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Asean Affairs   9 June  2011

The road to the AEC has some bumps

By  David Swartzemtruber

AseanAffairs     9 June 2011

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Any change in behavior especially when it requires tangible action is difficult and the road to the start of the Asean Economic Community is going to encounter some bumps.

Speaking recently in Singapore, Asean Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan said implementation might be Asean's biggest problem in moving toward a successful start.

While agreements with Asean have been ratified by the member states, they have to make that next important step which is to make new national laws that correspond with the agreements. Laws have to be passed to enable the implementation of the agreements, while the respective finance ministries have to allocate the necessary provisions for the plans to be put into effect.

This could be difficult. Many Asean companies came into existence aided by good political connections. New implementation laws could strain those relationships Dr. Surin said the diversity within Asean, is also reflected in the different levels of governance. Problems in implementing integration agreements arise, he said, when there are vested interests, including the interests of "big families".

Dr. Pitsuwan is originally from Thailand, where it has been documented that 120 families, many of them Chinese-Thai families, have significant clout.

As the countdown to Asean draws closer, look at internal political developments within each country to see if implementation is proceeding. Asean countries could be dramatically transformed within the next five years but probably not without stubborn resistance from vested interests.

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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