Redefine the possible.
space Future students Current students Faculty & staff Alumni Visitors York crest

York Centre for Asian Research Update            Issue 10, Monday, April 18, 2005

This Week: YCAR holds Annual General Meeting on Wednesday, April 20, 2005

YCAR will hold its Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Wednesday, April 20, 2005 from 1:00-3:00 pm at 305 York Lanes. Prior to the AGM,  the Executive Committee (ExeCom) will meet from 10:00-12:00 noon followed by a lunch reception from 12:00-1:00 pm at 270B York Lanes. The AGM is open to the general public and will discuss membership, programs and projects for FY 2004/2005 as well as plans and priorities for FY 2005/2006 onwards. For those who wish to participate, please contact Rhoda Reyes, Centre Coordinator, at or at (416)736-2100 x 44068. 

Next Week: YCAR participates in SCOR Review on Thursday, April 28, 2005

We also would like to inform you that YCAR will have an Interim Senate Committee on Research (SCOR) Review on Thursday, April 28 at 305 York Lanes. The SCOR establishes policies and guidelines for the development and encouragement of research excellence in the University, reviews procedures for the different types of research institutes and centres, as well as recommends and reports to Senate relevant research policy and initiatives, as appropriate. The interim review will be conducted by Professor Valerie Preston from York University Department of Geography, Faculty of Arts and Professor Harry Smaller from the Faculty of Education and Deputy Director of the Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean (CERLAC). The Internal Reviewers will meet with the YCAR affiliated faculty members from 1:30-3:00 pm followed by a meeting with YCAR affiliated graduate students from 3:00:-3:30 pm. If you wish to participate in the review, please inform Lia Novario of the Office of the Vice-President Research and Innovation at or at (416) 736-2100 x 33782. 

Post-Tsunami Thanksgiving Gathering on Friday, April 29, 2005

We are holding a thanksgiving gathering for the Tsunami Benefit Concert Planning and Organizing Committee Members, Participants and Volunteers on Friday, April 29 at YCAR from 3:30-to 5:30 pm. As reported earlier, we were able to raise some $3,000 for the event and we would like to discuss together our plans for the Tsunami Educational Support Fund.  There will be food, drinks, music and video-showing of the benefit concert. YCAR would like to extend its thanks to everyone. All are welcome to join us!! 

Incidentally, Mr. Jimmy Chan of the Albert CW Chan Foundation is joining us in this gathering along with the staff of York Foundation. He will be meeting with Junjia Ye as the first recipient of the Albert Chan Fellowship Grant. Junjia did her BA Honours in Geography and Communications at YorkU and graduated on dean's list (top 5%) in 2004. Jia is currently pursuing MA in Geography and is doing her thesis on "Multiple Identities in a Transnational Workplace: The Case of Singapore's Financial Sector."  Her research aims to study and understand how Singapore's economic policies related to transnationalizing its labour market are affecting their workforce. More specifically, the research will focus on understanding how workers in the internationally oriented financial sector understand inequalities based on income, type of work, ethnicity/race, and gender and how these inequalities are expressed in the everyday life patterns.

Meet CMTP's New Project Administrator

WANG Yu (Esther) is joining the China Management Training Programme (CMTP) as a project administrator responsible for the logistics and administrative matters.  Esther has Bachelor in Engineering from Tongji University, Shanghai where she received awards for academic excellence.  She will be graduating from Schulich in a few weeks with a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) specializing in real property development and finance.  She is also a 2005 SIOR Scholar in Real Property and a candidate for the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) June 2005 Level 1 Exam.  She has an impressive background of experience in architectural and development finance.  We are excited about her as an addition to the team of executive development programming for the Asian Business Management and China Management Training Programme.  She will be busy when the next wave of training groups arrives from China this end of April.  She can be reached at Dr. Máire O'Brien, CMTP Director, would like you to welcome her.

Upcoming Events: Feminist Responses to Restructuring in the Global South - A One-Day Colloquium at York University (TEL Building 1004), Friday April 22, 2005 - 9:00 am - 4:30 pm.  

Organized by Dr. Saraswati Raju (CIDA / IDRC / Carleton University / University of Ottawa Visiting Scholar in Feminist Perspectives on Globalization), Jawaharlal Nehru University, and Dr. Valerie Preston, York University. 

