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Jakarta Post

INSIGHT: ASEAN governance: Is there a future for civil society?

  • Rosalia Sciortino

Bangkok   /   Sat, November 19 2016   /  08:27 am

Pundits have been keen to predict that Southeast Asia will soon leave behind its authoritarian past and head toward a more democratic future. This optimism was boosted in 2010 by Myanmar’s decision to “transition” to democracy, allowing for elections and assigning a role to the opposition.

In spite of persistent doubts about the genuineness of these efforts, most would subscribe to the World Bank Governance Index, which shows that exponential progress has been made in expanding accountability and the voice of civil society from 2010 to 2015.

But look at Myanmar’s neighbors now. Ironically, the nations that were considered the most advanced in democratic terms are now in turmoil. The Philippines is eulogizing its former dictator and seems to have shelved humanitarian principles and the rule of law to carry out extrajudicial killings in an ill-conceived “war on dru...