by Fara Sheila Azalia, Intern for Program Division of ASEAN Studies Centre, Universitas Gadjah Mada (Picture by

ASEAN which previously comprised of Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Brunei Darussalam, and the Philippines, received the newest four members at the end of 1990s: Vietnam in 1995, Lao PDR and Myanmar in 1997, and Cambodia in 1999. Referred to the CLMV (Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Vietnam) countries, these four countries have changed the scope of ASEAN. Its membership means that ASEAN’s efforts to integrate the economy of the whole region has another work on how to integrate such a diverse country with different economic stages.

When CLMV countries firstly joined ASEAN, there were benefits that go both ways, not only for the ASEAN as a regional organization but also for the development of the CLMV countries itself. To counter the rise of Chinese domination after the isolation of Beijing post-Tiananmen Square massacre, ASEAN needs the help of CLMV countries to be on their side so that CLMV’s support goes to ASEAN instead of China. With incorporating CLMV countries, ASEAN too could strengthen their position during multilateral cooperation. (Soja, 2017) Also, military cooperation of CLMV countries with external partners such as the US could be perceived as ‘threat’ by other member states and could lead to arm race, however, this could be reduced by CLMV accessions to ASEAN. For CLMV countries, pressure for economic development would transform their economy to reach growth. Gradual modernization for CLMV countries needed to make sure they could catch up with other ASEAN member states.

However, their presence also creates a concern of ‘development divide’ between integrating those fast-growing modern economy countries such as Singapore and Brunei Darussalam with those of inward-looking poor countries–CLMV countries. (Pomfret, 2013)

The four countries have different economic structures due to different history among them. Vietnam has undergone a lot of policy changes since its reunification between the Communist North and market-based South in 1975, with they are now currently pursuing privatization policy along with encouraging more foreign investment under the so-called doi moi reform. (Pomfret, 2013) On the other hand, Lao PDR as a landlocked country lack behind than Vietnam. Since the country has overthrew the Lao monarch in 1975, they have tried several programs such as financial reforms and privatization programs in 1988. (Pomfret, 2013) However, the progress is not as fast as those that Vietnam experience, since Laos is a landlocked agrarian country. Myanmar and Cambodia was experiencing almost similar situation with those of Lao PDR. (Pomfret, 2013)

To narrow the development divide, there has been a proposal to create the ASEAN Convergence Fund under the ASEAN Development Fund where the source of money comes from voluntary member states and managed by professionals. (ADBI 2012) However, Menon argued that this proposal might not work as the voluntary member states who is going to likely finance are Singapore and Brunei Darussalam (the richest member states among other ASEAN members) which is relatively small compared to the four countries they are going to finance. (Menon, 2012) Any kind of effort to give aid from these relatively small countries would converge the developmental divide, however, making CLMV countries dependent on the long run. Therefore, Menon argued that there has to be a policy from the countries itself to improve their economic development. How would ASEAN then could realize what they envision in ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) with the notion of ‘developmental divide’ with CLMV countries?

AEC itself has four pillars: single market with single production base where this included free flow of goods, free flow of investment, free flow of capital, and free flow of skilled labour, creating equitable economic development in the region, establishing a highly competitive economic region where this includes creating policies that foster competition among the member states, and having the region fully integrated with global economy. (Lim & Nyunt, 2010) How is CLMV’s situation so far? CLMV Countries are having economic developmental gap among them. They had yet to implement the whole AEC pillar. Not only they have gap with ASEAN older members, but they also have gap within themselves. The first prerequisite for CLMV countries to catch up with AEC is through tackling the ‘equitable economic development’ pillar first. This could be assessed through the income per capita in each country. A study by Fumitaka Furuoka (2018) found that CLMV countries’ income gap exists, although the four countries made progress to overcome their lackluster economic development. Cambodia succeeded in reaching the same income level with Indonesia, while Vietnam is currently catching up with Indonesia and Philippines. Myanmar and Lao PDR have remained income gap that is not reduced yet. (Furuoka, 2018) The concern for developmental divide has been discussed since the four countries joined ASEAN and thus they compete with each other on catching up with ASEAN older member states. Cambodia started first in 1985 by transforming its economy into a market-oriented one. Lao PDR’s transition to market-oriented economy started in 1986 through implementing the New Economic Mechanism. Vietnam’s economic opening to trade and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) as part of doi moi reforms started in 1986. (Menon, 2012) Vietnam’s economic development can be said to progress rapidly compared to the other three, as the country right now is focusing its export on rice and crude oil. The country is even bypassing the Philippines.

The result was outstanding as the four countries achieved rapid growth, however, this growth is creating another divide among them. The distribution of gains for each country are very different from one to another, thus creating another issue of uneven and income inequality within these countries. In other words, “inter-country differences in economic conditions are narrowing at the same time that intra-country differences are increasing’. (Menon, 2012). In the realm of trade openness, for example, Vietnam has reached a percentage of GDP above 100% while Cambodia lagged behind as a result of ban on log exports and the rise of new competitor–the US and the European Union (EU) as export destinations. (Menon, 2012) Vietnam then proceeded to pursue an increase in sub-regional trade with Thailand, through having more trade partners and leaving Myanmar, Lao PDR, and Cambodia in 2010. However, Cambodia showed a good result when they switch their raw commodity export into manufactured-goods exports due to changing demand. This is through garments exports which account for most of Cambodian exports. However, Myanmar and Lao PDR are still relying on labor-intensive and resource-based production when it comes to producing manufactured goods.

CLMV as a whole’s FDI has seen an increase over the last two decades as shown by its stock which amounted to $209bn. (Menon, 2012) As previously in the 1980s all the four countries were skeptical against FDI, now the four countries are very welcoming towards FDI. The two contributing countries for the increasing FDI in CLMV were Vietnam and Cambodia with both FDI’s stock-to-GDP ratios rose well above the sub-regional average. However, Myanmar’s openness to FDI experienced decline since 1998. Lao PDR managed to get opportunities of attracting FDI through its agriculture and forestry, along with its mining and hydropower projects. Therefore, the dilemma persists: when a country choose to switch to a market-oriented economy, they can have rapid growth. However, at the same time they also faced with more inequality among them.

One might ask whether the CLMV countries have to catch up as a whole or individually with ASEAN older member states? Should they then be grouped as ‘one’, newest member states of ASEAN that deserves attention since they came from Mekong region with predecessors of GMS which already handled them, long before coming to ASEAN? Or should they proceed with using ‘ASEAN Minus X’ formula to alter the gap among them?



Asian Development Bank Institute (2012). ASEAN 2030 Toward a Borderless Economic Community, Draft Highlights. [online] ADBI. Available at: [Accessed 18 Dec. 2019].

Furuoka, F. (2018). Do CLMV countries catch up with the older ASEAN members in terms of income level? Applied Economics Letters, [online] 26(8), pp.690–697. Available at: [Accessed 18 Dec. 2019].

Lim, H. and Nyunt, K.M. (2010). STUDY TO DETERMINE THE IMPACT OF ACCELERATING THE ASEAN ECONOMIC COMMUNITY FROM 2020 TO 2015 ON CAMBODIA, LAO PDR, MYANMAR AND VIETNAM (CLMV). [online], Singapore Institute of International Affairs (SIIA) & Mae Fah Luang University, p.13. Available at: [Accessed 12 Dec. 2019].

Menon, J. (2012). Narrowing the development divide in ASEAN: the role of policy. Asian-Pacific Economic Literature, [online] 27(2), pp.25–51. Available at: [Accessed 18 Dec. 2019].

Pomfret, R. (2013). ASEAN’s New Frontiers: Integrating the Newest Members into the ASEAN Economic Community. Asian Economic Policy Review, 8(1), pp.25–41.Available at:’s_new_frontiers_Integrating_the_newest_members_into_the_ASEAN_economic_community

Soja, P. (2017). Integration of the CLMV Countries with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The Polish Quarterly of International Affairs, [online] 26(4), pp.44–69. Available at:

Timor-Leste’s ASEAN Membership: To Be or Not to Be?

by Muhammad Fazlur Zikra Arifuddin (photo via VOAIndonesia)

As it is known for several years, the Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) has always comprised of 10 members. However, since 2002 there is a new player waiting to be accepted within the association. Timor-Leste after gaining its independence from Indonesia has started to show its interest to contribute in ASEAN’s solidarity. Since its independence, Timor-Leste holds the status as an observer state despite its participations in ASEAN Annual Meeting of Foreign Ministers (AMM), ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), and even agreed to the Southeast Asia’s Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) in 2007. Despite its participation efforts, Timor-Leste has not been granted its membership status although officially applied for in 2011. There are three possible reasons that might answer the question of why Timor-Leste is still not a member of ASEAN, which are due to change of ASEAN’s legal personality, what Timor-Leste has to offer, and foreign influence.

It is known that in the establishment of ASEAN, the first five members, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand, agreed to Bangkok Declaration or also known as ASEAN Declaration. Then, the constituent instrument of ASEAN is shifted towards ASEAN Charter, which was enacted in 2007. The charter has made the admission of a new member more difficult with the additional requirements laid out in Article 6 Section 2 that states Location in the recognized geographical region of Southeast Asia; Recognition by all ASEAN Member States; Agreement to be bound and abide by the Charter; and Ability and willingness to carry out the obligation of Membership. While the Declaration’s requirements are only the matter of location and capable to adhere the aims principles and purposes, made it easier for Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and Myanmar to gain membership compared to Timor-Leste. While the first three requirements are met, the latest are still in process of being required. In ensuring the fulfillment of the requirements, ASEAN established ASEAN Coordinating Council Working Group (ACCWG) after Timor-Leste’s application. To be a new member, under the Charter, Timor-Leste has to align its legal framework to with ASEAN legal instruments and ASEAN Community Blueprint. The study shows that by 2015, Timor-Leste has only 1.6% binding its legal frameworks with ASEAN’s agreement while it was targeted to be fully compliant with the increase 50% in legal alignment by June 2018.

