Why ASEAN matters - in the era of great power competition

OPSSG

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ASEAN’s self inflicted wounds to make it matter less

1. At a speech at the 77th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on 26 Sep 2022, the Foreign Minister of Indonesia, Retno Marsudi put forward a "New Global Paradigm" for a transformative solution:
  • A paradigm of win-win not of zero-sum
  • A paradigm of engagement not of containment
  • A paradigm of collaboration not of competition
2. While Retno Marsudi proposed the paradigm of collaboration, she also warned that "mini-lateral groupings" are undermining stability as many have "become part of a proxy war between major powers".

3. Given that at its 46th Annual Meeting for Foreign Ministers on 23 Sep 2022, Retno Marsudi underlined a number of points for G77 and China, he speech at the UNGA is clearly hostile to an unnamed party (aka Australia). At the Annual Meeting for Foreign Ministers at the G77, she said Indonesia hoped to:
  • reignite the spirit of peace
  • strengthen resilience of food and energy supply
  • accelerate energy transition
  • stronger collaboration among members
4. Good grief — the UNGA comment on 26 Sep 2022 about "mini-lateral groupings" was so unnecessary — ASEAN in 2023 not going to be more relevant, with this approach, as Indonesia is the de facto leader.

5. In response to the US and others (including Britain, Canada, Denmark Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden) presenting a draft proposal at the ongoing 51st session of the Human Rights Council (HRC) to hold a special debate over the human rights situation in China's Xinjiang region at the council's next session in early 2023. China and Pakistan on behalf of over 68 cross-regional countries delivered a message for the HRC that said:
“Respect for sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of states and non-interference in internal affairs of sovereign states represent basic norms governing international relations. Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Tibet related issues are China’s internal affairs. We oppose politicization of human rights and double standards, or interference in China’s internal affairs under the pretext of human rights.”​

7. 3 ASEAN member states that endorsed China's latest joint statement with Pakistan at the HRC include Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar. Without reform during Indonesia’s turn as Chairman in 2023, these 3 members of ASEAN will always be indirectly under Chinese control.
 
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OPSSG

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Post 1 of 2: ASEAN talk-shop agrees to talk even more

1. I wish this was a joke but it is not. ASEAN has agreed “in-principle” to admit Timor-Leste as the 11th member of the regional bloc, according to a statement by ASEAN leaders.

2. ADMM has matured with limited upside, as such Singapore will shift focus a bit, so as to reach another forum. Likewise, for Jokowi, the G20 will be more impt to Indonesia over time. Singapore’s policy on Timor Leste has changed from years ago. Wikileaks (09SINGAPORE852):

Prof. Tommy Koh told Keith Luse in 2009 tt, "Timor Leste will not become a member of ASEAN as long as Singapore is a member. [Koh] said admitting Timor Leste would take us back 30 years.”​

3. The admission of Timor-Leste into ASEAN must be seen in the light of Indonesian plans for the Indonesia-Pacific Forum for Development meeting; related to this, there are 3 points of focus for cooperation that can be strengthened between ASEAN and Australia.
First, concrete cooperation in the Indo-Pacific context.​
Second, Australia can be a bridge to strengthen communication between ASEAN and the Pacific Islands Forum.​
Third, Jokowi invited Australia to attend and contribute to the Indonesia-Pacific Forum for Development meeting.​

4. Interesting to see Vivian put some skin in the game; but Singapore will need all the help we can get from Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia, Thailand, Australia & Japan (to avoid a repeat of the 2012 Cambodia fiasco, in the days ahead).

5. Without reform, this is could be tragic for ASEAN credibility — Timor-Leste has the potential to be a great addition — but the country could also be manipulated by a great power (at a crucial time).

Q: Post 2023, what is Indonesia going to do (to manage this risk)?​

6. PLUS ASEAN has agreed to having a mechanism where Myanmar is at an arms length.

(a) This is not a solution that NUG supporters want to hear but it is a workable (but sub-optimal solution). ASEAN is slowly changing to cope with China’s rise.​
(b) ASEAN needs reform, prior to any acceptance of Timor-Leste as a member. Timor-Leste is going to be prone to voting to those who give more $ or loans, with Beijing having the deepest pockets. It will take the combined aid efforts of Australia, America & Japan to counter.​
(c) Management of the Myanmar problem, will be central to retaining relevance for ASEAN. No one in ASEAN (especially the NUG) will be happy with the progress of ASEAN’s 5 point consensus, in 2023; but it is THE roadmap forward.​
 
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OPSSG

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Post 2 of 2: ASEAN talk-shop agrees to talk even more

7. The way to provide context for Singapore’s shift with regard to ASEAN Leaders’ Statement on the Application of Timor-Leste for membership is to understand the increasing importance of FOSS to the country and the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP). The four areas of cooperation from the AOIP are:
  • Maritime Cooperation
  • Connectivity
  • UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030
  • Economic and Other Possible Areas of Cooperation
8. In Jun 2022, the terms of reference of the Singapore-hosted ADMM Cybersecurity and Information Centre of Excellence (ACICE), was adopted. ACICE was established in 2021 to share information & build capacity against threats in the cyber & information domains, for ASEAN members.
 
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Ananda

The Bunker Group

After 25 years in waiting Anwar Ibrahim finally a PM. I put in here not in Malaysian thread, cause I do see this is part of changing landscape of ASEAN constituences voting. Yet, also not changing much. Malaysian youth just like youth in other ASEAN is become forces of changes. Not surprising consider most ASEAN do have young population pyramide.

However Youth votes, does not mean liberal votes. Considering big portion votes from milenials in Malaysia goes toward Conservatives Islamist. One of reasons why Islamist party like PAS gaining more seats. This is also being seen in Thailand, Indonesia and Philipines where young votes not necessary goes to Liberal (or "progresive") political movements.

While older professionals voters like many of Malaysian colleugues goes to where they believe less tainted by corruption scandals. The old guards still holds sway on more traditionals sometimes rural voters (that ussually benefits from popular perks being handed by rulling parties closer to ellections).

Thus the kinds of trend in Malaysia seems also happen in other ASEAN, which in sense voters shown want changes but not too much. This is why Anwar as long time opposition need to cut deals with some of old guards. Remain to be seen how stable his administration will be.

This is also means changes in ASEAN way of thinking will happen on slow shifting (if any can happen). Even in Indonesia, where when Jokowi's being voted to power, many analysts from locals to international ones shown this is massive changes to Indonesia. In reality it is not. It is some shifting on ussual ways on doing things. In fact one of Jokowi's Senior Minister call some times (like corruptions) even taking back step compared 'even' to Authocratic Rule of Soeharto.

Perhaps this is shown the trend of the voters in Southeast Asia tend to go to something familiars (thus consider) less risky. Big changes are deemed too risky.
 
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