AbstraktFor most of the former European colonies of South and Southeast Asia, the end of the Second World War was also the beginning of the end of colonial rule. With independence came the challenge of unifying disparate ethnic, religious and linguistic communities into cohesive nations– a challenge that some countries met more successfully than others. The price of failure could be high – hundreds of thousands were killed, and many millions displaced in 1947, as inter-communal conflicts tore British India apart. Indonesia declared independence in 1945 (a declaration not recognised by the country’s Dutch colonial rulers until 1949), while Burma (as Myanmar was then known) was granted independence by Britain in 1948. Both countries were able to avoid tragedies on the scale of the Indian Partition. Nevertheless, nation-building has been a difficult and as yet uncompleted process, the source of continuing challenges tonational security. This article looks at the situation in the two countries, traces the origins of some of the current problems, and attempts to explain why Indonesia has generally been more successful in this respect than Myanmar, despite the similarities in the initial situations of the two countries.
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