This day-long workshop will focus on feminist responses to restructuring in the Global South. Topics include: º restructuring and gender inequalities; º the impacts of international institutions and non-governmental organizations on gender roles and relations; and º the role of the state in addressing inequality. Current research on Feminist Responses to Restructuring in areas such as the Philippines, Korea, Vietnam, Japan, India, Nepal, Guyana, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico will be presented. Panel Discussants will draw out the lessons for the North from research in the Global South. Speakers and Discussants include: Deb Barndt (York University), Victoria Bromley (Carleton University), Christina Gabriel (Carleton University), Hua Mei Han (University of Toronto), Philip Kelly (York University), Kathryn McPherson (York University), Sanjukta Mukerjee (Syracuse University), Beverley Mullings (Syracuse University), Grace Nyamongo (York University), Linda Peake (York University), Ito Peng (University of Toronto), Saraswati Raju (Carleton University), Katharine Rankin (University of Toronto), and Leah Vosko (York University). Sponsored by: York University, the Faculty of Arts (York U), the Department of Geography (York U), the Centre for Feminist Studies (York U), the School of Women's Studies (York U), and Carleton University, Ottawa. Students welcome. Lunch and refreshments will be served. Attendance is free, but please register by phone or e-mail at phone number 416-736-2100 extension 22421, e-mail address: <>.

International Conference: 2005 Pacific Symposium - June 8-10, 2005, Honolulu, Hawaii - Asia Pacific Democracies Advancing Prosperity and Security

The symposium will examine political transitions in Asia , their consequences for the region, and the implications for U.S. foreign and security policies. It will explore key issues such as the progress and problems of democratic transitions in East Asia and the Pacific, how the United States can build contacts with new political forces without interfering in democratic processes, and which policies will encourage democratization and effective security cooperation with democratic allies.  Other issues to be considered  include: globalization; generational changes; economic and domestic political developments; the impact of the South East and South Asian tsunami on humanitarian, disaster relief and regional security cooperation; and differing perceptions of threats and U.S. policies in the region. For the agenda and registration for this event, visit their website at:

Call for Papers: The EAC-JSAC Alberta Conference 2005 - Connections and Identities in East Asia and Beyond - September 29-October 2, 2005, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada

The event is organized by the East Asia Council of the Canadian Asian Studies Association (CASA) and the Japan Studies Association of Canada (JSAC). This is the first time that the two associations will hold a conference together, and they hope to provide opportunity for Japan, China, and Korean researchers to meet their counterparts in respective disciplines as well as provide opportunity to examine national specificity against regional and global patterns.

With the conference theme on “Connections and Identities in the Region and Beyond”, the conference organizers would like to invite the participation of specialists in East Asia and Japan studies, educators of East Asian and Japanese languages and issues in Canadian educational institutions as well as those who are engaged in educational and social exchange between East Asia and Canada, and who are researching on issues involving East Asian Canadians, i.e., Chinese Canadians, Japanese Canadians, and Korean Canadians.

Potential topics include, but are not limited to:
• Emerging new political, economic, business, cultural and social connections in East Asia 
• Transformation in the national and regional identities reflecting new situations
• Achievement, practice and challenges in teaching East Asia and East Asian languages 
• Existing and emerging educational exchange between East Asia and Canada
• East Asian Diaspora studies
• Past, present, and future of East Asians in Canada
• Identity of East Asians adopted by Canadian families
• Japanese, Chinese, and Korean identities in Canadian society

The EAC-JSAC would also like to invite submissions of panels (3 or 4 papers) thematically organized to cover multiple countries, as well as single country focused panels. Panels toward special issue publication in refereed journals are also encouraged. The journals that would welcome special issue proposal include Japanese Society, Pacific Affairs and Canadian Journal of Development Studies.

Proposal Paper Submission Format:
1. Paper title
2. Abstract (150 words)
3. Name of presenter
4. Category (M.A. student, Ph.D. student, Post-doc, Assistant Professor, etc.)
5. Institutional affiliation
6. Brief bibliographical information (3 sentences)
7. Description of area of research interest (3 sentences)
8. Equipment needs for presentation
9. Request for financial assistance

For panel proposal, please include the above information for all papers included in the panel. Please send your proposal electronically to the following email address. The proposal submission closing date is May 30, 2005. For further information please contact:

Wenran Jiang
Chair, Program Committee, the EAC-JSAC Alberta Conference 2005
Associate Professor, Department of Political Science
University of Alberta

Satoshi Ikeda
Organizer, the EAC-JSAC Alberta Conference 2005
Associate Professor, Department of Sociology
University of Alberta

Funding Opportunities: Canada Council Killam Research Fellowship

The York University Office of Research Services (ORS) is coordinating an information session for faculty members who may be interested in preparing a submission to the upcoming CANADA COUNCIL Killam Research Fellowship
competition (Deadline: May 16).  This session will be led by Peter Morand, Special Advisor, Killam Program.

