Asian Review

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The transition from socialism to state capitalism in the Lao PDR's socio-economic development has not as yet entirely resulted in the abandonment of the Suffi ciency Economy Philosophy (SEP)-like "ethically-based" development policies but today these policies struggle to gain traction alongside the confl icting conventional development polices of the very infl uential Lao PDR development partners. This research determined the positioning of the SEP and its application beyond Thailand in Lao PDR and involved a qualitative research methodology, included extensive literature reviews, direct observations, visits to SEP training centers and more than 70 semi-structured interviews. The research confirmed the international standing and recognition of the SEP and other like-minded approaches and confirmed the benefi ts and advantages of this SEP approach for genuinely sustainable development. The SEP/ SEP-like principles in the Lao PDR were found to be constructive and resilient at all levels of governance and awareness of the approach is high. A local development approach referred to as the "Lao Thammasat Way" has been specifi cally enunciated by the Government of Lao as it shares many similarities with the SEP and provides a proven alternative to the development approaches and practices of the major International Financial Institutions (IFIs). However in practice today there is a signifi cant and growing disconnect between policy and the "Thammasat Way" as contemporary "conventional (neo-liberal)" development practices continue to gain the ascendancy.



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