The Leadership Within ASEAN Has Infused Peace and Stability Since Its Founding

“How does its current and future leadership preserve peace and stability, and make the region a thriving and relevant regional construct?”

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  had a mission to bring a Southeast Asian Region of peace, freedom, and prosperity for its people, this regional organization aims to accelerate economic growth, social progress, cultural development among its members, protection of regional peace and stability, as well as opportunities for member countries to discuss differences peacefully.  Three pillars: political-security community, economic community, and socio-cultural community.

ASEAN enables us to feel confident and believe in a peaceful, stable and safe environment within the region by demonstrating their concerted effort in dealing with various traditional and non-traditional security issues terrorism in the region. ASEAN member states work collectively on the information flow and mechanisms to prevent the further attack of the terrorist groups. In addition, ASEAN member states have created several mechanisms to solve and avoid inter-state conflicts by increasing the security.

The leadership value stands strong within ASEAN in order to maintain the same value among member states. Together with resources capacity along leadership, ASEAN created a good combination to make a region a thriving and relevant region construct. Back then, the leadership style of ASEAN during the period 1967 to 1990 was led by leaders who had witnessed the “Cold War” era, “Big Power” rivalry, communist insurgency, racial riots, and inter-state tensions. As such, their leadership and management styles were more authoritative, directive and rationalistic.

ASEAN at present, is more integrated among member states. The evolving architecture of East Asia gave such a big contribution of global affairs. The leadership style, approach, and behavior should be shaped by the needs of the ASEAN Community and the changing regional and global environment. ASEAN leadership must be nimble and start adopting a “think regional, act ASEAN” policy for regionalism to take firm root in Southeast Asia and spread its wing to the rest of East Asia. The ASEAN Community is the primer for this to be realized.

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