Democracy is the rule of the people, for the people, and by the people. But what happens when the people disagree? The majority can easily tyrannise the minority, hence it must be balanced by minority rights. Just as democracy must guarantee the expression of the popular will through majority rule, it must guarantee that the majority will not abuse its power.
As Southeast Asians, we all agree that we should have rule of the people, but we disagree on whether it is actually occurring. Thus, what is in dispute is not whether we should be democracies but what democracy is, and how it should be defined and practised in Southeast Asia. What, then, is Southeast Asian democracy? What should it be?
A common false dichotomy argues that there is a trade-off between self-determination for individuals and self-determination for the country as a whole. But these are not mutually exclusive—on the contrary, they are one and the same: Self-determination for the collective is achieved through seeking self-determination for each and every individual within the collective.
In this episode, Bonnibel Rambatan and PJ Thum will be talking about New Naratif’s upcoming Principles of Democracy project and what it takes to build a democracy.