The Jakarta Post
Professor Bridget Welsh, a senior associate fellow from the Habibie Center, has expressed her concern over the sluggish process of democratization among members of the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Speaking at a discussion titled 'Southeast Asia's Declining Democracy: Causes and Consequences', organized by the Habibie Center on Wednesday, Bridget emphasized the setbacks to democracy in Thailand and Malaysia.
Welsh said that the inadequacy of democratic institutions in Malaysia had affected efforts to disclose corruption allegedly involving high-level politicians in the country.
Meanwhile, the frequent military coups in Thailand that had toppled the country's democratically elected leaders had destroyed the democratic process in Thailand.
She argued that September's elections in Singapore also did not show any significant democratization progress in the city-state. Singapore's People's Action Party has been in power since 1959.
Bridget noted the positive process of democratization in Myanmar and Cambodia.
"There are positive trajectories in Myanmar and Cambodia. What is happening there is the deepening of democracy because citizens are rising up with international networking and the use of social media. The countries are also urbanizing. This helps citizens learn about democracy," Bridget said.
Bridget acknowledged that democracy could not guarantee prosperity. She cited countries such as Saudi Arabia, Brunei Darussalam, the United Arab Emirates and China as examples of countries that had managed to achieve some degree of prosperity while also remaining autocratic. (bbn)