Entries by akmal.muhammad.f

A Resilient ASEAN?: ASEAN and Resilience in Natural Disaster

By Nisrina Husnul Khotimah and Kevin Iskandar Putra (Picture: Aris Daeng)

 People in Palu and its surrounds are still struggling to survive a month after the 7.5 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami had struck. As of Friday 26th October 2018, the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance (AHA) has recorded a total of 2,081 fatalities – a large and dense number for the affected area. Locals and international news agencies were quick to realise that human resources and humanitarian aid did not come quickly enough and hastily turned their attention towards ASEAN as they questioned their role in rescue operations. The high number of deaths is a red flag that signalled that ASEAN is still not resilient towards natural disasters and much assessment is needed on the regional organisation’s response to these events.

This article intends to examine the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance (AHA) – the body that was mostly involved in efforts to recover Palu and past post-natural disaster operations –under the intention to understand why ASEAN’s response was not evident until almost a week after the tsunami struck. This article also intends to critique the placement of natural disasters in ASEAN’s communities’ blueprints, emphasising how natural disasters should be seen as a security issue rather than a socio-cultural one. Finally, this article would like to propose the rudiments of what could possibly be an addition to the AHA that could improve their agility in terms of action.

The ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management serves as a platform for intergovernmental efforts in cooperating and coordinating the ASEAN Member States, with the United Nations for disaster management and emergency response in the region. There are some frameworks used as the basis to run the organization, which entail Disaster Monitoring, Preparedness and Response, and Capacity Building; all playing their respective important role. As another focus, AHA also developed its Emergency Operations Centre (OEC), shedding an integral part of the importance of collective response. Through the Web Emergency Operations Center (WebEOC), an online-based platform that AHA provides, the organisation intends to provide a mechanism to monitor and share the information related to regional disasters.

ASEAN’s inadequate response towards, and involvement in, the aftermath of the tsunami in Palu is a clear illustration of the organisation’s lack of political willingness to clamp regional cooperation. Not only does this allow us to question why there is a lack of urgency, but it also allows us to identify issues in its institutional structure as well. Areas of concern include the fact that disaster management is under the socio-cultural community blueprint in which we believe would be most suitable if it were under the political-security community blueprint instead.


Placing disaster management under the socio-cultural community blueprint has many relatively troubling implications. Primarily, it indicates that ASEAN sees disaster management as an opportunity to “lift the quality of life of its peoples through [people-orientated] activities”, as stated in their ASCC Blueprint 2025, rather than a means to prevent conflict and instability – which could easily arise after a natural disaster hit. Disaster management in the socio-cultural community blueprint, thus far, has only attempted to enhance the capacity of communities to adapt to vulnerabilities through people-centred initiatives such as the provision of resources and management support, as exemplified by what was reported in AHA’s situation updates on the Palu tsunami and also other post-natural disaster situations such as Typhoon-Mangkhut.

As one could deduce, there is still a need for a troop-based response from this regional organisation. It is important to realise that natural disasters represent a very major threat to security of human life. Allowing the wounds of a natural disaster to linger for an extended period of time without recovery would allow a plethora of other security issues to penetrate the affected area. Security issues such as the displacement of people, increasing population density elsewhere and cross-border migration are easily in the foresight of post-natural disaster consequences and all possess “the potential for instability and conflict…conflict due to scarcity”. With this in mind, it is imperative for ASEAN to see natural disasters as, not only an urgency, but a threat to its well-guarded peace.

In addition, another reason why disaster management should be a part of the political-security community blueprint lies on the fact that ASEAN’s harmonious environment is easily at risk when natural disaster strikes. This was especially evident during the haze crisis in 1997 where winds swept acrid smoke across Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, causing these countries to confront Indonesia after they were unable to cope with the disaster due to the Asian Financial Crisis happening at the same time. From here, one could identify the lack of regional cooperation as they turned to denouncement rather than incentives to undertake the haze crisis together as member states of the same organisation. A regional effort is therefore critical so that every member state has a stake in relief operations and preventive measures.

Relating back to the aftermath of the tsunami in Palu, such regional effort was evidently absent in relief operations. Based on situation updates provided by the AHA, most actions taken and resources mobilised were done by the Indonesian government. It was not until situation update no. 9, out of fifteen, where one could read about responses from other ASEAN member states (which, in situation update no. 9, was humanitarian assistance from the Philippines and Singapore, and a THB 5 million contribution from Thailand). Moreover, what could also be revealed from the situation updates was the fact that most operational management was done by the Indonesia’s National Board of Disaster (BNBP), indicating that a great deal was being handled by Indonesia alone and ASEAN only served as a subsidiary force of aid.

ASEAN’s, as a regional organisation, involvement in the Palu tsunami aftermath was primarily done through the AHA. Although it did coordinate resources and activities done by incoming NGOs through the ASEAN-Emergency Rapid Assessment Team (ASEAN-ERAT), it is still better described as a management body comprised of experts from different organisations. This further emphasises the fact that ASEAN’s disaster management is still socially oriented as its motions are dependent on other actors’ proposal of actions.

This calls for an enhancement in ASEAN’s framework of the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management, in which we propose an ASEAN-Emergency Operation Team (ASEAN-EOT) that is able to conduct rescue operations and provide human resources in order to ease access for medical personnel to disaster-stricken areas in the Southeast Asian region. ASEAN-EOT would be established by ASEAN itself, giving the AHA the power to oversee and coordinate collective action. ASEAN-EOT would be composed of experienced and trained military personnel from all 10 countries of ASEAN, training together specifically for disaster rescue missions.

Military personnel will remain members of their respective national forces as the ASEAN-EOT does not intend to act as an independent “ASEAN force”, but rather a collective-action unit for disaster operations. With the existence of this unit, we should expect ASEAN to be one of the first actors to respond to a natural disaster, increasing humanitarian aid and consequently reducing the amount of possible deaths. With the information collected and coordinated by AHA, the ASEAN-EOT should effectively know how much military personnel and air transportation is needed within a realistic time-frame of 48 hours.

From our analysis, it could be concluded that ASEAN’s agility and involvement in natural disaster rescue and relief operations remain inadequate. This article theorised that placing disaster management under the socio-cultural community has many worrying implications as it implied that ASEAN treated post-natural disaster situations as an opportunity to improve quality of life rather than a threat to their security and peace.

Therefore, we suggest to put natural disasters under the political-security community, allowing us to also propose what could be a potential ASEAN-Emergency Operation Team. This team serves as a collective-action unit under the oversight of AHA, ensuring that ASEAN would be one of the first actors to respond when natural disaster strikes in the Southeast Asian region. Such unit would not only enhance the ASEAN’s agility in terms of response, but it would also reduce the number of subsequent fatalities due to quick responsiveness. Failure to improve their natural disaster management framework would inevitably deteriorate the international stature of ASEAN states.



AHA Centre Situation Update No. 15 – FINAL: M 7.4 Earthquake and Tsunami, Sulawesi, Indonesia – Friday, 26 October 2018, 12:00 hrs (UTC+7), AHA, https://reliefweb.int/report/indonesia/aha-centre-situation-update-no-15-final-m-74-earthquake-and-tsunami-sulawesi

“About the AHA Centre”, The AHA Centre, https://ahacentre.org

“What we do”, The AHA Centre, https://ahacentre.org/what-we-do/

A Strategic Framework for ASEAN-UN Cooperation, UNESCAP, https://www.unescap.org/sites/default/files/Session%201.%20Cooperation%20in%20Southeast%20Asia.pdf

“Introduction.” in ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Blueprint 2025. Jakarta: The ASEAN Secretariat, March 2016.https://www.asean.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/8.-March-2016-ASCC-Blueprint-2025.pdf

The UK UN delegation in a debate on impact of climate change on peace. Hough, Peter. “Environmental Security.” in International Security Studies, ed. Peter Hough et al. 211 – 224. New York: Routledge, 2015.

Nguitragool, Paruedee. “Negotiating the Haze Treaty: Rationality and Institutions in the Negotiations for the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution (2002).” Asian Survey 51, no. 2 (2011): 356-78. doi:10.1525/as.2011.51.2.356.

AHA Centre Situation Update No. 9: M 7.4 Earthquake and Tsunami, Sulawesi, Indonesia – Monday, 8 October 2018, 17:00 hrs (UTC+7), AHA, https://reliefweb.int/report/indonesia/aha-centre-situation-update-no-9-m-74-earthquake-and-tsunami-sulawesi-indonesia

ASEAN Smart Cities Network: Getting Closer to the Utopia

Written by Nathania Vivian Hermawan (Picture: Basile Morin)


At the 32nd ASEAN Summit, countries approved Singapore’s chairmanship theme, “Innovative and Resilient”, as an articulation of their strategic position in this shifting economic landscape. One of the encapsulation of this theme is ASEAN Smart Cities Network (ASCN), a network that synergise 26 IoT-based cities across the region aiming to solve urban population growth and rapid urbanizations. Looking at current wave of innovation in Southeast Asia, ASEAN has started to turn “sci-fi” smart cities into reality –but surely it takes time.

Smart City Trend in 21st Century

The world is imagining a innovative, efficient, and pollution-free city. This may sounds like a utopia, but all this imagination is what the Internet of Things (IoT) promises to transform our cities into smart cities. Smart cities worldwide are incorporating data and digital technologies into infrastructure and services—delivering tangible improvement of quality of life (QOL) as an outcome.

In 2015, Bristol of United Kingdom launched Data Dome, a public platform which provide real-time data of air quality, pollution, and noise. Barcelona implemented Barcelona Lighting Masterplan (BLM) which designed to enhance the efficiency of streetlamps. Lights will dim when streets are empty to conserve energy. Through smart lighting, Barcelona save $37 million annually.

Basically, these countries have the same model of smart city project in ASEAN.

