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Re-thinking the Southeast Asian Development Model (SEADM)

Richard Higgott and Helen Nesadurai

CSGR Working Paper No. 92/02

February 2002




This paper argues that the Southeast Asian Development Model (SEADM), as practised in parts of Southeast Asia, reflected an overwhelming emphasis on growth as a goal while neglecting issues of equity and justice. This was clearly seen in the Thai and Indonesian experiences where rising growth rates and income levels under open/free market policies was accompanied by widening income and wealth disparities as well as growing feelings of marginalisation, deprivation and of injustice among large segments of the local population. In both countries, these developments led to growing challenges to the open market system well before the regional financial crisis. Yet, rethinking the SEADM does not mean doing away with open market policies. Instead, approaches to development must take seriously the goals of equity and social justice to overcome the danger of open conflict and societal resistance that will likely emerge to challenge the very policies that have the best chance of delivering economic well being over the long run.

Keywords: Development model; growth; equity; distributive justice; Thailand; Indonesia

Address for correspondence:

Centre for the Study of Globalisation and Regionalisation
University of Warwick
Email: or

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