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Jakarta Post

To what end, ASEAN?

  • Kevin HR Villanueva

Jakarta   /   Wed, May 23 2012   /  07:59 am

With the hype and fanfare settled over the recent 20th ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh, the ASEAN Secretariat has turned its eyes back to the headquarters in Jakarta, and the 10 heads of state are safe and back to the daily grind of national politics.

But the summer respite leaves us wondering whether the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) genuinely offers benefits to member states. There have been three common criticisms against the organization since its creation in 1967, which are worth considering.

First, it is said that the bloc has been nothing else but an empty shell, pretty much like the quiet corridors of its Jakarta headquarters that buzz only when the coterie of diplomats alight for one of the 300 or so meetings held every year, with little or nil effect on the domestic reforms.

Now politics will always be riddled with detractors and free riders o...