Opinions»Opinion 2014

Opinion 2014

The Centre for ASEAN Studies posts on its Website opinions related to ASEAN by persons affiliated with ISEAS or its Centre for ASEAN Studies and also by others. The opinions expressed are their own and not necessarily those of ISEAS or the Centre.




Date: 29 November 2014

Myanmar helped ease tensions at ASEAN summit: Minister

Some observers say Myanmar played a key role in pulling the member nations together on this issue. "The chair has the responsibility to make sure that they have consensus and that's what's most important. I think Myanmar was able to do that very efficiently and I think you have to give credit to Myanmar," said Kavi Chongkittavorn, senior fellow at Chulalongkorn University’s Institute of Security and International Studies.

Click here for the full article by ChannelNewsAsia.

Date: 27 November 2014

China’s Friendship Treaty: A Distraction from South China Sea Diplomacy

The Diplomat's David Gitter suggests "Southeast Asian nations should consider how China perceives ASEAN and what goals it hopes to gain from its interactions with the bloc"

Click here for the full article by The Diplomat

Date: 25 November 2014

Securing Asean’s cyber domain

The New Straits Times Reports "Nine of the 10 Asean countries have laws related to electronic transactions, while eight have those concerned with cybercrime. All but one have a national cybersecurity programme."

Clik here to read the full article.

Date: 22 November 2014

AirAsia to promote Asean as tourism destination through ‘Asean Pass’

The Malaymail Online reports of a private-sector initative by AirAsia that is likely to boost regional tourism in the ASEAN region.

Dubbed the “Asean Pass”, the airline will offer a 10-flight pass at a flat rate of RM499 and a 20-flight pass that is expected to cost under RM1,000, said AirAsia Group chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes.

Click here for the full article by The MalayMail Online.

Date: 20 November 2014

Japan, ASEAN hold regional security talks in Myanmar

The gathering in Bagan, central Myanmar, was the first of its kind to boost security ties between Tokyo and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

A Japanese government source said Eto emphasized the importance of Japan-ASEAN cooperation in regional security, telling defense chiefs, “no country can maintain peace alone.”

Click here for the full article by The Japan Times

Date: 15 November 2014

Peace and security in the region depend on ASEAN working together: Ng Eng Hen

SINGAPORE: Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen attended the ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting (ADMM) Retreat from Tuesday (Nov 18) to Wednesday in Bagan, Myanmar, where ASEAN Defence Ministers discussed regional security issues and welcomed progress in practical cooperation.

Click here for a brief report by ChannelNewsAsia

Date: 12 November 2014

ASC's Termsak Chalermpalanupap speaks to the Global Times in "ASEAN leaders eye community building beyond 2015"

"For political and security, the emphasis should be on supporting the ASEAN centrality," said Termsak Chalermpalanupap, leading researcher for political and security affairs at the ASEAN Studies Center of Singapore's Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.

Click here for an assessment by The Global Times.

Date: 12 November 2014

ASEAN Summit Opens in Myanmar

Voice of America Reports- 

Thein Sein cautioned that one year before the launch of the ASEAN Economic Community, which is supposed to create a single market, “challenges remain in implementing the remaining 20 percent of the targets and addressing the issues that will emerge in the post-2015 ASEAN Community.”

Click here for a the full article by Voice of America

Date: 11 November 2014

Financial Times: "Five things you need to know about Asean – and they’re not all good"

The Financial Times shares their views on five significant points about ASEAN based on a recent McKinsey report.

Click here to read the full article published by the Financial Times.

Date: 29 October 2014

What does the new Indonesian government mean for Australia and ASEAN?

Aaron Connelly speaks with SBS producer Andrea Booth about Indonesia and the futre of its relationship with Australia and ASEAN under the Jokowi Government.

Click here for a transcript of the interview.

Date: 28 October 2014

ASEAN, partners gather to speed up RCEP talks

Trade officials from 16 Asia-Pacific countries kicked off Monday the intercessional meeting of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP) to accelerate talks.

Read more at Asia One.

Date: 27 October 2014

ASEAN Briefing: Understanding the Geopolitics of the South China Sea Dispute

In recent years, the South China Sea has become a key area of concern for the ASEAN organization. In the face of an increasingly expansionary China, ASEAN has often seemed slow to react and unsure of what strategy it should pursue. While there are options in place, such as the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), there has been little unity in the actions of the ten member nations.

Click here for a perspective of the issue by "ASEAN Briefing"

Date: 14 October 2014

ISEAS' Malcolm Cook for the East-West Center - Singapore Key to US Partnership with Southeast Asia

ISEAS's Dr Malcolm Cook shares his views with Asia Matters for America, a publication by the East-West Center on Singapore Key to US Partnership with Southeast Asia.

