Until this very modern time, democracy is still very slow in this ASEAN region. This article attempts to be one of the deliberation basis regarding causes of sluggishness of ASEAN region's democracy. The author hopes the argumentations of these causes to be the indirect solutions.
I. No Passing On
Except Thailand, the entire ASEAN region was subject to Western colonization for a very long period time. Cambodia suffered almost one hundred years of French colonization, Vietnam and Laos also suffered from French's Indochinese colonization program. Indonesia was under the Dutch rules; the Philippines, Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei Darussalam were all under British colonization.
The idea of democracy was apparently fetched into ASEAN region by this Western colonization. However, the idea was almost totally not absorbed by people and leaders of ASEAN region at the time. In the case of Cambodia, the French was not only our top authority, but political administrations of almost all hierarchies were also governed by the French personnel. The case was similar for Laos, Vietnam and most of other ASEAN regional countries. Consequently, the national leaders and people during the colonization period have learned extremely little about the idea of democracy. So when they left us, we are empty of democratic idea.
II. Still No Passing On After Colonization
After independence from Western colonization, ASEAN regional countries' democracy has still been financially and technically sponsored by the West, in particular the United States of America, who is the world's most prominent actor in democracy [evidenced by its Constitution adopted in 1788].
Similar to the period of Western colonization, this sponsorship on democracy is still administered and executed by the sponsoring country. What does being administered and executed by the sponsor mean? It means that the sponsored country has to accept many conditions, accept experts and other unprofessional personnel of the sponsoring country. Accepting foreign experts and personnel means that we are, being the sponsored country, are still not independent in executing what we thing are right in ASEAN's democratic perspectives. And until today: September 2007, we are still not independent.
I used to work for an NGO, sponsored by the sponsoring countries of the West. In this NGO, every decision we make, must be favored by one of the sponsoring countries, who lead us in every activities. I feel that after they leave us, we can not professionally work and probably we will collapse.
Indeed, we need the finance to move on with democracy progress, but we need to be the boss in how to use this finance, we need to be the direct executor, and we need to be an expert, after which we will be technically independent, follow by financially independent of our sponsoring countries.
III. Governed-Governor's Democracy Awareness Imbalance
Democracy awareness of a huge number of the population is still far from what we categorize as "acceptable." People think that not allowing marching for a protest is undemocratic. Citizens urge for Prime Minister's intervention regarding the allegedly unfair judgment of the court and many other arbitrary acts of the governed, who think that everything that they do and prohibited by the government or local authority are undemocratic.
We need the governed and the governor to have a much better knowledge of democracy, not just imagination about democracy and execute any deed that one think as democratic.