Opinions 2008-2009

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.



Fighting the last war by David Jay Green
Date: 29 Dec 2009


An oft-used criticism in politics is to say that someone is fighting the last war or the last battle and not focusing on the present set of problems with their particular needs and characteristics.


In Southeast Asia, Unease Over Free Trade Zone by Liz Gooch
Date: 29 Dec 2009


KUALA LUMPUR — When the clock strikes midnight on New Year's Eve, China and 10 Southeast Asian nations will usher in the world's third-largest free trade area. While many industries are eager for tariffs to fall on everything from textiles and rubber to vegetable oils and steel, a few are nervously waiting to see whether the agreement will mean boom or bust for their businesses.



Bigger role for ASEAN, with room to grow by Rodolfo C. Severino
Date: 28 Dec 2009


As the year ends, one is driven to pick events that may have been significant to South-east Asia. To me, the most significant events this year were, not necessarily in the order of their significance, the Impeccable 'incident', the global economic crisis, the 20th anniversary of Tiananmen, the United States' strengthening links with ASEAN, Mr Barack Obama becoming United States President, the fortification of structures in the South China Sea, the continued rise of China, the effectivity of the ASEAN Charter, and the bad blood between Thailand and Cambodia.



ASEAN Charter: One year and going strong by S. Pushpanathan
Date: 22 Dec 2009


The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders signed the ASEAN in November 2007 in Singapore and came into effect on Dec. 15, 2008 with high expectations that it will see the transformation of ASEAN from a loosely formed association to a rules-based and integrated Community by 2015.



Is East Asian community an empty idea? by Naoki Tanaka
Date: 21 Dec 2009


Japan's neighbors are doubtful about Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's proposal for an "East Asian community." Some ask the simple question of whether the proposal has been thoroughly considered, while others get straight to the point of what Japan thinks about the involvement of the U.S. in the region.



Rudd's Reckless Regional Rush by Tommy Koh
Date: 18 Dec 2009


Australia and Singapore enjoy a warm relationship going back to World War II. Singaporeans will never forget the sacrifices made by Australian armed forces defending Singapore, during that war, the Malayan Emergency and Konfrontasi. Singapore and Australia share many congruent interests.



ASEAN's role, support crucial for any new regional body by Pou Sothirak
Date: 17 Dec 2009


As a non-official Cambodian participant, I attended a conference organised by the Australian government in Sydney early this month to discuss Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's proposal to form an Asia-Pacific community (APc).



United States-ASEAN Relations by Scot Marciel
Date: 9 Dec 2009


The United States and ASEAN have entered a new era in our relations. I would like to talk about the current relationship and what we hope that relationship will look like in the coming years. I don't want to spend too much time on our past relations with ASEAN, but it is important to spend a few minutes recounting how longstanding our commitment to ASEAN has been.



ASEAN Charter at One: A Thriving Tiger Pup by Tommy Koh
Date: 9 Dec 2009


ON DEC 15, 2009, the ASEAN Charter would have been in force for a year. Just before the Charter entered into force, a critic of ASEAN described it as a 'paper tiger'. A year later, it is time to ask whether the Charter has proven to be a paper tiger or a crouching one.



China-ASEAN Cooperation: A Model of Good-Neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation by Xue Hanqin
Date: 19 Nov 2009



Market integration: The EU exprience by Jorgen Orstrom Moller & Rodolfo C. Severino
Date: 18 Nov 2009


Integration does not consist of a set menu, but is rather a la carte. The only requirement is that member states make up their minds in common and act in common. Another Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit has concluded, drawing pledges from regional leaders to keep their economies open and thus attract investments, generate jobs, raise incomes, improve productivity, reduce prices and broaden choices.



Don't celebrate just yet, many hurdles still ahead' by Pavin Chachavalpongpun
Date: 23 Oct 2009


AS FAR as this Thai academic is concerned, it is too soon to celebrate the launch of the ASEAN human rights commission or even to call it an achievement. Dr Pavin Chachavalpongpun predicts that the new ASEAN Inter-governmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) will face many hurdles ahead.



What can Asia expect from the Hatoyama government? by Sanchita Basu Das
Date: 21 Oct 2009


In August 2009, voters in Japan gave Mr. Yukio Hatoyama, the leader of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), an opportunity to break away from the traditional policies followed by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) that had ruled the country for over five decades.