In further explaining Timor-Leste’s ability and willingness, it has reached to the question of ‘What Timor-Leste has to offer?’ Despite its past in struggling for independence, Timor-Leste has scored 7.19 in the 2018 Democracy Index by The Economist Intelligence Unit, placed as the highest democracy state among other ASEAN members. Also, Timor-Leste has successfully conducted its premier election without domestic political turmoil. This shows the accountability of Timor-Leste in its ability to carry out the would-be tasks as ASEAN member. Timor-Leste also had opened its embassies in all of ten ASEAN members, which is an important parameter for them to be considered as a new member. All member states supports Timor-Leste’s admission and it come without full assurance, stating that Timor-Leste is still lacking in economic capability and human resources. However, this statement could be proven wrong. According to data provided by the World Bank, Timor-Leste’s GDP per capita in 2018 placed above Cambodia’s and Myanmar’s. This also shows the capability of Timor-Leste’s economy that is comparable with the two ASEAN member mentioned previously. Meanwhile, Timor-Leste still needs to improve its human resources as its Human Capital Index was listed at the lowest among all the ASEAN members.

Last but not least, another factor that influence the prolonging of Timor-Leste’s membership admission is the fear of possible foreign influence. It is important to be noted that, China as one of the first country to recognize Timor-Leste, has been sending helps and assistance towards Timor-Leste since its independence. This includes mostly infrastructure, military and government facilities. As mentioned previously, improvement in economy and human resources is needed by Timor-Leste in securing its possibility to become a member of ASEAN. In achieving this, Timor-Leste is still in progress for improvement, and it is impossible without any help. On 23rd March 2017, Timor-Leste is approved to be a member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which is backed by China, to improve its economic and social development. Another apparent fact is that Timor-Leste also joined China’s Belt and Road Energy Partnership and received aid in building infrastructures, including Timor-Leste National Power Grid, Suai Highway, as well as Tibar Bay Port. These aids are helpful for Timor-Leste’s development, however, it is problematic at the same time as ASEAN by accepting Timor-Leste would mean that China may influence Timor-Leste’s decision in ASEAN. Thus, hampering the consensus decision-making process. One example would be the veto by Cambodia and Laos in the issue of South China Sea seems to be defending China’s interest and hampers the ASEAN consensus in Declaration of Conduct in the South China Sea.

In conclusion, the prolonging process of Timor-Leste’s admission to ASEAN is due to shift of ASEAN Declaration towards ASEAN Charter, which allows ASEAN in delaying the process; Timor-Leste’s economy and human resources; and the likelihood of foreign influence within ASEAN in the future. Possibility and impossibility for Timor-Leste’s admission are included within the aforementioned reasons. Despite the obstacles present ahead, Timor-Leste should continue to be tenacious in their effort for ASEAN membership.


Muhammad Fazlur Zikra Arifuddin is an Undergraduate Student majoring in International Relations, Universitas Gadjah Mada. He has recently completed the internship program at ASEAN Studies Center UGM. Zikra could be reached through email

Orphanages and their volunteers: A look at Cambodia’s orphanage voluntourism industry

by Amelia Harvey (picture by Tormod Sandtorv)

Orphanages for children are increasing in number globally and throughout much of Southeast Asia. Worldwide, UNICEF has estimated that as many as 8 million girls and boys live in orphanages or institutional residential care facilities where children are stripped from their families, homes and rights [UNICEF 2006 Pg.183]. This essay will focus on the rise of orphanages in Cambodia and the manner in which voluntourism has accelerated this growth.

The growth of orphanages is not unique to Cambodia and is growing internationally, it is estimated that 80 per cent of children living in orphanages are not actual orphans and have at least one living parent. To bring this to perspective, Haiti has experienced a 150 per cent rise in orphanages since the 2010 earthquake, with only 15 per cent of institutions being formally registered. It is estimated by the Haitian government that 80 per cent have at least one living parents and 92 per cent of orphanages are funded from the United States [Batha 2018]. A similar motive continues in Nepal, where 85 per cent of children are believed to have one living parent and in Ghana, which has seen a 1400 per cent increase in the number of orphanages in the past 13 years [UNICEF 2019][Matthews 2019].

