One of the most ignored issues in analysing the underlying processes of rapid growth of East Asian economies by mainstream development analysts is the character of the contemporary state system in the region. They have not considered the view that the nature of reform has varied depending on political structures and the relative strength of reformist political currents. Most of the governments in South East Asia are not parliamentarily elected and mostly adopted repressive measures towards society to implement their policies and to establish their legitimacy.
Commenting on the character of the state system in East Asia, Adrian Leftwich observed that, there can be little doubt that, whether democratic or not, these have not been particularly pleasant states by either Liberal or Socialist standards. They have frowned on dissent, handed out rough and sometimes brutal treatment to student, labour, political and religious organisations which have opposed them, and have used a variety of internal security measures to suppress, banish or eliminate opposition. Leftwich expressed doubts over the legitimacy of East Asian governments under the conditions prevailed as in Indonesia, South Korea and Taiwanese labour struggles in the 1980s, the regular student protests in Bangkok and Singapore Universities, which have bloody sometimes.