Opinions 2011

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.




"Key task ahead for ASEAN"

Date: 25 November 2011

"To achieve the grouping's integration, member states must rise above national interests", writes Sanchita Basu Das for the Business Times, first published on 25 November 2011.  For the full article, please click on the headline.  

 "End of Common Currency Idea for S-E Asia"

Date: 24 November 2011

"With the much-discussed problems of the eurozone roiling the political, economic and social systems of European countries and the European Union (EU) itself, there is much less talk about a common currency for Southeast Asia, an Asean currency more specifically", writes Rodolfo Severino in his article for the Business Times, first published on 19 November 2011.  For the full article, please click on the headline.  


"ASEAN's Growing Integration - Freedom of Travel, Open Skies, Removing Non-tariff Barriers in the Cards"

Date: 22 November 2011

"If all goes as planned, by 2015 the 10 countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will dramatically expand the freedom of their 600 million citizens to travel freely within each other's borders, particularly skilled workers", says the Asia Sentinel's Correspondent in an article first published on 21 November 2011.  For the full article, please click on the headline.  


 "Fears for ASEAN Backslide as Small Members Step Up"

Date: 22 November 2011

"ASEAN, which has gained new relevance as a stage for international diplomacy, risks losing its sparkle as its least developed members prepare to take the bloc's helm, analysts say." Including comments from ASC's Pavin Chachavalpongpun, read Jason Gutierrez' full article for AFP, first published on 20 November  by clicking the headline.   


"ASEAN's Agenda and Russia's EAS Membership"

Date: 21 November 2011

"The year 2011 has a special significance for Russia and ASEAN, in both symbolic and practical senses.  On the one hand, the two parties mark the 15th anniversary of their official dialogue partnership.  On the other hand, in November, Moscow, which already takes part in the ARF, ADMM-Plus, APEC and ASEM, is becoming a full-time member of the East Asia Summit (EAS)."  Dr Victor Sumsky, Director of the ASEAN Centre in MGIMO University, Russia, discusses the implications of this in his article for the October issue of ASEAN Monthly Commentary, published by the Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS), Malaysia.  For the full article, please click the headline. 


"ASEAN's newer members and the Asian noodle bowl"

Date: 15 November 2011

"Arguably the greatest trade policy challenge still facing ASEAN's newer members - Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam (or CLMV) - is the plethora of non-tariff barriers restricting trade" writes Jayant Menon, Lead Economist (Trade and Regional Cooperation) at the Asian Development Bank for the East Asia Forum website, published 15 November 2011.  For the full article, please click the headline. 


"East Asia Summit:  Next Step is Structure"

Date: 14 November 2011

"EAS leaders should not hesitate to rationalise its structure and take concrete steps to instiutionalise the EAS", writes Ernest Z Bower, Senior Adviser and Director of the Southeast Asia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington D.C.  Excerpts from the article first published on the CSIS website can be found by clicking on the headline.



"Connectivity Vital for ASEAN's Goals"

Date: 29 September 2011

"ASEAN leaders have proclaimed that they would create an ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by 2015.  While the fundamentals for creating a single market and production base are still work in progress, it is also crucial for ASEAN to facilitate the realisation of the ASEAN community through "connectivity", writes Sanchita Basu Das in her article "Connectivity Vital for ASEAN's Goals" first published in The Business Times on 29 September 2011.  For the full article, please click on the headline.



"Burma and ASEAN's Seat of Yearning"

Date: 14 September 2011

"In 2005, when Burma gave up its turn to assume the chair, citing the 'ongoing national reconciliation and democratisation process', it was on the understanding that it could reclaim the position when it was ready to do so", writes Andrew Selth, Research Fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute in his article "Burma and ASEAN's Seat of Yearning" first published in The Interpreter, Lowy Instiute for International Policy, Australia on 14 September 2011.  



"MERDEKA SUPPLEMENT:  Malaysia in the eyes of others"

Date: 2 September 2011

"Malaysia had territorial disputes with all of its immediate neighbours.  From its formation in 1963, therefore, Malaysia sought through regional comradeship and cooperation the peaceful management of these potential regional conflicts," writes Rodolfo Severino in an article for the "Merdeka Supplement:  Malaysia in the eyes of others" compiled by Santha Oorjitham for the New Straits Times website on 29 August 2011.



"ASEAN Response to Asian Food Security Concerns"

Date: 26 August 2011

"ASEAN HAS pushed food security to the top of its agenda amid continuing global concerns over the volatility of food prices and food supplies. Rising costs of staples like rice, wheat, grain and dairy products are causing nervousness because of their political and security impact. Vivid in the minds of ASEAN policymakers is the indirect role of food prices in provoking revolts in Tunisia and other Arab countries earlier this year, leading to the fall of governments in North Africa." says Yang Razali Kassim, a Senior Fellow with the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University and the school’s Centre for Non-Traditional Security (NTS) Studies following the ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting in Manado, 10-14 August 2011.