Cambodia faces a similar situation as written above. Between 2005 to 2010, while the number of parentless children fell, the number of orphanages rose by over 75 per cent and the number of children living in these institutions increased by 80 per cent [Guiney & Mostafanezhad 2015 p.140][Matthews 2019]. Furthermore, the push for more children to entre orphanages has been promoted by the false mindset that has penetrated the culture claiming that a child in an orphanage will have better educational opportunities and be able to learn English. In turn, it is advocated that the child will have more employment prospects in later life to then lift their families out of poverty in the future. While this is not only false and damaging to families and their children, it places a burden on the child to be responsible for their family and destroys their ability to forge their own path in life [Matthews 2019]. Children with disabilities are consistently placed in orphanages as their families believe the orphanages will be more equipped to care for them. Overall, poverty has become the main factor in children relocating to orphanages, not the incapacity of their parents and families to raise them[ReThink Orphanages 2019].

A key factor in the Cambodian orphanage boom has been due to the influx of volunteer tourists, or ‘voluntourists’. Voluntourism is the phenomenon of outside people, generally from the global north, paying to participate in programs, usually in development or conservation projects, generally in the global south. Orphanage voluntourism is a subsection of the industry, it is short-term volunteering at an orphanage, donating money and goods, or attending performances incorporated into a holiday [Guiney & Mostafanezhad 2015 p.133]. Orphanage voluntourism is a part of the global poverty tourism industry and has emerged in Cambodia among tourists seeking to ‘give back’ during their travels. The vast majority of orphanages are not run by the state, rather they are funded in whole by fees and donations from volunteers and other tourists [Matthews 2019]. The fees donated are usually made in cash and from then on becomes untraceable and embroiled in corruption, one report indicated a foreigners handing up to $7000 to an orphanage director without receiving a receipt or any indication of where the funds will be going [Guiney & Mostafanezhad 2015 p.140].

The lack of transparency about the paths the money has meant little of the funds collected go towards the children in need. Testimonies from children who have lived at orphanages highlight the lack of resources they received outlining “We never had enough food to eat … often we would catch mice to eat” and “the volunteers at the orphanage never noticed anything, but they notices us looking poor, so they would donate” [Parliament of Australia 2017]. Furthermore, gifts, clothes and toys given to the children by visitors are also reclaimed by the orphanage directors to then be resold, creating a never-ending cycle at the expense of the children [Matthews 2019]. To generate more revenue, children are forced to perform traditional Khmer songs and dances “to make them [the tourists] happy” and uphold the ‘poor but happy’ vibe. The children are essentially treated as slaves at the oblivion of the visitor [Parliament of Australia 2017] [BBC 2018].

To expand, the voluntourism industry has significant emotional toll on the children themselves. The children are expected to enhance their vulnerability while expressing continuous joy about the visitors in their home, with some children being told to refer to the visitors as “mummy” and “daddy” (in English) and befriend them to heighten emotional reactions. The orphanage directors work as ‘emotional supervisors’ to ensure the children act accordingly to elicit high donations and so the children do not inform the visitors of the abuse they experience [Guiney 2017 p.131]. Furthermore, many children in orphanages experience attachment disorder as the high turnover of volunteers as they are constantly forming new emotional connections with new adults. Former children at orphanages loved the attention from volunteers but have said “it was even more terrible when they [the volunteers] left; every time it would feel like I was being abandoned” [Guiney 2017 p.133] [Parliament of Australia 2017]. The children have been conditioned to cuddle anyone, leaving them vulnerable in a path leading to paedophiles and sexual assault, especially as approximately 22% of tourists in Cambodia visiting for sex tourism, with child sex tourism unfortunately embedded into this [Guiney 2017 p.134].

The further trouble in voluntourism in orphanages is that the volunteers themselves do not have any applicable skills needed for working with children, nor do they receive sufficient training. Moreover, the practice of them entering the children’s homes and viewing them as a tourist commodity reinforces Western superiority perceptions while also eroding their right to privacy and agency in their lives [Guiney & Mostafanezhad 2015 p.134].

To combat the growing number of orphanages, the Cambodian Government is working towards an action plan with a goal to return 30 per cent of children in orphanages to their families or to community and family based care. By June 2019, 250 children have successfully reunited with their families and communities and 449 cases have been opened by the Department of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation in Cambodia. The children will have support with their reintegration from social workers and be re-enrolled in schools [UNICEF 2019]. In conjunction to combat the growth of orphanages fuelled by voluntourism, the United Kingdom Foreign & Commonwealth Office warn citizens about the risks orphanage volunteering poses to the children and the Australian Government maintains child performances in orphanages is tantamount to modern-day slavery [United Kingdom 2015][BBC 2018]. Many large travel companies began to stand against orphanage tourism, including Intrepid, Projects Abroad, Flight Centre, World Challenge and more, creating an international coalition against the practice [ReThink Orphanages 2018].

