Refugee Crisis Meeting Should Learn from Indochinese Solution

 

Ethnic Rohingya refugees from Myanmar are transported to a temporary shelter in Krueng Raya in Aceh Besar in 2013. Photo: Reuters

Ethnic Rohingya refugees from Myanmar are transported to a temporary shelter in Krueng Raya in Aceh Besar in 2013. Photo: Reuters

Atin Prabandari, Researcher at ASEAN Studies Center and Lecturer at Department of International Relations, Universitas Gadjah Mada

Representatives from 17 countries and three international organisations meeting in Bangkok to discuss South-East Asia’s migrant crisis may learn from the previous refugee crisis that hit the region during the Indochina war.

Last week, after having played a game of human water polo at sea, the Indonesian and Malaysian governments agreed to temporarily shelter 3000 boat people who had been rescued – mostly by fishermen – and taken ashore. Around 4000 people are believed to still be languishing at sea, waiting to be rescued.

Most of the migrants are Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution in Myanmar and Bangladeshi people migrating for largely economic reasons.

Learning from the Indochinese refugee crisis

The two most pressing issues to discuss are the safety of the thousands of people at sea and refugee resettlement.

South-East Asia has faced such a crisis before. As a result of the Indochina war, 1,436,566 refugees fled Cambodia and Vietnam and arrived in South-East Asian countries looking for asylum between 1975 and 1995.

The United Nations sponsored two international conferences on the Indochinese refugee crisis in 1979 and 1989. The latter produced the “Comprehensive Plan of Action”.

Under this agreement, South-East Asian countries agreed to provide temporary asylum. The US, Australia and several European countries provided resettlement for the refugees. The Vietnamese government also cracked down on fleeing boats, halting the exodus.

Up to 1995, 1,311,183 asylum seekers were resettled. The rest were repatriated.

Several countries have sent positive signals about resettling refugees. Representatives at Friday’s meeting can model the solution for the current crisis on how the international community solved the Indochinese refugee crisis.

The US has declared its willingness to accept Rohingya refugees. The Philippines, one of two countries in South-East Asia that has signed the 1951 Refugee Convention, is also willing to take some of the refugees.

Gambia, a not-so-wealthy country in West Africa, has offered permanent asylum to the Rohingya as “fellow Muslims”. Gambia, however, still requests financial assistance from international organisations and developed nations to support its effort.

Yet Australia, a signatory to the Refugee Convention, has refused to accept any refugees from the current crisis. Prime Minister Tony Abbott said his government:

… will do absolutely nothing that gives any encouragement to anyone to think that they can get on a boat, that they can work with people smugglers to start a new life.

As party to the convention, Australia should grant asylum to some of the refugees, ensuring their rights are protected in accordance with legal and humanitarian standard.

Addressing ‘root causes’

To provide a lasting solution, the meeting should address the root problems that compel the migrants to flee their countries and take the arduous and dangerous journey on boats.

For people from Bangladesh, extreme poverty and lack of jobs have motivated them to migrate. Rohingya people from the Burmese Rakhine state have been denied citizenship by the government, resulting in multiple human rights violations and discrimination by both the government and Myanmar’s Buddhist fundamentalists.

The meeting should discuss how to ensure Myanmar’s government stops its prolonged discrimination against Rohingya people. The government should acknowledge the Rohingya as their ethnic minority and grant them citizenship.

To this end, ASEAN should continue its “constructive engagement”, the organisation’s way of using political dialogue instead of coercive measures such as economic sanction or diplomatic isolation, with Myanmar.

Meanwhile, countries such as the United States and Australia should continue to pressure Myanmar to end its human rights violations. Governments may use trade or aid as an incentive to improve human rights in the country.

The meeting should also discuss other, related causes of the crisis. Human traffickers target stateless and devastated Rohingya people. Many have ended up being enslaved, such as those forced to work in the Thai fishing industry or held for ransom in jungle camps in Thailand and Malaysia.

In this regard, Australia’s efforts in combating human trafficking and smuggling in South-East Asia – through the Bali Processon People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime – should be applied in this crisis too. Since 2002, Australia together with Indonesia has been co-chairing the voluntary forum, now joined by 45 members, including the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the UN Office of Drugs and Crimes (UNODC).

The Rohingya people are caught between persecution at home and human traffickers. Members of the international community should do all they can to end their misery.

 

This article was previously published at The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/refugee-crisis-meeting-should-learn-from-indochinese-solution-42426

 

Masyarakat Ekonomi ASEAN dan Tantangan Reformasi Birokrasi

Feature - Yoga

Muhammad Prayoga Permana, MPP
Kepala ASEAN Studies Center Universitas Gadjah Mada

Masyarakat Ekonomi ASEAN (selanjutnya disingkat EA) akan segera diluncurkan akhir tahun 2015 ini. Disadari atau tidak, MEA akan sangat terkait dengan kompetisi yang makin tajam di kawasan Asia Tenggara. Kendati idealnya MEA dirancang untuk memberikan manfaat bagi semua negara anggota ASEAN, Presiden Joko Widodo dalam beberapa kesempatan memaparkan bahwa MEA merupakan persaingan antar negara.

Dalam hal ini, negara dan segenap aparatur birokrasi di dalamnya akan menjadi katalisator. Mereka akan menentukan nasib setelah MEA efektif diberlakukan per 31 Desember 2015.

Pertanyaan yang perlu diajukan, apakah Indonesia akan menjadi pemenang bersama dengan kesepuluh anggota ASEAN lainnya ataukah justru Indonesia hanya akan menjadi pasar? Berbagai pendekatan telah dilakukan dalam mengukur kesiapan masyarakat menjelang MEA. Namun, ironisnya, belum ada yang berhasil menggambarkan secara komprehensif kesiapan pemerintah sendiri.

Dalam menghadapi MEA, cara bekerja birokrasi harus berubah. Catatan ASEAN Community Progress Monitoring System (ACPMS) 2012 memaparkan proporsi ekspor Indonesia dalam produk berteknologi tinggi berada jauh di bawah rata-rata ASEAN. Artinya, kapabilitas pengembangan teknologi Indonesia masih cukup rendah dan hanya mengandalkan ekspor bahan mentah. Selain itu, ongkos ekspor Indonesia menduduki posisi ke-3 termahal di ASEAN dan untuk impor justru termurah ke-3 di ASEAN. Tanpa intervensi yang tepat dari pemerintah, MEA hanya akan menguntungkan importir untuk pasar domestik dan eksportir komoditas tanpa nilai tambah.

Memenangkan Peluang

Memenangkan peluang MEA membutuhkan adaptasi dan ketangkasan (operational agility). Ketangkasan yang dimaksud adalah bagaimana merespon perubahan lansekap ekonomi maupun ketidakpastian dengan pergerakan cepat (Kasali, 2013). Berbeda dengan sebelumnya, birokrasi publik di era baru MEA dihadapkan pada situasi yang bersifat VOCA (Volatility (bergejolak), Uncertainty (memiliki tingkat ketidakpastian yang tinggi), Complexity (saling berhubungan, saling tergantung dan rumit) dan Ambiguity (menimbulkan keragu-raguan). Oleh karena itu capaian kinerja birokrasi tidak lagi harus bersifat rule based namun harus bergerak maju ke arah yang lebih dinamis.

