Without the necessary checks-and-balances provided by a liberal democracy and strong regulatory institutions, the Western model of bureaucracy in post-colonial Asia only led to the development of an overly-powerful and politicised bureaucracy. In non-colonial Asia, democratic culture and institutions were similarly weak since most of these states were militaristic, monarchical regimes before the war –Japan and Thailand, contributing to the same outcome.
Using Indonesia as an example of colonial Asia, the Indonesian military bureaucracy rose to power together with Sukarno and his party of civilian bureaucrats (PNI) in their nationalist struggle for independence. Hence, from the outset, the local bureaucracy played a highly political role,…show more content… Firstly, extensive bureaucratic intervention stifled the development of indigenous capital (Haque 1996, 315). In Indonesia’s case, only a select group of domestic entrepreneurs with close ties to the bureaucracy were allowed to flourish under state-led development. The state and their business cronies, who were largely Chinese, crowded out smaller domestic entrepreneurs, leading to a petty bourgeoisie backlash manifested in the Anti-Chinese 1973 Bandung Riots (Ghosh 1996, 38). Furthermore, by instituting bureaucratic dominance over the economy, the developmentalist model increased the opportunities for bureaucratic rent seeking and the formation of a bureaucratic-business elite. In Indonesia, Suharto’s developmental state saw a deepening of corruption. Bureaucrats formed exclusive businesses groups with Chinese entrepreneurs and used their policy access to afford privileged subsidies and state monopolies to them. This led to the formation of large-scale conglomerates with heavy bureaucratic links, such as the Liem Sioe Liong-Suharto group. The developmentalist model therefore not only facilitated the formation of a bureaucratic-economic elite in Indonesia, but also systematically transferred wealth from the masses to the elites, worsening…show more content… In these states, ethnicity shaped the heart of politics and administration. Race superseded merit or equality in bureaucratic recruitment and decision-making. Under Suharto’s regime, an affirmative action policy was inexplicitly practiced, focusing on keeping the Chinese minority out of public administration and reserving these jobs for the indigenous pribumi (Siddique 2008, 104). At this point, it is important to ask if the wholesale implementation of bureaucratic neutrality and meritocracy were even beneficial. While it certainly prevents racial marginalisation and ensures efficiency, in the case of heterogeneous societies, racially blind neutrality can also upset the social balance and incite racial resentment. Being more educated, the Chinese would easily have occupied significant bureaucratic positions under meritocratic recruitment. However, given their existing economic dominance, their involvement would likely have furthered indigenous resentment. Considering this, Suharto’s affirmative action policy can therefore be seen as more appropriate than blanket neutrality. Western models were thus both incompatible and problematic in communalistic and heterogeneous Asian