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ASEAN: How About Accountability Beyond Borders?

We all know CSR. But as ASEAN integration picks up and regional companies do more business overseas, it’s time to go further and push the value of corporate accountability instead, Carl Middleton points out in this commentary for the ‘Reporting ASEAN: 2015 and Beyond’ series. Can companies in the region go for accountability across borders?

As ASEAN Chair, Laos Walks Tightrope Among Big Powers

A small and landlocked country, Laos has learned, throughout its long history, how to survive among big powers. As ASEAN chair this year, it handles summits with external powers courting the organisation – the US, Russia and China. So far, so good, writes Kavi Chongkittavorn in this commentary for the ‘Reporting ASEAN: 2015 and Beyond’ series.

After 10 Years of Talking, ASEAN and Activists Still Far Apart

It’s been 10 years since civil society groups in ASEAN started having annual interactions with ASEAN leaders, including face-to-face meetings at summits. But beyond making headlines, how effective have these been in influencing ASEAN’s work or its members’ policies? Mia Gomez and Johanna Son attend a meeting ahead of the 2016 ASEAN People’s Forum to find out in this story for the ‘Reporting ASEAN: 2015 and Beyond’ series.

Thailand Being Left Behind by Neighbours

If Thailand were to regress from a democracy to the military-authoritarian rule of before, it would not look out of place in Southeast Asia’s mixed neighbourhood of absolutism, communism, and competitive authoritarianism. But the region is changing, leaving Thailand as the laggard, argues Thitinan Pongsudhirak in this ‘Bangkok Post’ article.

ASEAN Study Tour Gets Farmers, Gov’ts Talking to Each Other

Government officials and farmers’ groups from seven ASEAN countries went on a rare study tour together in Thailand to learn more about cooperatives in the country and also to get to know one another better. Mia Gomez looks at the effort to increase dialogue between farmers and ASEAN sectoral bodies in this story for the ‘Reporting ASEAN: 2015 and Beyond’ series.

Building the Bloc

ASEAN Secretary-General Le Luong Minh, seen as low-profile compared to his Thai predecessor, has been underrated for achievements such as strengthening the secretariat, getting the European Union to open a mission to ASEAN, and telling China its behaviour in the South China Sea has eroded ASEAN-China links, says this article in SEA Globe.

Thais Take to A New Language: Bahasa Indonesia

Indonesian has become a popular language to learn among Thais. This is a gateway to deepening intra-ASEAN linkages, a key building block for the socio-cultural pillar of the ASEAN Community. Sathapat Phaethong (@Sathapat_P) of ‘Sawasdee ASEAN’ programme reports from Bangkok and Jakarta in this TV report for the ‘Reporting ASEAN 2015 and Beyond’ media programme.

ASEAN Leaders Programme Needs You!

Are you a leader in your ASEAN country? Eager to help solve the problems of your society, challenge yourself in tackling an issue facing ASEAN as a community? If so, you can apply for the ASEAN Leaders Programme, which for this year will focus on the following challenge: “What makes a city smart?”

Japan Counts on ASEAN Tourists to Boost Economy

Japan’s flagging economy is getting a boost from its neighbours – tourists from Southeast Asia keen to see samurais and indulge in a little shopping. Tourist arrivals from ASEAN have jumped 30 to 40 percent, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization. Suvendrini Kakuchi finds out why ASEAN visitors are flocking to Cool Japan.

What is ASEAN?

The Philippines will be ASEAN chair when ASEAN turns 50 next year. Yet in this report by Daniel Abunales and Jake Soriano of ‘Verafiles’ for the ‘Reporting ASEAN’ media fellowship programme, listen to Filipinos say of ASEAN: “I don’t know.” “It includes the US.”

China’s ‘Water Grab’ and Its Consequences

Southeast Asia’s waters are boiling with politics, tussles involving fishing boats, South China Sea disputes and dam issues in the Mekong – on top of the steaming-hot weather these days. Thitinan Pongsudhirak analyses China’s conduct in the region in this commentary in the ‘Bangkok Post’.

Whose Healthy ASEAN Community?

In health, ‪#‎ASEAN‬ integration comes across as a double-edged sword. What could the cure by to the illness of approaching health more as a commercial rather than a social good? Rosalia Sciortino of Mahidol and Chulalongkorn universities delves into this in her commentary for the ‘Reporting ASEAN: 2015 and Beyond’ series.

CAMBODIA: Taking the Fishiness Out of A Favourite Food

Industry standards have been drawn up for prahok, the Khmer fermented fish paste, as the Cambodian government seeks to protect consumers and boost exports. Cheng Sokhorng of The Phnom Penh Post takes a look at what this means for producers and customers in her story for the ‘Making AEC Work’ series, ‘Reporting ASEAN:2015 and Beyond’ programme.

In Burma, A Fine Line Between CSR and Karmic Cash

What constitutes Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)? That’s the question on everyone’s lips in Burma, where the term is being interpreted differently by businesses. Kyaw Hsu Mon of ‘The Irrawaddy’ reports for the ‘CSR in the ASEAN Community’, Reporting ASEAN: 2015 and Beyond programme.

CAMBODIA: The Root of the Problem

Exporting cassava to Thailand has never been tougher for Cambodian farmers, who say Thai authorities are erecting non-tariff barriers as a protectionist measure. Does the ASEAN Economic Community’s vision of free trade work in reality? Sor Chandara of the ‘Phnom Penh Post’ reports for the ‘Making AEC Work’ series, ‘Reporting ASEAN:2015 and Beyond’ programme.

How Do MNCs See the ASEAN Economic Community?

With the freer movement of labour, capital, investment and goods across Southeast Asia, multinational corporations (MNCs) look set to benefit from deeper economic integration under the ASEAN Economic Community. Industry leaders weigh in with their expectations of what the AEC means for their organisations and ideas on how to speed up the integration process in this article from ASEAN UP.

THAILAND: Firm on Protecting the Palm Oil Sector

The third largest producer of palm oil in the world, Thailand is facing domestic and international challenges in its management of the prized crop. Although oversupply, high costs and lack of competitiveness in terms of pricing are ongoing concerns, the country is adamant about protecting the sector, as Kornchanok Raksaseri of ‘Econ News’ finds out in this ‘Making AEC Work’ story, part of the ‘Reporting ASEAN:2015 and Beyond’ programme.

THAILAND AND BURMA: Set Sights on Boosting Bilateral Trade

Boosting bilateral trade volumes to reach $10-12 billion in 2017 will be a key concern for Thailand and Myanmar. To achieve the target, the two neighbours will need to combat smuggling and ease certain restrictions, explains Kyaw Hsu Mon of ‘The Irrawaddy’ in her story for the ‘Making AEC Work’ series, ‘Reporting ASEAN:2015 and Beyond’ programme.

THAILAND: Unified Halal Standard Still A Big Issue in ASEAN

Thailand is a major exporter of halal products, but hasn’t found it easy to export to Indonesia, home to the biggest Muslim population and thus the biggest consumer base for halal products. Thai officials propose that ASEAN pushes for a unified halal standard, but this does not seem likely anytime soon,  explains Sathapat Phaethong (@Sathapat_P) of ‘Sawasdee ASEAN’ in this video report for the ‘Making AEC Work’ series, part of the ‘Reporting ASEAN: 2015 and Beyond’ media programme.

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