ASEAN After 50: ASEAN and Good Governance
Pinto Buana Putra
ASEAN is a regional organization that is build to accelerate cooperation between member states in regional level. Within ASEAN there is no uniform political quality that would permit generalization about shared political values, culture, and institutions. There is no ASEAN analogy to the “social democracy” like the European integration. Instead, ASEAN is commonly known with the system of governance. Consensus-building and consultations are hallmarks of ASEAN decision-making. For example, in the case of promoting regional economic integration, ASEAN has been working closely with the private sector through mechanisms such as the ASEAN Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the ASEAN Business Forum and specialized or sectoral groups such as the ASEAN Federation of Mining Associations and the ASEAN Ship Owners Association, among others.
In social science, governance is not always about politics. According to Anne Mette Kjaer, Governance involves interaction between the formal institutions and those in civil society. Governance refers to a process whereby elements in society wield power, authority and influence and enact policies and decisions concerning public life and social upliftment. And today, governance has become an important subject among policymakers and mass media. In my opinion, governance is an institution and process by which state exercises its authority. And to make a “good” governance, it needs substanstial key.
The key to establish a good governance in ASEAN is the leadership’s political will and political capacity. Political will is the conscious intention of leadership to act in a way conducive to good governance. While. The political capacity refers to leadership’s ability to move the political, bureaucratic, and military institutions of the state in the direction of good governance. An evaluation of the quality of governance is a relative judgement, but it is based on performance according to Weathherbee
In the scope of ASEAN, Singapore is one of the best example of good governance. Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong in his speech said that good governance in Singapore was built on three interrelated factors: accountability and transparency, long-term social orientation, and social justice. Good governance is reflected in the policies that are formulated for a sustainable long term. The motto for state policy in this case is flexibility and adaptability in anticipation of pragmatic change.
H.E. Ong Keng Yong states that consensus-building and consultations are the hallmarks of ASEAN decision-making. For example, for the purpose of promoting regional economic integration, ASEAN has been working closely with the private sector through mechanisms such as the ASEAN Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the ASEAN Business Forum and specialized or sectoral groups such as the ASEAN Federation of Mining Associations and the ASEAN Ship Owners Association, among others.
Good governance in this term is not only about the output of policy, but also about the implementation of that policy. Policies are designed to meet the long-term good., therefore it requires
strong leadership with a vision and clear direction. For that, an independent, truthful and efficient civil service are important, which can be attained through good education, meritocracy, and incorruptibility. According to Asian Development Bank (ADB), good governance involves norms of behavior that help ensure that governments actually deliver to their citizens what they promise to deliver. This is the true meaning of good governance. These norms include accountability, transparency, participation and predictability. The fundamental underpinning for good governance is the rule of law. Only with the rule of law the other requisites such as accountability, incorruptibility, and transparency could be guaranteed.
Furthermore, the quality of governance must be followed by the quality of corruption counterwork. The costs of corruption in terms of good governance are too high. Corruption encourages inefficiencies in the allocation of scarce economic and social resources. In fact, according to Survey Global Corruption Report 2001 even Singapore which we point as a the best governance is not immune from corruption. Like other indicators of a poor quality of governance, the consequences of corruption are far more serious. In this case, ASEAN must take a strong position to fight against corruption in order to ensure that governance in ASEAN can be enhanced properly.
If this inadequacy continues, the future looks very blurry. Almost all ASEAN countries have symptoms of falling state. If this could have an adverse impact on the region, what should we do? There are many prescriptive solutions offered for ASEAN; From rule of law, transparency, civil service reform, judicial reform, to the idea of bureaucracy reform. However, the end result will always depends on political will and capacity. In the end, it is very important for ASEAN to train and maintain the technocrats for the desired system to be effective and efficient. At the same time, there is a need for nation’s leaders to oversee the organization’s performance in order to achieve good governance goals
Pinto Buana Putra is a research intern at ASEAN Studies Center