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Integrating financial Asia – By Xiao Gang, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Bank of China, China Daily, Dec. 16, 2011 – It is encouraging that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is progressing on an ambitious plan to build up an integrated economic community by 2015.

GET READY FOR THE AEC By the Philippine ABAC

Time for a new ASEAN way – Asia Times (Hong Kong), September 10, 2012 – ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] would be more effective if member states were willing to surrender a measure of sovereignty over certain international affairs. A supranational organization whose authority is legally binding would provide the teeth necessary for ASEAN to act when parties are in general agreement.

‘One Asean stand may stop China’ ASEAN - China - South-China-Sea
China Pushes ASEAN to Deeper Integration
Manila Times, Aug 2, 2015 – There is a chance that China will stop its island-building spree in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) and other areas if all members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and Japan agree to issue a united stand against Beijing’s sea activities, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said…. The dispute grew increasingly tense in recent years with the Philippines at the forefront of accusing China of “bullying” in asserting its claim to the South China Sea, a crucial lane and fishing ground also believed to hold vast mineral resources.

ASEAN map_1China’s ‘aggressiveness’ is drawing ASEAN closer  – Deutsche Welle (Germany) May 13, 2014 – Growing tensions over maritime disputes with China dominated the latest ASEAN Summit. But Beijing’s aggressive tactics in the region are only making the ten-member group more cohesive, analyst Ernest Bower tells DW.

Southeast Asia Launches Huge Trade Bloc
Group’s Goals Mirror European Union’s 1950s-era Forerunner
Wall Street Journal, Dec 29, 2015 – Ten Southeast Asian nations start an ambitious, U.S.-backed experiment on Thursday: integrating their economies in a bid to bring more global sway and prosperity to the region’s 622 million citizens…. Over time, the countries, all members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or Asean, plan to boost economic ties by further lowering tariffs and allowing a freer flow of labor, services and capital across a region stretching 3,900 miles between the Pacific and Indian oceans…. The group’s goals mirror the European Union’s 1950s-era forerunner, another geopolitical bloc whose members suffered decades of strife before uniting. As in Europe, fuller integration could take decades.

Asean a collective security organization?
U.N. Vision: Global System with Regional Defense Organizations:
Manila Times, Feb 19, 2016 – Although its name gives no hint of it, Asean was envisioned to have an exclusively economic orientation. The world however woke up to its immense potentials as a regional body for its work in the political and security area, for the critical role it played in resolving the Kampuchean crisis…. But Asean leaders at their first Summit in Bali in 1976 overruled Asean becoming a collective defense organization…. Actually, the original vision of the United Nations for world peace consists of a global collective defense system supported by regional collective defense organizations.

Asean may displace China as economic hub
‘Not Africa, not Latin America, not Europe, not US…. It’s Southeast Asia’
Inquirer (Philippines), Jan 21, 2016 – It’s bound to be an “evolution” than a “revolution” but the newly-created Asean Economic Community (AEC) is seen to become the “center of the universe” and replace what used to be a China-dominated Asian economic narrative, said a regional executive of American banking giant Citibank…. “It’s also very clear that the center of the universe suddenly becomes us, amongst all other areas, not Africa, not Latin America, not Europe, not US—they’ve got their own issues. It’s Southeast Asia,” Low said. “This is why I feel so positive and encouraged by the medium-term prospects of Asean.”

Media still disconnected from Asean Community
‘Asean Community is here, and it is real’
The Nation/Asia News Network | The Straits Times (Singapore), April 11, 2016 -
All along, the media had been zeroing in on their countries’ nation-building efforts – and neglecting to report on the five-decade-old process of community-building in the region….
Unlike other regional organisations in the world, including the much-emulated European Union, Asean attempted to integrate member states coming from completely different political and economic systems into one unit – without any pre-condition or grace period.

The community-building process to integrate all 10 Asean economies was not an event to be commemorated, as the media would like to portray. Instead, it has been a bumpy journey to integration since Asean’s birth, along a road dotted with potholes. So, lo and behold, the Asean Community is here, and it is real…. Given this reality, it is about time that journalists from all media platforms, traditional and digital, do their job to inform the public about opportunities and challenges in ways that enhance connectivity among their countries, institutions – and most importantly – the 625 million Asean citizens.

ASEAN needs Schengen-like system: top Thai business school head
EU model for ‘free movement of people’ throughout Southeast Asian nations
Nikkei Asian Review (Japan), May 3, 2016 – If Southeast Asian countries want to make their common market more effectively function as a pan-regional economy, they should accelerate the free movement of people, according to the head of the region’s top business school.
In an interview with the Nikkei Asian Review in late April, Dipak Jain, director of Sasin Graduate School of Business Administration at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, said, “ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) should install its own version of Schengen rules” to let people move freely within the region. Jain was referring to the European Union’s arrangement that allows member states’ nationals to cross each other’s borders without passport checks.

Asean must prepare a harmonised legal framework’
The Nation (Thailand), Nov 30, 2015
The Keynote opening address by Her Royal Highness Princess Bajrakitiyabha Mahidol at the opening ceremony of the 5th Biennial Conference of the Asian Society of International Law, Grand Hall, Plaza Athenee Hotel, Bangkok, 26 November 2015
“….By the beginning of next year when all the three pillars of the Asean Community, namely, the Asean Economic Community, the Asean Political and Security Community and the Asean Socio-Cultural Community come into operation, all Asean member states must prepare for a more harmonised legal framework. The law concerning economic liberalisation, international trade and investment, movement of labour, and so on must get somewhat harmonised. At the same time to strengthen the other two pillars, Asean member states must strengthen the rule of law, respect for human rights and criminal justice system in order to create a stronger and more cohesive Asean society. The Asean community dynamism depends on how quickly Asean member states can adjust and harmonise their relevant legal framework.”

ASEAN to enhance border security along with EU, Interpol
Integrated security, criminal justice systems for ‘a borderless region’
Jakarta Post, Oct 21, 2015 – ASEAN is set to strengthen the region’s cooperation with the European Union (EU) and Interpol in managing border security to tackle transnational organized crime that has threatened the peace and stability of Southeast Asia. “This is an opportunity for ASEAN member states to strengthen our border management systems and develop better integrated criminal justice systems to address issues of crime related to migration,” said ASEAN deputy secretary-general Vongthep Arthakaivalvatee…. According to Interpol’s director of operational support and analysis, Michael O’Connell, …. law enforcement alone could not improve border management as it needed more comprehensive action, able to tackle transnational organized crime, especially when ASEAN aims to become a borderless region such as EU.

U.S. urges ASEAN unity on South China Sea ruling; warns China on reputation
Region-Building: United States worked hard to build up ASEAN
Reuters, April 28, 2016 – The ruling is widely expected to favor the Philippines and risks significantly raising regional tensions because China, although a signatory of the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea under which the case is being heard, rejects the court’s authority to hear it.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken …. said the United States had worked hard to build up the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as an organization that “might feel some greater strength in numbers” to take on difficult issues like the South China Sea.

TPP: A Win For ASEAN, A Loss For WTO? – Analysis – Eurasia Review, Oct 12, 2015 – The effect of TPP on the ASEAN region will vary from country to country, due largely to the fact that only four of the 10 ASEAN nations are included in the TPP deal. Yet, Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam – the ASEAN TPP members – are expected to be ‘winners’ as they get greater access to other markets, particularly the lucrative markets of the United States and Japan…. However, the TPP could cause a degree of trade diversion away from ASEAN’s non-TPP members, with rapidly growing economies such as Cambodia potentially losing business, as its biggest export destination is currently the US.
The TPP’s Impact on Asean – Establishment Post, October 12, 2015 – However, the TPP’s impact is just as significant for the Asean countries not in the agreement. Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines in particular will feel the competitive disadvantages for their exports …. Strengthening the AEC [ASEAN Economic Community] in the post-2015 era will also become more important, particularly as market access issues in these three countries have presented the most serious challenges for the AEC.
As the above two articles affirm, inter-regional agreements like the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) are designed to strengthen – not supersede or replace – existing regional blocs such as ASEAN.

‘ASEAN integration may bring misery to workers’
Manila Times, Jan 11, 2016 – With the integration, employers will have more leeway to pursue leaner and meaner operations, outsource jobs within and across borders and relocate production in the cheapest location,” he explained.

Asean region will need a regional Public Private Partnership Centre
New Straits Times, Nov 18, 2015 – The Asean region will need a regional PPP (Public Private Partnership) Centre to help countries with knowledge and expertise with the launch of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and other Chinese initiatives to fund infrastructure development…. HK Yong of the Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS) said …. “Governments in Asean and Asia also don’t have the fiscal space to fund the projects. “We have to tap the private funds. Private funds such as the pension and insurance funds have only invested one per cent of the total US$80 trillion and mainly in developed countries,” he said
Government/private business partnerships are simply old-fashioned fascism. As competition among the world’s emerging regional blocs increases toward what Henry Kissinger called a “new mercantisim” of “competing regional units,” all of these blocs will take on the characteristics of fascist states.

Asean power grid integration on track: German expert
Tuesday, Oct 6, 2015 – “Just like how the European Union (EU) had experienced, more discussions will have to take place to harmonise and realise the policies given the different technical and regulatory system of each country. The EU took about two to three decades to largely integrate the power grid system”….

McCain seeks defense funding to aid Asean against China
Malaysian Insider, May 29, 2015 – Republican Senator John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, made the proposal in an amendment to the 2016 US Defense Authorization Act expected to be passed later this year, entitled the South China Sea Initiative. It allows for the provision of up to US$425 million (RM1.55 billion) over five years to countries including Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam for “equipment, supplies, training and small-scale military construction.”
Some members of the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations, including US-ally the Philippines and fellow claimant Vietnam, have been vocal critics of Chinese actions in the South China Sea, but the group as a whole has been divided on the issue and reluctant to intervene.
Malaysia has proposed Asean Peacekeeping Force for regional stability – The Star (Malaysia), April 23, 2015 – Malaysia, as Chair of Asean, has proposed the setting up of an Asean Peacekeeping Force to deal with security issues in the region said Defence Minister Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein. “We have taken the initiative to propose the setting up of an Asean Peacekeeping Force under the auspice of the United Nations. “The proposal had received positive reactions from Asean member states,” he said.
Asean looks to African Union for peacekeeper model – Bangkok Post, March 16, 2015 – Defense ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will study the African Union’s model in their quest to set up an integrated peacekeeping force of the 10-member regional grouping, Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said Monday. “African Union peacekeeping forces “go under the UN (flag), so why not Asean?”

Malaysia Wants an ASEAN Peacekeeping Force
The country has made the initiative a priority for its ASEAN chairmanship in 2015
The Diplomat, Feb 21, 2015 – Earlier this week, Malaysian defense minister Hishammuddin Hussein reiterated his country’s desire to establish an ASEAN peacekeeping force as the chair of the grouping this year.

United we stand, divided we fall – Tony Katigbak. Philippine Star, July 16, 2014 – Several months ago I came across an interesting news item in one of the leading newspapers that the Philippines is strongly pushing for a single-visa scheme for the ten member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). A lot like the Schengen Visa for the participating countries in Europe…. In order for something like this to work, ASEAN overall would have to be more unified….China has already admitted it does not want to deal with the ten member countries as a group but rather with each country individually. They also understand that dealing with us one on one makes it easier for them to force us into submission. Let’s not fall into that trap. Let us all stand together to protect what is rightfully ours. I think this would send a powerful message to China — and to the rest of the world — that we are collectively strong….

Asean to China: Stop raising tension at sea – Philippine Star, May 12, 2014 – President Aquino, for his part, pushed vigorously yesterday for the ASEAN member-countries’ full integration rather than promote the status quo amid challenges in the South China Sea…. “It is only natural that ASEAN seeks to engage more of the world in its pursuit of inclusive growth and integration. Perhaps the time has come to study ways on how best to do this efficiently – for instance, in engaging with others as regional blocs, instead of as individual nations,” Aquino said.

Asean must re-invent itself – Manila Standard (Philippines), July 19, 2014 – While Asean has done a lot to promote trade among its members, e.g., the visa-free arrangement among Asean members, current events in the East China Sea, however, require Asean not only to rethink its role as an economic fraternity, but to likewise re-invent itself as a collective force, perhaps even as a military alliance, to stop Beijing’s plans of converting that strategic maritime highway into a Chinese lake.

