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Weekly NewsLetter
18  July  2011
    Vol.1 No.23

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The Editor's Corner


Asean tries to spread its diplomatic wings
          The Thai-Cambodian border dispute, China’s dispute with Asean states over claims in the South China Sea and tensions in the Korean Peninsula, and the widely discredited elections in Myanmar, Asean’s foreign ministers will meet in Jakarta next week. They are seeking to enhance their ability to prevent, manage and resolve conflicts while joining forces in peacekeeping operations and building peace in post-conflict areas.

Building on Asean’s recent defense ministers’ meeting in Jakarta , foreign ministers are set to agree on unprecedented statements on closer security and military cooperation to avoid misunderstandings and suspicion.

“We emphasized the importance of institutionalizing expertise and capacities in areas of conflict prevention, conflict management, conflict resolution, peacekeeping and post-conflict peace building in order to strengthen the vital role of ASEAN member states in supporting… the maintenance of regional peace and security,” a draft of the ministers’ joint communiqué to be released next Tuesday read.

At the Asean Summit in Jakarta in May, leaders agreed to form the Asean Institute for Peace and Reconciliation (AIPR), as a starting point for a more powerful body to help resolve intraregional conflicts.

Coupled with the defense ministers’ plan to establish an Asean peacekeeping center network, which will pool the grouping’s military and civilian resources to tackle disasters and conflicts, Asean may be beginning to move toward a genuine security community.

“It is a priority for us to make sure Asia Pacific remains a peaceful, secure and stable region. These are the conditions that enable us to develop. We have enjoyed a peace dividend,” Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said.

Despite enjoying peace for the last 40 years – which certainly justifies Asean’s existence – the escalating conflict between Thailand and Cambodia earlier this year emphasized the need to step up confidence building measures, conflict prevention efforts and conflict resolution, he said.

On the South China Sea issue, Asean ministers vowed to persuade China to agree on the establishment of a stronger code of conduct (COC) rather than a mere declaration of code of conduct (DOC), which remains stalled since 2002.

“We have commenced the discussion on a regional code of conduct in the South China Sea. We look forward to its finalization before the 19th ASEAN Summit [in November this year]” the draft of the joint communiqué read.

On the Korean Peninsula issue, the ASEAN ministers “reiterated that the ASEAN Regional Forum [ARF], of which six participants are all members of the Six Party Talks, could explore to create a conducive atmosphere for dialogue and consultation among parties concerned.”


Top News from Southeast Asia

July 17 , 2011


These were the most significant stories published by Asean Affairs during the week of July 9- 15.

Indo police find weapons at Islamic school
Police confiscated explosives, dozens of sharp weapons and bomb-making materials when they were finally able to enter an Islamic boarding school in Bima, Sumbawa Island on Wednesday, two days after a bomb blast killed a man.

Pheu Thai backs down on wage increase ploy 
When the "rubber meets the road" things change and that is what is happening to the Pheu Thai party in Thailand even before it takes office. The bump in the road is the promised 300 baht (US$10) nationwide wage increase. This move has been criticized by businesses and economists.

Malaysian auto output drops  
Frost & Sullivan is revising its 2011 total industry volume (TIV) forecast to 615,900 units from 623,000 units estimated previously as a result of supply chain disruptions from the impact of the March 11 Japan earthquake.

Thai analysts give mixed report on Pheu Thai policies 
The Thai Securities Analysts Association disagrees with the wage increase policy of the Pheu Thai Party, saying the plans to lift minimum wages and starting salaries for new graduates will stoke inflation and lead to an economic bubble.

Bank prioritizes Cambodian development 
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) emphasized five priority sectors in its three-year, US$500 million Country Partnership Strategy on Friday.

JCI moves into new territory  
Indonesia’s benchmark index broke new ground with its latest record close, climbing above the 4,000 level amid positive news from home.

Laos moves towards WTO membership 
The Lao government has moved closer to gaining membership status with the World Trade Organisation, after successfully implementing reforms to give better market access to foreign companies and facilitate more trade.

Trial for alleged Thai arsonists begins  
Prosecutors are scheduled to present closed-circuit video footage today in the criminal trial of two men charged with participating in the arson that burned down CentralWorld and Zen department store last year.

Activists call for electoral probe 
Malaysian activists who staged a mass rally for poll reforms called on Tuesday for a royal probe into the electoral system after the clampdown on their weekend protest.

Singapore tackles trafficking  
Singapore is currently drafting a National Plan of Action for the country to tackle both sex and labour trafficking.

Malaysia is aged by 2030 
The United Nations (UN) is projecting that Malaysia will become an aged nation by the year 2030 when 15 percent of its population will be above 60 years old.

South China Sea dispute churns emotions  
Many in the Chinese Military Academy wish to teach China’s neighbors “a lesson” for intruding into the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea), which they consider part of their national territory, a Chinese Southeast Asian expert said.

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