ASEAN Community and Youth

ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asia Nations) was established on 8 August 1967 in Bangkok, Thailand by signing the ASEAN Declaration (Bangkok Declaration) which initiated by founding fathers of ASEAN, namely Indonesia (Adam Malik), Malaysia (Abdul Razak), Philippines (Narciso Ramos), Singapore (S. Rajaratnam) and Thailand (Thanat Khoman). Brunei Darussalam then joined on 7 January 1984, Vietnam on 28 July 1995, Laos and Myanmar on 23 July 1997, and Cambodia on 30 April 1999. It is really making up what is today the ten member states of ASEAN.

ASEAN was established to bring a Southeast Asian Region peace, freedom, and prosperity for its people. ASEAN aims to accelerate economic growth, social progress, cultural development among its members, as well as opportunities for member countries to discuss the differences. So that It has three pillars: political-security community, economic community, and socio-cultural community.

Free Trade Areas (FTAs) is one of the strategies of ASEAN to expand the market access in trade and to attract Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) to ASEAN. As one of main focus of the three pillars which is ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), the increasing of regional economic prosperity through stability is top agenda of ASEAN to reduce the development gaps among members. The blueprint of AEC was developed to identify the priority measures and actions with clear targets and timelines to be undertaken in establishing the AEC by 2015.

I strongly believe that the ASEAN community affected me as an individual. First of all, in the terms of economics benefit. ASEAN Community gave me an opportunity to enjoy cheaper imported products, greater choices of local products and greater flow of services. Noticeably, as an individual I also have consumed many different types of imported products particularly from another country. 

Secondly, ASEAN enables me to feel safe as all member states of ASEAN have signed many agreements and declarations to show their concern towards security issues. Specifically, terrorism issue. 2002 Bali Bombings and 2005 Bali Bombings in Indonesia became the turning point of ASEAN to strengthen the security within member states. Not only that, ASEAN does collective action to handle epidemic diseases in Southeast Asia by sharing information and providing technical/financial assistance during the breakout of SARS. I had an access of valid information during the epidemic. 

As part of the future, I can see the potential of ASEAN to do more for the region which is “tourism”. ASEAN nations can be better in terms of  tourism destination that connects countries. Besides, the youngsters can build a strong network among ASEAN nations through cultural exchange programs. The fact is the involvement of youth in national and regional activities will encourage sense of belonging among ASEAN countries.

Even though the obstacles such as South China disputes that became difficult to solve in both negotiation and diplomatic way. Then unequal economic growth among states, overall the creation of ASEAN Community made me feel like I am not only part of the country but part of the South East Asia region. It makes me  feel like I am equally important. Especially the ASEAN Socio-cultural community endures solidarity and unity among ASEAN member states and seeks to create a common identity within ASEAN.

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