Centre for Asian Legal Studies, National University of Singapore.
Let me say first how much I admire Professor Roberto Toniatti and how much I have benefited from his deep comparative knowledge, insight, and sheer breadth of mind. Not only is talking with him a great experience – even talking with those who have talked with him is a great experience. As an indication of his ubiquity, I have had the pleasure to meet him in far too many different places to mention, not just in Trento and Singapore. It is indeed an honour to call him a friend and wish him the very best retirement a scholar could have. This comment brings together several of Roberto Toniatti’s interests: comparative constitutional law, pluralism, territorial governance, and Asia. Readers will be familiar with the first two, but may associate his illustrious career with Europe and the Americas rather than Asia. However, Roberto has visited different parts of Asia on several occasions, and has been a regular participant at the annual Asian Law institute’s (ASLI) conferences. He also brought Asian law topics into the law teaching programme at Trento, developing a solid relationship with scholars at the Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore and other Asian schools. As with other regions, Asia has been grist to Roberto’s intellectual mill, indicating the breadth of his mind and his interests. Inspired by Roberto’s work and discussion with him, I offer here a few thoughts about pluralism and territorial governance in Southeast Asia; and I wish to focus on special autonomy – yet another of his interests.