Press Release – Bincang ASEAN: “Challenges for Indonesia and ASEAN”

Yogyakarta, 3 July 2020

The fourth edition of Bincang ASEAN Webinar was held on Thursday, 23rd July 2020. Co-hosted by the ASEAN Studies Center and the Coordinating Ministry of Political, Legal, and Security Affairs (Kemenkopolhukam), the event invited five keynote speakers namely: H.E. Ambassador Chilman Arisman (Chief Diplomat of the Directorate of ASEAN political and security cooperation), Dr. Dafri Agussalim (Executive Director of ASC UGM), Dinna Prapto Raharja Ph.D. (Associate professor Binus University), and Abdullah Zulkifli, S.T, M.Si (Assistant Deputy of ASEAN Cooperation at the Ministry of Political, Legal, and Security Affairs. The topic of the webinar is “Anticipating traditional and non-traditional security threat in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic: Challenges for Indonesia and ASEAN”.

The webinar was started with opening remarks from H.E. Ambassador Dr. Lutfi Rauf. He spoke on the economic threat the region faces following the pandemic with the potential to reach a recession, the need for robust cooperation as traditional and non-traditional threat looms after this pandemic and the ASEAN strength in fending off infighting as geopolitical terrain shifts after the pandemic. Following the remarks, Dr. Wawan Mas’udi gave an opening remark as a representative from the Faculty of Social and Political Science Universitas Gadjah Mada. He touched upon the function of academia in knowledge production through academic work in supporting the efforts of handling the pandemic. He also reminded that being a natural leader, Indonesia should be in the front guard in arranging the regional framework to handle COVID-19 cases.

The topics discussed within the webinar are divided into four parts. First, in achieving regional stability, the pillar of the political security of ASEAN must be strengthened as great power competition re-emerges. ASEAN needs to show unity and resilience through the existing framework of political cooperation. Second, ASEAN has several modalities in operating the framework of cooperation in the health sector following the pandemic. The international regime model coined by Koremenos, Lipson, & Snidal (2001) has been used to measure the effectiveness of handling the pandemic. However, the implementation of such a model still leaves incongruities. Thus, ASEAN is given the opportunity to enhance further cooperation, especially in handling the pandemic. Third, there are several commonalities in the interest of ASEAN and Indonesia in maritime security and non-traditional security. The transnational crime could see an increase if states are focused on traditional security threats. Cooperation is an integral part of the safety and security of all member states of ASEAN. Lastly, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to the scarcity of resources resulting in a larger potential for conflicts. ASEAN could be threatened by such conflict as competition for resources between member states is inevitable. However, member states should uphold the ASEAN cooperation in politics and economy to deter such imminent conflicts.

The biggest challenge for ASEAN is massive uncertainty on all parts. However, the crisis is not parallel to chaos as countries are not faced against one another directly but are struggling to take on the problems faced within. The three components of ASEAN: trust, relevance, and a binding identity, could be the key to maintaining the efficacy of ASEAN’s framework to deal with challenges coming ahead.

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