Keeping in mind the definitions of “democracy”, which is democratic forms of governance where the population gets to exercise civil liberties and to effect change through electoral processes, and “taken root”, which means established and sustained. In the period after independence, many Southeast Asian states experimented with democratic forms of governance, but the record of these governments tended to be dismal as they often failed and were replaced by more authoritarian forms of governance.
Democracy refers to democratic forms of governance where the population gets to exercise civil liberties and to affect change through electoral processes, and taking root means establishing and having an effect. In the period after independence, many Southeast Asian states experimented with democratic forms of governance, but the record of these governments tended to be dismal as they often failed and were replaced by more authoritarian forms of governance. The question asserts that democracy has not taken root in Southeast Asia, implying that the political system of democratic ideals and institutions has not been established in the political and social fabric of Southeast Asian states, possibly due to Southeast Asia’s longstanding political culture, with its strong adherence to collective loyalties and conventional values, as well as the ineffectiveness of democracy which failed to have an effect on the political and economic stability, making other forms of governance more appealing to the people. On the other hand, it might be too sweeping to simply claim that democracy has not taken root in Southeast Asia, as there were instances where civil society voiced out against the form of governance preferred by the government through the presence of an educated middle class, trying to effect political change through their actions. Also, there were states where democracy had been successfully tested in and established in hopes of securing independence, implying that democracy had an effect on various states. Despite the longstanding political culture and values and its inefficiency in bringing about political and economic stability, democracy was established in some Southeast Asian states in varying degrees and periods.
National unity can be defined as achieving a sense of cohesion and identity in society, which can transcend ethnic or religious differences. In Southeast Asia, it might not be wrong to claim that trying to achieve national unity was a challenge, due to the vast ethnic groups and insurgencies that fractured society in Burma and Indonesia. Furthermore, the failure to implement a national language that was used by all its citizens regardless of ethnicity in Malaysia and Philippines can also be regarded as a failure to achieve national unity.However, it is simply too dismissive to claim that national unity was ‘impossible’. There weresuccess stories of national unity, such as achieving a common language in Singapore and Indonesia, or overcoming religious differences to achieve a national common identity in Singapore and Thailand. Thus, national unity was certainly a possible and realistic goal for Southeast Asia, despite certain significant obstacles that prevented it from fully developing.
The word “democracy” refers to democratic forms of governance where civil liberties are protected and the population has the power to affect change through electoral processes. lished andsustained to play a prominent role in the governing process. During the period shortly after independence, many Southeast Asian states experimented with democratic forms of governance. However, many of these governments proved to be short-lived due to a variety of reasons and were gradually replaced by other forms of governance. The question asserts that democracy has not taken root in Southeast Asian states post- independence.
The term “stifled” can be defined as the military not allowing democracy to gain influence in independent Southeast Asian states. The military can be said to have stifled democracy as it was used as a tool for maximum governments to retain control while also crushing democratic movements in the 1980s and 90s. However, it can be argued that the military did not stifle democracy given the inherent failures of democracy and how democratic ideals were still upheld in certain Southeast Asian states. Even though the military did stifle democracy in the period shortly after decolonization and continued to attempt to do so, it was ultimately unable to stop and contain the will of the people for democracy.