ASEAN gives a semblance of political unity to the states of Southeast Asia. A region otherwise disparate in terms of its states’ political systems, ideologies, economies, and geopolitical outlooks.
While the Association has grown and withstood the test of time, the concept of ASEAN is still alien to most citizens of its member states.
… The ASEAN Community should just be that, a community, which is as much as possible independent of the politics of the region. To create a deeper sense of community, we need more informal interactions.
The Track II Network of ASEAN Defence and Security Institutions (NADI), initiated by the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore is a good example of this. NADI serves as an informal platform that enables open discussions among academics and government representatives on matters that are deemed sensitive to be raised in official Track I meetings. Importantly, NADI enables participants to contribute to the discussions in their personal capacities and think beyond their government’s positions.
If we could create more such platforms for business people, entrepreneurs, and professionals in the ASEAN region to communicate and collaborate in informal ways that would increase their familiarity with each other and bring us closer to the realisation of a true ASEAN Community. While a community of professionals across the region still sounds elitist, it could serve as a small first step.
… Kalicharan is a Researcher at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. He writes on the politics of South and Southeast Asia and on Asian security issues. Most recently, he analysed the tactics of the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf, after the group’s pledge of allegiance to the so-called Islamic State.
Last updated on 03/02/2020