The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has come a long way economically and politically over the past 51 years. However, one dimension of ASEAN’s integration process has often been looked over – its social integration between the people of various nationalities in the region. While dollars and cents are undoubtedly important, economic prosperity alone, won’t ensure ASEAN’s success.
As a regional association, ASEAN must avoid the pitfalls of becoming a high-minded, elitist organisation, with its inner workings confined within the hallowed hallways of the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta. As it evolves, it must adapt to the needs and demands of its constituents – the ASEAN people.This is where a strong social presence is necessary to help ensure the voices of the people are heard when the next major ASEAN masterplan or roadmap is drawn up.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has a busy year ahead. But the buzzword on the lips of regional policymakers and influencers – “economic community”, “free trade” or “trade integration”, just to name a few – speaks to the potential of the region in terms of its economy.
Singapore’s 2018 ASEAN chairmanshipThis week, Singapore announced its priorities going into 2018 as chairman of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).