Essays24.com - Term Papers and Free Essays
Search

Which Has Been More Successful at Creating National Unity in Independent Southeast Asian States: Assimilation or Multiculturalism?

Essay by   •  June 14, 2017  •  Essay  •  1,396 Words (6 Pages)  •  1,228 Views

Essay Preview: Which Has Been More Successful at Creating National Unity in Independent Southeast Asian States: Assimilation or Multiculturalism?

Report this essay
Page 1 of 6

Which has been more successful at creating national unity in independent Southeast Asian states: assimilation or multiculturalism?

Independent Southeast Asian states used either an assimilative approach or a multicultural one to achieve national unity. The assimilative approach was characterised by forcing minorities to accept and conform to the majority culture and give up parts of their own culture, and was used in Indonesia, Burma and the Philippines. In contrast, the multicultural approach integrated minorities into the majority culture, and yet left them significant space to practise their own culture, was used in Singapore and Malaysia. Both these approaches were successful in their own way in achieving different aspects of national unity, such as territorial unity, peaceful coexistence between different racial groups and entrenching policies. However, both approaches had limitations which proved to be a threat in achieving complete national unity, in other words achieving all the three criterion for national unity. Despite both having limitations, this essay seeks to prove that the multicultural approach was a more successful approach.

The multicultural approach succeeded in forging sustainable social and political stability. This meant that the social and political stability the countries enjoyed - demonstrated through territorial unity and peaceful coexistence between the different racial and religious groups - was longer lasting. For example, in Singapore, the state funded and supported self-help groups for the four main racial groups. There was CDAC for the Chinese, Mendaki for the Malays, SINDA for the Indians and the Eurasian Association. These groups existed to cater to the specific needs of each group, ensuring no group was left out. Likewise, in Malaysia, there was freedom of worship despite Islam being the state religion. Additionally, there was the UMNO-MCA-MIC Alliance within Barisan Nasional, demonstrating political co-existence amongst the ethnic groups. These policies created to include the minorities ensured that both these states did not face any serious riots and uprisings since the 1960s, which is proof of the long-lasting positive effects of these policies. Hence, it is clear that the multicultural approach is more successful at ensuring that the state was peaceful and united, rather than fragmented.

The multicultural approach had one great weakness however, and it was the shallowness of the integration of the different races. In both Singapore and Malaysia, there was peaceful coexistence. However, this did not mean that there was successful integration of the races. In Singapore, the ‘Singaporean Identity’ is a hybrid construct which lacks clarity of a distinct identity. This means that the people of Singapore did not have a single collective identity to identify with, and caused them to greatly identify with their different ethnic groups instead. This indicates that peaceful coexistence is a shallow measure of national unity as each ethnic group was distinct and not fully tolerant of other groups. Similarly, in Malaysia, the UMNO-MCA-MIC Alliance only demonstrated only broad elite understanding and tolerance. The masses were not integrated, and were rather compartmentalised based on ethnic group. Both these countries demonstrate peaceful cohabitation of various ethnic groups in the state, but not integration. It is worthy of noting that these countries, however, did not face any serious riots or uprisings by any minority group, a sign of territorial unity. In that aspect, the multicultural approach was able to achieve national unity, but it was shallow.

On the other hand, the assimilative approach was successful in entrenching national ideologies. The success was demonstrated in how uniform this ideology was, as it was continuously used by different political groups even during changes in government. This means that the assimilative approach ensured that national ideology was widely accepted by the masses, proof of a successful aspect of national unity. This can be seen in Indonesia, where Suharto’s New Order still strictly adhered to his predecessor, Sukarno’s, ‘Pancasila’ or ‘5 Pillars’ policies. Essentially, this policy ensured rigid ideological uniformity, which meant there was national unity achieved, but using a forceful, assimilative method. This was in addition to Suharto adhering to ‘Gotong Royong’, an ideology drawn from the dominant Javanese culture which emphasised the importance of co-operation and mutual assistance, proving the success as uniting the people through assimilation. Similarly, in Thailand, the ‘Nation, King, Religion,’ national ideology has been entrenched since the reign of King Vajiravudh in the early 20th century, demonstrating the long-lasting success of entrenching this ideology. The eventual infusion of democracy into this ideology demonstrates shows that the ideology was deeply entrenched enough such that it could withstand changes in political systems across the various governments in Thailand. The assimilative approach was able to create political systems that unified the people under a single dominant culture. Although this meant that minorities had to assimilate into the mainstream, as opposed to being specifically catered to as well, there was still continuity of the respective national ideologies, a sign that one of the aspects of national unity has been achieved.

The assimilative approach was unsuccessful in preventing minority tensions and conflicts, however, a sign

...

...

Download as:   txt (9.1 Kb)   pdf (49.2 Kb)   docx (10.8 Kb)  
Continue for 5 more pages »
Only available on Essays24.com
Citation Generator

(2017, 06). Which Has Been More Successful at Creating National Unity in Independent Southeast Asian States: Assimilation or Multiculturalism?. Essays24.com. Retrieved 06, 2017, from https://www.essays24.com/essay/Which-Has-Been-More-Successful-at-Creating-National/77399.html

"Which Has Been More Successful at Creating National Unity in Independent Southeast Asian States: Assimilation or Multiculturalism?" Essays24.com. 06 2017. 2017. 06 2017 <https://www.essays24.com/essay/Which-Has-Been-More-Successful-at-Creating-National/77399.html>.

"Which Has Been More Successful at Creating National Unity in Independent Southeast Asian States: Assimilation or Multiculturalism?." Essays24.com. Essays24.com, 06 2017. Web. 06 2017. <https://www.essays24.com/essay/Which-Has-Been-More-Successful-at-Creating-National/77399.html>.

"Which Has Been More Successful at Creating National Unity in Independent Southeast Asian States: Assimilation or Multiculturalism?." Essays24.com. 06, 2017. Accessed 06, 2017. https://www.essays24.com/essay/Which-Has-Been-More-Successful-at-Creating-National/77399.html.