Saturday, January 07, 2006

Urging Democracy in Myanmar

The comment by Hassan Wirayuda, Indonesia's Foreign Minister, on the need for Myanmar to move on into a democratic setup needs to be secrutinized.

He said, "Myanmar is disturbing the balance" of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda told reporters in Jakarta. "And because of that we are asking it to show concrete steps toward democracy," Furhermore, he said that Indonesia's experience of moving from an authoritarian regime to a democratic one since the downfall of Gen. Soeharto in 1998 could be useful in helping to persuade Myanmar to introduce reforms.

Commenting on the internal matters of the ASEAN members by other members has not been a practice to be heard of since the beginning of the establishment of this group. However, time seems to be changing and it is becoming common nowadays that members of the ASEAN try to get more involved in the internal affairs of the other members of the Association. It seems that Indonesia's Foreign Minister is getting used to this new practice.

By blatantly urging the military junta in Myanmar to show concrete steps toward democracy, Hassan has represented the official view of the Indonesian government on Myanmar's internal affairs. His statement can be understood as an effort by Indonesia to assert its influence on the Association. It is trying to regain its diminishing superior position in the region. At the same time giving the Indonesian transition from an authoritarian regime into a democratic system of governance as an example for the current regime in Myanmar is another indication by the Indonesian government for its "success" in the tranformation process.

It is understandable that the sheer size of Indonesia in the region has urged the nation to regain the diminishing influence it once enjoyed in the region. Moreover, the current state of Indonesian government supports this perception. The improvement of Indonesia's economic and socio-political condition in the past few years justifies the move. And if Indonesia can maintain this condition, it will not take a long period of time for Indonesia to regain its lost position. However, it should be noted here that the "success" claimed by the current government is far from satisfying. The current democratic practice of cheks and balances between the executive and the legislative body seems to be eroding.

By proudly declaring the success of Indonesia's transformation into a democratic system, the government seems not to realize that the current state of balance between the executive and the legislative body is tilting toward the executive. The domination of GOLKAR in the DPR while at the same it has the biggest share in the government has left the opposition role to the PDI-P. Other parties have either become the member of the government or distanced itself from the status as an opposition, like PAN. Slowly, it is started to control the functioning of the DPR and making it as a mere rubber stamp body. And if this situation continues, Indonesia will again experience a different kind of authoritarianism: political party authoritarianism. Thus, before claiming itself as a champion of democracy, the Indonesian government should realize the danger it is facing in its own backyard. At the same time, the Indonesian people have always to be vigil all the time in order to be able to guard the process of achieving the Indonesian dream as has been stated in the 1945 Constitution.

The printed version of this opinion can be accessed in the English daily newspaper The Jakarta Post of January 16, 2006.
( http://www.thejakartapost.com/yesterdaydetail.asp?fileid=20060116.F05 )

Urging Democracy in Myanmar

The comment by Hassan Wirayuda, Indonesia's Foreign Minister, on the need for Myanmar to move to a democratic setup needs to be scrutinized.

"Myanmar is disturbing the balance of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations", Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda told reporters in Jakarta, "And because of that we are asking it to show concrete steps toward democracy."

Furthermore, he said that Indonesia's experience of moving from an authoritarian regime to a democracy since the downfall of Gen. Soeharto in 1998 could be useful in helping to persuade Myanmar to introduce reforms.

Commenting on the internal matters of ASEAN members by other members has not been a practice since the beginning of the establishment of this group.

However, times seem to be changing and it is becoming common nowadays that members of ASEAN try to get more involved in the internal affairs of other members of the Association. It seems that Indonesia's Foreign Minister is getting used to this new practice.

By blatantly urging the military junta in Myanmar to show concrete steps toward democracy, Hassan has represented the official view of the Indonesian government on Myanmar's internal affairs. His statement can be understood as an effort by Indonesia to assert its influence on the Association. It is trying to regain its diminishing superior position in the region.

It is understandable that the sheer size of Indonesia in the region has urged it to attempt to regain the influence it once enjoyed in the region. Moreover, the current state of the Indonesian government supports this perception. The improvement in Indonesia's economic and socio-political condition in the past few years justifies the move.

And if Indonesia can maintain this condition, it will not take a long for it to regain its lost position. However, it should be noted here that the "success" claimed by the current government is far from satisfying. The current democratic practice of checks and balances between the executive and the legislative body seems to be eroding.

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