ASEAN can boom with China, India by Mr George Yeo, Singapore Foreign Minister, Straits Times Interview
Date: 21 Oct 2009


Ahead of the ASEAN and related summits which will take place in Thailand this Friday, Foreign Minister George Yeo gives his take on what can be expected from the meetings with regional leaders and ASEAN's progress towards integrating the region by 2015



ASEAN Summit: Superstructure versus Infrastructure by Pavin Chachavalpongpun
Date: 20 Oct 2009


Thailand this week rolls out its red carpet to welcome leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for their annual summit. So far, Thailand's ASEAN chairmanship has been sullied by domestic turbulence, culminating in the Pattaya saga where the red-shirt protesters stormed into the Royal Cliff Hotel and forced the cancellation of the meeting.



ASEAN Regional Forum a work in progress by Sharon Siddique
Date: 15 Oct 2009


AS THE Asia-Pacific regional architecture evolves, existing structures are being inventoried, and new blueprints proposed. This timely book assesses the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). As the author reminds us, the ARF is unique because it is still the only regional forum that focuses specifically on security. It brings together the 10 ASEAN member states with 17 other states, including the United States, the European Union, China, India and Japan.


The hot issue for E. Asia: Who's in or out by Barry Wain
Date: 9 Oct 2009


THE latest skirmish in what has become an increasingly acrimonious debate about Asia's long-term future will take place in Singapore tomorrow. A conference organised by the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC), which groups prominent thinkers and decision makers from government and business in 22 countries, will consider a report on 'regional institutional architecture'. That eye-glazing title belies what is involved - the geopolitical shape of the region in the 21st century.



ASEAN, Australia, New Zealand FTA to go into effect January 2009 by Rodolfo C. Severino
Date: 6 Oct 2009


Hardly noticed by the international media, Australia's House of Representatives on Sept. 16 passed legislation paving the way for the country's ratification of the free trade agreement that Australia had signed with the ASEAN countries and New Zealand towards the end of February at Cha-Am, Thailand.



Investing in ASEAN still worthwhile by Sanchita Basu Das
Date: 2 Oct 2009


ASEAN, as one of the most dynamic and fastest growing region in the world, presents a vast potential for business investment. It represents a market of 583 million people with a combined GDP of US$1.50 trillion. Global trade of US$1.7 trillion accounts for more than a quarter of Asia's total exports and imports.



ASEAN must step up and act without delay by Catherine Wong
Date: 14 Sept 2009


IN THE run-up to December's United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, the media has been abuzz with speculation as to what China and India's role will be at the talks. Southeast Asia, however, has been scarcely mentioned as a stakeholder in the talks, though the region is said to be one of the most vulnerable to the impact of climate change.


Turning point in Japan's ties with rest of East Asia by Rodolfo C. Severino
Date: 8 Sept 2009


THE Democratic Party of Japan's victory in Japan's elections has been hailed as a historic moment in Japanese politics. For only the second time in the country's post-war history, the Liberal Democratic Party will not be in power.



HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION: Up to ASEAN to use this tool by Rodolfo C. Severino
Date: 18 Aug 2009


LAST month, ASEAN foreign ministers approved the terms of reference of the ASEAN human rights body called for by the new ASEAN Charter. The body will be launched at the ASEAN Summit in October - by which time, ASEAN member states would have named their representatives to the human rights body.



WHAT'S BEHIND ASEAN'S SUCCESS: Cooperation trumps confrontation by K Kesavapany
Date: 27 July 2009


As in the case of a family, it takes an outsider to appreciate the merits of Asean. Japan's Ambassador to Asean, Mr Yoshinori Katori, did just that recently. Speaking at an Institute of Southeast Asian Studies seminar on the relationship between Japan and Asean, he dwelt at length on the long and steadfast relationship between Asean and Japan, one of Asean's earliest dialogue partners.



Phuket meetings: Much to cheer about by Rodolfo C. Severino
Date: 27 July 2009


For some people, the fact that the foreign ministers of Asean and their counterparts from other parts of the world managed to meet in Phuket, Thailand, without incident was accomplishment enough. They remember the political turmoil that forced the deferment or even cancellation of previous high-level meetings on Thai soil and under Thai chairmanship.