...Fortunately, what is good for Singapore and the US is also good for Southeast Asia as a whole. Singapore’s historic role as an entrepot economy has long positioned Singapore as the economic link between Southeast Asia and the rest of the world as shown by re-exports accounting for 45% of Singapore’s total exports in 2013. Singapore’s successful promotion of itself as a site for MNCs to locate their regional headquarters also means that an increasing amount of FDI into Singapore is for companies to expand their presence in the region as a whole, meaning that these headquarters in effect account for a growing share of Singaporean FDI to Southeast Asia....

Click here to read the full article by the East-West Center.

Date: 13 October 2014

Uniform standard for food can improve EU-Asean trade - Yahoo

Chairman of the EU-Malaysia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EUMCCI), Fermin Fautsch, spoke with reporters from Bernama at the EU-Asean Forum on Food Safety in Kuala Lumpur on13 October 2014.

He said defining the standards, like efforts on determining the shelf life, traceability, cold chain management and labelling, would play a role in giving greater confidence to consumers. "If such standards are brought to the Asean level, it obviously would help facilitate more trade," he added.

For more information, click here to read the article by Yahoo News.

Date: 10 October 2014

ASEAN integration to create 3.1-M jobs in PH - study: ABS-CBN

ABS-CBN reports that ASEAN integration may create as many as 3.1 million jobs in the Philippines

... Medium-skilled employment, meanwhile, could grow by around 25 percent. This includes clerks, craft and related trade workers, plant and machine operators and assemblers, and service and sales workers...

Click here for the full article at ABS-CBN.

Date: 7 October 2014

ISEAS' Asad Latif for the East-West Center - "The Case for an ASEAN Caucus in the US Congress"

...ASEAN is America’s fourth-largest trading partner after Canada, Mexico and China, while the US is ASEAN’s third-largest trading partner – a relationship that creates about 560,000 jobs for Americans. Indeed, investments by ASEAN members in the US rose by more than an astonishing 1,440 per cent to US$27.5 billion in 2012, up from US$1.8 billion in 2001...

Click here to read the full article by the East-West Center.


Date: 30 September 2014

Asean issues first joint statement on ISIS crisis - Straits Times

... Asean supported calls for the international community to work together to fight terrorism and extremism, while it also backed the UN Security Council resolutions passed last week that aim to compel countries to take measures to stem the flow of foreign fighters to militant groups...

Click here for the full report by the Straits Times.

Date: 22 September 2014

ISEAS Perspective: "The Limited Impact of the ASEAN Economic Community on Skilled Labour Migration"

"...AEC’s impact on the region’s employment prospects comes from two channels—first from the structural changes in domestic economies; and second from the AEC’s promotion of free movement of skilled labour through the establishment of Mutual Recognition Arrangements (MRAs) of professional services. With structural change overtime, the AEC can potentially boost the region’s GDP by 7.1 per cent by 2025 and generate 14 million jobs in the process..."

The Guest Writer Sukti Dasgupta and the ASC's Sanchita Basu Das  will discuss the impact of AEC on the labour market through the channel of structural change, skills, productivity and wages in ISEAS Perspective, first published on 22nd September 2014.

To read the full article, please click here.

Date: 4 September 2014

Work needed on Asean community labour policy- Sanchita Basu Das for the Straits Times

Sanchita Basu Das, Lead Researcher for Economic Affairs at the ASEAN Studies Centre, ISEAS, shared her views with the Straits Times on the need for coordinated and coherent labour policies as the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) comes into effect-

IN 15 MONTHS, the Asean Economic Community (AEC) comes into effect, heralding a new era in which the flow of goods, services, capital and labour will be freed up across the region. One aspect of this liberalisation is what it will mean for job opportunities across Asean's 10 member countries.

Will an engineering graduate from Malaysia be able to apply for a job in Indonesia? Can a Filipino nurse get to work in a Thai hospital Under ideal conditions, the answer is a resounding yes. But there are several reasons why the answer is no and will remain so in the next few years.

Click here to read the full article by Sanchita Basu Das.
For the article as published by the Straits Times on 4 September 2014, click at this link.

Date: 2 September 2014

Collective Investment Schemes for Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand

Fund managers in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand are now able to offer Collective Investment Schemes (CIS) to retail investors in all three countries thanks to new regulations, which is set to boost business, say financial experts...

The framework is expect to improve cross-border offers for investors, boosting businesses. To read the full article on the framework by Opp Connect, click here.

Date: 29 August 2014

Banking integration in ASEAN gathers pace

The East Asia Forum reports on the ASEAN Banking Integration Framework which aims to liberise the banking market by 2020-

"Allowing banks to operate across borders enables them to take advantage of economies of scale to increase efficiency and reduce costs. The entry of regional banks into domestic markets can increase competition, leading to lower prices and a greater variety of banking products and services. Heightened competition may also spur banks to expand into rural areas which are traditionally underserved by banks. Extending banking to the rural poor is an important means of promoting inclusive economic growth in ASEAN..."

Click here for the full article by The East Asia Forum

Date: 25 August 2014

ASEAN economic ministers meeting kicks off in Myanmar

Speaking at the opening of the four-day ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting (AEM), Myanmar President U Thein Sein called on the member states to exert collective efforts for the regional economic integration through free flow of goods, free flow of services and investment, free flow of skilled labor and free flow of capital as envisaged in the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) blueprint.

Telling the meeting that Myanmar is giving priority to carrying out the task for small and medium enterprises (SME) development, U Thein Sein said the capacity building programs for the four ASEAN member states -- Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam under the Initiative of ASEAN Integration (IAI) Phase-2 will contribute to narrowing the development gap among ASEAN member states and to accelerate the regional integration.

Click here for a report of the 46th meeting of economic ministers of ASEAN by the ShanghaiDaily.

Date: 23 August 2014

Indian exports to Asean to touch $280 billion in 10 years: Standard Chartered - The Times of India

The Times of India reports that exports to ASEAN are expected to hit $280 billion in 10 years- an increase of 15%, in a study by Standard Chartered. Six areas with export potential were identified - include Petroleum products, organic chemicals, vehicles (including auto components), pharmaceuticals, gems and jewellery and apparel and clothing accessories.

Read more at The Times of India.

Date: 11 August 2014

Updates on the South China Sea dispute at the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting

Myanmar says will not take sides in maritime dispute
ChannelNewsAsia reports - "Myanmar has been quick to emphasise a peaceful resolution to any conflict, with President Thein Sein calling for ASEAN to promote a common spirit of peaceful co-existence, harmony and tolerance, in a challenging global environment. He said ASEAN must show its leadership and maintain centrality. This is especially important in this fast changing political and security environment."

To read the full article and a video report by ChannelNewsAsia, click here.

ASEAN urges stepped-up talks as South China Sea tensions grow
The Today newspaper reported on August 11 "A senior US official said ASEAN countries’ concern over China’s maritime actions was at an “all-time high” based on private conversations, though their public statements were more guarded to avoid antagonising China. “We urged all parties concerned to exercise self-restraint and avoid actions that would complicate the situation and undermine peace, stability and security in the South China Sea,” said ASEAN in a communique, following a meeting this weekend in Myanmar’s capital Naypyidaw."

For the full article by Today, click here.

Date: 10 August 2014

Singapore Airlines - Air New Zealand alliance opens gateway to ASEAN region

"Foreign Minister Murray McCully has welcomed regulatory approval for the alliance between Air New Zealand and Singapore Airlines, describing the initiative as “a game changer” in his meeting with Foreign Ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations..."

“The alliance also means more opportunities for New Zealand businesses. There are over 620 million people living in the ASEAN countries, and they are increasingly demanding the high-quality products exported by New Zealand businesses. Two-way merchandise trade amounts to $13 billion annually, and New Zealand’s exports to ASEAN were over $5 billion in the past year. This is set to grow as the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand free trade agreement comes fully into effect. Goods exports alone grew by over 20 per cent in the past twelve months. Increased air links will allow New Zealand businesses to continue this trend."

Date: 07 Aug 2014
MH17 likely to be key topic at ASEAN meeting

Dr Termsak Chalermpalanupap, lead researcher at ASEAN Studies Centre, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, shared his views with ChannelNewsAsia- "That will be an ideal occasion for Malaysia representing ASEAN to request Russian support for a thorough investigation of the downing of MH17. I think that will be a fair position for ASEAN to take. They will just ask for information, and to encourage (the) Russian foreign minister to share information, because we always want to know from the Russian perspective how they see the situation in Ukraine, how they are going to support investigation of the downing of MH17."


Date: 20 Jul 2014

Investigations into MH17 tragedy must not be hindered: ASEAN

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) says it strongly condemns the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine, and expressed shock over the death of 298 people on board.

