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Seminar on Looking at Political Parties through Law: Lessons for Southeast Asia from Northeast Asia?

REGIONAL STRATEGIC & POLITICAL STUDIES SEMINAR

On 30 October, Dr Erik Mobrand, a visiting scholar at the Centre for Asian Legal Studies at the National University of Singapore and an associate professor at Seoul National University, presented a seminar entitled Looking at Political Parties through Law: Lessons for Southeast Asia from Northeast Asia? A small group of 20 people attended coming from the private sector, Singapore’s think tank community and from academia.


Dr Erik Mobrand during the presentation. (Source: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute)

Dr Mobrand’s seminar focussed on the growing trend globally and in Northeast Asia and Southeast Asia of the regulation of political parties through legal means. In Northeast Asia, Dr Mobrand focussed on the legal regulation of political parties in Taiwan and South Korea, two countries that made the transition from dictatorship to democracy in the mid-1980s. In Southeast Asia, he focussed on similar dictatorship to democracy case studies by looking at Thailand in the 1990s, post-Soeharto Indonesia, independent Timor Leste and Myanmar. In most cases, existing political party laws were not cancelled as part of the transition to democracy but modified for a democratic political order. In the case of South Korea, the Electoral Commission is very powerful in relation to political parties and the legal regulation of parties targets the internal workings of parties. In the case of Taiwan, the focus of legal regulation is much more on the protection of political pluralism. Indonesia’s regulation requires that all political parties have chapters in each province and branches in at least 75% of municipalities to ward against regional parties.


From Left to Right: Dr Malcolm Cook and Dr Erik Mobrand (Source: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute)

Dr Mobrand’s presentation was followed by a lively question period that ran beyond the formal end of the seminar. Questions asked could be grouped into four categories – how laws on political parties are enforced or not in practice, why the South Korean electoral commission was given so much power (including having overseas offices), rules affecting overseas voting and party activities, and similarities between the legal regulation of political parties and of other civil society groups.


People who attended the seminar came from the private sector, Singapore’s think tank community and the academia. (Source: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute)