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Following the Asean Tune

June 15th, 2012

farish noor Following the Asean TuneTested Times: Member states must stay united with a common goal and identity.

By: Dr. Farish A. Noor

For a month now, the waters of the South China Sea have been warmed up somewhat, thanks to the arrival of American, Chinese and Filipino battleships around the area known as Scarborough Shoal.

What began as a simple dispute over fishing rights has now escalated into something decidedly more sinister, and the rest of Asean should take note that developments such as these do not bode well for the economic and political future of the region as a whole.

Since the 1970s, Asean has tried its best to steer away from the choppy waters of the Cold War conflict, navigating precariously between the Eastern and Western blocs in order to maintain both the neutrality of the region and its safety as well. We forget, time and again, that apart from the European Union, Asean has been the only other multilateral international body that has prevented the return of wars between nation-states, and this is no mean feat when we look at the occurrences of conflict elsewhere in the world.

Asean, however, has to evolve and it undoubtedly shall in the decades to come. In the coming years, Asean nations will face new challenges that include how to deal with the rising demands and expectations of better educated youth, urbanisation, distribution of equity, ensuring social security and others. But Asean’s success lies in its ability to work together as a coherent assembly of nations that take into account the needs of the region as a whole.

Read Dr. Farish A. Noor’s full article in the New Straits Times here.

Dr. Farish A. Noor is a Senior Fellow for the Contemporary Islam Programme and for S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies. He is a part of the research cluster “Transnational Religion in Southeast Asia” at Nanyang Technological University.

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