South East Asia is a pluralistic region. It is a good training spot for interfaith and multicultural issues. On one side, however, faith is a positive social asset to meet the social transformation. But on the other hand, the stronger influence of religions in public domain has put countries in the region in a complicated interfaith and multiculturalism issues. Instead of the positive social transformation getting achieved, the situation has produced social problems, including intolerance, discrimination, violence and social-interfaith conflicts.
“Amidst such pluralistic characteristics, South East Asian countries have a unique experience in managing faith diversity that may become a useful experience for others,” said Dicky Sofjan, Principal Investigator, during an International conference entitled Faith, Public Policy and Social Transformation in South East Asia on Thursday (20/3) in The Phoenix Hotel, Yogyakarta, hosted by the Indonesian Consortium for Religious Studies (ICRS) that has UGM, UIN Sunan Kalijaga, and UKDW as its members.
He explained the conference aims at giving the platform for the accumulations of thoughts and knowledge on diversity management at national and regional levels. The event presented experts from South East Asia and the U.S.A who joined the collaborative research, Nine Countries on Faith, Public Policy, and Social Transformation in South East Asia. The countries are Indonesia, Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, and the U. S.
“The ever increasing importance of interfaith issues in public policy making in social transformation in South East Asia will, in turn, affect the relations with other countries outside the region, particularly with the U.S.,” he said.
Theodore Lyng, Political Counsellor of the U.S. Embassy, said the conference can help answer the question how religious values can enter public policy domain and international relations without producing dominance, let alone violence.
The research outcomes presented in the conference will be published in a book entitled Policy-Relevant Papers. It is expected to become an input to the government in making public policy that leads to social transformation in South East Asia.