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Asean Affairs  4 May 2011

Issues facing Asean

By  David Swartzemtruber

AseanAffairs     4 May 2011

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Asean leaders meet for the first time in 2011 this week in Jakarta and there are a number of issues on their agenda:

1. The Thai-Cambodia border conflict

2. The status of the 2014 chairmanship

3. The acceptance of Timor Leste as a member

4. Not to be forgotten is the arrival of the Asean Economic Community in 2015

Indonesia is the chairman this year as it swapped places with Brunei to take center stage as Asean’s largest economy and an emerging regional power.

Successful resolution of the Thai-Cambodia conflict looms as essential this year as Cambodia is slated to be next year’s Asean chairman and if the dispute is not resolved, it could place Cambodia in an untenable position as chairman.

Myanmar has requested to become the 2014 chairman as a imprimatur for its acceptance onto the world stage. Asean has said it will send a team of senior officials to assess Myanmar’s readiness. The 2014 chairmanship is not viewed as automatic by some Asean member states and they feel that unless Myanmar adheres to the Asean Charter, it should not be allowed to become chairman.

Timor Leste stated in March that it wanted to join Asean now as opposed to the announced date of 2015. Cambodia and Thailand support the advanced joining date, while Singapore opposes it.

Singapore feels that because of Timor Leste’s poverty and lack of English language capabilities it could delay the start-up of the Asean Economic Community.

This week’s meetings may well be an indication of the growing maturity (or lack thereof) of Asean’s member states.

Paul A. Ebeling, Jnr

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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