The International Conference on "Indonesia, Asia Pacific and the New World Order", Bali 9 August 1993
It is no mere coincidence that we have to address and deliberate on a fundamental question of our time now and here in Indonesia. Because it was here almost four decades ago Indonesia helped propelled the Non-Aligned Movement, the first concrete expression of the solidarity of the newly independent countries. Now, the collapse of the Cold War order once again calls for solidarity among us, or we will again be relegated to the periphery of decision making.
The primacy of economics at present and in the future will make the new order a function of economic strength. The growing prosperity of the Asean economies together with the rest of the East Asian community is a force to be reckoned with. And a symmetry of economic strength among regions -- North America, Europe and East Asia -- will invariably tilt the balance in global affairs to our advantage.
The progress of regionalism here and in other parts of the world must be harnessed towards positive ends. And in the Asean experience, we believe, there are ingredients for the making of a world order. When we started the entire Asean enterprise in 1967, it was a singular act of regional reconciliation. We would not have done so much if the enterprise were not securely wedded to the precepts of equality and mutual respect, of democracy and consensus, of mutual caring and a sense of fraternity.
Asean today is assuredly a community of prosperity. I do not believe that we could have done it without regional peace and stability. With the sole temporary aberration of the Philippines, this is where many of the world's growth records have been set in the last decade. In fact, the Asean tigers have so often outrun the dragon economies of northeast Asia in recent years.
The strength and dynamism of the Asean economies is not by accident, it is by design. Individual countries have instituted various degrees of economic reform to enhance the role of the private sector, to increase competition and move towards greater liberalization. Here in Indonesia we can witness a sense of realism among the leadership and the people that has transformed this country from the ravages of colonialism and the debilitating effects of ideology in the early years of independence into a dynamic and reassuring economy.
Yet Asean, despite its success as a political grouping and the booming individual economies, has yet to achieve something substantial in economic collaboration. It must aggressively pursue its own economic agenda. There are reasons for impatience with the difficulties we now face in moving AFTA, the Asean Free Trade Area, from impressive rhetorics to operational reality. An even earlier implementation of AFTA must be negotiated while at the same time several modes of bilateral and multilateral economic cooperation such as joint developments, growth triangles and complementarity productions must progress at a faster pace.
The vision of the Asean founding fathers was not what now constitutes the community, but the entire region of Southeast Asia. I believe we must now rapidly move to actualize the original vision and proceed to a second decisive act of regional statesmanship. The conditions that now exist in Southeast Asia are more propitious and more conducive for this second act of regional statesmanship than were the conditions that pertained when the first act of regional statesmanship was undertaken. To be sure, much has already been accomplished. We should adhere to the Asean preference for gradualism. But we should not tarry.
When all the economic forces in this region are moving towards greater integration, our collective political will must not falter in harnessing this development to exert positive influence on global affairs. The East Asia Economic Caucus (EAEC) is precisely for that purpose. We are confident because of its own intrinsic strength as a rational and pragmatic economic proposition, the caucus will eventually emerge as the principal and forceful economic forum in the most dynamic part of the global economy. It is in this context that we view a parallel and extended process with APEC. The basic principles outlined by President Suharto is indeed timely and so meaningful.
The structural weakness of the economies of the industrial West and the growing tendency towards protectionism will induce developing countries to reduce their dependence on the North and speed up South-South cooperation as a path to sustainable development. In this regard, NAM should be the developing nations' vehicle in the move to construct a new order. It is not a vehicle of confrontation but of solidarity for cooperation. But to be effective and relevant in our time, NAM has to be reinvented. Its scope must go beyond the realm of politics. It must have its own economic agenda. It could not be more appropriate, that Indonesia, the country which gave the movement its birth, should now lead way to its reinvention.
For many reasons, ranging from the debilitating effects of ideology to sheer incompetence, corruption and the tyranny of indigenous leaders, the economic conditions of some NAM member countries have stagnated after a promising start and others have descended into anarchy. The declining stature and influence of G7is precisely because its individual countries are mired in economic difficulties. Likewise, NAM itself would not have a credible voice in global affairs unless member countries institute social, economic and political reforms and do justice to their own people.
