News / Asia

ASEAN Summit Highlights Economic Gains, Political Growing Pains

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono delivers his speech during the opening ceremony of the 18th ASEAN Summit in Jakarta, May 7, 2011
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono delivers his speech during the opening ceremony of the 18th ASEAN Summit in Jakarta, May 7, 2011

Leaders of the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations began a two day summit in Jakarta Saturday. The organization has made progress in creating an economic trading block, but still faces great challenges in finding common ground on political and security matters.

All the ASEAN heads of state, with the exception of Singapore, are participating in the Jakarta summit. Singapore's prime minister stayed at home to await the results of the election there.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono opened the summit and endorsed ASEAN's recent efforts to mediate peace between two member states, Thailand and Cambodia, that have been fighting since February.

The two countries moved closer to ending an ongoing border conflict Friday, when both sides agreed in principle to accept 15 Indonesian observers in the conflict zone. Thai and Cambodia troops have been exchanging gun and artillery fire in a dispute over an area surrounding an ancient Hindu Khmer Temple that both countries claim.

President Yudhoyono also cited the challenges the region faces, such as soaring food and energy prices, the threat of terrorism and natural disasters that frequently strike in southeast Asia. He said ASEAN needs to become a more coherent and effective force to respond to these threats and maintain peace and stability in the region

The goal of the summit is to continue progress in making ASEAN an effective regional community with binding rules governing economic trade and political and security cooperation.

There has been strong support by all the leaders to create a unified economic trading block. Since 2010, ASEAN members have adhered to a free trade agreement with China, even though there have been some calls to modify the agreement to protect local industries from cheap Chinese imports.

But ASEAN members have been reluctant to enforce its own charter on issues of democracy development, protecting human rights and maintaining regional peace and security.

Carl Thayer is a southeast Asia political analyst with the University of New South Wales in Australia. While he credits Indonesia for its mediation efforts in the Thai-Cambodia conflict, he says ASEAN's inability to impose sanctions on member states that violate the organization's charter continues to limit its effectiveness.

And he says when it comes to mutual security issues, it is hard to see progress other than talk about humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, and improving border protection.

"At the moment we have meetings and meeting of officials and have firmed up the defense side by moving it from informal to formal, but there has been no [not] anything done jointly by ASEAN in the defense and security spheres. It is all bilateral, trilateral," said Thayer.

He says while ASEAN's plan for economic integration is on track, when it comes to political and defense issues, the organization is still in the talking stage.

You May Like

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid