Monday, 27 February 2012

Democracy or Autocracy?

In early 19th century, democracy started to developed and spread from its origin in Western Europe, which was the center of international politics during that time, to many countries in the world, especially Southern America which is rich in natural resources. However, the advent of democracy cannot be taken for granted as it is a complicated struggle for equality and power among different classes in a society of a country. The Western European countries had met different political outcomes in their paths of transformation to a new regime such as democracy, authoritarianism, and fascism due to their mixed characters of their developmental experience. For example, France had become a liberal democracy while its neighbor, Germany, had ended up in Fascism in the interwar period.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Community Power Structure and Japan's Local Government System

1.      The study of community power structure and theory of power

There is no agreement among scholars on the concept of powers or on the theory of power. According to Torben Bech Dyrberg (1997), power is the ability to make a difference and it is vested in the relationship between the subject (the person who is in position to wield power) and the dualism between agency and its structure. Although power can have different forms, it is a crucial means of political leaders to use it openly to serve the interests of the community to which they lead or to wield it covertly to promote their personal interests. Using of covert power is called non-decision making (Peter Bachrach, 1971). Hence, the interests of local community will be harmed by non-decision of decision by its leaders. If power has two faces, how can we integrate power safely into the community power structure for the sake of common good?  

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Three Critical Questions on Maintaining ASEAN Centrality

Leaders of ASEAN Member States pose for picture in ASEAN Way style at the 20th ASEAN Summit in April 2012

Opening Ceremony of the 20th ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

ASEAN has been viewed as a successful regional organization for developing countries. Starting from a modest inauguration in Bangkok in 1967 with only five members, namely Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and the Philippines, ASEAN has achieved its political, economic, and socio-cultural cooperation successfully through the period of Cold War and Viet Nam war, which had destabilized Southeast Asia for decades. This achievement is seen through the ASEAN’s expansion to cover the ten countries in Southeast Asia (including the five additional members, namely Brunei, Vietnam, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Cambodia). Not only successfully in its own integration, ASEAN actively makes significant regional grouping with Japan, China, and South Korea in 1997 to form ASEAN Plus Three cooperation. In November 2011 in Bali, East Asian Summit (ASEAN+3, India, Australia, and New Zealand), which was established in 2005 by ASEAN, has been upgraded into an expanded East Asia Summit by including two superpowers (United States and Russia). In combination, ASEAN Plus Three and East Asia Summit has been officially recognized as the core of East Asian Community.