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.