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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.

 

Reintegration: the Forgotten Side of Migration in ASEAN

The reintegration of Southeast Asia’s migrant workers is as important as their departure and the remittances they send home to labour-exporting countries like the Philippines, Indonesia and Myanmar. But as Tess Bacalla explains in this piece for the ‘Reporting ASEAN’ series, ASEAN is unlikely to focus on reintegration when it is averse to addressing the issue of unskilled workers in the region in the first place.

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.

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.

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’.

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.

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’.

ASEAN Chair A Potential Coming of Age for Laos

Vientiane takes centre stage this year, as ASEAN chair. The Lao People’s Democratic Republic is also becoming a magnet for competing powers, but some analysts say it is a potential coming of age for the relatively isolated country, says this article from The Straits Times.

CSR in the Philippines: ‘Everybody Happy’

Giving back to the community. Being an inclusive business. A business that makes partners out of its suppliers and the communities around it.  These are some of the ways Philippine businesses define corporate social responsibility (CSR), a habit that is acquiring more relevance against the backdrop of ASEAN integration.

How ASEAN are Filipinos?

Separated from mainland South-east by vast oceans, the Philippines is often seen as more interested in the West than in its own neighbours. Will the ASEAN mindset grow in the Filipino psyche now that the ASEAN Community has been launched?

INDONESIA: Controls on Agricultural Imports Protect Whom?

Indonesia controls – through reference pricing – the imports of products like shallots. It’s meant to protect local producers, but there often isn’t enough supply and consumers find the prices of this basic kitchen spice high. What’s the balance between a barrier to trade and a protection tool for domestic interests? Kanis Dursin reports for the ‘Making AEC Work’ series, part of the ‘Reporting ASEAN: 2015 and Beyond’ media programme.

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