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Jakarta Post

Scapegoating the 'other' in Southeast Asia

Bangkok   /   Wed, February 21, 2018   /  11:19 am
Scapegoating the 'other' in Southeast Asia This aerial view shows Indonesian Muslims gathering at Jakarta's National Monument Park as part of a rally against Jakarta's Christian Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, better known by his nickname Ahok, on December 2, 2016. More than 100,000 Indonesian Muslims protested on December 2 against Jakarta's Christian governor, the second major demonstration in a matter of weeks as conservative groups push for his arrest on accusations of insulting Islam. (AFP/File)

There is much talk in Southeast Asia about the rise of authoritarianism and the retrenchment of democracy, here intended not only as an electoral system, but most importantly as a governance structure that trusts in the impartial rule of law, encourages stakeholders’ participation in decision-making, respects alternative views and provides protection for minority interests. Paradoxically, those countries with more open election systems appear to be dismissing these core principles as they become besieged by populist and nationalist ideologies. Identity politics based on ethnic, religious, socio-cultural or gender boundaries is increasingly employed for certain parties to gain popularity, win elections, or simply stay in power. Their strategy is to unify support for them by constructing the perception of a uniform majority with shared characteristics that is threatened by a commo...

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.