  Wednesday, April 13
  1:00 - 2:30 p.m.
  Room 1014, Tel Building

Please confirm your attendance by contacting ORS at ext. 55055 or

This session will consist of a general presentation that will include historical and statistical information, explanations on eligibility and application requirements, tips on how to improve one's application and information on the electronic filing process.  This will be an interactive presentation followed by Qs&As.  Peter Morand will also be available to meet briefly with individual applicants at the end of the session. Complete details about the Canada Council Killam Research Fellowship may be found at the following web site:

OBJECTIVE:  To provide full release time from teaching and administrative duties to distinguished Canadian researchers who wishes to pursue independent research in any of the following fields: humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, health sciences, engineering and studies linking any of the disciplines within these broad fields.

VALUE:  The fellowship provide funds to allow for teaching replacement, to a maximum of $53,000 per year, plus the cost of fringe benefits.

DURATION: Two years.

DEADLINE: May 16, 2005

York University researchers are reminded that all applications for external research funding, including Letters of Intent, must be reviewed and approved by the Office of Research Services before they are submitted to the granting agency.  For internal approval, the application must be accompanied by a completed ORS Application Checklist, which requires the Chair's and Dean's signatures.  To ensure that the approved application is ready by the agency deadline, a complete application folder must be submitted to the ORS ten (10) working days prior to final submission date.

For more info, contact Office of Research Services, 214 York Lanes, York University, Tel: 416-736-5055 Fax: 416-736-5512

Asian Analysis: Thailand: Thaksin's Election Triumph - Re-packaging Old Politics?

The landslide victory of Thailand's ruling Thai Rak Thai (TRT) Party delivered to Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra an historic second term in office. Of a total of 500 lower house seats TRT emerged with 377, the Democrat Party 96, Chart Thai (Thai Nation Party) 25 and the new Mahachon (Public Party) 2.

(Left). THAKSIN SHINAWATRA gives a speech at Government House after accepting a Royal endorsement to become the next prime minister. (Right) THE MAHACHON PARTY 's two MPs, Tun Jintawet and Tassaneeya Rattanasettasong, front row left and right, vote alongside Thai Rak Thai MPs to select Thaksin Shinawatra as premier at a House meeting. Source: The Nation,  Photos in the News.

Thaksin's governing party entered this election campaign with overwhelming advantages over its main rival, the beleaguered Democrat Party. Beginning as the core of a governing coalition in 2001 (with 248 seats), TRT absorbed three other political parties together with two large factions of its remaining coalition partner, the Chart Thai Party, increasing TRT seats to 319 by 2003. This gave Thaksin greater control over government appointments and afforded him immunity from parliamentary censure motions (under the 1997 constitution). These mergers gave TRT a virtual monopoly over the strategically important Northeastern constituencies as well a representation in the Muslim-dominated southern border provinces. TRT has been campaigning for the 2005 election since it first came to office. Its core group of managers has engineered an American presidential-style 'permanent campaign', whereby campaigning and governing have been fused through the skilful fashioning of policy and leadership image making. During 2003-4 Thaksin introduced further populist programs, including schemes of poverty registration and housing provision. From October 2004 Thaksin capitalised to the full on his advantages of incumbency: numerous major infrastructure projects were announced, aimed towards building and reinforcing electoral support in key regions, including Bangkok. Through trendy 'mobile cabinet meetings' and 'workshops' held in provincial centres, development projects were publicised as rewards for future electoral support.