Situasi dalam VOCA membutuhkan setidaknya pendekatan berpikir ke depan (thinking ahead) yakni kapabilitas untuk mengidentifikasi perkembangan, memahami implikasi perubahan sosial ekonomi dan menentukan investasi kebijakan strategis maupun menciptakan lingkungan yang memungkinkan bagi masyarakat untuk memanfaatkan peluang dan meminimalisasi ancaman (Neo & Chen, 2007).

Secara fundamental, arah pengembangan birokrasi pasca-2015 perlu untuk memahami dinamika relasi antara birokrasi dan pasar misalnya. Paradigma lama yang menekankan pada minimalisasi peran birokrasi untuk merespon globalisasi telah usang. Shin (2005) menjelaskan fenomena integrasi ekonomi, seperti MEA, memiliki 2 dimensi utama yakni mobile factors dan non-mobile factors.

Dimensi pertama terfokus pada pilar investasi. Kemudahan teknologi dan integrasi perbankan membuat modal dengan cepat berpindah. Sementara itu, pada dimensi kedua, kualitas non-mobile factors seperti respon sektor publik terhadap tantangan perbaikan pelayanan, percepatan infrastruktur dan harmonisasi regulasi menjadi hal krusial yang menentukan kemana mobile factors tadi berpindah.

Dalam kasus ini, Indonesia merupakan negara dengan proses pengurusan investasi terburuk di ASEAN. Indonesia juga tercatat sangat restriktif dalam memfasilitasi mobilitas investor dalam wilayah domestiknya (Soesastro & Atje dalam Basu Das, 2012). Kondisi ini, disadari atau tidak, kan menurunkan daya tarik Indonesia dalam sektor investasi.

Competitive and Representative Government

Bagaimana menyikapi beberapa tantangan  tersebut? Selama ini, reformasi birokrasi cenderung hanya dipahami dalam tataran teknis. Meskipun penting, kitat patut mempersoalkan bagaimana arah dan cara kerja reformasi birokrasi yang berjalan selama ini terkait dengan tantangan eksternal yang muncul. Artinya, dalam menghadapi MEA, perlu adanya pembenahan paradigma aparatur birokrasi agar mampu bersiap menghadapi dan merespons transformasi ekonomi kawasan.

Pembenahan paradigma tersebut dapat dilakukan dengan memperkenalkan cara pandang competitive and representative government sebagai bagian dari Reformasi Birokrasi di Indonesia. Cara pandang tersebut menghadirkan kembali negara pada pemerintahan yang kompetitif, namun tetap memiliki kapasitas untuik merepresentasi kepentingan publik. Pemerintahan yang kompetitif berarti pemerintaan yang mampu beradaptasi dengan konstelasi global maupun regiona. Sementara itu, pemerintahan yang representatif berarti pemerintahan yang yang konsisten mengutamakan kepentingan masyarakat dan mendorong partisipasi publik di dalam penyelenggaraan pemerintahan (lihat Hameiri, 2010).

Tantangan bagi birokrasi Indonesia, dalam konteks ini, tidak hanya bekerja untuk merespon tuntutan regionalisasi ekonomi ASEAN. Pada dasarnya, birokrasi juga dituntut untuk hadir meminimalisasi ekses pasar. Dengan kata lain, birokrasi perlu menyeimbangkan antara tuntutan scorecard liberalisasi di tingkat regional dengan implementasi paket-paket kebijakan untuk mencegah eksternalitas pasar.

Berkaca pada pendekatan yang dianut pemerintah saat ini, perlu adanya evaluasi menyeluruh terhadap kecenderungan pendekatan mekanis yang berujung pada birokratisasi reformasi birokrasi perlu. Reformasi birokrasi harus mampu lepas dari kekangan tumpukan dokumen bukti kinerja. Lebih dari itu, birokrasi perlu baham betul apa sebenarnya titik peluang, tantangan dan kerawanan MEA bagi unit kerjanya masing-masing.

Masyarakat Ekonomi ASEAN merupakan titik tolak bagi birokrasi untuk berani keluar dari pakemnya. Inovasi, dengan demikian, menjadi sangat penting. Sudah saatnya standar pelayanan birokrasi mengakomodasi input dan ekspektasi sektor privat.

A Paradox of Multitrack Diplomacy

Special Meeting of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Human Rights Commission (AICHR) » Special Meeting March 2015 KL - AICHR.org

Special Meeting of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Human Rights Commission (AICHR) » Special Meeting March 2015 KL – AICHR.org

Ahmad Rizky Mardhatillah Umar, Researcher at ASEAN Studies Center UGM

In 1996, John MacDonald and Louise Diamond wrote the book, Multi-track Diplomacy, which promoted the role of non-state actors in diplomatic theory. This concept is now considered an alternative way of doing diplomacy.

Diplomacy is perceived as a simultaneous system of interaction between the state and non-state actor in order to gain peace. Previously, diplomacy was understood only as a matter of “politics among nations” where the state was the only actor in international relations.

Since the 1990s, the world has witnessed shifts in international politics, mainly the emergence of non-state actors, such as NGOs, multinational corporations and transnational networks of think-tanks.

MacDonald cofounded the Institute of Multi-Track Diplomacy in 1992, which was influential in endorsing the concept to many stakeholders, particularly the UN.

ASEAN also recognizes “track two” diplomacy through ASEAN-ISIS (Institutes of Strategic and International Studies) Network and its endorsement of the ASEAN People’s Assembly, now the ASEAN People’s Forum.

However, this concept has limits in addressing contemporary problems in international politics.

As an illustration, I was once invited to attend a dialogue with the ASEAN Committee of Permanent Representatives and ASEAN Secretariat. Several participants highlighted the importance of dialogue between the state, the ASEAN Secretariat and NGOs.

However, civil society members were reminded that they could come up with ideas, but they had to be delivered through the existing channels established in ASEAN to accommodate civil society’s voices. So such dialogue does not necessarily reflect negotiation between state and non-state actors.

Similarly, at the latest ASEAN People’s Forum in Kuala Lumpur, activists were disappointed because of a lack of dialogue between state representatives in discussing prominent issues in the region. Cambodian civil society organizations, for example, expressed disappointment because their expected representatives for interface meeting were replaced with lower-level officials.

These illustrations reflect a paradox in multitrack diplomacy in the political reality. Two lessons can be learned. First, multitrack diplomacy can be turned into a form of cooption or “corporatism” when perceived by non-democratic states.

Instead of endorsing stakeholder participation, this concept was used to prevent transnational networks of NGOs from advocating their interests at the international level.

Second, multitrack diplomacy can prevent dialogue and negotiations with non-state organizations that are critical of states. Through “diplomatic tracks”, every demand would be responded to based on state-defined national interests and potentials for negotiation could be reduced.

In ASEAN, which still includes states with authoritarian backgrounds, states used multitrack diplomacy as a political tool to conserve state hegemony in ASEAN and a pretext for the state to avoid negotiation and talks with non-state actors.

These lessons have led us to search for more comprehensive approaches and solutions for state-non state relations in diplomatic theories. Multitrack diplomacy should also be an arena of negotiation between all stakeholders. Participation in a separate, partial track is not enough. Stakeholders should be given enough space to negotiate with the state.

In ASEAN, radicalizing multitrack diplomacy means giving a wider place for civil society to express their interests with their leaders. So far civil society’s engagement with the state, in several countries, was primarily conducted only informally.

Before the ASEAN Community comes into effect at the end of this year, a challenge lies for every stakeholder. ASEAN is not a community of diplomats or businesspeople. ASEAN belongs to its people. Thus, every voice should be heard ; they should be given an opportunity to express their voices.

To go beyond multitrack diplomacy and propose a people-oriented diplomacy is a necessary task for every ASEAN stakeholder in the future.
____________________

This article was published at The Jakarta Post, http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2015/05/17/a-paradox-multitrack-diplomacy.html

China and The ASEAN: A Need for Shifting Paradigm

Feature - China and ASEAN

Dedi Dinarto – Research Intern at ASEAN Studies Center Universitas Gadjah Mada (dinartodedi@gmail.com)

Even though China has successfully controlled the entire Spratlys on January 1974, the discourse on China’s presence in South China Sea remains the most debated issue in Southeast Asia. Accordingly the economic, strategic and political interests of involved ASEAN member countries cannot be separeaed with this problematic issue. China’s presence in the South China Sea cannot be separated from the historical trajectory, which is claimed as its own territory. However, the establishment of the ASEAN consequently resulted the demarcation of South China Sea by several ASEAN countries, such as Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Brunei Darussalam, claimed the South China Sea as their territory. Soon afterwards, this complexity of interest sparked the border dispute among them, which until now, has not been able to be resolved.

There are some scholarly discussions over this issue. For example, Ralf Emmers explained his main argument justifying the China’s naval position in the Spratlys has continue to be weak due to its limited power projection (Emmers, 2007:53). At that time, China naval capability did not arrange the external mission instead of remaining stay at its mainland bases. However, the transformation of China’s foreign policy, particularly during the leadership of Hu Jintao and Xi Jinping, triggered anxiety and caution of its neighbor countries, in which its action is predicted to control over some disputed border through assertive behavior.

In the sense of China’s past behavior, many diplomatic efforts have been done politically despite of military projection. But the current condition seems to be very different and any attempts to involve in the conflict will be regarded as a threat to the balance of power in South China Sea dispute. since the rise of China’s military budget has correspondingly shown its assertive behavior due to the naval presence in South China Sea. From 2013 to 2015, China’s military budget is rising year-to-year approximately US$ 114.3 billion in 2013, US$ 131.57 billion in 2014, and US$ 141.5 billion in 2015 (Erickson, 2013, 2015; Keck, 2014). Having Hua Chunying as the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, she underlined the reason behind the extensive presence of China’s naval in South China Sea with the statement to maintain the military personnel, safeguard the maritime and territorial integrity, respond the maritime search and rescue, and increase the observation and research, as well as enhance fishery production (Tiezzi, 2015).

This statement has also been revealed as the main reason of China’s reclamation projects in the conflicting area. These projects remains debatable because they have larger political functions, particularly for military bases. Nevertheless, the most important thing that we can see is all about the diplomatic way endorsed by Hua Chunying, in some purpose to hide the more political and assertive behavior toward this issue, as explained by Fareed Zakaria as an effort of Chinese to hide consciously the ‘bully’ action from international view (Li, 2009:2). In the sense, this kind of political issue is successfully reframed by Chinese using soft power approach despite of military intervention.

Understanding Regional Security in ASEAN

In general, it is worth necessary to understand how the ASEAN member countries manage their conflict or dispute internally and externally. The ‘ASEAN Declaration on the South China Sea’ stated ASEAN’s position toward the disputed area by means of peaceful way, without resort to force, and to be concerned on exercise restraint (Morse, 1992:2-3). Hence, the ASEAN Way as the basic principal of member countries shows its essence to solve every bilateral or regional disputes using consultation and consensus despite of forces.

Besides that, since 1967, the ASEAN member countries have built the principle of non-interference, which means of no military conflict in every internal affairs. This principle has long to affect the relationship of ASEAN member countries. On the other hand, results some prominent principles to understand ASEAN, which are the respect of sovereignty, and the high acknowledgement on freedom, independence, and integrity.

Basically, the ASEAN member countries also stated on the Bangkok Declaration 1967 about how they should dealt with external interference, especially several Great Powers after World War II, which are Uni Soviet, United States of America, and China as the nearest and biggest neighbor. They seek to defend their regional stability by ensuring the security of ASEAN territory from external interference in any form or manifestation. Therefore, it is necessarily important to underline the framework of regional security in ASEAN which do not acknowledge the use of force and military action.

A Need for Shifting Paradigm?

Accordingly, the old understanding of regional security framework in ASEAN is justified to set aside the material purposes in which the cooperation was basically made through value and norms as the product of inter-subjectivity. It is worth to say that the construction of security community in ASEAN is non-sense and rhetorical instead of developing the substantive cooperation (Acharya, 2001:63). The unconsciousness of ASEAN member countries to accept the nature of materialismm in one hand, has been used by China to expand its military presence in the South China Sea. In the other hand, China is not only to use its soft approach getting closer to the South China Sea, but also taking some materialistic advantage in this situation, which according to the ASEAN member countries as the irrelevant factor in term of regional security.

In terms of South China Sea conflict issue, the ASEAN member countries shall re-understand the behavior of China over some disputed areas. Giulio M. Gallarotti promoted the cosmopolitanism power as the new framework to understand the current international politics. It acknowledges the possibility of soft power and hard power being practiced simultaneously. To maintain good relationship and image with all possible countries and to concern on military capability development are the two most prominent elements to define cosmopolitan power. Hence, what has China has shown to the world, particularly in the South China Sea, is worth to be described as the practice of such power. Expanding its economic cooperation is included as the practice of soft power. On the contrary, the increasing of military budget, and spreading of military presence are the concrete action of China to practice its hard power.

ASEAN member countries should also seek a new paradigm to handle the South China Sea dispute. The consciousness over the military expansion needs to be discussed further for a new strategy balancing the Chinese military presence. Not to be collided with the ASEAN Political Security Community Blueprint 2009-2015, it is important for ASEAN member countries to address their common interests on the military cooperation, particularly on the provision of common military equipment and personnel for regional integrity despites of the exclusive cooperation among disputed ASEAN member. With the notion of ASEAN centrality, a ‘common interest’ will overcome ASEAN’s passive attitudes towards Chinese military development in the South China Sea.

What Does Myanmar Student Protests Mean for ASEAN?

 Feature - Myanmar Student

Rizky Alif Alvian and Tadzkia Nurshafira

Board of Chairman and Head of Advocacy Committee at the Student Council of Faculty of Social and Politicial Sciences, Universitas Gadjah Mada

Justice is at stake in Burma. Two weeks ago, hundreds of student activists were detained by security forces for protesting the new National Education Law this month. Waves of solidarity has been sent to Burma as well as critics to the newly semi–democratic government to end the repression for student protest in the country. It is now a moment for student activists across ASEAN to share supports and solidarity for Myanmar students for their rights to participate in the decision-making processes, particularly in education.

The repression of student protest in Burma poses a challenge for the regional economic integration that has been planned by all ASEAN member states since 2003. What is happening now in Burma will not only harm the internal development of economic integration in the region but also prop up to some agreements regarding the establishment of ASEAN Community.

The Neglected Issue: Human Rights and ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community

Flashed back to the moment when ASEAN Leaders ratified the Bali Concord II (2003) and the Cebu Declaration (2007), ASEAN leaders acknowledged that all of the member states have been admitted “..to realize an integrated, stable, knowledgeable, and caring community in order to strengthen their economic competitiveness…’ [1] The ASEAN Charter (2009) also acknowledge participation and people-oriented ASEAN in order to make sure that all of integration process benefit all elements in the society.

