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Jakarta Post

ASEAN's imagined community at 42

  • Meidyatama Suryodiningrat

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sat, August 8 2009   /  01:28 pm

Imagine this community: Half a billion people spread across 4.4 million square kilometers, so diverse that it encompasses every major ethnicity, sect, cult and disposition possible. Sundry political systems - from a full-blown republic to a military junta, absolute monarchy to parliamentary democracy - and economic distinctions from a per capita GDP of more than US$48,000 to less than $500. Belying skeptics, immersed in celebratory gimmicks, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its 10 member state - Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam - marches toward its fifth decade today. Proudly retaining hope despite the inured hisses of ASEAN's agnostics and disgruntled scholars noshed on ASEAN's embellished alphabet soup - AEC, AFTA, AMM, ARF, ASEAN+3, CLMV, GMS, PMC, SEANWFZ, TAC and ZOPFAN, to name a f...