Asia’s democracies must shed inhibitions and aid Myanmar’s transition

Credit: IRI

Credit: IRI

While Indonesia, India, and Japan share a positive outlook on Myanmar’s democratic transition, they are all hesitant to proactively promote democracy, says a new paper from Carnegie’s Rising Democracies Network. Most likely, they are still influenced by their traditional sovereignty and nonintervention norms and share a common Asian perception that democracy should be homegrown, the analysts suggest:

Of course, all three countries prefer having democratic to authoritarian regimes in their neighborhood because they are seen as more predictable, transparent, and stable. However, for the sake of regional security, these countries also prefer gradual changes in lieu of rapid and potentially destabilizing changes. Thus, Indonesia, India, and Japan have opted for strengthening infrastructure, providing technical and capacity-building assistance, engaging in dialogue, and improving service-delivery institutions rather than directly pushing for a faster and more far-reaching democratic transition.

“As Myanmar’s own sensitivity to intervention subsides somewhat, the three Asian democracies could collaborate to provide better and more targeted support,” the paper concludes. “While Japan has deep pockets and gives substantial development assistance, India and Indonesia can share their rich experiences of democratization and their expertise on federalism, power-sharing, peacebuilding, and ethnic reconciliation.”


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