However, we have also witnessed a fact that almost all workshops, trainings, and seminars regarding the ASEAN Community were only focusing the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). Aimed to increase people’s consiousness and knowledge instantly about ASEAN, these serials of workshops and seminars have neglected two other pillars in the ASEAN Community, particularly the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC). It is ironic because the ASCC is the most important pillar to maintain cohesivity and justice in the community. The neglection of ASCC in ASEAN discussions will lead to neglection of many problems related to social justice and conflict in the region.

Therefore, it is important for us to take a deeper look to Myanmar student protests. So far the protests have shown close connections with ASEAN integration project in social and cultural pillars. Even though all ASEAN member states have already signed the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration, we still witness the violation of student’s rights to participate and express their political interests peacefully in the decision making process in a states which now should have promoted the value of democracy. This problem poses a question whether ASEAN member state’s commitment towards ASEAN Community establishment is still preserved or not___specifically for the protection of human rights which is embodied clearly in ASCC.

The ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) has basically established to realise an ASEAN Community that is people-centred and socially responsible by forging an inclusive, harmonious, and common identity[2]ASCC has two basic concerns regarding the Human Rights: Human Development and Social Justice[3].

According to the Blueprint of ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community, ASEAN shall provide an equitable access to the opportunities of human development by investing education in many methods. This point is aimed to maximize efforts in enhancing the quality of human resources. In this context, the term ‘access’ should be taken into account. The blueprint does not clearly mentioned the meaning of ‘access’ in terms of higher education. Instead, the document only mentioned that ‘people shall get all of their rights only when they are able to start participating in some levels of education”.

Nevertheless, the concept of ‘access’ should not only understood merely as opportunities to enter or enjoy educational facilities, but also to involve the whole processes education, including participation in decision-making processes. An access without rights to participate in every processes is not enough to ensure human development in ASEAN.

Samuel Ku (2011) stated that this concern means that society must be engaged in providing inputes for policy choices, including the educational policy. [4] Therefore, rights to ‘access’ in terms of participation in decision-making processes as well as ‘access’ to education regardless economic ability shall also taken into consideration in understanding Human Development in ASEAN. It is quite inappropriate for the state to deny any potential from students t to think, supervise, and evaluate any educational policy in the country

Besides that, social justice and rights has also been mentioned as one of the pillar in the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community. This point is committed to ensure social justice as well as to mainstream people’s equal rights in every social aspect, including the rights and welfare of disadvantaged, vulnerable and marginalised group such as women, children, the elderly, persons with disabilities and migrant workers.[5] There are some important points that shall be noted by all ASEAN member states, including; (1) ASEAN state members will definetely support any efforts to enforce the fulfillment of human rights in all levels, (2) the targeted people are all elements of society whose rights are taken by the other, (3) the efforts must be compatible with the policy in each states member

These points shall be reconsidered by the States in dealing with student protests, including what has been happened in Myanmar. A more progressive approach that consider Human Rights principles shall be undertaken by Myanmar government in dealing with their student’s demands on democratic education in the country.

The Importance of Solidarity

But what was happening in Myanmar apparently shown the opposite trends. With the repressive and violent acts, Myanmar’s commitment as ASEAN member state is now at stake. As stated in the blueprint, ASCC aimed to protect an equitable access towards human development. In Myanmar student protest, student’s demands for access to education as well as participation in decision making process shall be dealt with peaceful approach by the Government.

What is at stake here is Myanmar Government’s responses to the protests. Government must take a high stake to student’s capability of thinking and evaluating, as well as their potentials in maintaining democracy and development in the country. Thus, it is important to note that violence is not the way to resolve student protests in Myanmar. Instead violent and repressive act will only prevent Myanmar’s inclusion to ASEAN Community.

Repressive acts undertaken by Myanmar government will only harm Myanmar’s progress towards ASEAN Community. For ASEAN, this case means that progress of democratization and human rights protection that was endorsed by ASEAN shall be strengthened in regonal level. The task to strengthen human rights and democratization lies not only to Myanmar government, but also to all ASEAN member states.

It will be such a contradiction if ASEAN try to show its regional governance capacity by establishing economic liberalization through ASEAN Economic Community while at the same time put the Human Rights problem away from the dialogue. In the name of humanity and people-oriented regionalism, ASEAN must embolden some efforts to show commitment to their values in protecting student’s rights in politics.

The Student Council of Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, Universitas Gadjah Mada, has expressed a solidarity for Myanmar students in an open letter. Therefore, we urge all ASEAN leaders to take all necessary action to ensure that this problem can be resolved by Myanmar Government as soon as possible.

– – –

[1]Shaun Narine, “Forty Years of ASEAN: A Historical Review,” The Pacific Review 21.4 (2008): 418

[2]ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Blueprint, p 1.

[3]Ibid, p 3.

[4]Samual C.Y. Ku, ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community: Development and Prospect, presented at International Conference on ASEAN Vision 2015: Moving Towards One Community, held by Taiwan ASEAN Studies Center, Taipei, May 24 2011

[5]Mid-Term Review on ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community

Malaysia’s Chairmanship and Civil Society Engagement in ASEAN

Malaysia Prime Minister's Palace

Malaysia Prime Minister’s Palace

Ahmad Rizky M. Umar, Researcher, ASEAN Studies Centre, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Indonesia

As Myanmar’s chairmanship in ASEAN will be ended this year, we are now looking forward to transfer the chairmanship to Malaysia next year. Malaysia will host ASEAN Summit as well as most of regional forum in ASEAN.

In line with the ‘formal’ processes, Malaysia will also host the annual ASEAN People’s Forum/ASEAN Civil Society Conference (APF/ACSC). In this forum, many civil society organisation will gather, discuss, and announce their positions on emerging regional issues in Southeast Asia, including ASEAN.

Nect year’s ASEAN People Forum will be important for two reasons. First, we are getting closer to ASEAN Community, which will be established by 2015. The forum will determine how ASEAN civil society consolidate themselves to respond the upcoming ASEAN Community.

Second, this forum is important to prove whether ASEAN can be a ‘people-oriented’ organisation, as recently acclaimed by the Charter since 2007. If ASEAN want to be consistent with this jargon, it should be able to connect its people with the state and widening participation from grass-roots in the formal decision-making processes.

Since 2003, ASEAN has been institutionalised into a more complex form of regionalism. There has been three community inside ASEAN, which are aimed to be established by 2015 –ASEAN Political Security Community, ASEAN Economic Community, and ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community.

From year to year, the institutionalisation is getting more complex. For example, ASEAN has made a new regional Human Rights regime with the establishment of ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) and ASEAN Human Rights Declaration. This similar trend has also happens in other sectors, particularly in economic sectors.

However, in the other side, recent institutionalisations in ASEAN have also created a bureaucratic-technocratic tendency within the Association, particularly in the form of ASEAN Secretariat. Within this institution, ASEAN decision-making process is incorporated in a bureaucratic platform, which leaves only a little room for people’s participation.

This phenomenon leaves a critical question: is there any room for civil society to participate and getting involved in ASEAN decision-making process? If ASEAN is acclaimed as ‘people-oriented’ organisation, how ‘people-oriented’ is it in terms of people’s participation?

