Seminar: Towards “Pork Barrel” Legislative Politics in Myanmar?
About the Seminar
Myanmar’s Constituency Development Funds (CDF) were introduced in 2014 by the first post-junta Union legislature. Popular in developing countries and emerging democracies alike, CDFs are funding arrangements that channel public money from the government directly to electoral constituencies for small infrastructure and local development projects. Members of parliament commonly hold sway over the way these funds are allocated annually. CDF schemes have long remained controversial among communities of donors, anti-corruption agencies and civil society watchdogs for their potential for corruptive business and political clientelism. Drawing on recent field research, this lecture will investigate initial patterns of “pork barrel” politics in Myanmar under both the late USDP government (2014-16) and early NLD administration (since 2016). How have elected legislators used their annual CDFs? How has “pork” been allocated and distributed? Has the process been monitored and evaluated? What impact have these “pork barreling” programs had on local economic development? Has there been any indication of partisan use of these funds? The long-term objective of this study is to better understand how the politics of distribution and legislative pork barreling are emerging in post-junta Myanmar, and whether the negative impacts observed in other sociopolitical contexts and post-authoritarian societies, such as corruption, vote-buying, and political clientelism, can also impede, or foster, citizen participation and government accountability in the country.
About the Speaker
Renaud Egreteau (PhD Paris, 2006) is Visiting Fellow at ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore. He previously taught comparative politics at Sciences Po Paris, France and the University of Hong Kong, and was a recipient of a 2015-2016 fellowship at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington DC. He recently authored Caretaking Democratization: The Military and Political Change in Myanmar (Oxford University Press and Hurst, 2016) and co-edited Metamorphosis: Studies in Social and Political Change in Myanmar [with Francois Robinne] (Singapore: NUS Press, 2015).