Living in an orphanage is one of the most damaging environments a child can grow up in. yet even with the harm institutionalisation brings being well known, orphanages continue to be built. The orphanage industry has been booming in Cambodia, fuelled by the voluntourism industry of wealthy foreigners paying large sums to visit and play with the children accompanied with the cultural misconception that children will receive high quality education in the orphanages. As the extreme negative impacts of the orphanage industry is revealed, the Cambodian Government needs to continue with reintegrating children into their families and communities while foreign governments and travel companies alike need to advise against orphanage tourism.



Batha, E 2018 Most children in orphanages are not orphans [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 24 October 2019]

BBC 2018 Australia says orphanage trafficking is modern-day slavery [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 25 October 2019]

Guiney, T & Mostafanezhad, M 2015 The Political economy of orphanage tourism in Cambodia Tourist Studies Vol, 15(2) Pg.133-4,140

Guiney, T 2017 “Hug-an-orphan vacations”: “Love” and emotion in orphanage tourism Geographical Journal 184 (2) June 2017 Pg.133-4

Image: Knaus, C 2017 The race to rescue Cambodian children from orphanages exploiting them for profit [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 25 October 2019]

Matthews, L 2019 Critiques of Voluntourism SOCU1038 RMIT University 21:20 minutes 23 October 2019 Times 17:30-35:00

Parliament of Australia, 2017 Orphanage Trafficking Committee in establishing the Modern Slavery Act in Australia [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 25 October 2019]

ReThink Orphanages 2018 Travel Companies that do not support orphanage tourism [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 25 October 2019]

ReThink Orphanages 2019 Facts and Figures about Orphanage Tourism [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 25 October 2019]

UNICEF 2006 World Report on Violence against Children Chapter 5, Violence against children in care and justice institutions Page 183

UNICEF 2019 Escaping the misery of orphanage life [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 25 October 2019]

UNICEF 2019 Volunteering in Orphanages [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 24 October 2019]

United Kingdom 2015 Gap years, volunteering overseas and adventure travelling [ONLINE] Updated 18 October 2019 Available at: [Accessed 25 October 2019]


Amelia Harvey is an Undergraduate Student majoring in International Studies at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT), Australia. She has been working as an intern at ASEAN Studies Center UGM for two months and currently working on her final undergraduate thesis. She could be reached through email

ASEAN: A Safe Haven for Ruling Class?

by M. Daffa Syauqi A (Photo by Lance Cpl. Kasey Peacock)

It has been 52 years since the conception of ASEAN in 1967 as the leading inter-state organization in Southeast Asia. Built on the spirit of similar history as former colonialized coutry as well to prevent the spread of Communism in the region, ASEAN has steadily making progress in various aspects within state-building process such as security, economy as well as cultural cooperation. It was further emphasized by the creation of three pillars consisted of Political-Security Community, Economic Community, as well as Socio-Cultural Community (ASEAN, 2015) as the framework for the following actions taken by ASEAN to further integrate the region. However with such progress the capability of ASEAN to enforce the recognition of declaration it made must be questioned, especially when it touched the sphere of Political-Security Community that are still often considered as ‘taboo’ and ‘sensitive’ issue. In this paper the author would like to bring up the issue of ASEAN principles in protecting various ruling class policies and actions within ASEAN state members, the issue will be exemplified in three countries which are Indonesia, Phillippines, and Myanmar.

Within the scope of ASEAN, it was acknowledged that the principle of non-intereference signed in the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in 1976 proved to be a vital instrument in keeping order in ASEAN (ASEAN, 1976) to allow each of the state members to respect each other domestic politics and promised not to intervene within each other affairs. Within Political-Security matter, this might cause a contradicting policy to be applied in various Southeast Asian states considering that most of the countries still have tendency to fall into dictatorship as military influence within the newly-born democratic ideas are still gripping strong in these countries. Such example could be seen on the direct violation of ASEAN Human Rights Declaration that was signed in 2012 at Phnom Penh, Cambodja (ASEAN, 2012) that defines the general principles of Human Rights protection in Southeast Asia consisted of Civil & Political rights, Economic, Social and Cultural rights, Right to Development and Right to Peace. In this case, the audience may see Indonesia under Joko Widodo administration brutally repressing Papua demonstrator for their demand of independence due to the lack of development in the region (Tasevski, 2019), then Philippines within Duterte’s administration where thousands of people died due to its brutal crackdown on drugdealers and users that are rampant within the country (Ellis-Petersen, 2018), and last but not least the ethnic genocide of Rohingya that currently happened in Myanmar under the watch of Noble prize winner Aung San Suu Kyii and regarded as one of the worst genocidal case in Southeast Asia (Safdar & Siddiqui, 2019).

