National Action Plans (NAP), is it a whole society approach or solely a government effort? On Wednesday, October 26th, 2022, SEAN-CSO held a webinar discussing this issue. We invited our notable speakers: Mimi Fabe (National Police College, Philippines), Badrul Hisham Ismail (IMAN Research, Malaysia), and Shashi Jayakumar (RSIS, Singapore), to share their insights regarding the topic.
Why should it be a whole-society approach?
In Shashi’s experience, Singapore doesn’t have a NAP. But Shashi believes that there are a lot of new forms of extremism. Shashi mentioned that many countries, including Singapore, may still perceive the word “extremism” as a jihad or Islamic type of VE. However, in real cases, there’s no guarantee of what’s about to happen to the nation or society. That’s why NAP is made for the whole society’s safety. As Badrul said in the webinar, “National Action Plan, is it a whole society or solely government approach? It needs to be a whole society approach. If it’s a sole government, then it should be called the Government Action Plan.” Since the NAP targets the whole nation, society has the right to participate in the processing and implementation of the NAP with the government.
We need to learn from the Philippines’ success story. Mimi shared her story that the Philippines have succeeded because the government showed their clarity, courage, and commitment. Civil Society Organizations are included in making the P/CVE framework for NAP. Not only engaged with the CSOs, but also the whole process is gender-inclusive since many females are participating in crafting the NAP.
Not all countries in ASEAN could be as lucky as the case above. However, including the Philippines itself still faces many challenges. For example, from Badrul’s experience, several NGOs and CSOs have been invited to a closed-door meeting in Malaysia. However, they were not allowed to talk publicly outside the session and had to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). Somehow, the entire process was intransparent, which reduced the NAP from being a whole society approach into a sole government effort.
In conclusion, many countries in ASEAN still have homework to work on in their NAP framework. However, those countries with a NAP should still be careful since many challenges are still ahead. This issue is like a box of chocolate, full of surprises. It needs the whole nation to work together to feel safe.