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Southeast Asia's democracy deficit erodes bottom line

Institutional weakness and selfish elites undermine region's economic progress

| Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos
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Southeast Asia is experiencing a backsliding of democracy, with tighter military control, ethnic and religious intolerance and disregard of due processes.   © Reuters

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen is Southeast Asia's longest-serving elected leader. He recently warned there could be civil war if his ruling Cambodian People's Party lost national elections scheduled for mid-next year. "If war happens, let it be," he told a gathering of army veterans in early May.

Cambodia is one of Southeast Asia's remarkable re-makes -- bouncing back from decades of war and the horror of Khmer Rouge mass murder that killed close to 2 million people in 1975-79, and emerging as a notional democracy by the end of the 1990s.

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