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The Withering Of ASEAN: Why The Grouping Is A Low Priority For Member States – Analysis

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The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was formally created by the foreign ministers of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippine, Singapore, and Thailand, on the 8th August 1967. The simply worded five article document outlining intentions to cooperate in the economic, social, cultural, technical, educational, and other fields was signed by the respective foreign ministers, Adam Malik of Indonesia, Narciso R. Ramos of the Philippines, Tun Abdul Razak of Malaysia, S. Rajaratnam of Singapore, and Thanat Khoman of Thailand. The foreseen purpose of ASEAN was to create an intergovernmental framework to promote regional peace and stability, through respect of the rule of law, and the adherence to the principles of the United Nations Charter. 

The ASEAN proclamation made in the midst of the cold war, was seen as a clear will to contain the threat of communist expansion. It was stipulated that the grouping would be open to all Southeast Asian nations which prescribed to the aims, principles, and purposes of ASEAN, in a grouping of friendship and cooperation. The proponents of ASEAN hoped that the tradition of third-party Southeast Asian states assisting in solving regional bilateral disputes would be extrapolated into the regional grouping. 

There were great differences between the original five member states that took long and tedious discussions to pass-over, which led to an informal meeting of foreign ministers in Bang Sean, Thailand, and then the signing of the Bangkok Declaration. ASEAN was formed with leaders espousing regional aspirations. Then Indonesian foreign minister Adam Malik espoused a vision of countries within the region cooperating with each other with their combined natural resources and manpower, where differences would be overcome through goodwill and understanding, faith, patience, perseverance, and realism. Tun Razak, then deputy prime minister of Malaysia aspired to the day that ASEAN would include all the countries of Southeast Asia, which would take the responsibility to shape the region’s destiny, and prevent external intervention and interference. Tun Razak said “the nations and peoples of Southeast Asia must get together and form by ourselves a new perspective and new framework for our region.” (Flores and Abad, 1998). 

S. Rajaratnam espoused the fervour of nationalism had not fulfilled the expectations of the people of the region for better living standards. Further, Rajaratnam espoused that ASEAN is not against anything, or anybody. The foreign minister of Thailand Thanat Khoman stressed that the goal of ASEAN is to create and not destroy. Khoman spoke of building a new society that would be responsive to the needs of our time. 

In pursuant years, ASEAN admitted Brunei as its 6th member in 1984, and after the Cold War, Vietnam in 1995 as its 7th member. Laos and Myanmar joined in 1997, and Cambodia in 1999.   

After 40 years of growth in stature, the ASEAN Charter was signed in December 2008. The charter provided for a new legal framework for ASEAN, where it pledged to develop an array of new ASEAN bodies, and more meetings between member states. The centrepiece of this charter was the intention to create an ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). In 2009, the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) was created with the power to impose sanctions on countries which violated citizens’ rights. 

The Reality of ASEAN Today

After fifty-five years of ASEAN, realities have fallen far below the original expectations founders had for the grouping. ASEAN has not unified its ten members. There are continued territorial demarcation issues, diplomatic disputes, and even military skirmishes. ASEAN members have failed to find a common approach to superpowers presence and influence within the region. ASEAN has not admitted any new members for 22 years. ASEAN member states have put weight on using bilateral relations as the basis of cooperation, rather than through the multilateral mechanism of ASEAN. 

Conflicting claims within the South China Sea have been left ambiguous, rather than making any serious efforts to find any formal solutions. The centrepiece ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) free trade zone has been extremely slow to evolve. The views, ideals, and aspirations of minority groups within ASEAN have no forums within the ASEAN secretariat or leadership. Thus the ASEAN leadership doesn’t reflect the true diversity of the region. Finally, the peoples of ASEAN have no joint sense of ASEAN identity, leaving the very concept of ASEAN an empty aspiration. The isolation of border communities within the ASEAN region during the Covid crisis, from each other has exasperated this. 

The rest of this chapter will discuss the above issues. 

Although ASEAN commenced with the grand objective of creating a community with a shared vision and collective identity, the organization has acted more like a community of convenience for the elite rulers of the bloc with instrumentalist agendas (Lee 2018). As a former prime minister of Malaysia, Mahathir Mohamed put in an interview, “ASEAN is an association of countries which retain their identities and their way of doing things, but the bloc would make common stands in terms of trade”. 

In practice, ASEAN member states have given priority to their own sovereignty rather than promoting any sense of a grand regional sovereignty. Individual member states have developed their own purpose-suited historical narratives, promoting their own ethno-centric nationhoods. 

Phnom Penh was the scene of anti-Thai demonstrations that left Thai diplomatic and commercial interests ablaze, leading to many expatriate Thais rushing to the airport in attempts to leave the country. Thai history has portrayed Burma and Cambodia as traditional enemies of Siam, which many Thais feel strongly emotional over (Aguilar Jr 2017). Malaysian politicians have traditionally shown resentment to Singapore, where recently veteran Malaysian opposition leader Lim Kit Siang, was slurred over his early career connections to the former prime minister of Singapore, Lee Kwan Yew. Singapore maintains a siege mentality in its geo-position, adjacent to Indonesia and Malaysia (Rahim 2005).  In 2008, tension over a temple on the Thai-Cambodian border, Preah Vihear, led to several military skirmishes. The Laos government go ahead in building the Sanakham Dam, just a few kilometers from the Thai border along the important Mekong River, shows a failure of regional decision-making processes. Malaysia and Singapore have fought a long legal battle over a territorial dispute concerning the outlying island Batu Puteh or Pedra Branca, leading to a case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). More recently, Malaysia and Singapore had a maritime dispute over the waters and border lines around the Tuas Port. The Philippines and Thailand have been involved in a long customs dispute which required a World Trade Organization (WTO) panel to adjudicate. ASEAN guest workers have been treated very poorly in Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand over decades.  

While ASEAN has shown an inherent weakness of solving intra-ASEAN disputes (Weatherbee 2012), ASEAN has also shown a distinct lack of cohesion in developing any coordinated response to Chinese activities within the South China Sea. This however has not stopped ASEAN from entering into a strategic partnership with China at the 38th ASIAN Summit in October 2021.  

ASEAN nations have for thousands of years coexisted with Chinese influence within the region. Thus, the ASEAN member relationships with China are complex. Although, no ASEAN nation recognizes China’s declaration of sovereignty within the Nine-Dash Line, no nation denies the right of China’s presence. There have been spasmodic strains caused by aggressive Chinese incursions into areas that Malaysia, Vietnam, and the Philippines in particular, see as their territorial waters. These incursions don’t translate to any ASEAN wish to participate in any containment of Chinese expansion of influence. The 2019 strategic paper ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP) did not directly address superpower competition within the region, leaving the issue ambiguous. 

Quite the contrary, ASEAN and China are heading towards a higher tier of diplomatic recognition and interplay, in recognition of their special historical significance to China, reflected in the recognition that ASEAN has now become China’s top trading partner. ASEAN and China also reached an agreement on cooperation in support of a comprehensive recovery framework. 

Perhaps, ASEAN’s espoused formal position on the China relationship was best espoused by Malaysia’s new prime minister Ismail Sabri Yakoob, who said “Malaysia would like to reiterate that regional stability is of critical importance in these unprecedented times. All countries should work together to ensure that the South China Sea remains a sea of peace, stability and trade.” 

However, ASEAN also entered into strategic partnerships with Australia and the United States, where initially, both Indonesia and Malaysia were critical of Australia’s nuclear submarine ambitions through the AUKUS framework with the US and United Kingdom. ASEAN also announced a strategic partnership with the Russian Federation. 

ASEAN is showing itself open to accommodating all suitors that wish to compete for the hearts and minds of the grouping and its member states.  

Human Rights

ASEAN set up the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) in 2009, and by 2012 it had drafted a human rights declaration. The AICHR doesn’t have any mandate to receive individual complaints or conduct investigations, which diminishes the power of the commission. The AICHR was pushed through with reluctance from some states, and over the years has been criticised by organizations like Human Rights Watch (HRW) over issues like Myanmar’s Rohingya crisis, where ASEAN has repeatedly refused to suspend Myanmar as a member. 

However, Myanmar military leader Ming Aung Hlaing was excluded from the recent ASEAN Summit in Brunei in an unprecedented move, as a sign of displeasure over the failure to end hostilities, initiate dialogue, allow humanitarian support, and grant ASEAN’s special envoy full access to the country. Whether this move represents a change in ASEAN outlook towards human rights is highly questionable. The absence of the Myanmar military leader at the last ASEAN Summit placated those who would have potentially been critical of the bloc for the Myanmar leadership attendance. 

ASEAN’s Biggest Failure: The ASEAN Economic Community (AEC)

In 2003 at the 13th ASEAN Summit, the AEC was conceptualized with the objective ‘to create a stable, prosperous and highly competitive ASEAN economic region in which there is a free flow of goods, services, investment and a freer flow of capital, equitable economic development, reduced poverty, and socio-economic disparities in year 2020.” This was brough forward to 2015 at the 2007 Singapore ASEAN Summit. The implementation of the AEC would radically change the regulatory framework of inter-ASEAN trade and investment, effectively transferring sovereignty over trade matters from member states to the multilateral grouping. The AEC was conceptualized with the realization that the effects of globalization would change the nature of trade, where multinational corporations tended to operate on a regional, rather than country basis in their operations. 

However, member country preparation for the official commencement in 2015 was slow and behind schedule, contrary to what the ASEAN Secretariat was saying (Chia and Plummer 2015). The AEC was launched on the 1st January 2015 in a diluted form with many aspects widening the scope of the AEC deferred to future dates. 

The AEC is the victim of national conflicts of interest and the influence of major domestic corporations upon their respective governments (Das 2017). Many national firms felt unable to cope in a more liberalized trade environment without domestic protection. Some of the smaller ASEAN countries feared being swamped with products from other ASEAN countries, preventing them from developing local manufacturing. Some nations feared that the elimination of intra-ASEAN tariffs would encourage multinationals to consolidate their operations in a single country, as national import restrictions in each ASEAN country would be eliminated (Dickens 2005). 

In addition, a host of un-coordinated agencies regulating national product standards, local content requirements, export and import licenses, product registrations, and other licensing issues has got in the way of widening the AEC platform. Bureaucrats also were reported to hinder the concept of opening up the ASEAN region as a single market because sources of illicit money would dry up at border crossings. The most difficult barrier to overcome was that the AEC was not devised with a common regulatory framework. 

One can easily get the impression when visiting Bangkok, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, and Manila that business there is a widely diversified ownership of business, where in fact regional businesses in ASEAN countries today are still in the hands of a small number of families. Many of these companies are yet to develop the regional mindset necessary to take up the opportunities that the AEC offers. They may actually enjoy the current protection that is afforded them from outside competition.

At the same time the ASEAN region is dominated by SMEs which account for approximately 98% of all enterprises and some 75-85% of total employment. Many of these are subsistence-based enterprises employing no innovation in their business models.  AFTA and the AEC will provide very few opportunities to these enterprises, except in the area of tourism.

ASEAN member states still see each other as competitors, competing with each other to attract direct foreign investment. Competing education and medical hubs have been set up which aim to attract international customers at the lowest cost. How the paradigm of collaboration rather than competition can be developed still remains to be seen.

With a very limited AEC opening up in 2015, a widening of the AEC is set for 2025, where further trade liberalizations are scheduled to take place. This represents a decade delay, on a policy initiative that was first mooted in 2003.  Infrastructure and logistic networks the AEC required for increased trade within the region are still very much work in progress. With the exception of Singapore, major highways, railways, deep water ports are still under construction. Many border crossings are extremely congested, and the high-speed railway between Thailand, Laos and Southern China is still only just an idea.

The banking system is not yet integrated, little has been done in the way of streamlining customs procedures which is hindering the implementation of high-quality logistic systems across the region. Little exists in the way of a regionally based media to culturally integrate the region.

Existing ASEAN initiated projects like the Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle (IMT-GT), and the East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) have existed more as ideals rather than anything that has substance on the ground. Above all there has been no attempt to integrate monetary or fiscal policy within the ASEAN region which would be necessary within any common market.

ASEAN states are still very much in different stages of growth, spread across a wide development continuum. The contrast between developed Singapore and Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam, and Cambodia are extremely wide, much more than any other region around the world. This diversity presents even greater challenges where assistance given by the more developed members of ASEAN could be construed as interference by the lesser developed nations. This is still a very sensitive issue within ASEAN today

The Inward Focus of ASEAN Member States

Political elites of respective ASEAN countries took over governance and statecraft from their former colonial masters, thus framing their modern-day states.  ASEAN member states have been very hesitant to give up any of their sovereign powers to the regional body. This sense of national sovereignty is a formidable barrier against the development of further ASEAN integration. The formation of modern-day states moulded during the colonial era, has actually hindered and cut off much pre-colonial social, cultural, and trade linkages of the past (Kingsbury 2011). 

Today, some of the ASEAN nations are facing watershed issues that may well set out how their respective societies will look like for many future generations. Consequently, their focus is currently inward upon these issues.  

After 31 years of military government under former president Suharto, Indonesia went through its political turmoil more than a decade with the riots in 1998 that eventually brought the resignation of Suharto. With 3 presidents between 1998-2004, Indonesia is emerging as a vibrant multi-party democracy with Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono as President between 2004-2014, handing over power to Joko Widodo in 2014, after his two terms. 

The country is still plagued with corruption, natural disasters, pressure for autonomy, and poverty. There is also the growth of Islamic fundamentalism in Indonesia. A survey by the Alvara Research Centre in October 2017 of 4,200 students at 25 universities, indicated that 20% supported an Islamic Caliphate in Indonesia, and 30% were prepared to wage jihad in some form. Not only is there a radicalization of students in Indonesia, Shariah law is being implemented in many districts at local government level. Coupled with the logistics of managing an archipelago more than 4,000 KMs long, the Indonesian focus is still primarily concerned with economic management, although there is a general belief that an ASEAN market would in the long term benefit the country.

Corazon Aquino was swept to the presidency during the peoples’ power revolution of 1986, ousting longtime Philippine President, Ferdinand Marcos. Since her term as president there have been a further five elected presidents of the Republic of the Philippines, with her son Benigno Aquino III becoming president between 2010-2016, handing over the presidency to the incumbent Rodrigo Duterte. Political power in the Philippines is still very much based upon favour and alliance of ‘political warlords’ ineach regional subdivision and this partly explains why the former first lady Imelda Marcos and children, although forced to flee the country in 1986, were welcomed back and today hold positions of power as a provincial governor and members of the legislatures. The Marcos family were never brought to justice despite allegations that Ferdinand Marcos, was believed to have looted US $5 billion to US $10 billion from the Philippine treasury with the participation of his wife Imelda. Her son Ferdinand Jr. is running for president, in next year’s presidential election. 

The Philippine government’s focus currently remains upon the issues of poverty, which at 32.9% of the population is the highest in the region. Democracy in the Philippines has not seemed to solve the country’s fundamental issue of poverty. Like Indonesia, the Philippines is also an archipelago which presents many problems for development. The government still has to deal with the Abu Sayyaf in the south of the country, regular natural disasters, and rampant corruption.

Former army general Prayuth Chan-ocha’s 2014 coup against the besieged Yingluck Shinawatra government, and the 2017 constitution that was forced through prior to the 2019 elections, fulfilled a long-time goal of the Thai military. The Junta presented a new constitution for the public to approve by referendum, stifling all discussion and debate. The new 2017 constitution was designed to ensure that the military would be able to control the nature of the government, and the judicial system would support continued authoritarian rule. 

The pseudo-democratically elected 500 member lower house of parliament, formed after the March 2109 general election, together with the senate, made up of 250 military appointees, elected Prayuth Chan-ocha as prime minister.

Prayuth has worked to protect the position of the Thai establishment. The Thai military, particularly, the army had always seen itself as the body, which should rule, or at least, strongly influence the rule of Thailand. The army has repeatedly led coups against governments which was felt to act against the interests of the military. Until Thaksin became prime minister, the military had controlled its own appointments of high-ranking positions within the armed forces, without any serious scrutiny. 

Prayuth had completed the great military dream, the creation of what could be best called a milocracy. His government has direct support from the reigning Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn, who has greatly strengthened his power and authority, with support from the elite business families of the country. 

Myanmar’s military commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing seized power on 1st February 2021, just as a new parliamentary session was set to open following a landslide victory of Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD). Min Aung Hlaing, and those around him were concerned the NLD would introduce constitutional amendments to curb the power of the military. The power of the military establishment has been deeply entrenched in Myanmar for decades. Myanmar has never had a democratic tradition, and like Thailand is certain to remain under military control over the foreseeable future.  

The structure and fabric of Malaysian power are made up of a patriarchal elite Malay hierarchy. At the top are the royal families, which yield a symbolic cultural authority. Next are the long-established political families who have been involved at the forefront of politics and government since independence. Next is a network of political warlords spreading down to the village level. These warlords operate under the patronage and in-turn provide support to the leaders of the political families.

Alongside these groups are lines of Islamic clerics, who create religious legitimacy. Then comes a large sway of civil servants whose loyalty is to the Malay agenda rather than the government of the day and who caused chaos for the multiracial Pakatan Harapan government. Connected professionals and businesspeople complete the make-up of the Malay gentry.

Malaysia, once seen as a multicultural nation, has been incrementally traveling down the path of monoculturalism. In 1957, Chinese comprised about 40 percent of the population. That has shrunk to about 23 percent today. Any ideas promoting a true multi-cultural Malaysia were politically resisted. The Malay-centric political parties are holding a very fragile truce, sharing power within a complex coalition at federal government level. 

Singapore has been led by the Peoples’ Action Party (PAP), co-founded by Lew Kuan Yew, since the early 1960s. The PAP has ruled Singapore ever since, although its primarily electoral vote has declined over the decades from nearly 90% down to around 65%. The government is now led by the late Lee Kuan Yew’s son Lee Hsien Loong, who holds a disciplined government, with powerful party machinery on the ground.

Leadership of the PAP is very much ‘top down’ through an instituted cadre system. This has been partly kept to prevent any future hostile takeover attempts (Hunter 2013). Political power is centered in the Central Executive Committee, headed by the secretary-general of the party, who is usually the prime minister. Other members of the committee correlate strongly with the cabinet. 

The media in Singapore is strictly controlled, with press freedom ranked down at 160 by the Reporters without Borders 2021 World Press Freedom Index. Defamation actions are regularly taken against critics of the Government, and recently independent news portal Online Citizen had it’s license suspended and taken down from the internet. Singapore has an Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA), which is sometimes used against criticism of the government and just recently introduced a Foreign Interference (Countermeasures) Act, which has been widely criticized as another measure designed to stop international criticism of the Singapore government. The government also uses the Official Secrets Act against public servants who may speak to the media. 

The Lao People’s Democratic Republic is a one party state governed by the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party (LPRP). The leading role of the PPRP is enshrined in the 1991 constitution. The general secretary of the LPRP Thongloun Sisoulith is also the president of the LPDR. Like the LPDR, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam is also a one party state. The Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) asserts influence over all aspects of government and politics. The president is the elected head of state, commander-in-chief of the military. The general secretary of the CPV controls the party organization, and the prime minister runs the executive government. Vietnam also has a state legislature composed of 500 members. Other political parties are forbidden, and political dissent is harshly dealt with. 

Cambodia is a constitutional monarchy, with a parliamentary representative democracy. Hun Sen has been serving as prime minister since 1985. While, officially a multi-party democracy, Cambodia has effectively become a one party state controlled by the Cambodian People’s Party. Opposition leader Sam Rainsy was deemed ineligible to run for public office in 2013. Rainsy’s party, the Cambodian National Rescue Party gained 55 seats in the 2013 national elections. In 2017, Rainsy was banned from participating in any political activities, and currently facing conspiracy charges. Critics, the free press, and opposition members are regularly harassed by the government.