Despite these atrocities, there are no single action from ASEAN or its state members to stop these policies besides ‘condemning’ the action or simply sending in protests. The principle of non-interference stands as the lack of rigid enforcer of Human Rights Declaration ASEAN has made few years prior. Be it reminded that when it was brought within the context of local politics, both of these leaders have appeased to the populists demands in the creation of these policies. Without any enforcer entity stronger than the overall position of state members, ASEAN will upheld its status quo in reserving its lack of willingness in the creation of, in this case, human rights norms within the region meanwhile allowing more atrocities to happen. In comparison to European Union, they had clear and distinct bureaucratic level, the creation of European Commission as the executive branch of regional decision-making as well as Court of Justice of the European Union that acts judiscial entity of the region, making a clear indication that European Union is indeed one-way above state, wielding the capability to bring out the jurisdiction and enforcement to its member states upon dealing with an issue.

In ASEAN however, it is often doubted that ASEAN will not be able to create nor willing to create similar position as European Union has made now, considering that the status quo that is currently going on in ASEAN right now is working in ruling class’ favor. The requirement of having able to settle one’s issue without any interference from outside actors proved to be an invaluable elements that ASEAN can provide to its member states as state-building progress are considered to be far more important than other issues, therefore each of the ruling class in member states cannot afford to have an uprising or movement that challenges their state-building progress.


Reference List

ASEAN. (2015). Declaration of ASEAN Concord II (Bali Concord II. Retrieved from

ASEAN, (1976). Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia Indonesia, 24 February 1976. Retrieved from

ASEAN, (2012). ASEAN Declaration of Human Rights. Retrieved from <>

Tasevski, O., (2019). “West Papua’s Quest for Independence”. The Diplomat. Retrieved from <>

Ellis-Petersen, H., (2018). “Duterte’s Philippines drug war death toll rises above 5,000.” The Guardian. Retrieved from <>

Safdar, A. & Usaid Siddque, (2019). “ICJ speech: Suu Kyi fails to use ‘Rohingya’ to describe minority.” Al-Jazeera. Retrieved from <>


M. Daffa Syauqi A is a last year Undergraduate student majoring in International Relations, Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Daffa is currently working as an intern at ASEAN Studies Center UGM. He could be reached through email

It is confirmed – Jakarta remains the Capital of ASEAN

Written by Truston Yu

On Sunday 6 October at the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia’s (ERIA) editors’ roundtable in Bangkok, ASEAN Secretary-General Lim Jock Hoi affirmed that the ASEAN headquarters will not be relocated and shall remain in Jakarta.

From the moment Indonesian President Joko Widodo first announced plans to relocate the country’s capital city until now, there have been numerous speculations on the future of the ASEAN Secretariat. Looking back with half a year of hindsight, this article examines the uncertainties that are now ascertained, and outlines potential elements of a blueprint for Jakarta as the capital of ASEAN.

In April almost immediately after incumbent Joko Widodo declared victory in the 2019 Indonesian Presidential Election, the National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas) announced plans to move the capital city from Jakarta to outsideJava.

In response to this announcement, the author published an article the following month analyzing the implications of such a move, identifying the future of the ASEAN Secretariat as a point of interest. The article argued that there was no need for an intergovernmental organization to be located in a national capital, not to mention relocating along with a national capital’s relocation. By that extension, Jakarta is set to remain as the seat of ASEAN.

On 26 August, two weeks after the inauguration of the new ASEAN Secretariat building, President Joko Widodo unveiled the location of Indonesia’s new capital city – in East Kalimantan spanning North Penajam Paser and Kutai Kartanegara.

Again, in response to such an announcement, this article paints an idealistic picture of the “post-capital” era Jakarta. And again, the said article also argued that ASEAN would not be moving out of Jakarta, this time citing the fact that the ASEAN had recently moved into a newly built Secretariat building.

This week, all the above propositions have come to be verified by the top diplomat of Southeast Asia – Secretary-General Lim Jock Hoi.

Jakarta has been affirmed as the diplomatic capital of ASEAN as early as 2012, and this will remain unchanged in the foreseeable future, if not perpetuity. The ASEAN Secretariat has been entrenched in Jakarta since its establishment in 1981. On 8 August, 52 years since the Bangkok Declaration that gave birth to the ASEAN was signed, the brand new IDR 500 billion ASEAN Secretariat building was inaugurated. ASEAN now has a bigger, newer and taller building right next to the old one, which was a factor cited by Lim in his speech, “And we believe that Jakarta will be the capital of ASEAN.”

Now that Jakarta no longer takes the spotlight as the national capital, there would be greater freedom and challenges in its own quest for development. As for Indonesia, this new arrangement could be interpreted as positive towards downplaying the perception of Indonesian dominance in the regional bloc. Indonesia is, after all, a founding member of the ASEAN, its biggest member state, economic and military power and even housed the ASEAN Secretariat in the foreign ministry between 1976-1981 before it moved to what is now called the Heritage Building at Jl. Sisingamangaraja.

