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(March, 26 2021) Asean's Myanmar crisis out of control

Myanmar's spiralling post-coup violence and bloodshed has become Asean's existential crisis. It is customary to pin hopes on an Asean way of fudging and nudging the main protagonists into some workable, face-saving compromise to save the day but this time the situation is dire and dark. Unless the 10-member regional organisation can make a difference in halting Myanmar's descent into uncontrollable violence and potential civil war, Asean is at risk of undermining and perhaps ending its success story.

Approaching 54 years of togetherness, Asean has come a long way in defying and outfoxing its critics and detractors. In the process, it has become the principal platform for regionalism and regionalisation to promote peace and stability, bounded by geographical neighbourliness in Southeast Asia and shared interests in strategic autonomy by keeping bigger countries at bay. Adding four members in the 1990s -- sequentially Vietnam, Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia -- completed the Asean make-up and turned the region into great potential and promise.