The ‘people-oriented ASEAN’ will be proven true if it open chances to speak, participate in decision-making process. In terms of participation, we have to consider participation not only in terms of ‘formal’ or ‘instituionalized’ participation, but also how the ‘subaltern’ –those who are marginalized and not able to politically express themselves— speak.

As we are getting nearer with the upcoming ASEAN Community, which is aimed at gathering all Southeast Asian countries to a ‘people-oriented’ regionalism, this problem should be taken into account.  Without creating spaces for any interest group to speak, we will only have an ‘elite-driven’ ASEAN which is, of course, not ‘people-oriented’ at all.

The ASEAN People Forum (formerly ASEAN Civil Society Conference), which is held annually as side programs of the Summit, can be an alternative room for the people to speak. Firstly launched in 2005, this forum was organised by Non-Governmental Organisations under SAPA to create a new ‘alternative regionalism’ in Southeast Asia (Chandra, 2009).

At the beginning, the Conference has been greeted by ASEAN Leaders. Malaysia, as the host of ASEAN Summit 2005, facilitated the forum in Universiti Teknologi Mara and invited the Conference’s representative to the Summit to present the result before the Summit. It was a good beginning.

However, as the time slowly passes by, relations between NGOs and ASEAN leaders weakened. There is still no room allocated for civil society to engage in decision-making process, particularly at the summit.

For example, as has been pointed out by Kelly Gerard (2014), several civil society organisations from Cambodia and Myanmar has been rejected by the government. Many decisions also ended up as policy recommendation, because there is no room for civil society’s representative to engage at the summit.

Thus, there has been a paradox. While ASEAN aims to create a ‘people-oriented ASEAN’, or, according to Amitav Acharya, ‘creating a participatory regionalism’, the decision making process at ASEAN itself has been closed for its society.

It becomes a main problem in ASEAN today. If we still want to build a ‘people-oriented’ ASEAN, the upcoming ASEAN People Forum should be able to deal with that. ASEAN People Forum cannot be a ‘talk shop’ anymore; the result should be progressive. I hereby proposed two steps to resolve the problems.

Firstly, making the ASEAN People Forum as a place for dialogue between the ASEAN Leaders and the ASEAN People –not only civil society, but also other interest group or minority entity in Southeast Asia. The organiser should invite the ASEAN Leaders –or high-ranking officials in ASEAN Secretariat—to make sure that the result of this forum is heard by ASEAN Elite Ranks.

Secondly, building some institutional hubs to accommodate people’s aspiration in  ASEAN decision-making processes. The ASEAN People Forum is not enough to accommodate ASEAN People’s interest, so that it should be widened through the creation of an ASEAN Parliament, to make sure that the the people can speak and be represented in ASEAN.

Thus, we shall welcome Malaysia’s chairmanship in ASEAN with a homework to make sure that the ASEAN people, including the subalterns, can speak and be heard by ASEAN Leaders. This homework is left to the participant and should be advocated more seriously.

I believe that if ASEAN People Forum can be more inclusive and dialogic, the Forum will not be an annual ‘talk shop’ anymore; even we can optimistically see a more ‘people-oriented ASEAN’ in the future. However, to make it worth, the participant should be more aware with people’s participation in the upcoming ASEAN Community.

The ASEAN People Forum 2015 should deliver a message –that the ASEAN People wants to be heard in the upcoming ASEAN Community. Thus, let the ASEAN People speak in Malaysia next year!

Whither ASEAN Centrality?

Protests against Chinese claims to territory in the South China Sea continued in Hanoi on Sunday, unimpeded by Vietnamese authorities. European Pressphoto Agency. Wall Street Journal

Protests against Chinese claims to territory in the South China Sea continued in Hanoi on Sunday, unimpeded by Vietnamese authorities. European Pressphoto Agency. Wall Street Journal

Ahmad Rizky Mardhatillah Umar, Research Assistant at ASEAN Studies Center, Universitas Gadjah Mada

The South China Sea dispute has been the main focus of this year’s ASEAN summit, which was held twice under Myanmar’s leadership. In a joint statement at the 24th and 25th ASEAN Summit, ASEAN leaders have expressed concerns over increased tension in South China Sea and further urged all parties to exercise restraint and avoid using ‘hard approach’ to deal with this problem.

Indonesia’s position is quite unique. Arif Havas Oegroseno has stated, at his articles, that Indonesia has no business in the South China Sea dispute and many observer’s endorsement to make Indonesia getting involved in this issue were misleading. However, Indonesia cannot avoid the conflict if the tension is raising, since it will heavily affect the regional security.

Former President Yudhoyono and Joko Widodo responded this issue in different manner. President Yudhoyono addressed the need of strengthening ASEAN Political Security Community at to handle security threats in the future. He spoke that ASEAN Community will be able to respond to those challenges without taking military actions.

However, Jokowi, without directly pointing to the South China Sea, spoke that maritime cooperation will be a priority on Indonesia’s foreign policy under his leadership.

 

The ‘China Threat’?

What happened in this year’s summit and the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting reflects the rise of ‘China threat’ among ASEAN member states. China has long placed its interests in Southeast Asia, given its geopolitical proximity.

Among the most prominent Chinese interest is the South China Sea. Geo-economically this sea provides oil and gas reserves as well as Islands. As of 2012, China controls several Islands around the sea, which leads to territorial disputes.

This decade witness a growing tension between China and several ASEAN member states over the sea. Vietnam is the most prominent state who has been in confrontation with China over the sea, along with the Philippines who has another problem.

We can interpret this South China Sea problem in two perspectives. Firstly, territorial dispute between China and ASEAN reflects China’s attempt to construct hegemony in Southeast Asia. By challenging several ASEAN Member States in the sea dispute, China will be able to define who are ‘friends’ and ‘enemies’ based on Bejing-defined national interest.

Secondly, the territorial dispute also reflects ASEAN’s lack of ‘common identity’ that leads to the absence of ASEAN single approach to deal with the problem. Although there has been the notion of ‘ASEAN Centrality’ in many talks on ASEAN Regionalism, in fact any issues were responded by each state’s foreign policy.

Since long time ago, ASEAN has failed to address many regional issues that involve external actors. This is not only happened South China Sea dispute. So far ASEAN was absence in many intraregional disputes, such as Thai-Cambodia or Indonesia-Malaysia border disputes.

Thus, within this perspective, South China Sea problem is in fact reflects ASEAN’s inability to solve political problems. Even though it has been widely criticized because of the more complex problem in the region, ASEAN’s quiet attitude towards conflict has found its root on the ‘ASEAN Way’ particularly the ‘non-interference’ norm which respects ASEAN member state’s souvereignty.

It is true that ‘non-interference’ norm can avoid can protect the souvereign rights of ASEAN Member States in managing their domestic environment. However, with the rising tension in South China Sea between China and the Philippines, the relevance of this norm in shaping ASEAN’s relations with other external forces shall be brought into question.

To this extent, we can raise a question: how can ASEAN resolve such political conflicts with ‘non-interference’ norms, while China and other political forces seemed to be more expansionists these days?

I argue that ASEAN should ease its ‘statist’ position over several serious international problems. It is important not to overemphasize the ‘non-interference’ norm when dealing with such problems that threaten regional environment. So far non-interference norm has proven to be an obstacle in dispute settlement in ASEAN, including in South China Sea.

In accordance to President Yudhoyono’s endorsement of ASEAN Political Security Community as main card to deal with international problems, it is important for ASEAN to create a more progressive foreign policy approach that directs every negotiation with external forces.

 

Bringing ‘ASEAN Centrality’ Back In

ASEAN Political Security blueprint (2009-2015) has stated that ASEAN seeks to strengthen ASEAN proactive role and centrality in a regional architecture that is open, transparent and inclusive while remaining actively engaged, forward-looking, and non-discriminatory.

To this extent, ASEAN should be regarded in the future as a regional institution, not only a group of state in region, thus bringing a more strategic approach to open dialogue and negotiation with other external forces. In this sense, ASEAN needs a specific foreign policy doctrine that can strategically respond challenges regional and international problems.

Thus, ‘ASEAN Centrality’ shall be recalled in order to minimize the conflict. Bringing the ‘ASEAN Centrality’ back in means that ASEAN shall have a more flexible approach to deal with regional issues and ASEAN member states shall involve regional institutios or norms to deal with this problem. On the other words, ASEAN need a ‘common foreign policy’ to deal with South China Sea issue.

There have been many approaches that can be transformed into a more progressive foreign policy approach in ASEAN. For example, in 1990s, Thailand’s Foreign Minister Surin Pitsuwan embraced ‘flexible engagement’ concept as a formula in managing ASEAN’s relations with other states. This concept was rejected –because some states feel that ASEAN should not tamper its non-interference rule— but is in fact more progressive than the traditional ‘ASEAN Way’ approach.

Surin’s proposal, at that time, was to include ASEAN in any negotiations that affect regional stability and dynamics. According to his explanation, if a dialogue partner pursues economic policies that ASEAN perceives as detrimental to its interests, it should be within ASEAN’s rights to call for changes in that policy.

There are also many other concepts, besides Surin’s flexible engagement’, that can be proposed as an alternative for ASEAN to deal with rising international problems. We should consider other ideas from Brunei or other Southeast Asian states to make sure that ASEAN can be truly served as ‘people-oriented’ community.

To welcome the upcoming ASEAN Community, it is important for ASEAN leaders to modernize ASEAN institutional framework by having a specific doctrine on its post-2015 foreign policy. Failure to do so will prevent ASEAN to strategically address territorial disputes in South China Sea.

 

 

ASEAN dan Pemberantasan Korupsi

Feature - ASEAN Sec
 
Ahmad Rizky Mardhatillah Umar, Asisten peneliti di ASEAN Studies Center, Universitas Gadjah Mada
 Artikel ini dimuat di Harian Kompas (Siang), 2 Mei 2014

 

Bisakah ASEAN mendorong pemberantasan korupsi? Seiring dengan semakin dekatnya Komunitas ASEAN, pertanyaan ini lambat laun mulai mengemuka. Apalagi, menjelang Konferensi Tingkat Tinggi (KTT) ASEAN yang tahun ini akan digelar di bawah kepemimpinan Myanmar.

Data Indeks Persepsi Korupsi yang dirilis oleh Transparency International pada tahun 2013 menunjukkan bahwa lima negara anggota ASEAN berada di bawah peringkat 110 dari semua negara yang masuk dalam riset TI. Artinya, perlu upaya pemberantasan korupsi yang lebih komprehensif dan multisektoral dari negara-negara ASEAN.

Selama ini, korupsi dipandang sebagai sesuatu yang bersifat ‘lokal’. Akan tetapi, di tahun 2013, masyarakat Indonesia dikejutkan oleh satu kasus korupsi baru: upaya suap di SKKK Migas oleh salah satu perusahaan multinasional yang, tidak tanggung-tanggung, melibatkan Wakil Menteri ESDM.

Kasus Suap di SKKK Migas memberikan sebuah insight baru: korupsi tidak melulu bersifat lokal. Kajian Patrick Glynn, Stephen J. Korbin, dan Moises Naim (1997) menyebutkan bahwa melumernya batas-batas negara memungkinkan siapapun untuk melakukan suap dan kongkalikong dengan pemegang otoritas publik di suatu negara, menjadikan korupsi sebagai sebuah isu global.

Fenomena ‘globalisasi korupsi’ tidak hanya tercermin dari suap SKKK Migas. Sejak lama, proses pemberantasan korupsi di Indonesia juga menghadapi masalah pencucian uang. Dana hasil korupsi, saat ini, tidak hanya disirkulasi di dalam negeri, tetapi juga ‘dicuci’ dengan dibawa ke luar negeri –baik hanya plesiran atau disimpan di Bank negara lain.

Konsekuensinya, proses pemberantasan korupsi menjadi terhambat karena hambatan-hambatan eksternal –untuk mengungkap aliran dana korupsi, aparat harus berhadapan dengan regulasi di luar negeri yang sangat menghargai privasi.

Hal ini setidaknya punya dua implikasi: Pertama, korupsi bukan lagi sekadar persoalan dalam negeri, tetapi juga telah menjadi fenomena yang sifatnya global. Kedua, perlu kerangka kerjasama yang lebih kuat untuk memberantas korupsi di tingkat internasional atau regional.

Di tingkat internasional, sudah ada United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) yang disahkan pada tahun 2003. Indonesia telah meratifikasi Konvensi ini pada tahun yang sama. Konvensi ini menjadi dokumen utama bagi pelaksanaan kerjasama internasional di isu anti-korupsi.

Konvensi ini punya kontribusi dalam membawa isu korupsi sebagai global concern, namun masih belum cukup kuat sebagai international policy framework yang utuh dalam memberantas jejaring korupsi di tingkat global.

UNCAC memang punya beberapa poin menarik, seperti Asset Recovery atau Technical Cooperation and Assistance yang memberi ruang bagi kerjasama-kerjasama teknis antar-negara. UNCAC juga memberikan beberapa norma, seperti efisiensi, transparansi, dan akuntabilitas (Article 7) yang memberikan porsi besar pada masyarakat sipil untuk terlibat.

Akan tetapi, Konvensi ini belum punya ‘taji’ yang cukup tajam untuk, misalnya, mengantisipasi pencucian uang dan simpanan ke Bank-Bank yang ada di luar negeri. Alasannya sederhana: regulasi tentang perbankan di masing-masing negara berbeda dan masuk dalam yurisdiksi kedaulatan negara.

Hambatan ini juga terasa dengan adanya penekanan ‘protection of souvereignty’ yang menjadi prinsip dasar bagi UNCAC (Article 4). Meskipun tidak terhindarkan, karena norma kerjasama internasional yang sangat menekankan pada kedaulatan negara, hal ini kerap menimbulkan persoalan karena tidak jarang banyak negara yang memberikan perlindungan terhadap buron-buron korupsi di negara tersebut.

 

Payung ASEAN

Pertanyaannya, mampukah ASEAN, sebagai kerangka kerjasama regional di Asia Tenggara, menutupi kelemahan-kelemahan yang ada di UNCAC tersebut? Sebetulnya ASEAN sudah meng-address problem korupsi ini sebelum adanya UNCACN, melalui ASEAN Declaration on Transnational Crime yang ditandatangani di Cebu, Filipina (1997).

Dalam deklarasi tersebut, persoalan korupsi dan suap memang dianggap sebagai salah satu transnational crime. Akan tetapi, tindak lanjut untuk mengatasinya baru sebatas rekomendasi kepada Expert Group Meeting dan dorongan kepada masing-masing negara untuk memperkuat tata pemerintahan yang baik.

Hal ini membuat ASEAN Declaration on Transnational Crime tak lebih dari sekadar konsensus regional yang, lagi-lagi, membuat pelaksanaannya diserahkan pada masing-masing negara.

Perkembangan berikutnya, muncul Southeast Asian Parliamentarians Against Corruption (SEAPAC) pada tahun 2002 yang menjadi dasar kerjasama anggota-anggota parlemen untuk memberantas korupsi. Perkembangan ini cukup menarik, tetapi lagi-lagi sangat state-centric.

Konsekuensinya, adanya SEAPAC bahkan tidak berbanding lurus terhadap korupsi yang dilakukan oleh anggota-anggota parlemen, terutama Indonesia. Hal ini disebabkan oleh karakter SEAPAC yang berbasis pada ‘kerjasama’ tanpa adanya kekuatan yang mampu mencegah korupsi secara struktural.

Sehingga kita bisa melihat problem paling mendasar dari kerjasama antikorupsi di tingkat ASEAN: tidak adanya basis kelembagaan yang cukup kuat untuk menjadi wadah kerjasama dalam memberantas korupsi secara serius.

Kerjasama untuk memberantas korupsi di ASEAN berada pada wilayah ASEAN Political Security Community (APSC). Pemberantasan korupsi telah masuk menjadi salah satu agenda di Blueprint APSC, namun sejauh ini belum ada policy framework yang mewadahinya. Hal ini bisa mengakibatkan kerjasama yang sudah ada sebelumnya menjadi ‘jalan di tempat’.

Sehingga, ada dua hal yang perlu dipertimbangkan untuk membangun desain kerjasama yang lebih efektif di wilayah pemberantasan korupsi

Pertama, perlunya sebuah regional policy framework di ASEAN yang sifatnya lebih komprehensif untuk mengatur format kerjasama yang tepat dalam memberantas korupsi. Regional Policy Framework tersebut setidaknya mampu memberikan kerangka kerja dan pemberantasan korupsi yang mengikat untuk bisa dimplementasikan di masing-masing negara anggota ASEAN.

Kedua, ASEAN perlu membentuk semacam Commsision yang bekerja di wilayah pemberantasan korupsi. Komisi tersebut akan bekerja untuk menangani aktivitas-aktivitas korupsi yang bersifat transnasional dan mengembalikan pelaku serta kerugian yang diberikan pada masing-masing negara.

Pembentukan komisi ini dimungkinkan mengingat sifat dari korupsi yang global dan extraordinary. Apalagi, ASEAN juga sudah punya komisi sektoral yang mewadahi kerjasama di bidang HAM (AICHR) dan perlindungan perempuan (ACWC). Sehingga, pelembagaan kerjasama di wilayah pemberantasan korupsi juga masih dimungkinkan.

Dengan semakin dekatnya Komunitas ASEAN 2015, hal tersebut menjadi semakin mendesak. Setidaknya, format-format perundingan di ASEAN yang akan semakin kompleks ke depan harus memberikan kerangka kerjasama yang lebih baik dari sebelumnya. Mari dorong pemberantasan korupsi yang lebih progresif!

Making ASEAN Democratic

25th ASEAN Summit, Myanmar. Photo Credits: Strait Times

25th ASEAN Summit, Myanmar. Photo Credits: Strait Times

Ahmad Rizky Mardhatillah Umar, Research Assistant at ASEAN Studies Center, Universitas Gadjah Mada

ASEAN has held its 24th and 25th Summit in Myanmar this year. The latest Summit has just held this month, discussiong several important topic about ASEAN’s future, including those happened in South China Sea.

The ASEAN Summit is formally regarded as the highest level in ASEAN Structure. It means that the result of the summit will determine the future of ASEAN.

Thus, for ASEAN leaders, the ASEAN Summit is highly important to craft their own interests in Southeast Asia. It is not only a place to discuss important issues in building ASEAN Community (which will be established by 2015), but also an arena to negotiate state’s interest in the regional.

However, I doubt the issue will be concerned by the ordinary people who do not directly engaged with the ASEAN issues. Every year I regularly travel to Banjarmasin and Martapura (a fair town located in South Kalimantan) and rarely I hear any discussion about ASEAN in the public space, traditional market, or warung. ASEAN is still located outside of their minds –even the villagers have no idea what the ASEAN is.

The phenomenon portrayed an unresolved gap in ASEAN: while the ‘talk’ about regionalism is getting more complicated in the elite level, people’s perception about it is still very low. It is, as Amitav Acharya analysed, has been a main constraint to make a participatory regionalism in ASEAN.

Why do the people of ASEAN seem to be ignorant, or in other words, disengaged, with the ASEAN Summit that will direct this regional organisation in the future? John McCormick, in his popular book criticising the European Union, described this phenomenon as ‘democratic deficit’ –the lack of democracy that is generated by the inability of people to articulate their interests in decision-making process.

McCormick argued, following deliberative approach to democracy, that democracy is determined by people’s ability to influence the decision-making process. According to this approach, one can say a transnational governance model (like ASEAN) is democratic if it supports political participation from internal interest group within it.

Participation is central in deliberative democracy. To make a democratic or –to borrow a slogan— ‘people-centred’ ASEAN, the most important aspect that should fulfilled is maintaining participation from any interest group inside ASEAN Member States. In other words, we have to include regional Civil Society in ASEAN governing forum or institutions.

Since 2003, ASEAN has been institutionalised into a more complex form of regionalism. There has been three community inside ASEAN, which are aimed to be established by 2015 –ASEAN Political Security Community, ASEAN Economic Community, and ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community. According to deliberative approach, to make democratic ASEAN, these institutions should be openned for participation and engagement from civil society entities.

But in fact, the development of those institutions has turned into a bureaucratic-technocratic form within ASEAN Secretariats. Thus, we can see a new configuration within ASEAN decision-making process: the political decision will be discussed in a summit which is highly elitist and state-based, while the implementation of those decisions will be conducted in ASEAN Secretariat.

It has emerged a question: where was the space for civil society organisations to engage in ASEAN decision-making process? To respond the existed regime, some Non-Governmental Organisations launched ASEAN Civil Society Conference in 2005, which contained many NGOs in ASEAN Member States to participate and voice their interests in the forum.

At the beginning, the Conference has been greeted by ASEAN Leaders by inviting the Conference representative to the Summit to present the result before the Summit (Dang, 2008). However, as time passes by, relations between NGOs and ASEAN leaders weakened. There is still no room allocated for civil society to engage in decision-making process, particularly at the summit. The political decision still belongs to representative of the States.

Thus, the ASEAN Civil Society Conference –later changed as ‘ASEAN People’s Forum’— still left a gap: it is not adequate to accommodate people’s interests in decision-making process. The ASEAN People’s Forum is suitable to mobilise and consolidate interest group in Southeast Asia, but in the context of advocacy and engaging in decision-making process, there is no adequate room.

I argue that the lack of room for people’s participation in ASEAN is prominently caused by two variables. First, the elitist and state-centrist nature of ASEAN. Historically, ASEAN has been constructed by a consensus of state which was aimed to promote regional peace and stability as well as cooperate in social, economic, and cultural sectors. It is originally designed as a room for states, not people, to negotiate its interest in regions, and consequently makes the regionalism to be very state-centred.