TPP: ‘Washington’s Attempt to Shape the Rules’ in ASEAN
Cambodia’s Hun Sen Slams ASEAN-Splitting TPP
The Diplomat, April 21, 2015 - Hun Sen’s tirade is quite puzzling and misleading – though he is hardly the only one with such a view…. TPP did not intentionally exclude specific countries as is sometimes mistakenly suggested – be it other ASEAN member states or China. Rather, these countries were not able to meet the high standards of the agreement currently, and so they could not be included at this time. As U.S. officials have repeatedly said, other nations are welcome to join the TPP once they are ready to do so – which is part of Washington’s attempt to shape the rules in the region in a way that encourages a race to the top rather than to the bottom.

BI looks to ASEAN banking integration framework   – Jakarta Post, July 16, 2014 – Bank Indonesia (BI) says it is prioritizing the finalization of a banking integration framework for ASEAN member countries, targeted for completion this year…. as the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) was set to take effect in 2015.

ASEAN countries working towards Common Visa – Financial Express (India), Dec 12, 2014 – As proposed a few years ago, ASEAN member states are working towards the establishment of visa-free travel in the region for ASEAN nationals. A proposal for an ASEAN Common Visa for non-ASEAN nationals to facilitate business mobility and tourism is also working its way through the official channels.

House reso seeks single visa to ASEAN-member countries - GMA News (Philippines), Aug 27, 2014 – A resolution has been filed at the House of Representatives seeking to establish a single-visa scheme that would allow Filipinos to enter any of the 10 ASEAN-member countries. Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, co-author of House Resolution 1313, said their proposed scheme is similar to Europe’s unified visa system allowing non-ASEAN nationals to enter the Asian countries using a single visa, saving them time and resources in securing travel documents for each country of destination.

Japan to offer aid to nations in disputes with China – Boston Globe, May 31, 2014 – Saying that his nation will play a larger role in regional security, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan said Friday that his government will support Vietnam and other nations that have territorial disputes with China by providing patrol ships, training, and military surveillance equipment…. Referring to the Association for Southeast Asian Nations, Abe said, “Japan will offer its utmost support for efforts by Asean member countries to ensure the security of the seas and skies and rigorously maintain freedom of navigation.”

As Asia frets over China, warmer welcome likely for Japan PM’s push – Economic Times, May 29, 2014 – Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s message of a bigger global security role for Japan when he speaks at a regional forum this week is likely to find a receptive audience as concerns grow in Asia about China …. Despite harsh memories of Japan’s wartime occupation of much of Southeast Asia, several countries in the region may view the message favourably because of China’s increasing assertiveness. “The ASEAN [Association of South East Asian Nations] countries which have disputes with China will support him,” said Malcolm Cook, a senior fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore.

Asean is the next global factory – The Star (Malaysia), June 4, 2015 – The Asean Economic Community, which is likely to come to fruition by end of the year, would see the emergence of a single market with free movement of goods, services, investments and skilled labour. The economic zone, the report said, would connect the low-cost labour in Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos, cost-effective businesses in Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines, and sophisticated manufacturers in Singapore and Malaysia.

Hagel Warns Against Isolationism – Defense One, May 6, 2014 – [Defense Secretary] Hagel’s remarks come as a recent Wall Street Journal poll found Americans increasingly want their government focused more on domestic issues and less on foreign entanglements…. Pivoting to partnerships, the secretary said military personnel will continue to engage with foreign militaries, citing state National Guard’s long-term relations with specific countries, humanitarian assistance abroad, and deeper involvement in military institutions like NATO, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, and the Mideast’s Gulf Cooperation Council.
“Independence” from foreign entanglements is what globalist Chuck Hagel deviously brands as “isolationism,” but a nation can and should remain independent while maintaining full bilateral engagement with other nations.

Overt religious persecution in 8 of 10 Asean states, study finds – Malay Mail, May 1, 2015 – Blurring lines between religion and nationalism, weak rule of law and the politicisation of religion are primary factors fuelling religious persecution in member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and across the region, concluded a study commissioned by the Human Rights Resource Centre for Asean. Based on research conducted in all 10 member states between February and December last year, “Keeping the Faith: A Study of Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion” found varying degrees of overt religious persecution in eight Asean countries, with the exception of Singapore and Brunei.

