At 50 years old, ASEAN has a lot of work to do to boost its internal strength, making itself more of a middle power through concrete steps that include implementing its own agreements, reviewing its currency basket, giving national treatment to its own investors – and beefing up its own security discussion forums. Johanna Son of Reporting ASEAN explains more.
ASEAN is basking in its 50-year glory, but this milestone has also shown how it is, in a sense, its own weak spot. The challenge from within ASEAN itself is its refusal or inability to fix itself from within so that it is solid enough to stave off divisions caused by the presence or absence of external powers, whether it be China, or the United States, explains Johanna Son.
As ASEAN reaches the 50-year mark, it should free itself from the old confines of navigating between the big powers and build its muscle as a middle power – one that confidently and collectively holds its own against undue external pressures, be it China, the United States, or others. Johanna Son* reports.
The growth of ASEAN’s footprint in its constituency’s lives widens the space – and responsibility – by the region’s media to report on the challenges and opportunities of regional integration. While media can invest more in this story, ASEAN’s largely opaque approach to them doesn’t exactly speak of a maturing organisation. This shows few signs of changing radically any time soon, reflecting the less than open attitude toward media freedom by several of its member states, Johanna Son explains in this commentary.
Was it a step forward or a flop? The December ‘retreat’ of ASEAN foreign ministers to discuss the situation in Rakhine state made it crystal clear that the matter is a regional ASEAN issue – and that by itself is a marked difference from ASEAN’s handling of touchy ‘internal’ issues in the past, says Johanna Son in this analysis.
In grieving Thailand, the abrupt and deafening silence is akin to that which follows the sudden switching off of loud music or the television. A visual environment so defined by black – and some grey and white – that it feels like someone pulled down a black-and-white filter across just about everything around. Johanna Son takes us around Bangkok in the days after the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) and corporate governance are taking root as a norm in Southeast Asia, Reporting ASEAN’s Johanna Son reports from discussions at a a July conference in Singapore. Companies increasingly have senior managers looking after sustainability, business schools are studying and doing research into corporate governance.
A sense of apprehension and impatience, at times reluctantly expressed but nevertheless real, is fast tempering the heady optimism about Myanmar’s political change nearly two months into the Aung San Suu Kyi-led government. Johanna Son analyses the reasons behind this feeling of discomfort in this piece for the ‘Bangkok Post’.
Anger and frustration – the feeling of being totally fed up – has been consistent through the recent presidential campaign in the Philippines, leading to the victory of a guy viewed as an outsider to the political culture, a rebel, a political heretic. Johanna Son looks at why voters chose Rodrigo Duterte as their next president in this ‘Bangkok Post’ commentary.