September 4, 2015 10:29 AM GMT+8

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 4 ― As the region’s most advanced democracy, Indonesia can act as a role model for Malaysia amid political turmoil, a political analyst from the republic’s The Habibie Center said yesterday.

In his opinion piece in The Jakarta Post, Bawono Kumoro said action must be taken before the political and economic crises in Malaysia explode into a “general catastrophe” that will be difficult to mitigate.

“Indonesia can exercise soft diplomacy to restrain the Malaysian authorities from any use of violence in handling the protesters or from any curbs on freedom of speech,” said Kumoro.

“Indonesia’s experience in the Myanmar election sent a clear message to Malaysia that conflict and political turmoil can be resolved through dialogue.”

He pointed at Myanmar’s first democratic election in 20 years after its President U Thein Sein met then Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to learn about transitioning from an authoritarian to democratic rule.

Kumoro said a country’s political legitimacy is now measured by the degree with which it embraces democracy and political openness.

“Sooner or later, the wind of democracy will blow into our Southeast Asian neighbours as happened in Indonesia 17 years ago,” he said.

“All attempts to resist democracy, which the ruling political elite in Malaysia are now performing, will end in failure, given the pressures from within and all over the world.”

Indonesia achieved its independence in 1945, but did not go through major political reforms until 1998 after President Suharto resigned from his three-decade administration.

The republic is the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country, with Muslims making up roughly 87 per cent of its over 255 million population.

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