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And having gained power the military proceeded to civilianise and democratise Bangladesh politics. Factions of the military again intervened, however, and though there were suggestions that Bangladesh was moving towards a fused system similar to Indonesia’s dwifungsi, opposition to the authoritarianism of the Ershad regime instead led in 1990 to a popular uprising to restore democracy (though for how long remains to be seen). In the two South Asian cases, as also in Thailand, the military (or factions of the military) has emerged as one of several key players in a fluid political system.

Against this background of diverging views and loyalties within ABRI, questions about ABRI’s role in politics and support for a more democratic style of government in Indonesia began to surface. From the above, it would appear that the stimulus for ABRI’s questioning of its political role was derived from the realisation in certain quarters that Suharto’s entrenchment in power was no longer serving ABRI’s interests, and indeed was hindering ABRI’s own ability to serve the people. Initial attempts to put a distance between ABRI and the Suharto regime surfaced in the mid 1970s.

5 as ‘not free’). J. May, Stephanie Lawson and Viberto Selochan ‘partly free’, below Western Samoa and South Korea), but they are probably the most widely accepted measure available of comparative freedom, and thus of the degree of democracy (or relative ‘democracidity’). They show the two longtime military-dominated regimes of Indonesia and Burma at the bottom of the list, along with Brunei and several communist states; most of the rest (including the two states – the Philippines and Papua New Guinea – in which coups have either failed or not been attempted) are grouped around the middle of the range, with Bangladesh and Papua New Guinea performing better and Thailand and Pakistan worse – but all outranking the civilian regimes in Singapore and Malaysia.

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