Having the presidential office and ministry buildings migrated does not mark the end of Jakarta; and it certainly does not mean an abandonment of Southeast Asia’s regional capital and biggest megalopolis. In fact, the Jakarta government owes an obligation to the wider international community just as Geneva of Switzerland or New York of the United States does. As the host of some seventy missions to the ASEAN, part of Jakarta’s continued responsibility includes the display of hospitality. Jakarta remains to be the face of the Republic, even more so than its new capital. From a domestic point of view, Jakarta bears this burden of presenting Indonesia to the world and the Jakarta administration is pressured to demonstrate good governance.

Indeed, Lim likened Jakarta to New York: “We would like to see this like what we have in New York where the United Nations [is seated] and the ASEAN Secretariat will be the anchor for the ASEAN capital in Jakarta.”

Being a regional capital also means it is not only Indonesians who should be able to contribute to shaping the future of Indonesia’s biggest city, all Southeast Asians should have a voice in building this regional hub. From Indonesia’s perspective, this continual development of Jakarta into Asia’s world city would be a brilliant way to strengthen and display its soft power. It is also in the interest of the wider Southeast Asian community as a whole to elevate the status of this Southeast Asian hub, bringing it on par with Geneva and asserting ASEAN’s significance in the international arena.

After some ten years the legislature, ministries and embassies in Jakarta would all be relocated to Kalimantan; what remains are the Secretariat, affiliated organizations and offices of permanent representatives.

What would the new Jakarta look like in ten years time? Perhaps this is a new page to be written together by Jakartans, Indonesians and Southeast Asians alike.


Truston Yu is a Southeast Asianist from the West Java town of Cirebon. Truston has worked as a research assistant on Southeast Asian politics at the University of Hong Kong and at Keio University. Truston’s research interest also includes Public International Law, making ASEAN Studies a unique intersection of the two disciplines.Truston could be reached through e-mail


Written by Muhammad Ammar Hidayahtulloh (Picture: Jeffrey Beall)


Geographically speaking, ASEAN region is one of the most vulnerable regions to disaster in the world. There are several tectonic plates across ASEAN region that potentially cause the earthquake, volcanic eruption, and tsunami. In addition, ASEAN faces the increasing extreme climate events in frequency and intensity due to climate variation and change. Therefore, nearly all ASEAN Member States (AMS) have experienced natural disaster causing the severe devastation in the recent years, such as Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004, Yogyakarta Earthquake in 2006, Cyclone Nargis in 2008, Thailand Floods in 2011, Cyclone Haiyan in 2013, Bagan Earthquake in 2016, and Central Sulawesi Earthquake and Tsunami in last September 2018.

Given that situation, it is sufficient to say that the effective and efficient disaster management is highly needed for ASEAN region. The regional mechanism on disaster management must be managed and accelerated in comprehensive manner. Otherwise, 635.9 million inhabitants living in the region are threatened by the disaster.

ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community: An Overview

The Declaration of ASEAN Concord II or well-known as Bali Concord II was adopted by ten ASEAN Leaders during the 9th ASEAN Summit on 7th October 2003 in Bali Indonesia. It became the legal basis for ASEAN Community comprising three pillars by 2020, namely political and security cooperation, economic cooperation, and socio-cultural cooperation. Yet, the strong belief and commitment of ASEAN leaders had brought ASEAN to accelerate the establishment of ASEAN Community on 2015 by adopting the Cebu Declaration in 2007.

The first ASCC Blueprint was introduced in 2009 which stated the prominent goal of the ASCC is to establish a people-centered and socially responsible community. Within the framework of ASCC, ASEAN is characterized to social welfare and protection. In the following, second ASCC Blueprint was introduced in the end of 2015 to realize the ASEAN Vision 2025, continuing the effective implementation of its predecessor in developing and strengthening the socio-cultural cooperation in ASEAN. It includes the commitment of ASEAN to enhance its capacity in realizing a disaster-resilient ASEAN that is able to anticipate, respond, cope, adapt, and build back better, smarter, and faster.

Challenges and Dilemma

            The world’s politics is no longer talking about security in very static manner. The survival of state has been challenged with the shifting of traditional security threat to non-traditional security threat.Non-traditional security issues have become significantly common in almost all parts of society and have gained its concern in global political arena after 9/11 tragedy. It is reaffirmed by Spijkers (2007), he described that the security threat is not always military in nature, but there is other threat which is the forces of nature that threaten the existence of large groups of individuals.

However, human security in ASEAN is still considered as debatable despite its current development of regional mechanism on human rights. A so-called the ASEAN Way, is a fundamental norm of ASEAN and for that reason ASEAN also established. Within the ASEAN Way norm, it constructed the norms of respect for national sovereignty, non-interference in internal affairs, the non-use of force, and a consensus-based decision-making mechanism. The ASEAN Way norm in itself has both conflictual and harmonious characteristics, and is both a challenge and an opportunity for the region.

