• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9
  10. 10
  11. 11

Government efforts in Southeast Asia to create harmonious multicultural societies ultimately proved futile. How far do you agree?

Extracts from this document...


In the second half of the 20th century, newly independent Southeast Asian states faced many challenges that saw different approaches adopted, with varying degrees of success in the various countries. Economic and political challenges were often the most crucial to the survival to these nascent nations, yet an equally important challenge was that of creating a harmonious society. In light of the diversity of cultures within each of these nations, government efforts to create harmony were often plagued with many problems, so I do agree to some extent that these efforts ultimately proved futile. However, there has been some success, especially in countries such as Singapore and Malaysia. To a large extent, the various policies implemented to try to achieve harmonious multicultural societies failed miserably in countries such as Myanmar, but were more successful in countries such as Singapore. The policies can come under two main theme, "unity in diversity" and "cultural nationalism". "Unity in diversity" basically espouses the idea that the state should try to accommodate the needs of the ethnic minorities, so as to make them feel included into the society. Policies under this theme included the adoption of national ideologies aimed at making the citizens have a common identity and the inclusion of articles in the various constitutions that made provisions for guaranteeing the rights of the minorities "Cultural nationalism", on the other hand, seeks to assert the dominant culture onto the minorities, and expect them to assimilate into society. ...read more.


Even in Singapore, where the government has successfully created a harmonious society, there have been some minor sources of tension. For example, the launch of the "Speak Mandarin Campaign" and Special Assistance Programme schools were aimed at making Chinese Singaporeans more rooted to their culture, but this aroused fears of Chinese chauvinism. Another example would be the disadvantage that many ethnic minorities face in seeking employments because of the many employers that require employees to speak Mandarin. The tension generated by these issues can be said to affect the harmony of Singapore's society, albeit to a very small extent. Despite the many failures, however, to say that the governments' efforts to create harmonious societies have failed would be grossly misrepresenting the results of government efforts. After all, the territorial integrity of the various Southeast Asian states have been maintained, apart from the independence of Timor Leste from Indonesia. In countries like Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, a significant level of harmony has been achieved over the years, even if this harmony is only on the surface, as in the case of Indonesia, between the Javanese Malays and the Chinese. Even in Myanmar, some degree of stability has been achieved because of the ceasefires signed between the military government and the ethnic minorities. In present-day Myanmar, there is little harmony to speak about between the military government, which is largely influenced by the Burman majority, and the ethnic minorities. ...read more.


This was not helped by the move to centralise governance in the Burman-populated territories, as ethnic minorities feared that they would lose their autonomy. Hence, it can be said that the military governments failed to make concerted efforts to achieve harmony in the Burmese society, and so it was not that policies implemented failed, but that policies implemented failed to consider the interests of the ethnic minorities in the first place. A similar situation can be seen in Indonesia, although to a smaller extent. The discriminatory policies by the government against the Chinese minority perpetuated the resentment of the Javanese majority against the economic domination by the Chinese, and this inevitably led to the anti-Chinese riots in 1998. This shows that the lack of genuine harmony between the various racial groups could be attributed to some degree to the policies of the government. In conclusion, it can be said that the efforts by Southeast Asian governments to create harmonious societies were largely successful, especially in countries like Singapore and Malaysia where no major racial riots have broken out over the past few decades. Even in Indonesia and Myanmar, there is some degree of stability, though much of the problem lies in the lack of sincerity by the government's part in implementing policies. "Government efforts in Southeast Asia to create harmonious multicultural societies ultimately proved futile." How far do you agree? ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level International History, 1945-1991 section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level International History, 1945-1991 essays

  1. Why Does the Chinese Government At the Start of the 21st Century Refuse To ...

    It resulted in Europeans being captured and killed. The European response was just as brutal. They sent in armies to loot Beijing and the Boxers were executed in the streets. In 1911 there was another rebellion. The focus of this rebellion was to overthrow the weak Manchu dynasty.

  2. Why does the Chinese government at the start of the twenty first century refuse ...

    Students from Beijing formed military groups called Red Guards and using violence, attacked anything that was remotely capitalist or foreign. Mao Zedong encouraged this claiming 'To rebel is justified'. Supporters of Mao became a cult worshipping and praising him in streets.

  1. Superpower Relations 1945-90

    * When Mikhail Gorbachev became Soviet leader, Reagan and Thatcher began to see the end to the Cold War in view. It is better to see the events of these years not as a new Cold War, but the beginning of the end of the old.

  2. Free essay

    Critically examine the factors which accelerated the decolonisation process in Southeast Asia.

    Aung San a Burmese hero, thereby gaining further popularity and thus allowing the AFPFL to fulfil its aspirations of removing the colonial masters, which accelerated the decolonisation process. Furthermore the devastation caused by the war had left many Southeast Asians a great desire to be left alone and were no


    David Leigh, in his book ''The Frontiers Of Secrecy'' announced a set of guidelines that were reached upon by news editors and the ministry of defence stating what they should disclose, and what information should be held back. The reasons for this were varied, but primarily they thought if certain information was released, it may endanger peoples lives.

  2. Introduction - US policy to Southeast Asia in general

    'French Liberals were disheartened and embarrassed by their new colonial war' - they pressured the government to grant independence to the Viet Minh, but failed.8 To some, the war had become 'a campaign of national status'.9 Sami Abouzahr believes that Marshall aid funds to France were channelled into the war in Indochina, but Washington did not officially endorse this.

  1. American History.

    and, by 1814, was blockading almost every American port, which led the US gov't to the brink of bankruptcy. - In the Great Lakes a shipbuilding race began, which the US won, leading to their victory at the Battle of Put-in-Bay on September 10, 1813 and subsequent control over Lake Eerie.

  2. Khrushchev's attempts at modernisation.

    1999: Why did Khrushchev's agricultural and industrial policies have so little success? (15) Khrushchev was well aware of the failings of Soviet industry and agriculture when he became leader.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work