Asean’s elusive integration – Inquirer (Philippines), May 4, 2014 – Asean [Assn. of SE Asian Nations] leaders in 2003 resolved to establish an Asean Economic Community (AEC) as a single production base and market by 2020. In 2007, this date was advanced to 2015…. Asean leaders’ AEC vision is weakened by a strong aversion for a diminished national sovereignty for the sake of deeper economic integration.

Asean Looks to Europe for Common Market Lessons  – Wall Street Journal, October 19, 2012 – As the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations prepares to form an economic union, Europe’s experience can offer lessons — some positive, some more cautionary.

Strong case for ASEAN integration – The Star (Malaysia), June 3, 2012 – Despite the painful lessons from Europe, ASEAN nations are moving towards integration as a way to boost regional resilience against external shocks.

ASEAN sees new common market urgency amid EU woes – AsiaOne|AFP, Nov. 16, 2011 – The depth of the eurozone crisis and the risk of export markets evaporating is pushing Southeast Asia to speed up creating its potentially huge common market, officials said Wednesday.

EU, ASEAN and the prospect of regionalism – Jakarta Post, Nov. 14, 2011 – For many years, especially in the aftermath of the Cold War, the European Union (EU) was a source of inspiration. It inspired other countries around the world to embrace regionalism….Taking the EU as an example, other regional institutions such as ASEAN, NAFTA, MERCOSUR [UNASUR] and the African Union have become better organized and more legally binding over time.

Creating an Asean community  – AsiaOne (Singapore), August 11, 2012 – Two thousand years ago, when the Roman Empire held sway, the proudest boast was Civis romanus sum (I am a Roman citizen). At the beginning of a New Asian Century, it is hoped that it would not be too ambitious to expect the peoples of Asean to one day proudly say in their own language, Saya warga Asean.

Asean urged to pursue reforms ahead of AEC – AsiaOne (Singapore), Feb. 25, 2012 – Asean countries will be required to reform laws and regulations to facilitate trade and investment growth within the region under the Asean Economic Community (AEC), which will come into effect in 2015, keynote speakers said at a conference yesterday.

US firms may shift some business from China to ASEAN – ABS-CBN News (Philippines) | Reuters, August 31, 2012 – According to AmCham Singapore, 92 percent of the executives surveyed said they were positive about investment opportunities in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN – a regional grouping that comprises Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, the Philippines, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Brunei.

Japan, ASEAN to unite on regional security ties: summit draft- Japan Times, Nov 19, 2013 – Japan and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will express their resolve next month in Tokyo to bolster security ties for regional peace, with China’s growing maritime assertiveness in mind, a draft of their statement said Monday….On the economic front, the draft states Japan will help to establish an ASEAN Economic Community by 2015 by “strengthening connectivity and narrowing the development gaps” among ASEAN members, the draft said…

Japan looks for ASEAN backing on China at summit  – The Economic Times (India), Dec 12, 2013 – “Supporting the framework of ASEAN — whose members take slightly different positions in relations with China and have different political systems — is also important for Japan,” Fujisaki said. The summit will issue a joint statement on the long-term “vision” on Japan-ASEAN cooperation in areas of security and economy, Jiji Press and other media have reported.

Japan targets ASEAN ties amid Chinese friction  – Japan Times, July 15, 2012 – A senior Japanese diplomat in charge of Asian affairs said that ASEAN’s [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] growing collective influence in shaping a new regional order can no longer be disregarded and that working closely with the bloc will become strategically important, particularly in dealing with China’s maritime assertiveness.

Asean’s path to 2015 revealed  – International Financial Law Review, November 30, 2012 –
The Asean [Assn of SE Asian Nations] is now working towards the establishment of regional economic integration, through the creation of an Asean Economic Community (AEC) by 2015. This will establish Asean as a single market and production base under which there will be freer flow of capital, goods, services, investment, and people throughout the region

East Asian Regionalism: End Of ASEAN Centrality? – Analysis  – Eurasia Review, July 9, 2012 – China has announced that China, Japan and South Korea have agreed to begin negotiations in November on a Free Trade Agreement. The proposed pact, when concluded, will create one of the world’s biggest free trade areas as the three countries together account for 20 percent of world GDP and 19 percent of exports. The goal of an East Asia FTA (EAFTA) has long been mired in historical mistrust amongst the three former enemies, notwithstanding their growing ties. Their agreement to start formal talks for an FTA is a psychological breakthrough. Chinese analysts described it as a “milestone development”. How will this EAFTA affect Southeast Asia and should ASEAN be concerned?

