Archive for the ‘Laos’ Category

The other night after a particularly hard one, I was in a taxi home when I happened to ask the driver where he was from.  I couldn’t pick his accent or demeanour, and had originally guessed Thailand.  He told me he was Laotian, and then was absolutely blown away by the fact that I actually knew where Laos was, let alone that I had an interest in its politics.  He passionately told me of how he’d escaped from a detention camp during the Vietnam War with his wife, and now had had children here.  As I was getting out, he handed me a taxi company card with a URL scrawled on it; www.laoalliance.org.

Now I’ve had a chance to look at the site, I understand that that taxi driver is probably an active member of this organisation which is very far-reaching, and based in Canada.  The website itself is not the best reference, because it’s terribly designed (sorry, Alliance for Democracy in Laos), which seems to be a theme for Southeast Asian official or NGO websites; and it’s mostly in Lao too.  I did some extra research and was actually quite surprised to learn from insiders’ perspectives that Laos is certainly not yet as democratic as I had thought.

Check out the Alliance.  Movements of this kind seem to be a contemporary trend throughout ASEAN nations, e.g. Malaysia last month.  We should reassess our perception of the progressiveness of democratic institutions in Southeast Asia.


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