Political science in Post-War ASEAN

I AM presently taking up a post-graduate course at the UP Open University. In our elective course, we were asked to read papers and write an essay about it. Let me bring you back to the study of political science and why it was used by ASEAN member-nations following the ravages of WW II.

The discipline of political science – branch of the social sciences that studies the state, politics, and government and deals extensively with the analysis of political systems, the theoretical and practical applications to politics, and the examination of political behaviour (https://www.managementstudyguide.com/political-science.htm­), and how it shaped the development of ASEAN member-states following WW II, was the core of the paper of Dr. Julio Teehankee, Full Professor and Research Fellow, Political Science and International Studies, De La Salle University, Manila.

The art and science of politics were exploited to enable the process of state-building, nation development, and democratization – at various levels and stages – that characterized Southeast Asian countries after the war.

Post-war studies were undertaken to derive information and examine the conditions of devastated countries using the discipline. Moreover, political science was applied since the war-ravaged countries were newly-liberated and were starting to establish new forms of government and political systems suitable to their respective environments and citizens.

It must be noted that state-building is not an easy process. It is confronted by a set of challenges like internal conflicts, the threats of rebellion and communism, the pull of dictatorship, social unrest, border disputes, among others.

Sometimes the focus of scholars’ study was single-country because this provides a comprehensive description and valuable local-specific knowledge about the continuity and growth of state-building over time. Scholars also studied human behaviour which is deemed essential and complementary with political science because people are the main actor of a nation. Their behaviour is a great input in the restoration of the national psyche following the war. 

UNITY IN DIVERSITY

In my readings, I would say the thread that weaved the ASEAN region lies in the shared history of its peoples and the shared aspirations for economic progress, social justice, and regional stability. These aspirations were embodied in the Bangkok Declaration which was signed more than two decades after WW II, and which continued to live on until the present.

ASEAN member-states shared a history of colonizationexcept Thailand; the ravages of WW II that saw each nation struggling to rebuild and form a strong republic while embracing the challenges of state-building and nation development; and the interconnectednessof the individual states brought about by external influences in the realms of religion, politics, trade and commerce, philosophy, education, and culture and the arts. “Unity in Diversity” best describes ASEAN.

 The signing of the Bangkok Declaration on August 8, 1967 clearly manifested the desire of the five founding fathers to transcend diversity in all forms, in favour of the new path ASEAN was forging.

REG’L POLITICAL PRESENCE VIS-À-VIS GLOBAL POLITICS

Following WW II, my readings underscored the gradual influence of the emerging republics on the world powers. Political realignments and strategic alliances were beginning to form for political and economic expediency and regional peace and security. The developing regional bloc was now considered a possible ally by other powerful nations.

The Bangkok Declaration signed by leaders coming from diverse political systems attested to the innermost desire of the region for self-determination; the fulfilment of their shared aspirations and interests; and the resolution of common problems, in the spirit of regional solidarity and cooperation. This is further strengthened with the adoption of the ASEAN Charter in November 2007.

The recognition of ASEAN as a regional political entity is evidently manifested through its sustained collaboration with 10 dialogue partners which started as early as 1974 (7 years after the Bangkok Declaration was signed) with the entry of Australia, followed by New Zealand (1975), European Union (1977), Japan (1977), United States (1977), Canada (1981), Russia (1991), Korea (1991), India (1995), China (1996), and Pakistan (1996), and its strategic partnerships with other international organizations and regional associations. This indicates the strong political identity and influence of ASEAN vis-à-vis the global powers.

***

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

As a country, we were colonized by Spain, the US, and Japan. These colonial powers certainly made a mark on the Filipino way of life and Filipino psyche. 

***

For comments, you may reach the writer at [email protected]./PN

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here