A new model for Egypt?
Yang Razali Kassim wrote an article in the ST yesterday on Indonesia as a possible role model for the new Egypt. The assumption is that there is real change with the fall of Mubarak. Some are wondering whether there is any change at all and whether everything is as before with power in the hands of the old guards, and the Emperor still in control. But this is another issue that will become clearer when the dust settles. Yang Razali has pondered whether Indonesia is a good alternative political system for Egypt and the Middle East. The thought of Indonesia as a model for an ancient civilisation which is the pride of the Arab world is a refreshing change. It shows a shift in the mindset of what can be good for the Islamic world. And now, Indonesia and even Malaysia, could stand out as good alternatives to the Middle Eastern political system. They have not been doing well and not exemplary on any count. Nothing to crow about. At least Indonesia and Malaysia are truly independent countries and not controlled by foreign powers, and are models of economic growth and development. The rest of the Islamic world outside the Middle East have always looked towards this centre for everything, education, culture, social and lifestyle, and of course religion. The question is whether the Middle East lives up to its reputation or perceived greatness for the rest of the Islamic world to emulate. Looking at Indonesia and Malaysia, it is apparent that these two countries are more successful in their social and economic development. Should it then be the Middle East looking to Southeast Asia, particularly Indonesia and Malaysia, as the role model for the future? Should Indonesia and Malaysia look West to the Middle East and give up their rich cultural heritage to be more like Arabs or vice versa? What the Middle East can offer so far is religion and an ancient culture that is not going anywhere except towards the medieval age. In contrast, Indonesia and Malaysia are moving forward to science and technology, with religion as one of the pillars of their social political framework. The Middle East is all about religion and religion and the times of Muhammed. There is a contention between modernity, science and technology versus religiosity, tradition and ancient conservatism. Which shall be the light of the Islamic World? America was the new world of Europe. Can Southeast Asia be the new model for the Middle East?