Why ASCN matters

  • Dense Population

41.8 percent of Southeast Asia’s total population or almost 245 million peopleis now concentrated in urban areas, making cities more significant as key drivers of social and economic development.Megacities like Manila and Jakarta both have a population of over 10 million, while Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City have more than 5 million inhabitants respectively. More than a half of total population in Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand is agglomerated in cities, while Singapore as the frontrunner of smart city has 100% of its population living in urban areas.

ASEAN may be entering a troubling “urbanization without growth”, where rapid urban population rate no longer goes hand in hand with great economic outcome and rising living standards.Dense population raises many issues such as traffic congestion, air pollution, housing shortage, infrastructure access and waste management.

Bangkok and Jakarta is the two most congested cities in Asia, while housing shortage is a major issue cities like Manila have to deal with. Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines, Thailand compiled with China are dumping plastic waste into oceans more than the total of rest of the worldshows that our people is not smart enough in managing waste.

  • Economic Integration

ASCN will strengthen economic integration between Southeast Asian countries –the biggest goal of ASEAN Economic Community. ASCN allows countries to share best practice and explore new technological solutions on urban problems.

  • Industry 4.0

For developing world such as in ASEAN, fourth industrial revolution is haunting, since new technologies cause less utilization of human labour. Beside that, millennials must compete in the digital era notwithstanding access to technology is not as easy as those in core countries.

The Minister of Finance of Indonesia, Sri Mulyani, once stated, “Industrial 4.0 will benefit the more advanced countries and countries with more capitals.” Therefore, without new initiative such as building smart cities, developing countries in ASEAN will face even worse disequilibrium in a progressive world because core countries are now seem poised with the coming of fourth industrial revolution.IoT and Smart Citiesis expected to revolutionize the mindset and people’s habit so they will not be left behind in Industry 4.0.

Initial Stage of ASCN

By now, there is a wave of innovation across Southeast Asian countries. Increasing numbers of digital citizen apps, ride-hailing apps like Go-Jek, intelligent traffic systems, data-driven disaster-risk assessment, and an automation systems to manage congestion like ERP upgrade people’s quality of life.But, some just begin to make legal policies and also facing budgetary issues.

  • Malaysia has Cyberjaya as its first smart city and emerging Global Technology Hub after the installation big data board about daily weather, traffics, or even parking slots.
  • Juniper Research enthroneSingapore as the smartest city in the world ahead of New York, London, and Seoul.
  • Thailand at first only promoted three pilot cities, but now it develops four more cities that isBangkok, Chon Buri, Rayong, and Chaochengsao. Rapid flourishment of the smart city is due to pursuing the Thailand 4.0, an initiative to accomplish status as high-income nations and as digital economy hub of ASEAN. Thailand is also establishing Smart City Thailand Association.
  • Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia, launched Qlue app, a real-time reporting application from residents to government to improve public participation. There is also Banyuwangi“Smart Kampong” features operator to connect small and medium enterprises with online shopping site, Banyuwangi-Mall.com.
  • Philippines implemented Project NOAH (Nationwide Operational Assessment Hazard) in 2012, a primary disaster prevention, risk reduction, and risk management program by using IT network, because Philippines was always hit by typhoon several times in a year.
  • Vietnam expects to have Ho Chi Minh, Da Nang, and Can Tho as its first smart city in 2030 and now it is just building legal policies and infrastructure foundation foremost 5G network to enhance the performance of IoT and create a wireless-power city.
  • Brunei has Temburong Smart City project which aims a ‘low-carbon district’ that emits net zero carbon through ICT. Government assesses appropriate capacity of power sources to provide electricity to Temburong area, which consists of Solar/PV and diesel power generators, by computer simulation.
  • Cambodia’s private company,7NG (Cambodia) Co., Ltd, is currently working on the legal documents with government to achieve Kandal as Intelligent and Innovation City project plan into reality as soon as possible. But local newspapers say Cambodia is still lack of holistic planning and regulations regarding Phnom Penh smart city project.

Main Challenges

Firstly, countries who are just starting to build smart cities lack of investment from business developers. They should launch programmes, including business-to-business and mission trips, to promote these smart city projects to investors. While as mentioned above, some countries is not wholly finished yet in managing its legal policies and master plan.

Prime Minister Lee HsienLoong also realize the major challenges of the first step to actualize ASCN, that is, “to make the implementation and to change the ways in which our cities and our administrations operate to make full use of the technology…” Government has responsibility in raising awareness about smart city to its citizens because they will be critical constituent of the smart city implementation.

Lastly, after six months of smart city ideas, technological sharing have not been seen. Each countries are making partnership with developed countries and major companies beyond ASEAN. As stated by Vietnam Ministry of Information and Communication, governments experience difficulty in providing adequate infrastructure and IT human resources so Vietnam have to find support from UK Commonwealth Foundation. Malaysia adopt smart city platform from AlibabaChinese company. South Korea is the one who pushes Cambodia public housing project through the state-run Korea Land and Housing Corp.

Member countries are still making its own path to get their smart city goals. In addition, those practices allow foreign companies to infiltrate domestic business process more easily.

Technological Readiness

To implement ASCN by 2020, governments should ensure that its own system can advance IoT performance through adoption of supporting equipment. The table shows gap between ASEAN countries in their technological readiness to implementASCN.

Table 1.
ASEAN Technology Preparedness









Rank for Individual Indicators
Mobile SIM Penetration Average mobile data speed (Mbps) Broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants Internet users as percentage of population IPv6 adoption
1 Singapore 154% 16.90 25.70 73% 3.55%
2 Malaysia 136% 3.16 8.22 67% 1.95%
3 Brunei 111% 7.79 5.71 69% 0.00%
4 Thailand 138% 4.32 7.35 29% 0.32%
5 Vietnam 134% 1.51 6.32 44% 0.00%
6 Philippines 110% 3.90 2.61 37% 0.03%
7 Indonesia 124% 2.05 1.30 16% 0.07%
8 Cambodia 138% 3.15 0.22 6% 0.02%
9 Laos 93% 2.08 0.13 13% 0.02%
10 Myanmar 13% 0.41 0.18 1% 0.00%



Singapore as the chairman of ASEAN and the smartest city among world countries has strived for a smarter Southeast Asia. Yes, every member states of ASEAN has begun to adopt ASEAN Smart Cities Network but it faces problems such as lack of investmentand technology. Governments have to change digital mindset of the people too. ASEAN are getting closer to the utopia of smart cities, but it demands greater cooperation to eventually get there.

Singapore should be a mentor to its neighbouring countries to make every city resilient from urbanization and also fourth industrial revolution challenges. Conversely, other countries mustinnovate to be “another Singapore” in the region.

ASEAN countries, after all, have frameworks in preparing ASCN, but in reality even Myanmar and Vietnam is not adopting IPv6 yeteventhough it is an important tools to support IoT. ASCN thus should push more member countries to provide technological aid and share models to their neighbours, and actively meet in forums to report its obstacle and improvement of smart cities.

Technopreneurship Among the Youth as Supporting Factors for Economic Sustainability of ASEAN towards the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Written by Cavin Dennis Tito Siregar

Science and Technology have never stopped advancing since the very first time humans invented fire. The fact that we are experiencing The Fourth Industrial Revolution has opened a wide gate of opportunities to everyone. Those who can make use of such opportunities will prevail. ASEAN, being one of the most diverse regions, shall unite and utilize this opportunity.

For the first time in the history of living standards ordinary people have experienced sustainable growth. This kind of economic behavior has never happened before.

(Robert E. Lucas, 2017)

  1. The Fourth Industrial Revolution

Curiosity is in our DNA. This is what underlies the rapid development of Science and Technology that enables humans to classify epochs in each transition of their lives according to the standard of living which applies at that time. Beginning in the 18th century, the first Industrial Revolution was marked by the mechanization of production through steam power which gave rise to the proletarian. In the 19th century, the industrial revolution was marked by the automation of mass production.

At this time, countries worldwide competed to bring innovation in the automobile industry and build large scale electrical networks. The third industrial revolution in the 1950s was

marked by the development of digital systems and information technology. Industries become increasingly rapid with the development of computer-based automation. Industrial machineries work automatically through computer. Humans at this time have become the supervisor of these machines.

Artificial intelligence, robot technology, big data and Internet of Things connect human lives so easily with one another. Some even argue about humans being replaced with their own technology. The Industrial Revolution 4.0 could have a negative impact on the government that stutters and cannot utilize rapid technological developments (Schwab, 2017). While the Fourth Industrial Revolution comes with massive improvement in productivity, with it comes the replacement of human labor.

Automation has come a long way since the 19th century. Wealthy markets, such as The Gulf States, have the resources to invest in new technologies, and those with better established manufacturing sectors, such as the countries in Southeast Asia, appear best placed to reap the benefits of the revolution. The global economy is entering the 4th Industrial Revolution based on the application of advanced automation all the way from production to service delivery. The transformative impact of this revolution will require countries to think deeply about their policies and priorities on a national scale.

Many ASEAN governments are well aware of this need and have launched national responses, such as Thailand 4.0, Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative, Making Indonesia 4.0, The Philippines’ inclusive Innovation Industrial Strategy (I3S), etc. However, some of the greatest impacts of the 4th Industrial Revolution will play not on a national scale but at a regional scale. The nature of cross-border relations and economic interaction will be revolutionized. It will not be enough to think only about a national response. In the years ahead, regional organizations like ASEAN will be called upon ever more heavily to help steer and shape these historic transformations.

And yet, given the accelerating speed of technological advancement, shaping regional policies is growing increasingly harder. It means that ASEAN and organizations like it will need to redesign the way they manage regional governance.

  1. Trade, Entrepreneurship, and Economic Sustainability of ASEAN

Today, entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of economies all over the world. Even in a command economy like China, entrepreneurs are valued for their contributions to the economy and encouraged to innovate to compete with companies worldwide. The global economy, combined with modern infrastructure and communications, has introduced a new age of

competition to the world of entrepreneurship. There will no longer be competition within ASEAN’s own tribe, town, village, or city, instead competition will be held among entrepreneurs worldwide.

Many of these entrepreneurs can access cheaper means of production than before. They may have better access to raw resources of cheap labor, for example. This has made modern entrepreneurship more challenging and arguably more rewarding than ever before.

As a region, ASEAN has dramatically outpaced the rest of the world in growth of GDP per capita since the late 1970s. Income growth has remained strong since 2000, with the average annual real gains of more than 5 percent. In comparison, ASEAN has real GDP growth of 66% in the Asia-Pacific from 2006 to 2015. According to a study by McKinsey, in the year 2000, 14 percent of the region’s population is living below the international poverty line of $1.25 a day (calculated in purchasing-power-parity terms), but by 2013, that share had fallen to just 3 percent. Already several million households in the ASEAN countries have incomes that allow them to make significant discretionary purchases.

That number could reach 125 million households by 2025, making ASEAN an important consumer market. ASEAN has long heeded the connectivity imperative, and the benefits of regional cooperation and economic integration, through initiatives such as the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), are paying dividends. ASEAN commands a combined GDP of about $2.4 trillion, and GDP per capita has increased by 63.2% from 2007 to 2015. If it were a single country, it would be among the top 10 economic powers in the world.

To further drive growth, ASEAN and its six strategic partners will come together in November for the anticipated signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. This will create the world’s largest free-trade area, representing nearly 30% of global GDP, and will demonstrate ASEAN’s commitment to removing barriers to trade and expanding market access both within the region and with its partners.

There is a substantial list of opportunities associated with AEC integration. For instance, economic integration provides opportunities to boost economic stability in the region. Another benefit is that integration would turn ASEAN into a more competitive region within the world economy. A stronger regional economy will help to improve the living standards of the ASEAN population by reducing poverty through economic development.

ASEAN member countries expect to achieve greater economic cooperation in the areas of financial policies, trade, and human capital. AEC integration will also serve to promote goods and services, investment, labor mobilization, and mobilization of capital. The ASEAN region could potentially become a highly competitive economic union operating as a single market. ASEAN also intends to improve regional agricultural and industrial utilization, as well as expand trade, and improve transportation and infrastructure.

As an example, Six Southeast Asian countries, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, are the most suitable countries for entrepreneurial goals. The population in these six countries reaches 9% of the world’s population. While the Gross

Domestic Product (GDP) reaches 3.17% of world GDP. This makes these six countries considered capable of being a land for establishing trade, business and economic partnerships. Thus, the results of the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), the world’s foremost study of entrepreneurship, establish the conduct of entrepreneurial research comprehensively in six Southeast Asian countries.

  1. The Future of ASEAN’s Technopreneurship

The process of organizational creativity is a process of mainstreaming innovation or continually finding important corporate problems, solving those problems, and implementing the solutions to satisfy the global market and is referred to as Technopreneurship (S.O.O., 2014). Technopreneurship emerges when entrepreneurship is combined with the development of Science and Technology. The equation between entrepreneurship and Technopreneurship is caring for profit. But Technopreneurship, aside from caring for profit, also cares about the development of Science and Technology.

A Technopreneur is an entrepreneur who understands technology, who is creative, innovative, dynamic, and dares to be different. They take paths that have not been explored, and are very excited about their work. ASEAN is home to an abundant of natural resources and is one of the world’s largest producers of agricultural commodities. Many ASEAN Member States (AMS) used this endowment as a springboard for industrialization, and today the region is a thriving hub for global manufacturing and trade. These developments have been supported by a number of common trends: most AMS have achieved sound macroeconomic fundamentals and a high savings rate, and they demonstrate relatively open trading systems with a young, rapidly growing population.

The creation of the AEC promises to open up sizeable new market opportunities for ASEAN firms, including SMEs, yet it also threatens to open up new challenges. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of ASEAN economies. Between 89% and 99% of enterprises within ASEAN are SMEs, providing between 52% and 97% of employment in member states. They’re also an important source of innovation. But many SMEs are limited in their ability to grow because of lack of access to finance, business services and information, and constrained access to markets beyond their immediate neighborhoods.

However, the rise of digital marketplaces and online services can empower and support SMEs to trade in ways that was unimaginable even a few years ago, connecting them to giant, regional

markets rather than just local customers. There are 6 unicorn Technopreneurship or e-commerce that are widely-known, which are Gojek (Indonesia), Grab (Malaysia), Lazada (Chinna), Sea (Singapore), Tokopedia (Indonesia), Traveloka (Indonesia), etc.

  1. ASEAN Youth’s Role on Technopreneurship

The youth are an important section of the population in any country in the world and are in need of attention as they are both our current and future leaders and the catalyst for economic, social, and cultural development. Over the years, the ASEAN youth have become more aware and more involved in building and promoting the ASEAN Community. There are currently 213 million youth (15-34 years) in ASEAN countries, constituting the largest ever cohort of ASEAN youth. The peak population of just over 220 million is expected in 2038.

Technopreneurship in its development is always associated with technological developments that end in internet use. With a total population of 644.1 million, ASEAN holds 8.4% of the world’s total population. 53% of the population are internet users. This gives benefits to technopreneurs to develop Technopreneurship in Southeast Asia. Adding to 35% of the ASEAN population is the younger generation.

Technopreneurship is sometimes connected to the youth’s role in all countries in the world. Youth is best understood as a period of transition from the dependence of childhood to adulthood’s independence. That’s why, as a category, youth is more fluid than other fixed age-groups. Yet, age is the easiest way to define this group, particularly in relation to education and

employment, because ‘youth’ is often referred to a person between the ages of leaving compulsory education, and finding their first job.

Adopting a standardised definition of youth is complex as there is no definition which is universally recognised (Global YDI Report, 2016). The complexity comes from the different aspects and issues involved in the transition stages of young people’s development from adolescence to adulthood. The UN definition of youth is 15-24 years and the Commonwealth Global Youth Development Index definition is 15-29 years. In the context of ASEAN Member States (AMS), the age ranges of youth are defined in the law and regulations which exist in each country.

It should be noted, however, that the age ranges available for the indicators do not align with this definition. Should further disaggregation by age become available in the future, this may improve the accuracy of the picture provided of the youth in the region by the YDI, which stands for Youth Development Index, in ASEAN.

The emergence of Technopreneurship provides great support to the government, related institutions, and also ASEAN youth. ASEAN youth, with their enthusiasm and abilities, are able to adapt to the development of science and technology, specifically the internet. This can be seen from the Technopreneurship unicorn leaders in Southeast Asia, mostly young people. For example, e-commerce is a subsidiary of SEA Group originating from Singapore. Christin Djuarto, 29, right on February 2018 served as Director of Shopee Indonesia.

Not only that, the founder of Gojek and CEO of Gojek, Nadiem Anwar Makarim, founded Gojek in 2015 when he was 31 years old and still adrift as a youth in Southeast Asia. Therefore, the youth have roles in the development of Technopreneurship which is very promising not only in ASEAN but also in the world. However, most young people feel optimistic and pessimistic about the development of technology or the internet for their work later. But again, it takes good cooperation and contribution between all parties so that this can work well and the younger generation can be encouraged to be more enthusiastic.

The ASEAN Youth Forum (AYF) has committed itself to upholding meaningful youth participation in the following:

  1. Realising action-based activities on youth issues at the national, sub-regional, and regional levels.
  2. Engaging key participants including civil society, youth-relevant bodies at the national, regional, and international level through meaningful dialogues and activities.
  3. Expanding influences with other significant groups in ASEAN and beyond.
  4. Strengthening capacity of this body/organization/ network and other related groups in the region.
  5. Bringing youth in the region to take part in the movement towards the ASEAN Community 2015. The AYF believes that the pursuance of a Youth Development Index, initiated by ASEAN and its Member States, will open doors for young people to be involved in more meaningful engagements at the regional and national levels.

Technopreneurship provides a way and guidance for the progress of ASEAN countries to achieve and realize the vision of the Industrial Revolution 4.0. This is reflected in the development of science and technology in vital sectors that support the economies of ASEAN countries. With population growth increasing every year and supported by human resources, which constitutes the many young people, ASEAN is becoming ready to face the Industrial Revolution 4.0. The development of Technopreneurship or e-commerce is often associated with the younger generation, who, recently, has become the originator of the largest e-commerce in ASEAN.

The youth are the country’s biggest treasure, in which they will become future leaders in ASEAN countries. Therefore, the government and related institutions should establish good cooperation with the younger generation, so that the generation of pride in ASEAN countries can be created to bring ASEAN to unity in the world.







https://kominfo.go.id/index.php/content/detail/4301/Prospek+Cerah+Technopreneurs%20hip +di+Masa+Depan/0/sorotan_media/




https://oxfordbusinessgroup.com/overview/gearing-economies-around-world-are-preparing opportunities-and-challenges-brought-about-next










Written by Salimah Idzaturrohim (picture: US Department of State)


ASEAN was established on 8 August 1967 in Bangkok, Thailand, which was initiated by 5 countries, which were Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Today ASEAN has 10 member countries, with Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Cambodia (ASEAN, 2018). The unification of the ten countries undeniably shows that ASEAN is composed of various ethnicities, cultures, languages and religions united under the ASEAN name. This shows how ASEAN is really an organization which unifies diversity. More than just a block or geographical area that forms a group of countries, ASEAN is a network, life-world, trading systems and pathways for human contact (Noor, 2017).

In diversity, ASEAN seeks to form a common identity. Diversity is often regarded as one of the obstacles in forming a common identity. Unlike the European Union, ASEAN has high diversity. Uniting requires good integration with each other. According to ASEAN’s General Secretary, Le Luong Minh, ASEAN’s successes to carry out integration which suits the member state’s diverse culture, region, and political systems have created strength for the ten countries (VOV, 2015). This shows how ASEAN has become innovative and resilient. It can form a unique integration which unites all ASEAN country and changes the notion that diversity serves as a “disadvantage.” Therefore, today ASEAN has been able to see diversity as the energy that has strengthen itself. The “Unity in Diversity” has become a milestone for ASEAN in forming a common identity which is still in its efforts to be achieved.

The Socio-Cultural Pillar is one of the three pillars of the ASEAN Community which has a very important role in building an ASEAN identity. The main component of the Socio-Cultural pillar is the active role and contribution which ASEAN member states have made to add value to the identity of ASEAN. The youth are members of ASEAN citizens with great potential and today they have shown interest in the socio-cultural sector of ASEAN. Therefore, ASEAN youth have been considered to take an important role in building an ASEAN identity.

Socio-Cultural Cooperation as ASEAN’s Focus to Build ASEAN Identity

ASEAN has a vision as a concert of Southeast Asian nations, which are able to look outwardly, live in peace, stability and prosperity, and bond together in partnership, dynamic development and in a community of caring societies (ASEAN, 2018). One of the ways this vision was realized was in October 2003 at the 9th ASEAN Summit in Bali (Indonesia) when ASEAN leaders decided to build the ASEAN Community in 2020. However, the ASEAN Community was realized 5 years earlier in 2015 to adjust with the rapid changes in international conditions. ASEAN leaders signed the Kuala Lumpur Declaration on the establishment of the ASEAN community in 2015 on 22 November 2015 at the ASEAN Summit in Malaysia. The ASEAN Community is composed of three community pillars, consisting of the ASEAN Political-Security Community (ASC), ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), and ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC). In general, the aim of the ASEAN Community is to make ASEAN “a harmonious group, the people of Southeast Asia, the stick in a social community of mutual reassurance.”

For ASEAN, getting to know one another’s culture is important because ASEAN is built on a collection of multicultural nations, multi-ethnicity, so socio-cultural cooperation is one of ASEAN’s concerns. In the field of socio-culture, ASCC focuses on humanity to build and improve living standards and improve the welfare of the people. In general, the aim is to strengthen the relationship between ASEAN countries in a community, develop evenly in all member countries, and build harmonization with “social care and share” (Trung Van, 2017). Quoted from ASEAN, “ASCC is committed to opening a world of opportunities to collectively deliver and fully realise human development, resiliency and sustainable development through Member States’ cooperation on a wide range of area, including: culture and information, education, youth and sports, health, social welfare and development, women and gender, rights of the women and children, labor, civil service, rural development and poverty eradication, environment, transboundary haze-pollution, disaster management and humanitarian assistance” (ASEAN, 2018). To realize its objectives, various programs were prepared by the ASCC as an effort to achieve the objectives in the development of the ASEAN community.

On 31 July 2017 at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) Hall, Makati Philippines, ASEAN 2017 Dialogues was held to discuss “ASEAN Identity.” The forum was organized by the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), and supported by the Asia Society Philippines.

The forum was attended by over 100 guests who participated in the “people-centered” discussion of the socio-cultural pillar. The discussion on this socio-culture pillar focused on ASEAN identity and the role of ASEAN socio-culture in building that identity (Ver, 2017). It was discussed that the main component of the socio-culture pillar is the active role and contribution in which ASEAN member states have made to add value to the identity of ASEAN countries. The discussion brought up the planning of commemorative activities for the 50th year anniversary of the association, an exhibit in the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, and the Brunei Darussalam — Indonesia — Malaysia — Philippines East Asia Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) Summit held in Saranggani and joining programs like the ASEAN Youth Camp as examples of how ASEAN member states can contribute to building the ASEAN identity (Ver, 2017). These activities are carried out to encourage engagement between the ASEAN community which allows the exchanging and sharing of culture, respecting of each country’s ‘unique culture and institutional identities,’ and enabling work towards a unified ASEAN identity (Ver, 2017). Respecting each ASEAN member’s culture is a simple way to build awareness that ASEAN is unity, and is inseparable from one another. If this attitude for culture between ASEAN countries can be formed, it will be easier to work together to develop together an ASEAN identity without prioritizing the ego or the interests of just one or several members.

To develop socio-culture cooperation, ASEAN has attempted to spearhead projects which encourage community involvement among ASEAN countries themselves. Cross-country activities such as sports competitions, art exhibitions, trade activities, and tourism have been widely carried out and are still growing. In sports competitions such as ASEAN Games, it is not only a matter of winning matches but also providing opportunities for participants to establish connections with people of different backgrounds and cultures. In other cross-country activities, there is always the opportunity to exchange cultures with each other (Kit and Spykerman, 2016). In the tourism sector, intra-ASEAN tourism, travel and migration continue to increase. We can now see the ASEAN backpacker phenomenon where more ASEAN citizens are visiting different ASEAN countries. This phenomenon arises from young ASEAN (Noor, 2017). Aside from traveling, backpacker activities carried out by the ASEAN youth also often bring humanitarian missions to the destination country. In Indonesia, in particular, there are numerous organizations that organizes volunteering or youth exchange with the backpacker method. This is certainly a place for the ASEAN youth to get to know different ASEAN cultures.

ASEAN Youth Today is the Future of ASEAN Tomorrow

“Today’s youth is tomorrow’s future.” The quote is familiar to us. It is undeniable that the youth create milestones in civilization. Not only are they citizens of the world but the youth have the obligation to bring positive change to their environment (Bobby, 2016). The United Nations defines the youth to be between the ages of 15 and 24 years (UNESCO, 2002). Youth is a transition from childhood to adulthood. There is a term, childhood means acceptance, and maturity means conservatism, and youth means rebellion (Heaven and Tubridy, 2008).  Rebellion referred to here can be viewed from a positive perspective where they can bring change to improve lives. The youth do not only accept what they get from the environment, but think about the environment and try to rebel in order to change, build and develop the environment. In addition, in contrast to conservative adults, the youth are expected to be innovative.

The youth of every country certainly have the desire to develop their countries. However, ASEAN youth have the desire to also develop ASEAN. The difference is, the ASEAN youth play a part on a broader scope, more than just regional areas, but a world community that connects people in it, namely ASEAN (Noor, 2017). In 2016, the total population of all ASEAN countries was recorded at 635.9 million, and the number continues to increase every year. More than 50% of the population is under 30 years old which means it is a productive age or it can be said that most of the ASEAN population forms the youth population (Statista, 2018).

ASEAN Youth Collaboration to Build ASEAN Identity

Seeing the phenomenon in the intra-ASEAN tourism, travel and migration sector, the ASEAN youth have shown interest in each other’s cultures. It has been discussed previously if the youth are important members of a nation and civilization, so are the ASEAN youth. Today’s ASEAN youth is the future of ASEAN tomorrow. They will be the face of ASEAN in the future. ASEAN tomorrow is what the ASEAN youth are doing today. Seeing the great enthusiasm of the ASEAN youth towards each other shows their potential to play a key role as agents to build an ASEAN identity.

Programs or activities which support intra-ASEAN cultural exchanges have been carried out, such as youth camps, cultural camps, and student exchanges. This grants the idea to form a collaboration of and between the youth from all ASEAN member states to introduce their culture to the world under the

ASEAN name. This is similar to youth exchange activities which are usually carried out by a country’s representative to present the name of their country before other countries proudly. But now the scope is greater, for the youth would unite as ASEAN. There would no longer be an intra-ASEAN but inter-ASEAN program. Through this program, it is with hope that the youth will feel proud as an ASEAN member when they conduct, for instance, cultural exchange or youth exchange to countries outside ASEAN. But, before they do cultural exchanges to other countries as a united ASEAN, of course they would need to prepare by studying each other’s cultures. To the world, ASEAN countries themselves are well-known as friendly countries, highly tolerant, have a warm sense of citizenship and togetherness as depicted through the ASEAN symbol.

This program can be developed by the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) which is an open community that expands collaboration to the outside world, and serves as a forum for ASEAN to contribute to building solidarity, lasting unity among the nations and peoples of ASEAN, and towards a common identity. Through ASCC, which is a place of integration in the socio-culture sector for ASEAN member countries, opportunities are provided for all member countries to participate and help one another. Every country can build identity awareness with the same portion, not only limited to the ASEAN 6 (ASEAN member countries that are more advanced). The ASEAN 6 can provide support to 4 other countries to build awareness together of an ASEAN identity in and out of ASEAN (Trung Van, 2017).


ASEAN today is still making effort to build a common identity. To build an ASEAN identity, the youth, members of ASEAN citizens, have great potential to play a role in spreading awareness of the ASEAN as ASEAN. Moreover, because ASEAN is formed by a variety of diversity, thus collaboration, unity and togetherness are the keys of ASEAN. ASEAN youth collaboration has great potential in building an ASEAN identity, develop awareness for the ASEAN community and bring its identity out of ASEAN and proudly before the rest of the world.



ASEAN. 2018. About ASEAN. ASEAN Secretariat

ASEAN. 2018. ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) Blueprint 2025. ASEAN Secretariat

Bobby, Disha. 2016. The youth of today is the future of tomorrow. Al Nisr Publishing LLC. www.gulfnews.com/your-say/your-view/the-youth-of-today-is-the-future-of-tomorrow-1.1698078 accessed in October 2018.

Heaven, Cara and Tubridy, Matthew. 2008. Global Youth Culture and Youth Identity. Highly Affected, Rarely Considered, pp. 149-160.

Kit, Leong Wai dan Spykerman, Kimberly. 2016. Could ASEAN form a common identity?. Medacorp. www.channelnewsasia.com/news/ singapore/could-asean-form-a-common-identity-8183680 accessed in October 2018.

Noor, Farish A. 2017. ASEAN Identity, now and into the future: the interaction across borders in Southeast Asia. Heinrich Boell Foundation. www.boell. de/en/2017/08/02/asean-identity-now-and-future-interaction-across-borders-southeast-asia accessed in October 2018.

Statista. 2018. Total population of the ASEAN countries from 2008 to 2018 (in milllion inhabitants). Statista. www.statista.com/statistics/796222/total-population-of-the-asean-countries/ accessed in October 2018.

Trung Van, Hieu. 2017. The Challenges of ASEAN-50 About Unity in Diversity. SSRN Electronic Journal.

UNESCO. 2002. Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, Paris. UNESCO 1:7-59.

Ver,      Issabella.       2017.       On      the       way     to       an       ASEAN      Identity.      Asia       Society.

www.asiasociety.org/philippines/way-asean-identity accessed in October 2018.

VOV   (Voice of Vietnam). 2015. “Unity in diversity creates ASEAN identity. https://english.vov.vn/world/unity-in-diversity-creates-asean-identity-309101.vov accessed in November 2018.

Questioned Centrality: Will ASEAN Stand Stronger in the South China Sea?

Written by Rahina Dyah Adani, University of Gadjah Mada (picture: Reuters)

The unimproved situation in the South China Sea has questioned ASEAN’s so-called ‘centrality’ in security of the region. The association is said to be more divided in regards to the South China Sea dispute as U.S. and China have divided the group by working arduously behind the scenes in lobbying the members to support their positions in the South China Sea. Regarding ASEAN centrality, the superpowers are more likely to be treating the claimed position of ASEAN only by paying lip service without actually treating it in a way ‘centrality’ should be faced.

The overall image of how ASEAN Centrality is handling the situation in the South China Sea does not make it any better. It is agreeable that security matters in the region are not inseparable from both U.S. and China as proven by the recent dangerous, physical confrontation of U.S.’s USS Decatur and China’s Luyang Destroyer. However, despite the need to involve both superpowers in security issues of the South China Sea, the Centrality’s role in this matter seems to have lesser relations to the U.S. and becoming more Sino-centric. With increasing skepticism about ASEAN’s ability in bridging the competition in the South China Sea, the ideal implementation of the centrality of ASEAN remains unachieved.

Indeed, ASEAN is not staying silent in showing its centrality. There have been several occasions where the member states remind other powers about the centrality belonging to the Association. This includes expressing concerns over several situations in which one of them is the aforementioned physical confrontation of the powers’ warships. In addition to that, ASEAN has been working on the Code of Conduct (C.O.C.) for the South China Sea since 2002, along with China, who finally agreed on the first single draft in 2018. Despite the slow progress in approaching the final draft, this is seen as a huge step as ASEAN has been urging China to cooperate with the making of C.O.C. for years.

For years now, ASEAN has insisted that it must be central in security issues regarding this. Singapore’s Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen offered three reasons for this argument. First, any other alternatives would be worse both collectively and for the larger powers. Second, ASEAN member states border two key maritime domains—the South China Sea and the Straits of Malacca which are pivotal for global trade. Lastly, ASEAN’s values assure the larger powers as the Association is “neutral, inclusive, and open.”

Regrettably, even with the efforts and arguments given, centrality seems to remain unobtainable. The actions taken by ASEAN are perceived as less assertive in carrying out its centrality. No bold decision has been made as the Association could only express concern and question things without doing anything aside from working on the gradual drafting of the C.O.C.

As a result, the questioning of ASEAN centrality is more heard. Though Ng had argued that ASEAN’s values would assure the larger powers, it is never what the superpowers want. Both China and U.S. are fighting for dominance in the region. It is less likely for ASEAN to properly mitigate the strong competition of dominance when its values are rather soft and meant to play safe. At the end of the day, the ability of the Association in making bolder decisions have prompted questions to arise regarding the competence of it carrying out centrality.

This inability is not without cause. It is said that the key barricade for ASEAN in reaching its highest potential in centrality is the asymmetrical relations of power existing between the actors involved. Holding the position of centrality, ASEAN has to face two of the global superpowers whose influences exist in most, if not all, of its member states. With each of its member states having their own dependency on the superpowers, ASEAN has become more fragile compared to the two. This surely affects ASEAN’s power in relations to U.S. and China as well as to how the superpowers view it in the South China Sea.

The idea of ASEAN as the weaker one has influenced the actors’ actions toward one another. Meanwhile, China and U.S. show regular acts of two competing powers against each other, their actions towards ASEAN leaves the impression of ignorance. U.S. acts as if ASEAN is not to be thought of as the issue and China knows very well that the Association would not be daring enough to take a strong stand against it.

China’s impression of the weaker ASEAN explains how it managed to take advantage of the delays in the arrangement of C.O.C. by distracting the Association to build reclamation island in the South China Sea. Ideally, ASEAN should act upon this. However, as ASEAN’s dependency on

China is now greater than ever, the Association seemed to have turned a blind eye. This shows how the asymmetrical relations of powers in the South China Sea have affected ASEAN centrality’s effectiveness in ensuring security of the region.

This is not to be separated with how ASEAN’s solidarity is considered to be weak. It is divided both by differing dependency to superpowers and by interests. Taking a bold unified decision for the group would not be easy, especially with consensus decision-making. A strong stand in facing the superpowers might affect members’ individual interests as they are under the influence of the greater powers. This low solidarity has become the reason of ASEAN’s weakness in facing the powers in the South China Sea. With the member states not having enough unified interests in facing the external actors, ASEAN has become rather fragile in the region.

Now that the problems barricading ASEAN centrality’s effectiveness are discussed, it is considered that ASEAN should focus first on strengthening its solidarity at the fundamental level. It has been urged to re-examine its Charter and redefine its consensus-building mechanism to become more flexible and adaptive to achieve unity. This might be agreeable as ASEAN has been too rigid in keeping its peaceful system that conflicts are more likely to be buried rather than solved. Still, the rigidness of ASEAN and its principles are not something that can be easily changed as they were built and agreed on by the member states with strong backgrounds. Redefining these values would not be simple and the possibility of it becoming a distraction for ASEAN is bigger.

Thus, an alternative is given as a solution. It is said that ASEAN’s member states with high bargaining power should step up to take initiatives to face the superpowers on behalf of ASEAN. Member states with considerable bargaining power are said to have the potential to push ASEAN’s bargaining position in facing the superpowers if they agree to take collective initiative to use their bargaining positions as a weapon for ASEAN. Member states such as the ASEAN-5 are considered strong enough to take this initiative as they are important enough for U.S. and China despite being dependent on U.S. and China as well. These interdependences, when perceived as unified, are enough to ‘put the larger powers in their place’ for they will start to take the ASEAN member states seriously.

It is to be noted that it is important for other ASEAN member states to prepare themselves to support these initiating states as this solution might be dangerous for the states’ interests if anything goes wrong. With this solution, it is believed that at least the asymmetrical relations of power in the South China Sea will not be as severe as how it is currently playing out to be.

Unfortunately, this solution is much easier said than done. Knowing that some member states’ interests might be in danger, it will not be easy just to take one starting step. Trust issues will be a hindrance if the initiating states start to question one another’s sincerity. The possibility for betrayal is big if one party decides to step back to protect its interests.

In addition, the assurance of ASEAN’s complete support is severely needed. There has to be a way to prove to the initiating states that the whole member states of ASEAN are all in to support them in this initiative. Above all, taking the daring first step is not easy. Unless the member states are brave and faithful enough for this action, this initiative will not go well and even lessen ASEAN’s solidarity more than ever.

Whether this solution is taken or not, ASEAN will have to keep walking on eggshells in the South China Sea. Its solidarity is challenged as it is forced to step away from its comfort zone when people are questioning its so-called ‘centrality.’ As the U.S. and China keep its grip on the main roles in the region, ASEAN is faced with the choice of playing along with the superpowers’ game or taking a stronger and bolder position. Unless ASEAN fixes the asymmetrical relations of power in the region, the game in the South China Sea will never belong to the Association.

Questioning Digital Integration via E-Commerce as New Force of Regional Integration

Written by Muhammad Rasyid Ridho, a Graduate Student of International Relations Universitas Gadjah Mada.



The newest ASEAN Leaders’ Vision encompasses e-commerce as its underlined issue. As its relevancy is in line with the ascendancy of Industrial Revolution 4.0, it has potential as a new track of regional integration. It is inferred that ASEAN not only tries to capture the phenomenon from below, but also manages e-commerce as a significant issue by promulgating the possibility of having newer framework of it. State still hold prominent position in facing this issue. However, it is not free from any obstacles to achieved digital-based integration. The digital divide and the differences of regulation between member states are the significant problem. ASEAN still need the conventional economic development in order to utilize e-commerce as a new mode of business or a tool of integration. An elaborate and detailed regulation needed in order to harmonize regional e-commerce and to involve more local business players –specifically SME–.


Not so recent in April 2018, a statement and communiqué released as the head states of Associations of Southeast Asian Nations ASEAN countries convened the meetings, which is called “ASEAN Leaders’ Vision for a Resilient and Innovative ASEAN.” There are too many things pointed out, one of those is e-commerce. It is said that ASEAN needs to establish a special agreement on it to enhance greater digital connectivity, besides provides the freer movement goods and services.

Many experts are the staunch proponent of mainstream view of ASEAN top-down approach how integration works in ASEAN. State centrality poses as its core. Yet, there is a possibility that digital economy aspect manifested in form of e-commerce as a new trend of integration. It is a fact that e-commerce was not pioneered by the state; instead the private actors made it exist in the first place. In relation with it, the discussion below tries to dig more about the prospects of this innovative track of integration.

E-Commerce Short Overview in ASEAN

Amazon, the first company specialized in e-commerce in the world, was started operating in the early 1990s until the appearance of eBay. Amazon is not only limiting itself on selling books, but also spread its field into several products, such as clothes, electronics, movies, and so on. The existence of internet at that time started to change the mode of how goods and services delivered from producer to consumer. As its boom in the 1990s and early 200s, its recent appearance already made a new turbulence which marked by the dot-com bubble from April 1997 to June 2003.

In ASEAN, e-commerce is considered one of economic sector that just emerged. It is still unknown when the exact time this mode of economy penetrate ASEAN. Its presence approximately existed at late 1990s –it is roughly indicated when e-ASEAN Task Force and its Framework in 1999 promulgated, which will be discussed later–.

Nowadays, e-commerce thrives in ASEAN, especially in several countries, such as Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. It needs to be underlined the e-commerce enterprises operating in ASEAN are mostly dominated by Singaporean (Zalora, Shopee, Carousell) or Chinese (Lazada under Alibaba Group) enterprises.

The attractiveness of ASEAN online market is marked by the latest move by Alibaba, that launched its initial public offering and spent $250 million to gain 10.35% share in Singapore Post. Still, there are several domestic e-commerce companies at the respective countries (Tokopedia, Bukalapak, Homepro, and CDR King) which have decent competitiveness. However, e-commerce reality in ASEAN is not that huge, which constitutes a little portion of total retail in every member state, except Singapore.

Evolution of e-commerce% of total retail in selected countries

ASEAN Response

ASEAN established two types of initiative, such as e-ASEAN Task Force and e-ASEAN Framework Agreement. The task force is comprised by government and private actors in order to create ASEAN as an e-space (electronic space). Several aspects are became concern, such as physical, legal, logistical, social and economic infrastructure. For the latter, the framework defines the information and communication technology (ICT). It is not only providing the simple imperative to liberalize the ICT products, services, and investments, but also harmonizing regional tariff and arranging Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA). Nine years after e-ASEAN initiatives establishment, ASEAN included e-commerce in its element on ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Blueprint.

In 2010, ASEAN launched the ASEAN e-Commerce Database as the compilation of the ASEAN countries’ netizen activities and the most active website performing e-commerce in this region. The content is mostly the result of the research on ASEAN netizen behavioural preference when surfing in internet and how they conduct transactions.

Does It Pose as Innovative Integration Catalyst or Not?

The process of integration in digital area –especially e-commerce– is executed by business, but the member states of ASEAN try to take control the process by promulgating the former agreements and future one. In addition, regions nowadays put e-commerce not as a substitute for the conventional economy activities. Dot-com bubble burst at 1997-2003 serves as warning for these regions, not excluding ASEAN. The fact ASEAN are not dismissing this issue but at the same time not putting this into the most priority agenda proves Coppock and Maclay premise.

Nonetheless, the integration and interconnectivity will be concentrated into ASEAN 5 + Vietnam since they are the major economic power in ASEAN. It is estimated these country will reach approximately 483 million internet users by 2020.

Internet Users in ASEAN

An essential information that can be inferred is digital divide exists. Many attempts are done by ASEAN to tackle this problem with IAI Work Plan III and the past tools. However, it is the fact that the result cannot be seen in several years. To spread e-commerce as vital component in digital integration, recipient countries and local business in the least developing countries in ASEAN, need infrastructure, access to e-commerce, language skill, and higher welfare to reap the technological advantage. Digital integration at the same time adds the new dichotomy in ASEAN, either they are fully integrated (ASEAN 5 + Vietnam and Brunei) or the partially or least integrated (CLM).

Logistic in the ASEAN related with e-commerce still poses as an essential challenge problems in ASEAN countries. With exception of Singapore and Malaysia, the delivery cost of cross-border transaction is still prevalent. E-commerce vendors find it hard to offer cheaper price to consumer. In accordance of the payment, most citizens in ASEAN are still unfamiliar with the digital based. There are less than 2% of consumers in Philippines and Vietnam who use credit cards. ATM/bank transfer is the most preferable payment method in Philippines and Indonesia. Cash is still persistent in Thailand, while Singapore has the high rate of credit payment usage. 73% of this region population is still unbanked.

The cross-border transcending nature of e-commerce presents a new challenge for the digital integration notion. A widely known assumption is when a region is not large enough to support economic actors to have confidence in internal market/region, then they will turn onto international negotiation. The condition will be worsen in the form of reduced regional competitiveness, if the region have no intention harmonize with the global area. ASEAN people will tend to conduct extra-ASEAN transaction rather than intra-ASEAN one if this scenario happens.

Even ASEAN already showed us their responsive action, yet it still faces internal problem. The absence of a binding agreement on e-commerce in regional level and the differences in national legislation on areas that affect e-commerce directly, for example privacy and consumer protection laws, is still prevalent. The issue develops, but the method that ASEAN and its constituting countries utilize does not change. The relevancy of ASEAN way, which put emphasis on national sovereignty, is still on effect and at some point hampering further integration.

At least, we agree that the presence e-commerce as pushing factor stimulates the development on least-developing area in ASEAN in order to be integrated in the digital framework. It cannot be denied that e-commerce gives the local actors chance to interrelate themselves and capture market potential in regional market easier than the conventional way.


After reconsidering the notion of digital integration, it arrives into different new inference. Digital integration via e-commerce is suitable to be a partial integrative factor, due to the existence of digital divide in ASEAN. The approach of ASEAN addressing this issue is by capturing the phenomenon from below (issue ascendancy through bottom-up process), then taking over the regulation formulation (issue management by top-down approach). So we cannot see this process in a dichotomous point of view, while it is combining both two processes.

ASEAN elites are going to devise newer agreement on e-commerce. Problems and challenges has already presented in previous part. As consideration, ASEAN may take lesson from its predecessor in its western counterpart, the European Union (EU). It invents The Digital Single Market Strategy as device to assist small-medium enterprises (SME). SMEs number in ASEAN are quite high, around 88%-99.9% and they employ 52%-97,2% people. ASEAN leaders shall adopt it with adjustment in order to share the prosperity cake with ASEAN people and at the same time intensely integrate ASEAN.

The Battle Against Trafficking in Persons: Is ASEAN Heading in the Right Direction?

Written by Firstya Dizka Arrum Ramadhanty, International Relations Undergraduate Student, Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, Universitas Gadjah Mada


In the last two decades, ASEAN’s battle on acknowledging the increasing trend of transnational crimes and human rights and security matter has been interesting to look at. Progress have been considerable. In 2004, there was the first ASEAN Declaration Against Human Trafficking in Persons Particularly Women and Children. The blueprint for ASEAN Political-Security Community (APSC) 2015 also resulted in the creation of ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) and a set of actions planned to combat transnational crimes, including trafficking in persons (TIP). In November 2015, the 2004 declaration was updated with the ASEAN Convention Against Human Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (ACTIP) and the creation of Bohol TOP Work Plan 2017-2020.

There are, however, three things in ASEAN’s journey in combating TIP that are problematics:the dilemma of border-control as a solution to TIP and people-smuggling, the consequence of ASEAN’s focus on women and children in the discourse of TIP, and most importantly, how labour migration, one of the key components of ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), is still separated from the discussion of TIP.

Trafficking-in-Persons and People-Smuggling: The border-control dilemma

From the blueprint of APSC 2025 to the annual new set of visions and agreement in April 2018, “trafficking in persons” is considered as a transnational crime along with drug trafficking and “smuggling of people”. TIP is defined by ASEAN as “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion […] to achieve the consent of a person…for the purpose of exploitation”. There has yet to be an official definition by ASEAN on people-smuggling, but the term has been used many times in the UN that inferred the difference between the two lies in consent and the existence of exploitation.

Nevertheless, people-smuggling can quickly turn into TIP.  Migrants who ‘consent’ to the risk and the journey of being illegally smuggled to another country might still end up being exploited, coerced, and trafficked. In 2015, migrants who tried to leave south Thailand to the border of Malaysia by paying smugglers were held as captives for ransom and abused in camps instead, many ended up being enslaved or become a forced-labor in Thailand’s fishing companies. The similar case also happened to the Rohingya thathad no choice but to pay smugglersin 2016 to reach Malaysia and Indonesia, only to be abused and exploited.ASEAN too had recognizedthis in 2012 that there is a close connection between TIP and smuggling of migrants.

Yet, ASEAN’s plan to prevent both issue is to tighten border control, migration policies, and other issuance of papers – which can easily backfired. While focusing on border patrol and coast watch can help spot the movement of the traffickers, such tight policies could encourage people-smuggling, since the change in policies have no automatic impact in the pushingfactors of migration. Inevitable reasons why people migrate, such as economic condition, war, and natural disaster make preconditions for legal migration impossible to access. This will make them seek for smugglers, which in its vicious cycle, will also increase the possibility of TIP. And as history tells, as long demand exists, the market sustains. In UNODC’s “Global Study of Migrants” 2018, the same concern was also expressed, saying that such policies would only shifts the transport routes and provide more opportunities for smugglers.

The Narration of Gendered Human-Trafficking: The Good and the Bad

Just like the U.N, ACTIP put a highlight on “women and children” – which reasons should not be questioned. Dana Raigrodski, in her 2015 article ‘Economic Migration Gone Wrong’ stated that women constitutes those who illegally migrate for survival due to economic struggles and gender-based repression, hence became the majority of those who are being exposed to larger risks, exploited, and trafficked. This narrative of gendered-human trafficking, however, can also have a major downside.

Having women and children as the primary focus would downplay TIP, an obvious humanitarian issue, to be a human-rights issue and a gender-issue only. This makes many sides of the issue go unnoticed. ASEAN has indeed show progress in recognizing the combination of factors as the cause of TIP, including “government corruption, poverty, economic instability…and the demand…that lead to trafficking”. However, the many-situations that makes trafficking becomes possible – from flawed migration policy, people’s perceptions and understanding, to market singularity which ASEAN is actively supporting – tends to be neglected.

The “women and children” discourse and the vulnerable sense that came with it, had, first, led ASEAN to be very victim-oriented. This reflects in how ACTIP has one full chapter that consists of six articles about criminalization, one chapter on “protection” and victim protection with two articles that has 21 points in total, and only three articles are focusing on prevention. In fact, out of thirty-one articles, only one highlights preventive measures. Second of all, it narrows people’s perceptions of TIP restricted to the market of sexual exploitation of women and children and that the traffickers are only men, which in ASEAN’s territory and history of cases, there might be a mistarget.

In the 2014 Global Trafficking In Persons Report, UNODC mentioned that between 2010-2012, trafficking for sexual exploitation Asia takes about 26% of total cases. This is a smaller number compared to forced labour, servitude, and slavery-alike that comprised about 64% of forms of exploitation detected in trafficking victims. Obviously, each country varies. In Cambodia, out of 189 repatriated victims, only 17 are under the categories of ‘sexual exploitation’ and ‘others’, the rest of the 91% are forced-labour in different sectors of work. The proportions were not much different in Thailand and Singapore. In Indonesia, however, sexual exploitation and forced labour are in the exact same proportions. From 2012 to 2015, out of 195 victims, 96 are trafficked for sexual exploitation, and 96 are for forced labour.What can be concluded from the mentioned statistics is that, in a larger part of Southeast Asia, TIP for the cause of work-exploitation might outweigh sexual exploitation.

Human-Trafficking and Labour Migration should be an integrated matter

In April 2018, the ASEAN member-states leader once again sat in the same table to create a new set of visions. Amongst the statement, there are four collective agreements that will be highlighted, which are Point 1, 10, and 35. In Point 1, the ASEAN leaders agree about the commencement of ASEAN Extradition Treaty to strengthen ASEAN’s capacity and resilience to combat transnational crimes. Under “Non-Traditional Threats” in Point 10, the leaders agree to put Border Management as one of its focus. Finally, under “People and Institutions” in Point 35, migrant workers are mentioned.

The gap between each point are not far without a reason: the issue of TIP and labour migrants are seen as categorically different, handled by different bodies, and are under different ASEAN pillars. TIP, people-smuggling, and other transnational crimes are under the APSC, while labour migrants and their protection is under the ASSC. It is clear by now that both issues are seen from separate approach, while it should not be the case. The more people depart, the more exposed they are to risk. More people migrating can also reduce the cost of the traffickers. With the AEC 2025 Vision, it is safe to say that ASEAN encourage the regional labour flows and therefore, migration.

ASEAN has indeed stated its concern on the relation of labour migration and TIP. In the Bohol TIP Working Plan, for example, there is a section on how to adopt labour laws to reduce the risk of trafficking. ASEAN’s awareness of it can also be seen on how ACMW invited representatives from related-bodies such as the mentioned AICHR and ACWC in a one-time workshop regarding the border controls to prevent irregular migration and trafficking in 2016.

There has yet, however, to be a regular forum amongst those bodies that address labour migration and TIP as an integrated-issue despite the similarities in agenda. Having more than one body dealing with different dimension of the issue would be useful for the variation of information, research, and possible solution of their own respective focus. Yet, different bodies mean different structural matters, and it complicates the aim to reduce TIP itself. For instance, AICHR is allowed to exchange information and interact with intra-ASSC bodies, APSC, and AEC; while ACWC can only interact with its fellow ASSC bodies – as stated by Kranrattanasuit in ‘ASEAN and Human Trafficking’.

Having a regular forum would help these bodies to effectively work together, otherwise, the vision of a single market and regional integration will be at the cost of the increase in transnational crime.  

Towards a Resilient ASEAN: Ways Forward

Driven from the arguments above, it can be concluded that despite ASEAN’s noteworthy progress towards addressing the growing issue of transnational crime, especially trafficking in persons, there are some things that ASEAN yet to anticipate. The decision to tighten border control in response of TIP and people-smuggling must be reconsidered, as the result could be very different from the desired. ASEAN’s highlight on women and children as well as its victims-oriented procedures in TIP must also not narrow TIP’s problem scope and underplays the need of preventive measures. At last, in the light of the 2025 AEC vision, ASEAN must provide a regular forum that accommodate all bodies with the concern of TIP.

Strengthening ASEAN’s Political-Security Pillar through Pool of Sovereignty

Written by Turin Airlangga, student at the Graduate School of Asia Pacific Studies (GSAPS), Waseda University Tokyo, Japan. He can be reached atturin.a@fuji.waseda.jp


ASEAN as an entity and Southeast Asia as a region emerged as important key players in the global political landscape after 51 years of its establishment. Economic growths and prosperity has propelled ASEAN member countries to important roles in the world. However, ASEAN still face challenges in dealing with certain issuespredominantly due to the non-interference and consensus-based principles it adheres to. How can ASEAN move forward as new challenges and opportunities emerge? This article examines the importance of giving ASEAN greater mandate through pool of sovereignty, requiring a more progressive approach to the political-security pillar that will result in stronger mandate and power for ASEAN governing bodies.

Keywords: pool of sovereignty, political-security pillar, ASEAN.



The year 2018 marked the 51st anniversary of ASEAN. After its establishment in 1967, half a century has passed since the five original founding members signed the Bangkok Declaration (Keling et al., 2011; Intal, Jr.&Chen, 2017).The momentum of ASEAN establishment correlated deeply with the global political situation at the time, mainly due to the heightened tensions between the two camps during the Cold War. At that moment, it was understandable for all founding members to put political and security issues at the top of the priorities to address for the newly established association, especially when the fighting in Vietnam has developed a concern that it could have had tremendous impacts and affected the entire region. After 51 years, however, Southeast Asian countries prove that it could transform as one of the fastest and robustly growing sub-region in Asia Pacific. ASEAN as an entity has been praised as one of a success story of regional integration that brought not only peace and security among its member countries, but also wider socio-economic growth and has seen tremendous increase in general prosperity (Minh, 2017).

In achieving and becoming ASEAN as we know today, the ‘ASEAN way’has been a core principle among its member countries, especially when it touches upon a highly sensitive issue of non-interference principle among the member countries. Ultimately, through non-interference principle, ASEAN member countries can manage the regional dynamics without disturbing the security balances among the members, particularly due to the fact that Southeast Asian region is, until today, one of the most politically and culturally diverse region where political unrest can trigger massive domino-effects throughout the region (Masilamani & Peterson, 2014). Through the ASEAN way, member countries can utilize informal approaches to resolutions and peaceful dialogues that could address the situation without causing considerable damages and affect to other countries (Masilamani & Peterson, 2014). The political and security pillar as one of the fundamental elements of ASEAN, has been under heavy scrutiny when national interests and security-related issues became a major roadblock for some ASEAN member countries to move forward and achieve specific milestone on certain issues because each member countries put forward their national interests beyond the regional interests as a whole and often times cited ASEAN’s non-interference principle as the basis of such deliberation (Mogato&Grudgings, 2018).

As ASEAN needs to continue moving forward to have greater regional integration dynamics that are more robust, progressive, and inclusive, how can the member countries approach the political-security pillar? Should a different approach be applied in order to strengthen ASEAN’s political bargaining position in the global world?

Pool of sovereignty forstronger ASEAN Governing Bodies

The non-interference principle that ASEAN chose to embed in its political culture has been widely debated in the academic and professional realms (Jones, 2009). The debates have been revolving mainly on the humanitarian issue and the sovereignty issue, the majority of which ended in deadlock and left more questions than it tried to initiallyanswer. ASEAN’s governing body in Jakarta did not sit idle on the matter either. The ambitious Political-SecurityCommunity (APSC)laid out a comprehensive plan which ASEAN member countries aimed to achieve, particularly building a community of nations based on rule of law, oriented towards the prosperity of its people, and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms (ASEAN Secretariat, 2017). As stipulated on the APSC, the existing and emerging challenges require ASEAN to adopt a ‘comprehensive approach’ to security issues (ASEAN Secretariat, 2017).

When we think of existing and emerging challenges, traditional and non-traditional security threats came to our minds, such as territorial disputes among or with other countries, or newly emerging threats such as terrorism and piracies. However, I argue that one of the most important issues to address in the APSC is how ASEAN member countries pool their sovereignty into making the ASEAN governing body stronger as an entity. More often than not, ASEAN member countries opt to preserve their sovereignty by advocating for the non-interference principle, fearing that allowing outside involvement will inevitably translate to breach of one’s own sovereignty. Now, I am not advocating ASEAN to rebuild the entire political-security pillar as a mean of engaging the emerging challenges that ASEAN and its member countries face (Camroux, 2008; Ha, Thuzar, Das &Chalermpalanupap, 2016),yet as intra- regional dynamics become more complex and global opportunities emerge, ASEAN member countries need to embark on a new set of political-security approach that will effectively bring forward the member countries in one direction.

In order to effectively move forward in addressing challenges, ASEAN member countries need to bestow greater mandate to the ASEAN governing bodywhich result in more efficient policy-decision making for the greater good of the region instead of individual member countries. An international organization harness its authority based on two factors: membership and scope of policy it possess (Hooghe& Marks, 2014). This means the greater size and responsibility of an organization will decide whether the central governing body of that organization can be effective in delivering results or will it be constrained by the interests of its members.Pooling of sovereignty does not necessarily translate to loss of it per se, but rather a process where joint decision is formulated, consisting of three principal factors: rules where member countries formulate a decision, ratification of the decision, and legally-binding mechanisms after they are ratified (Hooghe& Marks, 2014).

When ASEAN member countries pool their sovereignty together to the ASEAN governing body, they harness stronger political bargaining for ASEAN because all member countries have the firm support and legitimacy from the other members instead of going it alone in the international fora.

Insofar, the non-interference and consensus-based principles that ASEAN adhere to have been proven to mimic the function of a brake when the challenges that the region faces required a full function of a throttle. The consensus-based principle hinders the ability for all member countries to move forward as an entity because one disagreement from a member will translate to failure as a whole. Consequently, when all member countries have veto powers, the barrier to reach considerable reform will be difficult, if not relatively impossible (Hiep, 2016).