Against the multiple advantages of TRT the Democrats faced problems. The party leader, Banyat Bantadtan (elected in place of Chuan Leekpai in 2003) lacked the public charisma to compete against the mercurial and well-publicised Prime Minister. They faced serious setbacks in July-September 2004 when some Democrat MPs defected to TRT and prominent members left to form the new Mahachon Party. But in August the DP was heartened by a victory in the Bangkok governor elections, which they interpreted as an urban protest vote against Thaksin's nepotistic domination of the state, control over the media and heavy-handed treatment of the southern border disturbances. Existing southern problems were exacerbated by the Tak Bai incident in October, where some 85 villagers were killed by the military. The DP took full advantage of this to attack Thaksin's leadership. But if Thaksin's popularity may have been waning, in late December it received a major boost following his highly publicized efforts to manage recovery operations in the wake of the Tsunami devastation on the Andaman coast.

TRT's campaign message stressed the government's proven record as a policy/performance-based organisation responsive to the people's needs and headed by a decisive leader of international renown. Arguing that over the past four years TRT had 'repaired' the damage of the 1997 crisis by restoring economic growth and attacking social problems, the party presented its next term as a period of 'strengthening'. A raft of 14 policy measures was announced, including deferred repayment loans for university students, establishment of village banks and tax relief for householders caring for elderly parents. On the hustings TRT candidates parroted Thaksin's punishment-reward mantra that electing non-government candidates would rob voters of development funds that were only available to government MPs. The Democrats highlighted the main issue as the defence of constitutional democracy based on checks-and-balances against Thaksin's monopolistic 'parliamentary dictatorship'. The DP slogan 'at least 201' highlighted the minimum number of MPs necessary to permit parliamentary censure motions against the Prime Minister. Arguing for sustainable, as opposed to shallow, populist solutions to pressing socio-economic problems, DP policies actually resembled TRT's raft of handouts, with promises of 'free' elementary education, allowances for the elderly, unemployment relief and vocational training. The Mahachon Party, a hybrid creature headed by two former Democrats - a prominent academic advocate of grass-roots democracy and an old-style machine politician - touted itself as a 'third force' and targeted the poverty-stricken Northeast, aiming to win at least 20 seats. It stressed public participation and decentralisation, but its main policies appeared very similar to the Democrats. The rump that remained of Chart Thai under the elderly Banharn Silpa-Archa focused its campaign around Banharn's earlier prime ministerial record and the commitment of its members to delivering development benefits to constituents.

Notwithstanding Thaksin's modernistic rhetoric stressing policy and government performance, the election showed that Thai political culture has comfortably acquired a contemporary gloss but remains essentially unchanged. Thaksin himself refused to debate with the Democrats on television, claiming that it was against Thai tradition. A national survey by one prominent academic institution revealed that the reputation and connections of candidates were far more important than party affiliation to most voters. This was born out in the election, where locally dominant political families were major players in rural constituency contests. TRT's electoral success was essentially based on its ability to accumulate MPs with strong canvassing networks and traditional voting bases. Well-established features of violence and vote buying were conspicuous, especially in hotly contested seats. Incumbent governments' use of state officials to work on their behalf (particularly the police) remains central to Thailand's winner-take-all politics. Many doubt the Electoral Commission's neutrality in cases of adjudication over electoral irregularities.

Important regional contrasts were apparent in the results. Notably, TRT increased its already strong hold over Bangkok (from 28 to 32 seats) at the expense of the Democrats. The DP clearly misread the import of the Bangkok governor election result. But TRT failed miserably in the South, where it gained only one seat and lost all 11 seats in the three Muslim border provinces, all but one seat falling to the Democrats. The Democrats now face a hard road of rethinking and rebuilding to become a convincing electoral alternative and prove that they are much more than a preferred party for southerners.

TRT is now able to form the first elected single-party government in Thailand's fraught political history. Until the advent of Thaksin's administration in 2001, no government has served a full term due to coalition government infighting or collapse through no-confidence motions. Despite this apparent vindication of the reformist 1997 constitution, many commentators fear that Thaksin's continuing rule signals the emergence of authoritarianism through subversion and manipulation of the constitution.

WATCHPOINT: Thaksin Shinawatra recently responded to domestic critics by posing the question: 'Where in the world is a single-party government called a dictatorship?' How justified are the critics who argue that the advent of the first (elected) single-party government in Thai history may jeopardise democratic government in Thailand?

Marc Askew is Associate Professor, School of Social Sciences, Victoria University of Technology, Melbourne. Asian Analysis is published by the Asean Focus Group in cooperation with the Faculty of Asian Studies at the Australian National University, Canberra, Australia.

York Centre for Asian Research (YCAR). For information, contact
Ste. 270 York Lanes, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto ON  M3J 1P3. URL: