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Stressed by Strife: ASEAN from Pattaya to Preah Vihear. Dr. Thitinan Pongsudhirak Associate Professor and Director Institute of Security and Int’l Studies Faculty of Political Science Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok Visiting Scholar, CDDRL-Humanities Center, 26 April 2010.

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Stressed by strife asean from pattaya to preah vihear l.jpg

Stressed by Strife: ASEAN from Pattaya to Preah Vihear

Dr. Thitinan Pongsudhirak

Associate Professor and Director Institute of Security and Int’l Studies

Faculty of Political Science

Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok

Visiting Scholar, CDDRL-Humanities Center, 26 April 2010


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Presentation outline

  • Southeast Asia as a region

  • Southeast Asia as an organization

  • Domestic strife and regional effects

  • Premises and prospects


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1. Southeast Asia as A Region

1.1 Comparative politics of Southeast Asia

  • 570 million people (ASEAN Sec figure); GDP: $1.5trn

  • 11 countries (ASEAN + East Timor)

  • All post-colonial, except Siam/Thailand

  • Multi-ethnic; multi-religious; multi-lingual

  • All influenced by overseas Chinese

  • All affected by Japan’s Co-Prosperity Sphere in WWII

  • Postwar independence movements and interstate conflicts in the region


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1. Southeast Asia as A Region (cont.)

1.2 Diverse and disparate regime types

  • Absolute monarchy: Brunei

  • Constitutional monarchy: Cambodia, Malaysia (federal), Thailand

  • Socialist: Laos and Vietnam

  • Military authoritarian: Burma/Myanmar

  • Republic: Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, (East Timor)


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1. Southeast Asia as A Region (cont.)

1.3 Vibrant economic development

  • tamed tigers?; formerly ASEAN Four; Asian Values?; East Asian Miracle

  • 1997-98 economic crisis; recovery and new trajectory

    1.4 Political change and continuity: A mixed bag of democratization and autocracy

  • Indonesia/Malaysia/Philippines/Thailand/Singapore/Cambodia

  • Brunei/Laos/Vietnam/Burma-Myanmar

    1.5 Internal conflicts and insurgencies in Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand


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2. Southeast Asia as An Organization

2.1 International relations of Southeast Asia

2.2 Evolution and development:

  • Malphilindo; ASA; SEATO; ASEAN

  • Why ASEAN?: Konfrontasi; major powers/national development; ethnic and power balance

    2.3 ASEAN as longest regional vehicle after 42 years; Cold War during 1967-87; economic exuberance in 1987-97; APEC (1989); AFTA (1992); ARF (1994)

    2.4 No War in ASEAN; just border tensions and skirmishes


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2. Southeast Asia as An Organization (cont.)

2.5 Expansion: Brunei (1984); Vietnam (1995); Laos and Burma/Myanmar (1997); Cambodia (1999)

2.6 Miracle-Meltdown; Chiang Mai Initiative (CMI) under ASEAN Plus Three (APT) from 1998

2.7 GWOT (2001-08); Second Front; Separatist insurgencies

2.8 ASEAN Charter (December 2008); legal entity; 3 pillars in APSC, AEC and ASCC; ASEAN Community by 2015


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2. Southeast Asia as An Organization (cont.)

2.9 Underlying dynamics of charter:

  • Maintaining relevance

  • ASEAN charter as codification of norms

  • Non-interference with democratizing principles (Article 1: 7)

  • ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICOHR); People-centered ASEAN?

  • A personal encounter


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3. Domestic strife and regional effects

  • Perennial Burma/Myanmar albatross; ASSK’s confinement; elections in 2010

  • Indonesia’s frustration

  • Vietnam’s domestic concerns

  • Cambodia’s posture

  • Singapore’s imperative

  • Malaysia’s growing polarization

  • Philippines’ constraints

  • Thailand’s nadir


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3. Domestic strife and regional effects (cont.)

  • Thai crisis and Thai chairmanship of ASEAN in mid 2008-09; two years for 4th East Asia Summit (EAS)

  • From Pattaya to Preah Vihear

  • Preah Vihear v. Phra Viharn

  • Hun Sen-Thaksin and Hun Sen-Abhisit

  • Thailand’s founding pillar to weakest link (ASSK’s comment and 16th summit machinations in April 2010)


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3. Domestic strife and regional effects (cont.)

  • ASEAN at 42; a midlife crossroads

  • ASEAN Plus Three; China’s orbit

  • East Asian Community; Japan’s timid vision

  • East Asia Summit (ASEAN+6)

  • East Asia Summit Plus US and Russia?

  • Australia’s Asia-Pacific Community


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3. Domestic strife and regional effects (cont.)

  • APEC; ARF (no PD); AFTA (largest markets still external)

  • Trends in bilateral FTAs

  • Trilateral Summit in NEAsia; Six-Party Talks (SPT) sometimes efficacious

  • ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM)

  • Shangri-La Dialogue

  • Asian Six in G-20

  • An architectural search for regional order


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4. Premises and prospects

  • Centrality without performance?

  • Evolution of the “ASEAN Way”

  • Interests, institutions and identity

  • Domestic constraints on regionalism

  • Implications for the US (hub-spokes no more?)

  • Glass half-empty or half-full

  • Shallow and patchy integration (e.g. NTS) but won’t go away


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