Maintaining peace keeps ASEAN together, says analyst


Posted at Nov 13 2017 04:45 PM

US President Donald Trump and other heads of state participate in the traditional "ASEAN handshake" during the opening ceremony of the ASEAN Summit in Manila, Philippines November 13, 2017. Jonathan Ernst, Reuters

MANILA- Maintaining peace in Southeast Asia is the main driving factor of the annual meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), an analyst said Monday.

Karim Raslan, a Southeast Asian commentator and columnist, said annual meetings of ASEAN leaders are important even though there are disagreements between countries.

"How can we all work together so easily? We have to go to a common denominator which is basically keeping the peace, building prosperity upon that," he said in an interview on ANC's Headstart.

Raslan explains that despite criticism over ASEAN's principle of non-interference, it is still better for countries to engage in talks instead of using military force to settle disputes.

"The important thing is just to keep together no matter how much we disagree...better to talk than to go to war," he said.

He added that it is better to have a "boring" ASEAN Summit, since it means that peace prevails over the region.


With the Philippines' hosting of this year's ASEAN Summit, Raslan said it would probably be a good move for Manila to propose creating a multilateral framework for overseas foreign workers within the region since it is supposedly a "Filipino core agenda."

Raslan said, given the millions of undocumented Southeast Asians staying in different countries within the region, the Philippines could initiate talks on the subject since thousands of Filipinos are also scattered across the region.

"There is no multilateral framework for overseas foreign workers within ASEAN... These (overseas workers) are the people that we should be addressing if we're talking about inclusive growth, so why don't we do something there? And that's totally within our power," he said.

ASEAN leaders are currently in Manila for the 31st summit of the regional bloc. Also in the Philippines are United States President Donald Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.