"ASEAN member states underline that it is imperative that we find out precisely what happened to Flight MH17. We call for a full, independent and transparent investigation into the catastrophe. We emphasise that investigations must not be hindered," the grouping said in a statement released on Sunday (July 20)- Channel News Asia


Date: 16 Jul 2014

Asean members must move as one team in peacekeeping mission

Malaysia has proposed that Asean members move as a team in undertaking endeavours such as peacekeeping missions as well as humanitarian work under the banner of the United Nations (UN).

In making the suggestion, Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said the cooperation between Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam’s defence forces in Malbatt 850-1 peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon could serve as an example and be further expanded in the context of Asean - The Rakyat Post


Date: 24 Jun 2014

China likely to take firm line in Asean talks on code of conduct for South China Sea

The South China Morning Post reports that priority will be defending territorial interests in dialogue on code of conduct in disputed waters.

... China will act assertively at a regional meeting to discuss a code of conduct for the South China Sea amid rising tensions with its Southeast Asian neighbours over disputed waters, observers say.

Date: 19 Jun 2014

Rising Asean consumption to drive electronics exports

The Bangkok Post reports that rising consumption in ASEAN is leading to a drive in electronic exports:

... "We've seen opportunities growing, particularly in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, where demand for electricity use has surged in line with increasing infrastructure development," he said. At present, the US ranks as the top export market, consuming 17% of total exports.

Date: 12 May 2014

Govt succeeds in keeping Rohingya off ASEAN Summit agenda

ISEAS Senior Fellow Malcolm Cook shares his views with the Myanmar Times- "... these increased tensions had put Myanmar, as a first-time chair of ASEAN, in a difficult position but could also help deflect unwanted attention from other issues, such as Rakhine State."

Date: 14 February 2014

Cultural divides: The root cause of unrest

ASC's Rodolfo Severino shares his views with the Straits Times on cultural divides as a key driver of unrest:

"WHAT do the current political unrest, economic divisions, social turmoil, outright insurgency or civil war in Thailand, the Philippines, Ukraine, Egypt, Tunisia, Syria and other Arab countries have in common?"

"...all of the current upheavals, some violent, others merely unsettling, can be best summarised as being caused by cultural divides or gaps. These occur between the forces of modernisation and those of tradition, or between the educated elite, mostly in the cities, and the teeming masses, mostly in the countryside."

Date: 03 February 2014

Let’s be honest about what ASEAN can and cannot do

"ASEAN is still far from being economically integrated as a region. And there is little prospect that it will be fully integrated, as envisioned, in the near future, much less by 2015. But whether or not the AEC is achieved by 2015 should not be held against the literal rendering of the specific measures to realise ASEAN economic integration, as provided for in the Strategic Schedule appended to the AEC Blueprint. Rather, the plan to realise the AEC by 2015 should be looked at as a re-affirmation of the ASEAN leaders’ aspiration for, and commitment to, efficiency in trading, market openness and links with the international community. The year 2015 should be considered not as a hard-and-fast target, in which ASEAN, its objectives and the way it conducts business are suddenly transformed. Rather, it should be regarded as a benchmark to help measure ASEAN’s progress toward regional economic integration." 
- Mr Rodolfo C Severino, Head, ASEAN Studies Centre

Click the headline to read the article published by the East Asia Forum


Date: 27 January 2014

How much can ASEAN do for a South China Sea code of conduct?

"...those who expect the ASEAN–China discussions to result in some kind of breakthrough that will lead quickly to a resolution are bound to be disappointed. There are several reasons for this, all having to do with fundamental differences between China and ASEAN on a variety of issues pertaining to a proposed CoC for the South China Sea."The Head of the ASC, Rodolfo Severino, shared with the East Asia Forum, how much ASEAN can do to push for the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea

Click the headline to read the article.


Date: 21 January 2014

[ISEAS Perspective] Is APEC's Relevance Fading?

APEC faces a number of challenges internally such as slow progress towards regional integration and externally from other regional bodies. Is APEC fading in relevance? What are some of the challenges the body needs to address?

Click the headline to read the Perspective issue.


Date: 20 January 2014

Myanmar in the ASEAN Chair Challenges and opportunities

Professor Robert Taylor, a Fellow at ISEAS shares shares his take on the challenges and opprtunities Myanmar faces as it chairs ASEAN this year. Click to read the full article from Mizzima.


Date: 05 January 2014

ASEAN: Look Beyond 2015

Mr Rodolfo C Severino, Head, ASEAN Studies Centre shared with The Straits Times and Asia One on his views of the ASEAN Economic Community. Perhaps 2015 should be seen not as a goal in itself but as milestone for something bigger? 

To read the full article, please click on the headline.