Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Indonesia, the burden is now on your shoulders...

Observing the Thai coup d'etat from Jakarta, Rizal Sukma writes in today's Jakarta Post:
Our democracy is still as fragile as Thai democracy... The fact that (Indonesian) President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono repeatedly warns the military not to get involved in politics implies that the possibility and the worry are still there...

In the aftermath of the Thai military coup, Indonesia should realize that the biggest challenge now is to maintain Indonesia as a successful model of democratization in Southeast Asia. We should be the last bastion of democracy in this region. With the developments in Thailand, antidemocratic forces within Indonesia and in the region now have new ammunition to attack democracy.

...Indonesia has the obligation to stand up and demonstrate that democracy is still possible and preferable. The burden and the responsibility to safeguard democracy in Southeast Asia is now on our shoulders.
The photo above shows the face of a Cambodian boy. If Thailand cannot get its act together, kids in countries like Laos, Cambodia and Burma could the real losers of the Thai coup d'etat. I took the photo on a recent trip to Cambodia. I was impressed by the eagerness of kids to go to school, to learn about the world. But the utter lack of competence displayed by those in charge of government is astounding -- the corruption is that bad. Cambodia has only recently taken its first halting steps towards democracy. Thailand is not just Cambodia's main source of imports, it has served as a model for Cambodia -- a benchmark. Indonesia's burden is a heavy one indeed.

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