The case of 2008 Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar was evident to explain the ASEAN Way norm as a challenge for the region. The non-interference principle remains a major block for ASEAN in taking further action in the aftermath of that disaster. The junta’s regime in Myanmar rejected the international offers of aid relief due to the state-centric view on security. The fear of external party to gain access to the country perceived as the more serious threat against the state security in compare to the security of thousands of victims who were in dehydration, hunger and dying situation.

ASEAN Regional Mechanism in Enhancing Disaster-Resilient Community

            The case of 2008 Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar should have not happened in the very first place. ASEAN has envisioned the people-centered community in the socio-cultural pillar which means, the security of the people of ASEAN should be central in ASEAN’s agenda. Therefore, the ASEAN Way norm should be also well-actualized in addressing the non-traditional security issues, especially disaster events that might be threatening the whole region.

Rum (2016), the AMS’s sovereignty can be upheld without neglecting the security of the people through establishing the regime of regional disaster management as there are norms by which influence state to do so. Through setting up the regime and institutionalizing the disaster management cooperation will also address the other aforementioned challenges. Therefore, it is clear that ASCC is established in the very first place to be a platform of ASEAN in tackling the issue of natural disaster.

The first attempt of ASEAN in enhancing the cooperation in disaster management can be traced back to the 1st ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Disaster Management (AMMDM) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on 7th December 2004. The ACDM comprising Heads of National Disaster Management Organizations (NDMOs) of AMS was established as the result of the key decisions made out of the meeting. The ACDM was mandated to start the negotiation of the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER). AADMER which signed on 26th July 2005 and came into force on 24th December 2009, is one of the cornerstones of the ASEAN commitment in building disaster-resilient community.

In supporting the realization of disaster-resilient community, the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management (AHA Centre) was established under the AADMER by adopting the agreement on 17th November 2011. AHA Centre becomes the main actor, together with the AMMDM and ACMD in disaster management cooperation. In this manner, the author signifies the prominent role of AHA Centre to reduce losses to disasters and coordinate ASEAN’s collective response to disasters.

There are two other important legal frameworks adopted by ASEAN in order to strengthen its commitment regarding this matter, namely ASEAN Declaration on Enhancing Cooperation in Disaster Management (2013) and ASEAN Declaration on One ASEAN, One Response: ASEAN Responding to Disasters as One in the Region and outside the Region (2016). For further work, AHA Centre formulated the ASEAN Joint Disaster Response Plan (AJDRP) which endorsed at the 29th Meeting of the ACDM held in Manado, Indonesia on 11th October 2016. By the implementation of AJDRP, AHA Centre is able to: (i) increasing the speed of the ASEAN response by supporting AMS in making timely and informed decisions, (ii) expanding the scale of the ASEAN response by strengthening the ASEAN Standby Arrangements, and (iii) enhancing the solidarity of the ASEAN response by strengthening coordination and cooperation among AMS, ASEAN partners, and other related actors.

Case of Earthquake and Tsunami in Central Sulawesi

The ASEAN region, for the umpteenth time hit by a disaster event specifically the M 7.4 earthquake and tsunami in Palu, Indonesia that was occurred on 28th September 2018. AHA Centre operated in Palu for more than a month after the disaster hit Central Sulawesi. Through AHA Centre and the One ASEAN, One Response, ASEAN had contributed the most significant assistance post-disaster by coordinating the responses from other AMS, from the financial assistance into the other form of humanitarian assistance.In ensuring the response of AHA Centre fast and right on the target, it also supported by the ASEAN Secretary-General, Japan through Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF), International Humanitarian NGO such as Map Action which based in the United Kingdom (UK), the European Union (EU) and also the UN Agencies, such as the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA).

Move Forward

Lacking of disaster management cooperation is fatal and potentially endangering the people in the region. Along with the unity of effort and the spirit of ASEAN, ASCC through AHA Centre and other regional mechanism can realize a disaster-resilient community without undermining the AMS’ sovereignty. Today, ASEAN is the global leader in regional disaster management cooperation by being able to anticipate, respond, cope, adapt, and build back better, smarter, and faster with the existing regional mechanisms. Additionally, it becomes a hope of ASEAN that it is able to respond outside the region as one under the framework of One ASEAN, One Response.

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,

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“What we do”, The AHA Centre,

A Strategic Framework for ASEAN-UN Cooperation, UNESCAP,

“Introduction.” in ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Blueprint 2025. Jakarta: The ASEAN Secretariat, March 2016.

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,

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,
  • 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.


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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. 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. 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. 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. accessed in October 2018.

VOV   (Voice of Vietnam). 2015. “Unity in diversity creates ASEAN identity. accessed in November 2018.