Political Legitimacy in Southeast Asia: The Quest for Moral Authority (c)


Muthiah Alagappa (ed.)

Contemporary Issues in Asia and the Pacific


Stanford: Stanford University Press

Available From: Stanford University Press
Publication Date: 1995
ISBN: 0-8047-2504-7
Binding: cloth
Pages: xv, 446


This is the first book in the series, Contemporary Issues in Asia and the Pacific, sponsored by the East-West Center and published by Stanford University Press.

The nations of Southeast Asia have had varying degrees of success in establishing governments and political systems that in the eyes of their citizens have achieved political legitimacy. Because these countries have much in common and at the same time differ in important ways – with political arrangements varying from Leninist state to monarchy, personal dictatorship to quasi-democracy – they offer what might be considered a naturally occurring political science experiment. This book studies political legitimacy in seven Southeast Asian countries – Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Burma, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam.


Details and ordering information at
Stanford University Press

  1. The Anatomy of Legitimacy
  2. The Bases of Legitimacy
  3. Contestation and Crisis
  4. Malaysia: Aspects and Audiences of Legitimacy
  5. Singapore: Political Legitimacy Through Managing Conformity
  6. The Philippines: The Languages of Legitimation
  7. Burma: The Depoliticization of the Political
  8. Thailand: The Evolution of Legitimacy
  9. Indonesia: Historicizing the New Order's Legitimacy Dilemma
  10. Vietnam: The Changing Models of Legitimation
  11. Seeking a More Durable Basis of Authority


"An important contribution to reflection on legitimacy and democratization as well as to the study of Southeast Asian politics. . . . The book aids our grasp of the problem of legitimacy, and carefully details the way in which it is being played out in one part of the world."

--Journal of Democracy


" . . . a highly satisfying blend of empiricism and theory, a work that commends itself to a wide audience of students and policy makers."

--Geoffrey C. Gunn, Faculty of Economics, Nagasaki University
Journal of Contemporary Asia


"Each of the chapters gives an erudite, informed discussion of the struggle by political elites to achieve and maintain legitimacy. They also provide clear analyses of the cultural resources available to those who wish to challenge the legitimacy of the rulers. . .This collection of conceptual essays and case studies is a helpful reminder of the importance of legitimacy in a region that is rapidly changing. It devotes careful, highly detailed attention to a topic which will remain relevant for many decades to come."

--Gary Hawes, Ford Foundation-Philippines
Political Science Quarterly


"I shall recommend this book to my students not only for its focus on political legitimacy but also as an excellent introduction to South-East Asian contemporary history and politics."

--Nicholas J. White, Liverpool John Moores University
Journal of Commonwealth & Comparative Politics


"Well written, the book will appeal especially to scholars and graduate students interested in Southeast Asian affairs, comparative politics, and political development and political economy."

--A. Magid, SUNY at Albany