Thursday, 28 November 2013

The Importance of Civil Society in Democratization Process

Civil society groups often make their peaceful rally in front of Royal Palace, Phnom Penh, Cambodia 

As Western Europe and North America are enjoying a satisfactory level of civil society, some post-communist countries and most African countries have little progress or even regression in civil society development. Civil society is a significant component of democracy, apart from rule of law and separation of power. Democracy is meaningful when there is a strong civil society, which have strong participation in the socio-economic development, political decision-making process, and implementation of constitutions and other laws of a country.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Four Grand Scenarios of ASEAN

ASEAN Foreign Ministers posed for picture with ASEAN way style. Photo credit: Reuters 

Although recent years have seen a rise in new regional architecture which has ASEAN as the fulcrum, it is still uncertain that this regional organization could remain in the driver seat of East Asian Regionalism without certain annual effort to ensure its centrality. Where is ASEAN going right now?  In 2012, there were many problems pressured on Cambodia, ASEAN Chair. In contrast, Brunei, as Chair this year, seems to get helm of ASEAN very smoothly without much pressure while the influx of issues is still the same as in 2012 such as the South China Sea dispute, Sabah conflict in Northern Part of Malaysia, ethnic violence in Myanmar, trans-boundary haze problem in Singapore and Malaysia, and Indonesia, and so on. It seems that ASEAN has double standards among its own member states. Perhaps, ASEAN countries have learned a lot from a hard lesson in 2012 when the 45th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting ended without a joint communiqué. That is why ASEAN has chosen to be quiet so far. Southeast Asia is a dynamic region with the evolving geopolitical landscape with the rise of China, and the United States’ strategic rebalancing. Four scenarios are worth considering for ASEAN:

Thursday, 28 February 2013

How Can We Achieve Consolidation of Democracy?

Prime Minister Hun Sen gave a toast with President Barack Obama at Gala Dinner during ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh on 19 November 2012. Human right, democracy, freedom of speech were on the agenda during Obama's bilateral meeting with Cambodian Prime Minister. 

Democracy continues have its momentum into the 21st century while new democratic countries are trying to promote economic development, and strengthen rule of laws, and anti-corruption efforts, and uphold the protection and promotion of human rights, and so on. At the same time, the sense of regional integration and cooperation (G20 Summits, East Asia Summit, and the recently ASEAN-US Summit) are higher than ever for some countries in order to find better solutions to promote regional peace and stability, global economic growth, and regional economic cooperation to fight against the global financial and economic crisis, which could have consequences of political and social crises such as unemployment, violence, political turmoil, etc. All of these efforts are aimed at one common purpose to maintain political and macroeconomic stability of democratic countries so that they can avoid taking the same harmful historical path of the 20th century.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

ASEAN in 2012: Challenges, Success, and the Way Forwards

President Obama of the United States came to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, for 4th ASEAN-US Leaders' Meeting. His official visits to Thailand, Myanmar, and finally Cambodia, mark the importance of "Pivot to Asia" policy by the Washington. 

It seems that the issue of South China Sea became one of the global headlines for ASEAN in 2012 as written by most famous newspapers and journals, while, in fact, there are many priority issues for Cambodia’s chairmanship of ASEAN, which it had successfully addressed and we should not overlook. Indeed, ASEAN creditability and unity has been enhanced after Cambodia successfully hosted and chaired the 21st ASEAN Summit, the 4th ASEAN-US Leaders’ Meeting, and the 7th East Asian Summit in November 2012, which was also attended by President Barrack Obama of the United States, and other related summits. This strongly indicated that ASEAN continues to play bigger role in East Asian regionalism in the present time and in the years to come.