A Dialogue Forum on “Attitudes and Awareness Towards ASEAN: A Research Finding” was held at Kuala Lumpur on 29 April 2015, as part of the series of ASEAN-related discussions and forums held in conjunction with the 26th ASEAN Summit recently hosted and chaired by Malaysia. It discussed the preliminary results of an update of a ten-nation survey among undergraduate students, first undertaken in 2007.
In 2014, ISEAS coordinated an update of the 2007 survey, in order to gauge whether attitudes have changed or remain the same on the eve of the ASEAN Community 2015. The survey update’s preliminary results found that overall, undergraduates in the ASEAN countries continue to display ASEAN-positive attitudes, with highest enthusiasm found in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam (over 90%), and ambivalence continuing in Singapore and the Philippines (less than 67%). Over 80% of students consider themselves “citizens” of ASEAN. Compared to 2007, more ASEAN-positive attitudes are displayed in Myanmar, and Thailand showed more ASEAN ambivalent attitudes. Students’ objective knowledge of ASEAN also improved from 2007 to 2014. The Internet as a primary source of information on ASEAN has jumped up to third position, following television and school. The fact-sheet on key highlights of the preliminary results is here.
On Thursday 9 April, the newly appointed Secretary-General of the ASEAN-Korea Centre, His Excellency Kim Young-sun, visited the ASEAN Studies Center (ASC) at ISEAS in Singapore. Mr. Kim Ki-hong, Head of Development Planning and General Affairs Unit; Mr. Mohd Daud Mohd Aruf, Head of Culture and Tourism Unit; as well as Ms Jennifer Kim, Officer, Development Planning & General Affairs Unit, accompanied him. H.E. Kim Young-sun had a candid and friendly exchange of views with ASC Head Mr Rodolfo Severino, ASC Lead Researchers Ms Moe Thuzar (Socio-Cultural Affairs) and Ms Sanchita Basu Das (Economic Affairs); and Dr Tang Siew Mun, ISEAS Senior Fellow.
Both Mr Severino and Ambassador Kim were in agreement that ASEAN and the Republic of Korea (ROK) shared similar objectives of maintaining peace, stability and prosperity in the region, and that ASEAN and the ROK can mutually learn from and share each other’s experiences. For example, the ROK’s transition and growth into a developed economy is a source of inspiration to several ASEAN countries. Dedicated efforts for economic growth are possible with the assurance of peace and stability. In this connection, ASEAN’s integration efforts emphasise priorities in the three spheres of regional cooperation economics, politics and security, and socio-cultural, even as ASEAN economies continue to pursue growth and development as an economic community. Continuity of commitments to ASEAN is important, as the changing geo-political environments in some ASEAN member states lead to shorter terms in office for political leaders. The ASEAN-ROK dialogue thus serves as a constructive framework for the ROK to continue contributing to ASEAN integration. This can be complemented by the ROK’s bilateral programmes with several ASEAN members, in order to boost capacities for regional integration, and to identify “industry champions” to lead growth and change in the business sector.
Thirty-one trainees in a programme on the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) conducted by King Prajadhipok’s Institute in Bangkok came for a briefing at the ASEAN Studies Centre on 4 February 2015. The visitors are participants in a programme on “Thailand and the ASEAN Economic Community” at the King Prajadhipok Institute. Ms. Sanchita Basu Das, Lead Researcher, Economic Affairs, ASC, ISEAS gave a talk about the AEC. Dr. Termsak Chalermpalanupap, Lead Researcher, Political & Security Affairs, ASC, ISEAS talked to the visitors about the ASEAN Political-Security Community (APSC), focusing on key political and security challenges.
Questions included what can be expected upon the launch of the AEC, how to improve public understanding of the AEC, how AEC would affect Singapore-Thailand trade, and what domestic reforms should be undertaken in Thailand in preparation. As regards community-building in ASEAN, it is a long-term process and not to expect a “Big Bang” transformation of ASEAN by the end of 2015. The dilemma for APSC was on how to maintain national sovereignty (protecting national interest) and at the same time advancing regional common interest. Discussions also touched on what ASEAN should do in the face of competing interests between US and China; what Thailand and Singapore can do together to strengthen ASEAN; and what more can be done to get the Thai public more interested in ASEAN.