The financial crisis that swept East and Southeast Asia in the late 1990s triggered calls for institutional reforms throughout the region, including reforms to national legal systems. Many of the reforms being called for can be fairly described as neo-liberal, meaning that they conform to a general policy stance in favor of free markets, free trade, and small, constrained government. This paper, prepared for a conference sponsored by the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development, explores the increasingly important law reform plank of the neo-liberal reform agenda. The rule of law has become the overarching concept explaining and legitimating neo-liberal law reforms, yet this paper argues that thin neo-liberal rule of law provides little useful guidance to those who face the task of reforming East and Southeast Asia's actual legal systems.
in Neoliberalism and Institutional Reform in East Asia 63 (Meredith Woo Cumings, ed., 2007)