting Group or the Rockefeller Foundation.
Copyright © Trendsoutheast 2009 - 2010. All Rights Reserved.

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