(UPDATED) Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary Margaux “Mocha” Uson, earlier tapped to lead the information campaign on federalism, made a false claim about federalism and the systems of government in Southeast Asia.
As flagged by a VERA Files Fact Check reader in an email, Uson in her July 24 Philippine Star column argued about the merits of federalism and claimed the Philippines is the lone country with a unitary form of government in Southeast Asia:
“We are being left behind by our neighbors in terms of governance, as we are the only nation in Southeast Asia that is under a unitary form of government, which places the country’s problems to be solved only by the hands of a few leaders, and manipulated by Manila-based oligarchs.”
Source: The Philippine Star, Manila is not the Philippines, July 24, 2018
Uson’s claim is inaccurate.
Almost all of Southeast Asia have been described as unitary countries with government power concentrated at the center:
- The constitution of Indonesia describes it “a unitary state, with the form of a republic.”
- Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development country profiles describe Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam as unitary countries.
- A Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency report describes Laos having a system that “is ‘unitary’ in that responsibilities are copied rather than delegated from the central to lower levels.”
- An Asian Development Bank report describes Timor-Leste as “governed by an essentially unitary system with every aspect of the administration and fiscal system controlled from (the capital) Dili.”
- A United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization database of country laws and constitutions describes Brunei as “a unitary state governed by constitutional monarchy.”
Only Malaysia has a federal form of government, where power is shared by the states Johore, Kedah, Kelantan, Malacca, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Penang, Perak, Perlis, Sabah, Sarawak, Selangor and Terengganu.
Singapore, a city-state, has no local government.
UPDATE: Uson, in an Aug. 4 Facebook post, issued an erratum.
“Re-checking on my sources, I agree that the statement is in error, and I apologize to all readers for the same,” she said.
FAOLEX Database, Brunei Darussalam
Judicial Appointments Commission, Federal Constitution of Malaysia
Commonwealth Local Government Forum, The Local Government System in Singapore
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Federalism
2018-08-03 11:12:57 UTC