The 21st century has long been described as the Asian century. It was therefore an auspicious moment and a special privilege to participate in the May 2018 inaugural conference of WAPOR Asia in Taiwan, where we all met new colleagues and made new friends. This remarkable inaugural conference was organized with exceptional speed so that WAPOR Asia President Robert Chung could report on developments at WAPOR’s annual meeting in Marrakesh later this summer. Morocco is part of WAPOR’s new West Asia and North Africa (WANA) chapter.
As a WAPOR life member who lived in Europe for many years, first as a graduate student at the LSE, later as an election study researcher in Germany supported by a fellowship from the German Marshall Fund of the United States, and then as a chaired professor at the University of Amsterdam working on comparative public opinion, media, and national elections in various countries, and European Election Studies, I moved back to the U.S. in 2003 with one overarching goal in my new administrative portfolio: to launch and strengthen strategic partnerships and connections in Asia. As Vice Provost for International Affairs and Director of the Claus M. Halle Institute for Global Learning at Emory University in Atlanta from 2003-2013, I worked across the disciplines and all the schools and often led delegations to Korea, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, India, Singapore, Turkey, and Australia. In fall 2013, I was blessed with time for research as a Fulbright Nehru Scholar at IIT-Bombay and my daughters loved studying at the American School of Bombay. I have returned to Asia two to four times a year since then.
Think WAPOR Asia
I believe WAPOR Asia will become an important base to foster cross-regional and cross-national collaboration on research and publications. Many of the institutions and organizations represented by the presenters and keynote speakers at WAPOR Asia’s inaugural conference in Taiwan are internationally renowned and highly regarded including, for example: The University of Hong Kong (HKU), Korea’s Sungkyunkwan University and Korea University, Japan’s Institute of Statistical Mathematics, the International Islamic University Malaysia, Social Weather Stations in the Philippines, and CVoter Foundation, CPSR, and Greenpeace in India, and Taiwan’s Academica Sinica. Last but by no means least are the hosting organizations for the conference, the Taiwan Institute for Governance and Communications Research (TIGCR) and the Election Studies Center (ESC), where they have an impressive array of survey data from Taiwan election studies and media use studies that they make publicly available, at National Chengchi University (NCCU).
It was fascinating to learn about developments in the Asia region through a wide range of panels on topics such as “Improving Traditional Survey Methodology,” “Public Opinion and Issue Cleavages,” “Public Opinion on Governance and Elections,” as well as a panel discussion on “Freedom to Publish Opinion Polls,” including WAPOR Asia representatives Robert Chung, from HKU and President of WAPOR Asia, Yashwant Deshmukh, from India’s CVoter Foundation and Vice President of WAPOR Asia, and WAPOR Asia Council members Jibum Kim, from Korea, Syed Arabi Idid from Malaysia, Gerardo A. Sandoval from the Philippines, and Eric Yu from Taiwan.
Thanks to Eric and the conference program team for creating a panel on “Innovation on Measuring Opinion,” that included research on “Conducting Exit Polls in the May 2016 Philippine National Election” by a team from Social Weather Stations, a comparison of CATI and cell phone surveys by colleagues at Academica Sinica and Fu Jen Catholic University in Taiwan, the “Malaysian Image of America’s Two Presidents Obama and Trump” by a colleague at International Islamic University Malaysia, and my team’s presentation on our “America’s Image” project, comparing opinion in leading media from China, India and Mexico, that included an Indian colleague and my current and former student research team members at Emory University’s Center for Law and Social Science from China, Mexico, Honduras, Korea, the UK and the U.S. as co-authors. The panel on “Comparative Public Opinion Research,” provided fresh insights on how Filipinos compare with Spaniards, Americans and Japanese on “Dependence on Government” from a Social Weather Stations team, the “Evolution of local identities in Hong Kong an Taiwan,” from a HKU team, and a cross-country analysis of “Citizenship Norms and Political Participation,” from a Taiwan-U.S. team. I presented on “Leaders, Issues and Electoral Alliances,” predicting party support from our surveys in Bihar 2015, a component of our India Election Studies (IES) project that involves a team of co-investigators from India, Singapore, Japan and the U.S.
President Robert Chung’s keynote address at WAPOR Asia’s inaugural conference in Taiwan was most stimulating. I hope he will provide highlights from his remarks here.
The WAPOR Asia inaugural conference in Taiwan was a perfect example of gracious hospitality in the region – great conversations, delicious meals, and a rather posh and spacious international hotel designed to accommodate the cost-conscious traveler. I expect WAPOR Asia’s membership will grow rapidly, and I am delighted to have become a member at this inaugural meeting. WAPOR Asia welcomes members from around the world who want to engage and learn more about developments this dynamic, growing and culturally diverse region. I look forward to working with the CVoter Foundation and the conference program team for WAPOR Asia’s next conference in New Delhi, which will be held in September 2019.
Holli A. Semetko
Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Media & International Affairs
Professor of Political Science