ASEAN seeks to 'unchain' the mind of Burmese junta by Pavin Chachavalpongpun
Date: 21 July 2009


Featuring high in the Asean Regional Forum (ARF) agenda this year is the issue of political deadlock in Burma. After all these years, and since it became a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in 1997, Burma has shown, time and again, that it has managed its domestic affairs without restraint.



ASEAN: An indispensable partner for Japan by Yoshinori Katori
Date: 4 July 2009


One of the main milestones of our relations was the speech given by Prime Minister Fukuda on August 18, 1977 in Manila. He emphasised the importance of strengthening ties between Japan and Asean and mentioned three main pillars that would guide our relations. They were that Japan rejects the role of a military power; that Japan would do its best to consolidate a relationship of mutual confidence and trust based on "heart-toheart" understanding; and that Japan would be an equal partner and cooperate positively in Asean's own effort to strengthen solidarity and resilience.



Ban's Myanmar Job: Lest the Nargis Victims be Forsaken by Moe Thuzar & Tin Maung Maung
Date: 3 July 2009


Slightly more than a year ago in late May 2008 the United Nations Secretary-General (UNSG) Ban Ki-moon visited Myanmar in the wake of Cyclone Nargis whose fury on 2- 3 May 2008 left nearly 85,000 dead and some 54,000 missing. He managed to secure consent from Myanmar's supremo Senior General Than Shwe to allow international humanitarian aid workers to help in relief operations in the devastated countryside ravaged by the cyclone.



ECONOMIC CRISIS: Southeast Asia's dilemma by Rodolfo C. Severino
Date: 23 June 2009


IN THE past week, I attended two conferences dealing with the impact of the current global economic crisis on South-east Asia. One was Asean Roundtable 2009, organised by the Asean Studies Centre of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (Iseas), on The Global Economic Crisis: Implications For Asean. The other was the 6th Asean Leadership Forum in Bangkok, sponsored by the Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute based in Kuala Lumpur, and Asean Affairs magazine, headquartered in Bangkok, on Asean After The Global Economic Crisis.



PATTAYA DEMONSTRATIONS: ASEAN dealt a blow - but not fatal by Rodolfo C. Severino
Date: 20 April 2009


ON APRIL 11, mob violence, resulting from conflicts between the two sides of the Thai political divide, forced the Thai government to cancel the Asean summit meetings it was hosting. This prompted a number of commentaries on the impact of these events on the future of Thailand, on the future of Asean and on the relationship between the two. It is necessary to take a close look at each of these.



Behind the red shirts is a strong, underrated network by Pavin Chachavalpongpun
Date: 20 April 2009


THE red-shirt leaders finally called an end to their demonstrations after the Thai security forces applied a stiff crackdown. They seem to be defeated today, but the government now realises that it cannot underrate them.



ASEAN's Pattaya Problem by Donald Emmerson
Date: 18 April 2009


The turmoil in Thailand is about domestic questions: who shall rule the kingdom, and what is the future of democracy there? But the crisis also raises questions for the larger region: who will lead the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and what is the future of democracy in Southeast Asia ?



Flashpoint: South China Sea by K Kesavapany
Date: 15 April 2009


A COUPLE of moves in the past few weeks by claimants to parts of the South China Sea have brought that contentious maritime area to the front pages once again. The South China Sea has been generally considered a potential 'flashpoint' for armed conflict for some time. Although the potential for such conflict is perceived to have diminished in recent years - partly because of commitments the parties have made to the peaceful settlement of disputes and non-use of force - it still exists. Conflicting claims to the area have not been resolved or reconciled.



Scrapped summits a setback for Asia on economic crisis by Japan Today
Date: 14 April 2009


SINGAPORE—The abrupt cancellation of Asian summits in Thailand last weekend after the meeting venue was swamped by antigovernment protesters has dented ASEAN's image and is being seen as a setback for the region's attempt to tackle the global financial crisis.



Thai Power Drama Enters its Most Dangerous Stage by Pavin Chachavalpongpun
Date: 13 April 2009


THE Asean Plus Three Summit has been cancelled and Thailand's reputation has been torn to shreds. When the red-shirted anti-government protesters occupied the meeting venue, Asean Plus Three leaders had to be evacuated by helicopters. The drama satisfied the man behind the plot – former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.