 "Asia holds promise as US, Eurozone Falter"

Date: 24 August 2011

"Less than three years after the 2008 financial crisis, the world economy is witnessing yet new market turmoil.  Sanchita Basu Das, in her article first published in The Business Times, 24 August 2011 asks what this means for Asia .



"For firmer ASEAN-China ties"

Date: 23 August 2011

"China and ASEAN are celebrating the 20th anniversary of their dialogue partnership.  The relationship progressed from consultative dialogue partners in 1991 to full dialogue partners in 1996, then on to strategic partner in 2003 and finally to an ASEAN-China Free Trade Area (ACFTA) last year."  Sanchita Basu Das, in her article first published in China Daily, 23 August 2011 provides an analysis of this relationship together with suggestions for future developments. 



"ASEAN is not a supra-national body..."

Date: 19 August 2011

"ASEAN is not a supra-national body but is made up of ten sovereign states.  Commitments made in ASEAN are, therefore, strictly speaking, not enforceable unless they become part of domestic law" said Rodolfo Severino in his keynote address to the Singapore Institute of Legal Education on 18 August 2011.


The Middle East Needs an ASEAN

Date: 18 August 2011

"The preferred regional model of cooperation for the governments in the Middle East should be the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)." says Leon Hadar in his article first published on "The National Interest" website on 15 August 2011.


ASEAN Community: Engaging Private Sector

Date: 5 August 2011


ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEMs) are meeting for the 43rd time next week to discuss one of the key agendas of implementing the economic “blueprint” and achieving an ASEAN Economic Community by 2015.



Yingluck Government must Seize Chance to Reinvent Thai Diplomacy

Date: 3 August 2011


Parliament opened its new session on Monday, signalling that the country is embracing political changes.


For one thing, Thailand is witnessing the homecoming of the Shinawatras. Following the election victory of the Pheu Thai Party and the Election Commission's eventual certification of the poll result, it is now likely that Yingluck Shinawatra will become the first female prime minister of Thailand.


South China Sea developments at the ASEAN Regional Forum

Date: 3 August 2011


The outcome of discussions on the South China Sea issue at the 18th ARF meeting in Bali on 23 July and the preceding officials' meetings was positive. Importantly, ASEAN and China agreed on guidelines to implement the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct (DoC) of Parties in the South China Sea.


After nine years such an agreement may not seem a big deal, but it is a step in the right direction and will hopefully serve to reduce current tensions.


7th Asia Economic Forum on "The Asian Century in the Making"

Date: 2 August 2011


Rodolfo Severino, Head of the ASEAN Studies Centre at ISEAS, warned East Asian countries that, despite their high economic growth rates, their prospects of assuming global leadership in the near future are dim.


ASEAN Chair for Myanmar: Musical Chairs?

Date: 30 July 2011


One cannot but feel a strong of sense of déjà vu in the ongoing saga of the bid by the fledgling elected government of Myanmar to take on the Chair of the Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN) in 2014.


Date: 28 July 2011


As expected, the media and other observers eagerly watched for statements from the ASEAN and ASEAN Regional Forum foreign ministers on developments in the South China Sea. They waited in particular to gauge the belligerence with which the U. S. Secretary of State would assert her country's interest in those developments and the vehemence with which the Chinese foreign minister would press China's claims in the area.


Ernest Bower, Senior Adviser and Director, Southeast Asia Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington, D. C., and former president of the US-ASEAN Business Council, said in a posting today (21 July 2011):"Notably, Clinton has decided that Southeast Asia, specifically ASEAN, will serve as the fulcrum for a long-term Asia strategy. That is not to say that ASEAN—anchored by its largest member country, Indonesia—is more strategically important than India, China, or Japan, but it is the focal point where the most important geostrategic chess games of the twenty-first century will be played. At times like this, it appears that the secretary of state is the only U.S. cabinet member, except perhaps Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who understands this fact."


"ASEAN Regional Forum confronts difficult issues"
Date: 20th July 2011


Rodolfo C Severino first appeared on the East Asia Forum website on 20 July 2011.



Creative Destruction: Toward an Effective International System
Date: July 2011


Rod Severino participated in a workshop in Berlin jointly organised by the Bertelsmann Foundation of Germany and the Pacific Forum of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies of the United States. Click here for his viewpoints.



Yingluck needs to Invent a New Kind of Thai Diplomacy by Pavin Chachavalpongpun
Date: 7 July 2011


Yingluck Shinawatra will soon emerge as Thailand's first female prime minister. Her election victory clearly indicates that the majority of Thais disapproved of politics à la Abhisit Vejjajiva.



Rising Asia and Risk of Middle-Income Trap by Sanchita Basu Das
Date: 27 June 2011



An ASEAN Community by 2015? by Rodolfo Severino
Date: 9 June 2011


There is some scepticism, even a great deal of it, in a number of quarters about the ability of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to achieve its proclaimed goal of an ASEAN Community by 2015.