A combination of Asean cohesiveness, East Asia economic strength, developing countries' solidarity through NAM, should give us the firmness and confidence to influence the course of world events. Nevertheless, the making of a new order cannot be a question of strength or might alone, be it economic, political or military. This is because an order founded on strength or might will only means servility of the weak to the strong or dependence of the poor on the rich. What we need is a new pattern of relationships where the uses of power and influence is guided by ethical considerations, and where assistance does not breed dependence.
In our own small way, we have striven to realize these ideals in Asean. Asean succeeded so well because the Asean Pax was established without an imperium. The sense of equality and mutual respect is deeply entrenched. Should any country venture to dominate others the grouping would collapse immediately as was the case of several other regional groupings in the developing world. Collectively we strive to achieve true and warm peace; not a cold and frigid accord founded on balances of power and deterence, of checks and counter-checks.
The new world order cannot be based on the hegemony or insular perspective of a particular civilization and culture. The notion of clash of civilization envisaged by Harvard professor, Samuel Huntington, is the latest manifestation that the West has limited ability to deal with a pluralistic and multicultural world.
His view that "The West in effect is using international institutions, military power and economic resources to run the world in ways that will maintain Western predominance, protect Western interests and promote Western political and economic values" demands serious analysis.
The probable reassuring developing is that it is the domain of ideas and knowledge has often foretold the course of events in the political sphere. More than a decade before the revolt of the masses against socialism, socialism had lost its appeal among intellectuals. Now, in the marketplace of ideas, the totalitarian concept of modernity, which is the philosophical foundation for the European and Atlantic claim for hegemony, is helpless under constant intellectual barrage and assaults from multiculturalism and postmodernism. In the history of civilizations, once the ideational foundation of a civilization is undermined, its fate is sealed. Thus, the proliferation of writing debunking modernity and advocating multiculturalism in recent years, including its many artistic expressions, is a sign of the times, that a new pattern of relations, with its political ramifications, is fast emerging.
It is our conviction that the new global order must be rooted in the reality of a pluralistic and multicultural world. The rise of the West since the Renaissance and the Enlightenment had contributed immensely to the store of human culture and learning. Despite the harm the Western powers have wrought during and after colonialism, no non-Western society can deny its indebtedness to the West. We have absorbed from the West not only their science and technology, but also the modern education system, statecraft and economic management. But we cannot be slavish in our adoption. While we continuously must strive to realize noble ideals, such as democracy, human freedom and dignity, we cannot be oblivious to realities in our society. We cannot naively accept that those who clamour for democracy and freedom are all well-meaning people. Just as the devil can cite scripture for his own purpose, it is not infrequent that we observe the most intolerant and totalitarian of all trumpeting democratic slogans -- about liberty, equality, freedom of speech and expressions -- to foment hatred of the worst kind, to create disorder and instability. The threat of ethnic fanaticism and religious extremism is very real. It is this complexity of the situation the Western observers and even governments fail to appreciate. If I can paraphrase the great Mexican poet and essayist, Octavio Paz, the West does not seem to be wanting in good intensions, but it suffers from lack of humility.
The new world that we all hope for must show genuine concern and compassion to the developing societies. We cannot have aid with conditionalities. Genuine assistance must transcend ideological and political prejudices. Similarly in the case of the environment, the West must not be misled either by the vested interest or of the nostalgia of the affluent towards nature, to the point of denying development itself.
For Asian culture to contribute positively to the solutions of human problems today and in the future, Asians do not have to rewrite history. We have our great living traditions which must be renewed and harnessed for development, but there were also blemishes and spots in the form of atrocities and injustices. While we must have the courage to stop the wrong doing of others, we must be equally honest in recognizing our own imperfections. It is with this combination of boldness, humility and also compassion that we in Southeast Asia and the rest of the human community must collaborate to evolve a new global order. We must strive to achieve human solidarity amidst diversity. If I may put it, what the world today needs is precisely a philosophy of Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, unity in diversity. This is the only viable path towards the new world order.