The Debate Over a Thai Republic by Pavin Chachavalpongpun
Date: 13 April 2009


Is the "R" word a taboo terminology in the Thai political vocabulary? Thailand's political temperature has been sharply rising, particularly since former premier Thaksin Shinawatra appeared on a large screen in Bangkok in a pre-recorded video message attacking General Prem Tinsulanonda and General Surayud Chulanont, both formers prime ministers and members of the Privy Council. He accused them of masterminding the September 2006 coup.



Nationalism is a Dangerous Poison by Pavin Chachavalpongpun
Date: 10 April 2009


Fatal clashes erupted in the early hours of April 3 between Thai and Cambodian troops near Preah Vihear Temple on the two countries' border, leaving two Thai and two Cambodian soldiers dead and several injured. It was not the first time gunfire was exchanged between the two Southeast Asian nations.



Date: 9 April 2009


Beverly Hills, California – President Barack Hussein Obama's self-proclaimed proclivity for listening does not necessarily prove that he is a good listener. The art of listening is more than a passive act. Meanings must be carefully monitored and processed as words are received and acknowledged. The proof of the listening comes in the payoff on policy. Do we Americans learn from others as well as just listen?



The name of the party game is 'names' by Pavin Chachavalpongpun
Date: 6 April 2009


THE People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) recently announced its plan to set up a new political party under the name Thien Hang Tham, or Candles for Righteousness. The PAD hoped that this would offer Thais a new alternative in politics, using Dhamma to lead the political way on a righteous path.



ASEAN IN THE GROUP OF 20: Bringing useful input to the table by Rodolfo C. Severino
Date: 23 March 2009


FOR the first time, the Association of South-east Asian Nations (Asean) will be represented as a group at the Group of 20 (G-20) leaders' meeting. The rare summit meeting among the most advanced and other key economies of the world will take place in London on April 2. The meeting is considered to be critical, since it will be addressing the worst crisis that the global economy has experienced in the last 60 years. The gravity of the situation is underlined by the fact that this will only be the second time, after its Washington meeting just five months before, that the G-20 is convening at the summit level.



Date: 25 Feb 2009


IN November 2008, Barack Obama's victory was greeted with high hopes and expectations in most of Asia as it was believed that a black president would engage the rest of the world, especially non-white and culturally diverse Asia, in dialogue instead of taking unilateral decisions. He would be more consultative on the global financial meltdown and may address the issues of globalisation with a refreshing new approach.



ASEAN SUMMIT AND THE ECONOMIC TURMOIL: It's not too late to take action by Rodolfo C. Severino
Date: 23 Feb 2009


IT MIGHT be a bit late, but not too late, for Asean at its summit this week in Thailand to respond as a group to the global economic crisis. Asean Plus Three - which includes China, Japan and South Korea - should do the same at its own summit in April.



THE NORTH-EAST ASIAN SUMMIT: An initiative not at odds with ASEAN by Rodolfo C. Severino
Date: 13 Jan 2009


ON DEC 13 last year, Premier Wen Jiabao of China, Prime Minister Taro Aso of Japan, and President Lee Myung Bak of South Korea met in Dazaifu, a city in Fukuoka Prefecture on the southern Japanese island of Kyushu. Appropriately enough, that small city had hosted embassies from China and Korea in ancient times. The Japanese leader had earlier announced that the meeting was scheduled for September, but for some reason it was delayed.



What's the point of a new Asia-Pacific architecture? by Rodolfo C. Severino
Date: 7 Jan 2009


AN ARTICLE by Mr Paul Kelly appeared in The Australian on Dec 20 last year, entitled, portentously, Shape Of The Future. It was an undiluted and unabashed piece of advocacy on behalf of Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's proposal for an 'Asia-Pacific Community'. The article draws much from the report of respected retired diplomat Richard Woolcott in claiming wide regional support for Mr Rudd's proposal. However, as Mr Kelly's account of Mr Woolcott's and Mr Rudd's 'soundings' remind us, the Rudd 'initiative' was announced first and Mr Woolcott was then sent to the region to seek support for it.





The Post-Cyclone Nargis Response in Myanmar and the Role of ASEAN (Interview by MediaCorp Radio 93.8Live)
Date: 8 Sept 2008



More in this category: « Opinions 2010