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Inactions sometimes may not necessarily be bad

Comments on Editors, East Asia Forum “ASEAN, the region’s strategic convenor”, 19/06/2017

I think this editorial may need some rethinking of itself, particularly in terms of its view on 'the uncertainty about consensus within ASEAN on appropriate responses to manifestations of great power rivalries in the Asia and the Pacific', even though it should be commended for its correct judgement regarding 'critique of ASEAN’s achievements through a European lens', by stating that that critique only serves to underline ASEAN’s unlikely success'.

The editorial states: 'What should worry defenders of ASEAN’s relevance is the uncertainty about consensus within ASEAN on appropriate responses to manifestations of great power rivalries in the Asia and the Pacific.'

One should consider perhaps beyond 'the winner takes all approach', in governance and resolving issues and problems. By 'the winner takes all approach', it is meant the simply majority of elections and the subsequent governance. Even by a slightest majority, a government thus formed may want to implement its 'mandate' on issues and policies. While the majority method in deciding and resolving who wins or has won an election, 'the winner takes all approach' to policies may mean such a government may work against the other half of the electorate. Is that a right approach? It is unlikely to be. Rather, a better approach may be some sort of compromise or even no actions on highly non-consensual issues or policies.

Now let's come back to the issue I raised regarding the view or argument by the editorial board. When divisions exist within a nation, the world, a region, a group or an organisation, that is, when it is hard to have a consensus, inactions may be a better approach or result, as opposed to reflect its weakness. That would be my argument that is based on a rethink of dealing with complex issues in a complex world as opposed to the view that actions must be taken on all issues simply to be decisiveness and powerful! It can often occur that the truth or ‘betterness’ on issues may be with minority as opposed to majority.

I think we need to examine some approaches from a different, more innovative and likely to be a better philosophical method. Yes, it may not necessarily be conventional, but we need innovation and creativity in very complex issues.

Having said that, I must say that my comments have ventured to an area that I normally would not wish to be, that is, to comment on the very good work of a very good editorial board.

PS: I would further argue that inactions, sometimes, due to the lack of significant consensus may represent not only a good result/outcome but also a strength as opposed to weakness. Clearly flexibility and the ability to be able to bent as mentioned in this post, can often be superior and shows strengths as compared to rigidity and fragility. That is correct, isn't it?

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