Asean needs to put democracy into action

The Singapore Democrats welcome the Bali Concord II signed by Asean members in the recent summit in Bali to accept democracy as its political framework and to work towards its ideals.

However, the SDP fears that the embrace of democracy is mere lip service. This is demonstrated by the reluctance of Asean to act decisively against the Burmese military regime inspite of the SPDC’s transgressions.

Asean governments must recognise that as long as it continues to take concrete steps towards openness, transparency and democratic accountability, genuine stability, peace and wealth will elude us. Southeast Asian peoples are just as capable as any other in the world. The only obstacle to us achieving our true potential are the autocrats in the region who delude themselves by thinking that their oppressive habits are the way forward.

Nevertheless, the formal acceptance of democracy for Asean is a step in the right direction. Now let us work concretely towards democracy rather than allow the proposal to degenerate into mere words.

Chee Soon Juan
Singapore Democratic Party