Finally, Brunei is a traditional Malay Sultanate. Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah has full executive authority, where Brunei has been heading towards a Shariah state. No opposition is allowed and the media is tightly censored. 

Currently there is an absence of any leader with regional vision within ASEAN. The leaders of the region don’t appear to have the relationships like their predecessors once had, as their emerging governments and development have their own demands. The pro AEC ASEAN Secretary General Dr. Surin Pitsuwan who kept the integration momentum, handed over the position to a less experienced generation of diplomats, before his passing, leading to a relative vacuum in leadership.

Entry of Timor Leste and Papua New Guinea 

One of the founding aspirations of ASEAN was that every state within the Southeast Asian region could become a member. Timor Leste has for many years wanted to join ASEAN. The geographical position of Timor Leste and interconnectedness with ASEAN member states makes it a good candidate for membership. Timor Leste imported more than US $ 286 million from Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, and exported US $ 210 million back in 2020.

Timor Leste applied for membership in 2011. Although, Timor Leste’s application has been supported Cambodia, Malaysia and the Philippines, Singapore appears to be against admission. Timor Leste’s application is still being evaluated by the ASEAN Coordinating Council Working Group with no time line. In a renewed push for ASEAN membership, Timor Leste abstained in a United Nations resolution condemning the military dictatorship in Myanmar, in what appeared to be an effort to gain favour from ASEAN states for admission as a member. Although Timor Leste’s abstention followed Brueni, Laos, Thailand, and Cambodia, which joined China and Russia, other members within ASEAN have been critical of Timor Leste (Hunt 2021). 

Papua New Guinea has observer status within ASEAN since 1976, and has expressed interest in becoming a member of the bloc. Although PNG’s wish to join ASEAN has Indonesian support, other members see that PNG’s influence should be within the Pacific Island region. 

Discussion and Conclusion

Programs to promote ASEAN consciousness and identity across the member states has largely failed over the last decade. A true ASEAN identity cannot be developed where the agenda is controlled by the elite polity of member countries, who see ASEAN as a political instrument for their own nationalistic ends. There is little history and tradition of democratic values, inclusion, and citizen participation in regional governments. Vietnam and Laos are one party states. Brunei of an absolute monarchy. Myanmar has a military government that took power through a coup, and Thailand has now evolved to a milocracy, after a series of coups over the last 90 years. Singapore has a 60 year leadership dynasty vested in one family, and Malaysia is governed by the Malay elite. 

The 2007 concept of One vision, one identity, one community has failed to evolve. Citizens of ASEAN countries are largely ignorant of each other (Heng 2015). Some have argued that ASEAN’s diversity, where cultures, social systems, legal and political systems are different, weaken the propensity for cohesion (Roberts 2011). However, history shows a once porous archipelago had overlapping spheres of influence, trade, cultural, and social linkages (Chaudhuri 1990), bringing a cohesiveness of diversity. 

There is less citizen inter-regional mobility than ever before. ASEAN member nation states have restricted rather than opened up travel across borders for peoples who used to transit across national borders freely, before they existed. ASEAN has failed to settle citizenship and free movement for the Bajau people or Orang Laut who traditionally lived across the Sulu Archipelago, which takes in Indonesia, the Philippines, Brunei, and Malaysia. ASEAN guest workers in other ASEAN states are treated very poorly. 

The big mistake is to compare ASEAN to the European Union. ASEAN was never intended to emulate the former. Perceptions of ASEAN from outside the region have mistakenly seen the bloc as an instrument able to assist in the containment of superpower influence in the Southeast Asian region. ASEAN was never intended to become a governing body. Its place is best seen as consultative framework between countries in the region. ASEAN has for far too long been critiqued through the wrong paradigm. 

ASEAN may not have contributed much to regional cohesion and sense of community, as was espoused during the group’s formation. ASEAN was formed by the elite within the region, and was never intended to be a popularist organization. Against the espoused mission, ASEAN is failing, but as a platform, over and above bilateral communications, ASEAN fulfils the role of a forum for non-binding consultation between the region’s leaders. 