Asia’s Next Axis – CAIJING Magazine (China), June 14, 2012 – But if the proposals discussed in Beijing last month are realized, the resulting FTA could surpass NAFTA in its degree of integration and importance to the world economy. In addition, the formation of a China-Japan-South Korea FTA would most likely trigger a chain-reaction. For example, the momentum could expand southward and stimulate ASEAN, which has bilateral FTAs with all three countries, to join the group. Such a turn of events would be equivalent to establishing the East Asia Free Trade Area, which the ASEAN+3 envisioned about a decade ago.

Exclusive: China eyes creation of ASEAN Bank – Reuters, Oct. 27, 2011 – After approval by the State Council, or cabinet, China would formally invite members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Japan and South Korea to each take a stake in the ASEAN Bank, said the sources, who have direct knowledge of the proposal….The 10-member ASEAN, ranging from resource-rich Indonesia to financial center Singapore, is planning a union by 2015 to become a single market and production base to compete with rising Asian powerhouses China and India.

Universal healthcare essential, Asean+3 health ministers say  – The Nation (Thailand), July 7, 2012 – Asean and its key partners Japan, South Korea and China yesterday jointly decided to make universal health coverage an essential provision for the more than 2 billion people living in the region….All participating health ministers said they were committed to establishing an Asean+3 network on universal health coverage, as well as to share and collectively build a national as well as regional capacity to assess and manage an efficient health system that supports universal health coverage.
[ASEAN’s regional approach to universal healthcare is consistent with its statist participants such as China and Vietnam. It is also consistent with efforts in all of the geopolitical regions to harmonize regulations and infrastructure throughout their respective member nations to accommodate deeper regional integration. In this context, Obama’s government healthcare system would more easily integrate with Canada’s.]

ASEAN: Chartering human rights  – Jakarta Post, July 25, 2012 – The inherent absurdity that a document can simultaneously be open for consultation but cannot be seen in full until it is no longer possible to change it appears to be lost on ASEAN. The most likely explanation of this chronic allergy to transparency is that there are some regressive elements in the declaration.

Asean’s Tricky Human Rights Charter – Irrawaddy News Magazine (Coverage of Burma via Thailand), June 18, 2012 – ….Even Vietnam, which shows disdain for any human rights activity at home, has applied to become a member of UN Human Rights Council….Being Asean, all proposed rights protections can only be carried out in accordance with national and regional particularities under national law. This, of course, provides room for abuses by undemocratic members.

North Korea set to attend regional ASEAN meeting – Phnom Penh Post (Cambodia), June 8, 2012 – North Korea would attend the ASEAN Regional Forum in Phnom Penh next month, Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said yesterday….Cambodia is in a unique position to bring both North Korea and China to the table at the forum, maintaining strong relationships with both countries, each of which welcomed King Father Norodom Sihanouk after he was deposed in 1970.

ASEAN steps up defence cooperation – VietNamNet Bridge, Feb. 22, 2012 – ASEAN senior defence officials are meeting in Phnom Penh to draft a declaration on increasing defence cooperation towards the realisation of the ASEAN Political Security Community by 2015.

Harmonization:Timely Discussion On Harmonisation Of Asean Laws In Bali - Bernama (Malaysia), Feb. 23, 2012 – “Harmonising laws does not seek to unify all laws but merely to find some common ground for cooperation within ASEAN legal and judicial framework.”

TO WHAT END, ASEAN? – Jakarta Post, May 23, 2012 – While it is arguably easier to put up and sustain the UN, putting up ASEAN, just like putting up the EU, is a more realistic path in creating institutions from the bottom up if our dream is to create wider, more prosperous and peaceful international communities.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    “The hope for the foreseeable future lies, not in building up a few ambitious central institutions of universal membership [like the UN] and general jurisdiction as was envisaged at the end of the last war, but rather in the much more decentralized, disorderly and pragmatic process of inventing or adapting institutions of limited jurisdiction and selected membership to deal with specific problems on a case-by-case basis….In short, the ‘house of world order’ will have to be built from the bottom up rather than from the top down. It will look like a great ‘booming, buzzing confusion,’ to use William James’ famous description of reality, but an end run around national sovereignty, eroding it piece by piece, will accomplish much more than the old-fashioned frontal assault.”                   Richard N. Gardner, The Hard Road to World Order,’ Foreign Affairs Journal    (Council on Foreign Relations), April 1974, p. 558

