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(November 16, 2018) Asean chairmanship has many limitations - Thitinan Pongsudhirak

 

Just as all politics is ultimately local, all regionalism is mostly domestic. Such is the case with Asean. Whichever of the 10 member states chairs Asean, its role and performance tends to be domestically rooted. To envision and drive Asean forward requires deft leadership, bold ideas and smart diplomacy that must extend beyond and transcend parochial domestic concerns. No Asean member has shown this sort of farsighted regionalist ambition in recent years. Thailand appears on course to be no different when it chairs Asia's most durable organisation next year.

To be sure, Asean as a group, especially before its expansion from six to 10 member states in the 1990s, used to be smarter, bolder, more confident and assertive. Its formation in 1967 was a demonstration of leadership and diplomacy in defiance of an adverse external environment. Taking personal reputational risks and placing Thailand's regional role at stake, then-foreign minister Thanat Khoman mediated and assembled warring neighbours to build on past organisational endeavours and optimise their geographic setting to maintain regional autonomy and promote national development.

 www.bangkokpost.com/opinion/opinion/1576422/asean-chairmanship-has-many-limitations


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