Book Reviews: Pluralist Constitutions in Southeast Asia by Jaclyn L Neo and Bui Ngoc Son, Eds.

6 Pages Posted: 26 Dec 2019

See all articles by Benjamin Joshua Ong

Benjamin Joshua Ong

Singapore Management University - School of Law

Date Written: 2019

Abstract

The project which gave rise to this book was motivated by a dearth of existing scholarship on the role of plurality within (as opposed to among) Southeast Asian nations (at p 5); how plurality can serve as a "source of constitutional dynamism" rather than of "constitutional contestations" (at p 6); and the role of constitutional practice (as opposed to the features which institutions possess on paper) (at p 6). The book aims to address these gaps through a collection of essays, each of which focuses on the constitutional orders in one or two Southeast Asian countries. As the editors Jaclyn L Neo and Bui Ngoc Son recognise, the diversity of experiences and constitutional responses is such that "there is no single model of pluralist constitutions in Southeast Asia" (at p 15). After all, the nature and effects of pluralism depend on the extent of division of a society and the types of plurality (at p 10). Moreover, because pluralism itself is 'dynamic' in the sense that "a pluralist constitution should be able to reconsider new constitutional claims and modify its existing settlement to address them" (at pp 12-13), drawing comparisons is not straightforward because of changes within each country over time. Yet, the book does a good job of presenting the complexities of each country's constitutional order; and, as the editors point out in their useful introduction, interesting patterns and contrasts emerge when the various essays are placed side by side (at pp 15-18). The result is a study that is more than the sum of its parts.

Suggested Citation

Ong, Benjamin Joshua, Book Reviews: Pluralist Constitutions in Southeast Asia by Jaclyn L Neo and Bui Ngoc Son, Eds. (2019). Singapore Journal of Legal Studies, Sept. 2019, pp 493-498, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3508982

Benjamin Joshua Ong (Contact Author)

Singapore Management University - School of Law ( email )

55 Armenian Street
Singapore, 179943
Singapore

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