South East Asia: The Past in the Future
Date: 3 June 2011


Keynote speech delivered by Professor Robert H Taylor, Visiting Professor, Department of Asian and International Studies, City University of Hong Kong at the POSCO Asia Forum at the POSCO Centre, Seoul, Korea on 24 May 2011.




"ASEAN Summit: A Mixed Record" by Rodolfo C. Severino
Date: 19 May 2011


The first summit meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in accordance with the new ASEAN Charter and under Indonesian chairmanship came up with some public forthright positions that did ASEAN proud...




"ASEAN: Losing Its Way?" by Trefor Moss, The Diplomat.
Date: 18 May 2011


Association of Southeast Asian Nations leaders must be wondering what possessed them, just two years ago, to set an ambitious new target for the establishment of the ASEAN Community and shift their timeframe from 2020 to 2015...




Indonesia Charts Post-2015 Vision for ASEAN by Sanchita Basu Das, for the Business Times
Date: 12 May 2011


The 18th ASEAN Summit concluded last week with a lot of expectations from Indonesia for the rest of the year. It was under Indonesia's chairmanship that Bali Concord I of 1976 and Bali Concord II of 2003 were reached. Through Bali Concord II, the member states of ASEAN agreed to develop an ASEAN Community by 2020. Later the deadline was brought forward to 2015...




"Time for ASEAN Peacekeeping Force" by Fuadi Pitsuwan,
Date: 3 May 2011


Fuadi Pitsuwan is an associate at The Cohen Group, a strategic advisory firm headed by former Secretary of Defence William S. Cohen and an adjunct research scholar at Georgetown University's Asian Studies Department.




"Trade and investment, I think, is now proceeding quite well and we are on pace to achieving an ASEAN economic community by 2015. Singapore Finance Minister, Tharman Shanmugaratnam in a Q&A with The Business Standard India's Devjyot Ghoshal."
Date: 26 Mar 2011


ASEAN weathered the crisis quite well, as macroeconomic policies were in the right gear. We had significant improvement in fiscal balances prior to the crisis and this allowed ASEAN to go through without too much difficulty. Monetary policy has also been relativity sensible and exchange rates are, by and large, more flexible than five years ago, most of them on some form of managed float, rather than either fixed or pure floating...




"Philippines missing out on India's boom" and "The Philippines should reconnect with India" by Dante "Klink" Ang 2nd
Date: 10 Mar 2011


INDIA, an emerging economic powerhouse, has been increasing trade and investments in Southeast Asia, but the Philippines is apparently missing out on it. Rodolfo Severino, a Foreign Affairs undersecretary and formerly Asean secretary general, said that the rapidly rising trade and investments between the regional bloc and India was "lopsided."




Regional Perspective: "Jakarta's leadership hinges on Thai-Cam peace" by Kavi Chongkittavorn
Date: 28 Feb 2011


By hosting the informal ASEAN foreign ministerial meeting on 22 February 2011, the ASEAN chair, Indonesia, made history that would gradually and tangibly transform the grouping into a true political and security community. It was a small step "with a giant leap of faith" as the credibility of ASEAN will now hinge on the outcome of bilateral talks between Thailand and Cambodia.




ASEAN and the Thai-Cambodian Conflict by Pavin Chachavalpongpun
Date: 21 Feb 2011




The Phlippines and the Turmoil in the Arab World by Rodolfo C. Severino
Date: 14 Feb 2011


The upheavals unfolding in North Africa and in the larger Middle East have, for some, recalled similar events in the Philippines—the massive demonstrations, dubbed "people power," in February 1986 that toppled the regime of Ferdinand Marcos and those in 2001, which replaced Joseph Estrada with Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as the country's President.




ASEAN and a Manufactured Crisis by Pavin Chachavalpongpun
Date: 9 Feb 2011


For centuries, the ancient Preah Vihear temple, a Hindu masterpiece, has stood largely unmolested on a cliff overlooking the Thai-Cambodian border. However, over past three years, the temple has been an increasing point of conflict between Thailand and Cambodia that appears to be fomented for purely domestic political motives.




Indonesia in ASEAN's Chair by Rodolfo C. Severino
Date: 1 Feb 2011


AFTER two turbulent years of the financial crisis, Asean, in 2010, emerged as one of the important players among the emerging Asian economies. It grew by 7.4 per cent year-on-year in 2010, on good domestic fundamentals, compared to a fragile 1.3 per cent expansion in 2009.




ASEAN "Road Trip" Highlights China Trade Potential by Pavin Chachavalpongpun
Date: 24 Jan 2011




Indonesia Wants to Lead, but will the Rest of ASEAN Follow? by Pavin Chachavalpongpun
Date: 19 Jan 2011




Indonesia Puts the Spotlight on Human Rights as ASEAN Chair by Pavin Chachavalpongpun
Date: 7 Jan 2011


In its role chairman of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) this year, Indonesia says it will make human rights its top priority. At a news event Friday, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said his country hopes that during 2011, the ASEAN human rights commission will be more effective in fulfilling its mandate to demonstrate the organization's commitment to respect the basic rights of human beings.