Second, there is no significant effort from ASEAN Leaders to accommodate people’s participation in decision-making process. The 2003 ASEAN Summit only transformed ASEAN’s institutions (into Community) but not the decision-making process. It still lies on the hand of ASEAN leaders who attend the Summit. Thus, the state-centrist nature is still preserved until present and becomes a constraint for people’s participation in ASEAN.

To make ASEAN more democratic, on the context of the upcoming I hereby propose two steps. First, making ASEAN Summit as an inclusive meeting. This step can be conducted by allowing civil society organizations and interest groups to participate in the Summit, not only as observer but also as participant. The ASEAN Summit, therefore, should be perceived not only as an ‘arena of negotiation’ but also ‘place for dialogue’ between ASEAN leaders and its people.

Second, building some institutional bridge to connect ASEAN People and ASEAN leaders. It can be conducted through formalising ASEAN People’s Forum as a part of ASEAN Governing Institution, and then transform it as an influential institution in ASEAN decision-making process. Building a more representative institution as place for people’s representative is necessary, so that the people can articulate their interest in ASEAN.

I believe that if ASEAN leaders have a little political will to open more chances and opportunities for non-state actors to participate in the upcoming Summit, we can optimistically make a more democratic ASEAN in the future.

What Does Jokowi’s “Pro-People Diplomacy” Mean for ASEAN?

Retno Marsudi, Minister of Foreign Affaris, Republic of Indonesia. Source: progresivenews.com/

Retno Marsudi, Minister of Foreign Affaris, Republic of Indonesia.
Source: progresivenews.com/

By Ahmad Rizky Mardhatillah Umar, research assistant at ASEAN Studies Center, Universitas Gadjah Mada

Foreign Minister H.E. Retno LP Marsudi has launched her first speech on Indonesia’s Foreign Policy in Wednesday (29/10). At that speech, she embraced several new ideas on what she will do in her term as Foreign Minister and how Indonesia’s foreign policy will be directed under her leadership, including what is now popular as “Pro-People” Foreign policy.

Three important points are highlighted in her speech. Firstly, she acknowledges that strengthening Indonesia’s economy will be a priority in Jokowi’s administration. Therefore, Indonesia’s foreign policy should go side-by-side with economic development policy.

Secondly, Indonesia’s bilateral relations with strategic partners will be prioritized rather than takes part with multilateral forums. In other words, Marsudi seems to put aside Indonesia’s energetic movement in endorsing  multilateral talks and instead focusing on strengthening bilateral affairs.

Thirdly, she wants to reposits Indonesian diplomats not only as a negotiator abroad, but also as a ‘salesmen’ who takes part in promoting Indonesian products. Therefore, she insists that Indonesian diplomats should be able to do ‘blusukan’ in order to know what Indonesia has to be sold in international market.

Marsudi’s speech clearly indicates that Indonesia’s foreign policy, during Jokowi’s administration, will be served as a hub to strengthening economy in international level. Different with ‘Zero Enemy and Million Friends’ tagline brought by SBY administration, who aimes to posit Indonesia in global level, her ‘Pro-People Diplomacy’ seems to take inward-looking position in global politics.

This position can be understood by her intention to strengthen Indonesia’s bilateral relations rather than actively engage in multilateral forums, as well as making diplomacy as a means of enhancing economic development in international arena.

Nevertheless, we can also see that Marsudi’s speech has also sent a strong signal for the return of ‘national interest’ in Indonesia’s foreign policy. By crafting foreign policy with economic measure, Marsudi is not only abandoning SBY’s ‘million friends’ stance in international politics, but also she attempts to make Indonesia’s perspectives on global and regional environment firmer, that is to defend the state-defined national interest in his campaign.

Even though two previous ministers were also, to some extent, holding ‘national interest’ as a basis in foreign policy making, her stance in ‘national interest is quite stronger. During Hassan Wirayudha (2001-2009) ministerial period, Indonesia’s regional involvement is stronger. Wirayudha’s initiatives in ASEAN Political Security Community, as noted by Donald Weatherbee (2013), has made clear that Indonesia put ASEAN as a priority.

Not much different with Wirayudha, his successor Marty Natalegawa (2009-2014) also put Indonesia’s involvement in global level, particularly the South-to-South talks, as a priority in Indonesia’s foreign policy. His doctrine on dynamic equilibrium and peace doctrine was intended to support SBY’s vision on ‘Zero Enemy and ‘Million Friends’.

Compared with what Wirayudha and Natalegawa has done in previous years, Marsudi’s inward-looking approach will be less involved in positioning Indonesia in global and regional level. Her ‘pro-people’ approach will be focusing mainly on preparing Indonesia’s domestic economy to face economic integration in Southeast Asia.

Thus, what will this ‘pro-people’ stance, taken by Marsudi, implies to ASEAN, which aimed to be politically and economically consolidated after 2015?

Since the Second ASEAN Summit in Bali, 2003, Indonesia has been involved in integration processes in Southeast Asia. Indonesia has played important role in designing ASEAN Political Security Community as well as contributing in democratization in several states, thus contribute in driving political integration process in the region.

Former Foreign Minister Wirayudha spoke with at CSIS, Jakarta (24/10) that Indonesia has been actively provided intellectual leadership in ASEAN and it should be maintained in Jokowi’s administration.

With Foreign Minister Marsudi send the first signal on Indonesia’s foreign policy in the upcoming years, it will be interesting to see how Indonesia involve in regional politics. Given her pro-people approach in diplomacy, it can be predicted that there will be hope and concern from Marsudi to Indonesia’s position in ASEAN.

I will start with the hope. By taking a ‘pro-people’ approach with emphasis on economic diplomacy, Indonesia can be more prepared in facing the upcoming ASEAN Economic Community. With economic diplomacy, we can hope Jokowi’s administration can be more focused on developing Small and Medium Enterprises to deal with regional market.

ASEAN Studies Center, Universitas Gadjah Mada has mapped small and medium enterprises’ (SMEs) preparedness in ASEAN Community and it is found that many SMEs are not yet prepared to compete in regional level. Public should push Jokowi and his cabinet to be more serious in this issue.

However, we should also be concerned that ‘pro-people’ diplomacy can also make Indonesia’s leadership in several regional forums, particularly the ASEAN Political Security Community, will be weakened. So far Indonesia has driven several agenda in promoting democracy and human rights in the region.

By focusing on bilateral relations, Indonesia is less likely to continue its effort in becoming ‘the largest muslim democracy’ in the world that, to some extent, will implies on Indonesia’s passive stances in multilateral forums. Indonesia can also less involved with other multilateral groups such as G-20.

This concern shall be answered by our Foreign Minister Marsudi under her leadership. Indonesia should maintain the ‘ASEAN Centrality’ in dealing with regional issue, while strengthening bilateral relations with strategic partners.

Other than that, our foreign policy should also address many changes in global politics that will be occurred in the upcoming years, particularly with the political succession in the US which will influence Indonesia’s position among other states as well as Southeast Asian  politics.

Notwithstanding that, Marsudi’s innovative paces are still to be awaited in the future. Will she able to build a new style of leadership in the region is still the biggest challenge in the future. And most importantly, she is expected to make sure that ‘pro-people’ diplomacy can goes hand-in-hand with Indonesia’s intellectual leadership in ASEAN.