As ASEAN needs to continue progress forward to achieve better regional integration and more comprehensive organization that delivers greater results for its member countries, non-interference and consensus-based principles need to be reevaluated. Sudden changes such as complete abolishment of the two will most likely to deliver faulty results or worse. If ASEAN member countries realize that having greater power as one entity could very well translate to greater bargaining position in the international stage, ASEAN governing body can have stronger mandate in dealing with the challenges that the region faces. While the socio-cultural and economic pillars have received more attention for growth and integration, political-security pillar will function as a firm foundation within ASEAN that will provide a forward trajectory as an entity. Consider such issue: if one member countries decide to cast its own political trajectory independent of what ASEAN has decided to pursue, this leeway can be a loophole for bigger powers to divide ASEAN. When critical issue such as the South China Sea disputes require tremendous political commitments from the member countries, having one member divert from the others will only cause internal rift that could result in

As regionalism becomes more important and governments realize that their individual size and power can be multiplied through the membership and power of ASEAN as a regional entity, political-security integration will embark on a fresh start which includes new sets of policy aims and goals for the interests of all ASEAN member countries.The APSC blueprint provides yet another firm trajectory for the region as a whole, but a leap forward in realizing the different approach on the pool of sovereignty among the members can provide ASEAN governing body greater political and bargaining power in the future.


Five decades have passed since the formation of ASEAN and new challenges as well as opportunities are emerging to the surface. As one of the fastest growing regions in the world, Southeast Asia and ASEAN itself needs to reconsider its political-security approach in order to form a solid foundation to address numerous challenges both in the regional and global levels. By pooling of sovereignty, thus adding a firm structure at the political-security pillar and giving more mandates to the ASEAN governing body, member countries can enjoy more bargaining power and greater political prowess in the global political arena. Doing so will require ASEAN member countries to rethink its political-security approach which accommodates for greater political integration in the future.

Converging into a more comprehensive approach to the political-security pillar might take considerable efforts and time by the ASEAN member countries as each regime must come to understand that the regional interests are more important to achieve greater integration and forward progress. Consensus-based and non- interference principles shall be reconsidered to harness ASEAN’s potential prowess in the global fora, thus creating effective decision-making mechanisms within the ASEAN governing body and interests that represent the entire region. ASEAN’s tremendous potential in innovation and resilience can be further increased if all member countries come together and realize that in today’s hyper-connected global dynamics, standing alone in the global fora is not a favorable position to be in. ASEAN has come a long way, and being resilient and innovative will require more than solely national interests; it require stronger ASEAN that delivers and promotes prosperity for its members. New approach to the political-security pillar might just be the key towards achieving that goal.




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Press Release ASEAN Youth Forum 2019

ASEAN Youth Forum 2019 was successfully held through the collaboration between ASEAN Youth Forum Committees and ASEAN Studies Center Universitas Gadjah Mada in Java Village Resort, Yogyakarta, from 26 September to 28 September 2019.

Attended by 54 delegates from different civil society organizations in ASEAN countries and Timor Leste, the event brought the theme of “Localisation of ASEAN Youth Development Index “Linking ASEAN to the Young People on the Ground”” where they try to address the challenge on campaigning and socializing ASEAN Youth Development Index (YDI) to young people on the ground, such as young people living in remote areas which rarely exposed to ASEAN influence.

On the first day, the participants received keynote address from ASEAN SOMY (Senior Officials Meeting on Youth) Representative of Indonesia from Ministry of Youth and Sports of the Republic of Indonesia, and Representative from UN Population Funds (UNFPA). The participants were also asked to draw a symbol representing ASEAN that meaningfully engages with young people in a flipchart and then represented their idea to the audience, along with introducing their name and their respective organization.

The discussion then began on the journey of ASEAN Youth Development Index and how it could affect the lives of the young people in ASEAN. The discussion was facilitated by UNFPA representatives and ASEAN SOMY representatives, where they showed the trend of development of young people in different countries all-over ASEAN, and the method of gathering the data. Although one of the biggest challenges in creating ASEAN YDI is data gathering and how to contextualize the data according to the different region, according to the UNFPA representative, however the effort of socializing YDI to young people needs to be continued. The discussion then continued with ASEAN Youth Forum (AYF) Representatives from all ASEAN countries, explaining the obstacles each countries facing on youth development. Myanmar still has the ‘homework’ of solving the persecution of Rohingya people in Rakhine state which could hinder the development of the young people there, whereas Indonesia currently in a political turmoil with massive demonstrations held in different cities due to the new bill which weaken the power of Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), fines people for being homeless, jailing people for insulting the president, and many more.

Through this session, the participants and AYF Representatives exchange ideas and concerns about their country’s struggle on youth development and how there are abundant things to overcome in order to achieve the youth development that they envision. After the discussion ended, the delegates then divided into different groups and held a Focus Group Discussion with facilitators from AYF discussing different themes of ASEAN YDI, such as health and well-being, education, employment and opportunities, and participation and engagement. The delegates were asked to share the country’s situation on each theme, what are the things that they have done with their organization to contribute to the improvement of each sector, and share ‘best case practices’ of their organization with other delegates. The day then closed with ASEAN Youth Fair, where all the delegates wore their traditional costumes and showcase their food or merchandises of their countries’ culture.

On the second day, the discussion continued with a different theme, this time it is focusing on the role of ASEAN youth in localization of ASEAN YDI through several ways such as national advocacy, social media advocacy, grassroots campaigning, and feedback mechanisms. The participants shared their way of advocating ASEAN YDI through internet and data, lobbying with the political entities, or through grassroots campaigning which trying to reach out the young people at remote areas. They also discussed how to evaluate YDI on young people through specialized mechanism. The discussion then continued with an Action Plan, where all of the delegates wrote their plan on what will they do after they get back to their countries. The event then closed with a Closing Statement from Ferena, AYF Representatives. She encouraged every delegate to do an action, whether it is small or big, to contribute to the development of youth.

Press Release Bincang ASEAN: “Challenges for Civil Society Advocacy on Human Rights in the Next Decade”

Yogyakarta, 30th September 2019
Written by Robbaita Zahra

Yogyakarta – On Friday, 27th of September 2019, ASEAN Studies Center Universitas Gadjah Mada held Bincang ASEAN with the theme of “Challenges for Civil Society Advocacy on Human Rights in the Next Decade”, bringing Ms. Yuyun Wahyuningrum, the Representative of Indonesia to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) as the speaker.

The discussion started with the elaboration of human rights regime analysis by Donnelly, which consists of: Declaratory, Promotional, Implementation, and Enforcement. Declaratory regime is when a state declare whether or not it acknowledges human rights. Promotional regime refers to the engagement of states in activities such as exchange of information, technical assistance, and other processes where human rights are discussed. A state can be said to be in implementation regime if it has concluded legally binding documents on human rights.  Enforcement is when a State has enforced human rights accordingly. Ms. Yuyun stated that Indonesia is currently in promotional regime going to implementation regime.

Further, the discussion continued with discussing international law. It is important to discuss international law when talking about human rights as it puts state as the main actor of human rights (produce, enforce, monitor). In this context, State has 2 identities: as the offender and protector of human rights. The balance between these identities have to be seen to determine whether or not a State is respecting human rights. However, this dual identity makes the relation between State and international human rights law complicated.

Moving to the discussion about the context and regionalism in ASEAN. Ms. Yuyun explained that ASEAN countries, which previously only discussed about politics and economy, are forced to discuss about human rights within this new regionalism context. There are 3 reasons of State creating regional human rights mechanisms: 1) As the expression of modernity; 2) Compared to international mechanism, regional mechanism is more likely to discuss issues within Southeast Asia; and 3) As the intermediary between national and international system.

 After the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, all countries in the world domesticate human rights into their constitutions, including ASEAN countries. Despite this fact, human rights are not included in the establishment of ASEAN. The reasoning behind this is because countries in Southeast Asia do not want to be disturbed by the competition that is happening within the Cold War. However, this does not mean that human rights are not discussed at all in ASEAN. It has to be noted that ASEAN is home for diversities, different from for example EU – which is supranational. Therefore, in talking about human rights, ASEAN has to be careful because it cannot replace the state’s role as the protector of human rights.

With regard to ASEAN human rights system, one of the main part of this is ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), which has the function to protect and promote human rights. Ms. Yuyun then proceed to discuss the challenges for civil society. Regional human rights framework in ASEAN is the product of the combination between ASEAN Way, international human rights law, and national interest of ASEAN member states. With this context in mind, the challenges for civil society are: 1) Lack of independency of the AICHR Representatives; 2) Lack of transparency of AICHR’s work; 3) Lack of interest of AICHR Representatives to engage with CSOs; 4) Lack of recognition from AICHR on the role of CSOs/Stakeholders; 5) Lack of member states’ political will to integrate human rights fully in ASEAN regionalism project; 5) Lack of ability and capacity to protect human rights; and 6) Lack of people awareness about its role.

Despite these challenges, AICHR has obtained several achievements during Ms. Yuyun’s period, such as the adoption of ‘Minus X Formula’, meaning that which countries are ready to participate in any scheme, they can go ahead while members who are not ready could join in later. This has opened several discussions which are not being able to be held before due to the difficulty to reach consensus from all member states. Another achievement is the agreement to conclude ‘Recommendation on the Implementation of ASEAN Human Rights Declaration’, successful briefing on Rakhine Crisis, and other various achievements. However, none of these achievements are coming from the request of the people, which is aiming at the protection of human rights. Nonetheless, this can be the starting point of doing so.

Lastly, the discussion ended with a question and answer session. Within this session, Ms. Yuyun explained that the deficit of democracy within countries in Southeast Asia has influenced the development and the dynamic of AICHR. She also explained that knowledge regarding the dynamic of culture and tradition are essential in ASEAN. However, many institutions are not aware of this fact. Therefore, AICHR tries to respond with this by establishing practice, concluding internal documents as future references, and engaging with civil society and students in various countries in ASEAN. This Bincang ASEAN is one of the manifestations of this practice.