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April 9, 2008

Indonesia’s Parliament does not need to ratify the charter

An Indonesian expert sees no need for the country’s House of Representatives (DPR) to ratify the Asean Charter, Antara reported Tuesday.

The news agency quoted Professor Dr Ichlasul Amal, an international relations  expert at Gajah Mada University, as saying that the charter was not a legally binding document, and as such there was actually no need for it to be ratified by Indonesia`s parliament.

"Why should it be ratified by the DPR. The charter is only a formulation of a number of common understandings, not a treaty. So it does not need to be ratified," Amal was quoted as saying in Yogjakarta Saturday.

He was commenting on the Indonesia government’s expectation that the house would ratify the Asean Charter in 2008.

Amal argued that a treaty contains agreements which may affect the state and nation’s interests in a binding way and therefore it needs parliamentary ratification but a charter could be implemented merely based on the government’s approval of it.

He said that there was resistance in the Indonesian Parliament against the Asean charter’s ratification, possibly because there some lawmakers have suspicions the charter hold outs certain undue advantages for Singapore.

He noted that Singapore, which was usually not easily persuaded to sign a document affecting Asean affairs, was the first country to sign the charter, which may have aroused suspicion among some Indonesian House members.

The document was adopted by the leaders of Asean’s 10 member countries at their 13th summit in Singapore in November last year, where they also agreed on a blueprint to set up an Asean Economic Community - a common market based on competitive and integrated production and thus facilitate a freer flow of trade, investment, movement of business players` capital, manpower within the region.

So far, only five of Asean’s 10 member countries have ratified the charter. They are Singapore, Malaysia, Laos, Brunei Darussalam and Vietnam. The other five member countries - Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia and Myanmar - have yet to follow suit.

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