The right question to ask is whether ASEAN will be able to progress beyond this, or will it whither? ASEAN has missed many opportunities. 

References:

Aguilar Jr, F, “Towards Community Formation in Southeast Asia? History Education, ASEAN and the Nation State.” Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia, No 32, No 1, March 2017, pp. 137-169.

Chaudhuri, K, N. Asia Before Europe: Economy and Civilization of the Indian Ocean from the Rise of Islam to 1750. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1990. 

Chia, S.Y. and Plummer, M. (2015) Asean Economic Cooperation and Integration: Progress, Challenges and Future Directions, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. 

Das, S. B. (2017) ‘Mind the Gap: Explaining Implementation Shortfalls in the ASEAN Economic Community’, ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute, Economic working paper, 2017-07, accessed on 30th October 2021, https://www.iseas.edu.sg/images/pdf/ISEAS%20EWP%202017-07%20Sanchita.pdf

Dickens, P. (2005) ‘Tangled webs: transnational production networks and regional integration’, SPACES working paper, 2005-04

Flores, J. M. and Abad, M.C, (1998), ASEAN at 30, Jakarta, ASEAN Secretariat 

Heng, M, S, H. “Advancing Community Building for ASEAN,” East Asia, Vol. 32, No. 4, (December 2015), pp. 421-440. 

Hunt, L. (2021) ‘Timor Leste’s Bid for ASEAN Membership Tarnished by Myanmar Vote’, The Diplomat, June 29, accessed 30th October 2021, https://thediplomat.com/2021/06/timor-lestes-bid-for-asean-membership-tarnished-by-myanmar-vote/

Hunter, M. (2013), ‘Who rules Singapore? The only true mercantile state in the world’ Geopolitics, History, and International Relations, Vol. 5, No. 2, pp 88+

Kingsbury, D. “Post-colonial states, ethnic minorities and separatist conflicts: case studies from Southeast Asia and South Asia.” Ethical & Racial Studies 34, No. 5, (May 2011), P. 762. 

Lee, J, J, (2018), Kyoto Review of Southeast Asia, Trendsetters, accessed April 2020. https://kyotoreview.org/trendsetters/colonialism-asean-identity/

Rahim, L, Z. Singapore in the Malay World: Building and Breaching Regional Bridges. London, Routledge, 2009.

Roberts, C. “Region and Identity: The many faces of Southeast Asia.” Asian Politics & Policy, Vol. 3, No. 3, (July 2001), pp. 365-383. 

Weatherbee, D E. “Southeast Asia and ASEAN running in place.” In Southeast Asian Affairs 2012, Daljit Singh and Pushpa Thambipillai (editors), Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2012, pp. 3-22. 

Endnotes

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Murray Hunter

Murray Hunter has been involved in Asia-Pacific business for the last 30 years as an entrepreneur, consultant, academic, and researcher. As an entrepreneur he was involved in numerous start-ups, developing a lot of patented technology, where one of his enterprises was listed in 1992 as the 5th fastest going company on the BRW/Price Waterhouse Fast100 list in Australia. Murray is now an associate professor at the University Malaysia Perlis, spending a lot of time consulting to Asian governments on community development and village biotechnology, both at the strategic level and “on the ground”. He is also a visiting professor at a number of universities and regular speaker at conferences and workshops in the region. Murray is the author of a number of books, numerous research and conceptual papers in referred journals, and commentator on the issues of entrepreneurship, development, and politics in a number of magazines and online news sites around the world. Murray takes a trans-disciplinary view of issues and events, trying to relate this to the enrichment and empowerment of people in the region.

2 thoughts on “The Withering Of ASEAN: Why The Grouping Is A Low Priority For Member States – Analysis

  • January 2, 2022 at 2:52 pm
    Permalink

    Dear Murray HUNTER,

    Yes, you hit the nail on the head but needs to be more sympathetic to the local residing in that
    area and coping with what they have.

    Regards

    Kanbawza Win

    Reply
  • January 3, 2022 at 11:50 am
    Permalink

    Asean members do not how to deal with military strong countries like Myanmar, Thailand even Cambodia and Vietnam.

    Reply

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