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Analyst: Asean should not be complacent

AS it celebrates its 50th year, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) is now in the “grip of a midlife crisis” and resting on its supposed achievements in the region could endanger it, an analyst said.

In an emailed statement yesterday, Miguel Chanco, the lead Asean analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit said although the 50th founding year of the Asean is worth celebrating, it cannot afford to ignore its problems.

“The midlife crisis stems from Asean’s inability to respond in a unified way to challenges both old and new. The territorial disputes between a number of member states and China in the South China Sea could be more quickly resolved, and to the greater benefit of claimants in Asean if there was less bickering within the group about communiqués,” said Chanco.

He said Asean leaders need to make the difficult decisions if it is to expand in the next 50 years.

“While the group has achieved a lot since 1967, one cannot help but feel it’s presently in the grip of a midlife crisis – seeking, but failing, to find a new sense of purpose and identity,” Chanco said.

The problems, Chanco said, stems from the formation of the “Asean Community” in 2015. Although the formation encompassed economic, political-security, and socio-cultural cooperation between member-nations, it did not usher any real change.

“Not surprisingly, Asean has taken a hands-off approach to a host of festering domestic issues that have regional consequences,” he said.

Chanco explained that the fact that Asean member-nations are thriving economically is not an assurance of its success in the future because this kind of economic performance could breed complacency.

“The longer ASEAN hesitates on its grand ambitions and these regional challenges, the greater the risk that it starts to lose whatever faith has been placed in it being a responsive regional institution – and this vicious cycle will only worsen,” Chanco said. (CBC)

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