BETRAYING HUMAN RIGHTS, ASEAN STYLE – The Nation (Thailand), May 14, 2012 – The ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] Human Rights Declaration is supposed to serve as the “road-map for regional human rights development” in ASEAN for years to come – according to ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan. Has ASEAN finally transformed itself from the so-called “club of dictators” famous for its closed-door meetings to a rights-respecting grouping? Shouldn’t this be cause for a celebration? Sorry – not so fast – think again.

Human Rights: ASEAN, Laos and Vietnam: no to human rights and religious freedom because they create ‘chaos’ – AsiaNews, Feb. 18, 2012 – Among the limitations, there is also the control of the “practice of a cult or a religion” that must comply with the laws of a nation in which “the rights of the state ‘outweigh’ freedoms and rights of individuals.” This is what emerges from a draft of the ASEAN Declaration on Human Rights, drafted in January during the first meeting of the Intergovernmental Commission…

ASEAN Secretariat to host int`l dialog on democracyMCOT (Thailand), April 28, 2012 – The Inter-Regional Dialogue on Democracy is a platform for engagement among regional organisations on democracy. Apart from the ASEAN Secretariat, other participating organisations include the African Union [AU], European Union [EU], League of Arab States [Arab League], Pacific Islands Forum [PIF], Organization of American States, and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation [SAARC] with International IDEA as the facilitator.
[And what wonderful bastions of freedom they all are! Their “democracy” is the mandate of the controlled masses motivated by created crises that manipulate populations to demand even more government control].

Southeast Asia’s road to democracy is long and bleak – The Nation (Thailand), May 8, 2012 – Asean has not been successful in bringing about a uniform shift toward democracy as it currently had only two member countries that could claim to be democracies: Indonesia and the Philippines….Asean is not the only regional organisation facing such issues. The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc), for example, has never discussed democracy in its meetings. “Strangely enough, we have never talked about democracy even though one of our members is India, the largest democracy in the world,” said Saarc’s secretary-general, Ahmad Saleem…

Jakarta to develop ‘ASEAN diplomatic zone’ – Jakarta Post, May 29, 2012 – “….We realize that a specific area for diplomatic matters is needed, thus, with the presence of the ASEAN Secretariat here [in Kebayoran Baru], we think that this area should be developed,” Izhar Chaidir, the head of spatial planning for the Jakarta Development Planning Agency, said on Monday. Jakarta has long been considered the informal capital of ASEAN, a geopolitical and economic organization of 10 nations in the Southeast Asian region…

ASEAN stock exchanges eye cross-border trading in 2012 – Reuters, Dec. 3, 2011 – The 10-country Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) wants to establish an economic community modelled on the European Union by 2015 and the market venture will support one of its aims, allowing capital to move more freely between states.

Indonesia promotes unified visa system for ASEAN – People’s Daily (China), Jan. 19, 2012 – Indonesia is also considering negotiating with other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to accelerate the implementation of a unified visa system for all ASEAN members. Once all ASEAN countries join the system, Chinese tourists will only need one visa to visit the entire region.

Get ready: Asean economic community is coming in 2015 – AsiaOne, Jan. 9, 2012 – “We cannot escape the AEC [Asian Economic Community]. Even if we don’t want to work in other Asean [Association of South Asian Nations] countries, citizens from those countries will certainly come to work in Thailand.”

REGIONAL INFRASTRUCTURE
Asean’s power play – Bangkok Post, November 12, 2012 – For Asean, the creation of smart grids and the Asean Power Grid (APG) are an opportunity for the region, and it should learn from the mistakes of other regions such as Europe.

