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‘I Feel Part of ASEAN’

“There are so many things to learn, to hear from the other organisations and CSOs,” Nguyen Thi Kim Que, vice director of the Centre for Sustainable Development Studies in Vietnam, said after taking part in the 2nd S Rajaratnam Endowment (SRE) ASEAN Community Forum in Singapore in August 2017.

South China Sea Dispute: Asean Voice Drowned Out As Big Powers Pipe Up

The recent joint communique about the South China Sea dispute stopped short of mentioning the tribunal ruling invalidating China’s claims over most of the waterway. Tan Hui Yee of the Straits Times argues that while Asean has survived this test intact, its consensus-based system has muted its voice compared with the world powers weighing in loudly.

No Brexit Repeat in ASEAN

In the aftermath of the Brexit, Southeast Asia watchers are asking the question: Could it also happen in ASEAN? No, says Termsak Chalermpalanupap, who makes a strong case against why the regional association will not have any such upheaval in this analysis in The Diplomat.

Brexit Won’t Hinder ASEAN Integration, Surin Pitsuwan Says

Britain’s vote to leave the European Union will not discourage the Association of Southeast Asian Nations from pushing ahead with its own economic integration project, the bloc’s former chief said on Friday. In an interview with the Nikkei Asian Review, former ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan said the association can learn from the EU’s experience.

Southeast Asian Newspapers’ take on the Special ASEAN-China FM Meeting

The Special ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting might have concluded a week ago, but its aftershocks continue to rattle ASEAN as it reassesses its strategy in handling the South China Sea (SCS) dispute. Jason Salim takes a look at some of the editorial pieces and reporting in Southeast Asian newspapers regarding the “media statement” fiasco in this commentary.

The Lady Comes Calling

The visit this week by democracy icon Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will certainly brighten the spirits of the Thai people and could also lift the profile of the Thai junta and Myanmar’s top leader. Yet Achara Ashayagachat of the Bangkok Post argues that we shouldn’t romanticize too much about “The Lady” and her capacity.

Asean Struggles To Protect Labourers

The ASEAN Community’s interest in unskilled labourers remains poor, despite the fact that this group provides the real workforce that dominates labour flows around the region. Wasamon Audjarint of The Nation looks at the reasons behind the reluctance to protect these migrant workers.

ASEAN May Have 10 Nations But It Should Only Have One Visa

While the creation of the ASEAN Economic Community has been on several counts a success, there’s still a lot to be done on the travel side when it comes to the secure and seamless movement of people. Tiffany Misrahi explains why a common ASEAN visa will boost tourism within the region and ultimately lead to more growth in Southeast Asia.

South China Sea: Who Occupies What in the Spratlys?

The discourse over the South China Sea disputes never abates as there is still no real clarity about who occupies what in the huge-contested Spratly Islands. Alexander L. Vuving of ‘The Diplomat’ attempts to list what different countries occupy in the South China Sea.

Burma’s Media Landscape Through the Years

Recent years have seen dramatic changes to Burma’s media environment, with the previous quasi-civilian government taking steps to unshackle a press corps long muzzled by successive military regimes dating back to 1962. In the wake of World Press Freedom Day, The Irrawaddy revisits a media history stretching back to the 1800s in this article.

Japan Announces 244 Billion Baht Plan to Develop Mekong Region

On the heels of China’s overtures to ASEAN and Mekong countries, comes Japan’s answer — a 244 billion baht new cooperation fund for the region. Tassanee Vejpongsa of the Associated Press explains how the initiative will help promote “connectivity” within ASEAN countries and Japan through funding in infrastructure and development of human resources.

Obituary: Association of Southeast Asian Nations (1967-2016)

The dispute in the South China Sea issue has already climbed up several notches in ASEAN’s agenda over the last few years. China will try different diplomatic means to push its agenda, as Philip Bowring of the Asia Sentinel argues regarding its attempts to present Brunei, Laos and Cambodia as sympathetic to its side on the maritime feud.

 

ASEAN Journalists Strive to Promote Regional Identity

Journalists from around Southeast Asia plan to set up a regional forum encompassing multi-platform news reporting in the pursuit of building a cohesive ASEAN identity among members of the public. Liza Yosephine of the The Jakarta Post finds out more about the proposed forum.

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.

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.

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’.

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.

Freer Movement of Skilled Workers: Pitfalls, Positives for ASEAN

Will the greater skills mobility under the ASEAN Community be is an inclusive type of economic integration, and contribute to a reduction in income or wealth inequality? The Asian Development Bank’s Shang Wei Lin tackles the issue in this article in’ The Nation’.

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