The COVID-19 crisis is turning the globalized world on its head, putting ASEAN in uncharted waters like never before. As the pandemic rages on, risks and fears of infection are magnified by geographical proximity and regional connectivity – two fundamentals of the aspired ASEAN Community.
ASEAN multilateral cooperation comes to a standstill as borders are closed, travel restricted, flights grounded and conferences canceled. Following the postponement of the ASEAN-United Sates special summit, the ASEAN summit slated to be held in April in Vietnam has been rescheduled to June.
Yet, not all is lost. ASEAN can draw on the reservoir of its existing mechanisms, accumulative experience in fighting previous epidemics and the intrinsic values of good neighborliness and openness to chart its way forward.
ASEAN’s traditional response to emergency and crisis situations is to...