High-speed rail network to link Asean countries  – The Nation (Thailand), August 17, 2012 – By assigning Pansak to spearhead the Bt400-billion high-speed train schemes in Thailand, the government is playing a crucial role in pushing for fast-track implementation of Asean connectivity schemes, which cover highways, railways and other modes of transportation. It is hoped that the transport infrastructure will eventually be designed to cover the entire 10-country regional grouping, which has a combined population of 600 million.
[Similar regional infrastructure projects are underway in North America, SAARC, the Arab League, the GCC, the African Union, and UNASUR. The Keystone pipeline is also part of the North American infrastructure project.]

Construction of railway linking ASEAN finishes – China Daily, August 14, 2012 – Construction workers on Tuesday laid the last piece of a railway that will link Southwest China’s Yunnan Province with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries.

Asean Expected To Integrate Power Grids By 2020 – Bernama (Malaysia) Jan. 27, 2012 – A Thai energy expert has foreseen that 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), including Thailand, will integrate their electricity grids by 2020 for regional power….

Gov’t eyes Asean power projects  – Philippine Daily Inquirer, July 23, 2012 – The Philippine government has started preliminary talks with its neighbors on plans to participate in a regional energy integration through two significant projects in the pipeline—the Asean Power Grid and the Trans-Asean Pipeline Project.

From Pacific power to partner – ChinaDaily, Nov. 30, 2011 – The engine of Asian growth is the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area (CAFTA) members, or ASEAN+1….It is inevitable that CAFTA will evolve into a major regional trading block (and even be joined by Japan and South Korea in a proposed “East Asian Free Trade Area”) along the lines of the European Union and speak with an increasing voice in international economic forums.

DPM: Asean must strengthen anti-terrorism cooperation – Malaysia Star, April 19, 2012 – Asean should face the reality of the borderless world of terrorism and that terror networks cover more than one country, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Seri Muhyiddin Yassin said….”Regional forums on security and defence serves as an important mechanism that will enhance the collective capability of Asean member states and dialogue partners to swiftly and effectively respond to the threats, and in turn strengthen regional security cooperation,” he said at a forum here.

ASEAN, ADB launch biggest ever infrastructure fund – Philippine Information Agency, May 6, 2012 – The 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) has launched its largest financing initiative….The ASEAN Infrastructure Fund will finance the development of road, rail, power, water and other critical infrastructure needs, which are estimated at about $60 billion a year. “This is a watershed moment for ASEAN nations working together to finance infrastructure projects that will boost trade, foster economic growth and create more job opportunities for the half a billion people who call ASEAN home,” said Rajat Nag, Managing Director General of ADB.

HARMONIZAION OF REGULATIONS
ASEAN Ucits type passports take two steps closer to coming into existence – Opalesque, October 30, 2012 – Angelyn Lim of Dechert’s Hong Kong office has reported on developments in establishing an ASEAN funds passport, and most recently highlighted the news that Thailand and Singapore are leading the way in establishing a Ucits type fund passport across the Association of Southeast Asian nations (ASEAN)

Philippines supports unified ASEAN visa – Rappler, September 27, 2012 – To entice more tourists to visit the Philippines, the Department of Tourism is supporting the move for a unified visa for foreigners traveling to countries that are part of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

 

ECONOMIC, MONETARY INTEGRATION
Standardized banking rules for Asean pushed – Philippine Daily Inquirer, November 13, 2012 – BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said that under the plan, a bank in one Asean country would be allowed to operate in another member-country under the same terms and conditions that applied to local banks.

Asean framework will also allow local banks to expand regionally – The Star (Malaysia), November 9, 2012 – However, he believes the potential entry of banks from other Asean member countries into Malaysia will increase competition in the industry in the future.

Asean Central Banks Close To Launching Framework For Banking Sector Integration, Says Zeti – Bernama (Malaysia), November 7, 2012 – The Asean central banks, which endorsed the Asean Financial Integration Framework in 2011, are in the final stages to launch the framework for banking sector integration, said Bank Negara Malaysia Governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz.

Asean regional integration heightens competition among insurers, banks – The Philippine Star, October 30, 2012 – By 2015, the country’s insurance industry will be competing for the thin local market against its counterparts from the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean).

ASEAN, UN to take on world conflicts – Jakarta Post, September 21, 2011 – In response to ASEAN’s efforts in conflict resolution, Indonesia Defense University ASEAN expert Bantarto Bandoro said it was time now for the regional grouping to establish a peacekeeping force as mandated by the UN Charter.

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