Colonial Heritage in Southeast Asian Identity Need to be Dismantled

Slider - Farish Lecture

Lecture by Prof. Farish Noor – 29 September 2014

Southeast Asia is essentially a dynamic region, not just after colonialism and decolonization in the 1950s, but also before that. Kirti Chaudry comprehensive study about Southeast Asia before the colonial era shows that Asian identity emerged preceeding European identity, which in the mid-1500s are still sealed in the warring countries to fight over territory.

Those was delivered by Professor Farish Noor, Associate Professor at Nanyang Technological University in the Faculty (29/9). Prof. Farish gave a lecture on the formation of political identity in Southeast Asia. There are around 35 students who attended his class.

“Indeed, Asian identity is born first before Europe. However, the experience of colonialism led to a shift in their identity “, he said.

According to him, the colonial administration established both by the Dutch in Indonesia and the British in Malaysia contribute to the re-establishment of identity in Southeast Asia. “Colonial Government has interest to build an administration that could ruled the colonial society. The Administration, in Malaysia and Indonesia, divide society into certain ethnic base in order to ease the control over the society. Though, this regulation is unknown in the pre-colonial society “, he concluded.

Farish who is also the Coordinator of the Doctoral Program at NTU stated that the identity in Southeast Asia is not a normative identity and could not be changed. “Political identity in Southeast Asia is not something that “fell” from the sky. It grew up and evolved dynamically within the community. We, as the Southeast Asian people actually could have created our own Southeast Asian identity, “added the alumnus of the University of Essex, UK.

The creation of identity in Southeast Asia needs to be done, for example, by exploring local heritages in Southeast Asia that were buried in the colonial era. “There is a study of doctoral student at Universitas Gadjah Mada, for example, that explored the legacy of Bajau Laut tribes in Sulawesi, Kalimantan, to the Philippines. Bajau Laut is a tribe whose identity beyond the nation-state in Southeast Asia. Bajau tribe in Sulawesi, Sabah and the Philippines, claimed that they were relatives though they were separated by the boundaries of nation-states created by colonialism. They are one of the examples of a legacy that needs to be revived, “added Farish.

At the end of the lecture, Farish urges participants to reflect back the identity of Southeast Asia critically. “The identity of Southeast Asia is still possible to be redefined,” Farish councluded in his lecture.

The lecture, which lasted for 120 minutes is listened carefully by the participants, which consisted of enthusiasts of Southeast Asian studies at the Faculty. Some foreign students attended this class with enthusiasm. These lectures then were closed by the Director of the ASEAN Studies Center, Randy Wirasta Nandyatama.

ICONAS 2014

International Conference on ASEAN Studies 2014 (ICONAS 2014) will be held on Wednesday-Thursday, October 1st – 2nd  2014 at Inna Garuda Hotel, Jalan Malioboro, Yogyakarta. The conference will be started at 09.00 AM.

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ICONAS Speech Summary – Dr. Ponciano S. Intal

Feature - Remarks Ponchiano

Dr. Ponciano S. Intal, Jr.

(Senior Economist, Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East ASIA)

Dr. Intal started his presentation on accelerating development and deepening economic integration by highlighting the fact that apart from China, ASEAN is the most successful region to reduce poverty and with the highest economic growth. ASEAN is also a growing investment hotpot in the world. Compare to India and China, ASEAN is far more dependent to foreign direct investment thus making it crucial to attract this capital for economic growth. ASEAN also offers larger middle class, which also means larger room to grow. But of course there are still challenges within it. ASEAN still have high percentage of people who live under the living standard, millions of poor people still struggling. These are the challenges faced by ASEAN Economic Community.

Dr. Intal pointed out that to accelerate growth and development is actually very difficult, in addition to specific requirements and needing difficult policy reforms.

ASEAN Economic community means deeper integration where all aspect is connected and data go through quickly. Fast services is required in order to cut total time needed to process document thus trading activities can take place in shorter time. Although it is difficult to do and takes times, it is actually very useful because fewer documents will be involved in this borderless community, shorter period of time will be spent to bring the commodities to the market and all government will be connected into one system which means standardization.

Dr. Ponciano emphasizes that ASEAN Community in its blue print offers various easiness for business actor especially on the openness of ASEAN market, thus allowing a faster export and import activities due to simplicity of permit procedures. This also could help business actor saving more of their capital and expanding their market. However, some ASEAN countries still face the difficulties in realizing the opportunities of economic openness. At the moment, only Malaysia and Singapore who have been receiving the best of open market and integration of economic system in ASEAN. This is the challenge: how to bring the benefits in economy to all ASEAN member states through collaboration and cooperation.

ICONAS Keynote Speech – Danny Lee

Feature - Remarks Danny Lee

Danny Lee

(Director of Community Development, ASEAN Secretariat)

Mr. Danny Lee focuses his keynote speech on raising the issue of how transforming ASEAN into people centered organization still requires lots of efforts from many stakeholders. Two years ago, ASEAN Secretariat asked the question of “Where is ASEAN?” On a survey about ASEAN, 76% of the respondent does not know what ASEAN is doing. Thus, Mr. Danny Lee is thrilled to have the opportunities to be part of conference like ICONAS as it provides a platform to disseminate to people of what ASEAN does. He also emphasized on what roles ASEAN Studies Center can take in promoting and helping the process of establishing ASEAN Community 2015. One of the very important roles of ASC is on ensuring that ASEAN is a people-centered organization. ASEAN Community in 2015 is ongoing process as it is regional processes. So it is not a done yet. It is a starting process. As to support this processes, ASEAN Studies Center also plays an important role that can focuses on social sciences activities, collaboration and also to discuss new possibilities for ASEAN in green energy for example. Therefore, Mr. Danny Lee is optimist and confidence with the future of ASEAN because.

ICONAS Speech Summary – Ass. Prof. Farish A. Noor

Feature - Remarks Farish

Associate Professor Farish A. Noor

(Associate Professor at Rajaratnam School of International Studies)

Prof. Farish A. Noor started the discussion by delivering question “Where is ASEAN?” to the audience of the seminar. The general answer would be “there” which is epistemology wrong answer. The question “Where is ASEAN” refers to the meaning of ASEAN in the mind of so-called ASEAN people. Prof. Farish is a southeast asianist, he had have been into many part of Southeast Asia country and met many people, which some of them are part of 600 million of ASEAN people. He is 100% sure that none of these people whom he met and supposedly part of ASEAN know about ASEAN or even think that ASEAN is relevant to their life. This is the first challenge of ASEAN: How to make ASEAN meaningful for the people living in its region? How to make an identity part of ASEAN meaningful? Nowadays, the problem that is facing these people, us also, are the challenge to face economic political integration in one hand and globalization in another hand, impacting on our economies. This will impact each of our future of what we are going to be. Prof. Farish emphasizes on how the next generation of ASEAN will have to face the fact that success means a Singaporean born in Singapore, educated in Malaysia, marrying an Indonesia, having a career in Korea and Vietnam, and then maybe retiring and dying in Cambodia. This future itself, as Prof. Farish described, is not a floating idea like metaphysics. It is actually happening at least in his family in which relatives are coming from different ASEAN member countries which makes ASEAN is not an abstract idea. It is a reality for us. Historically, everything about Southeast Asia, by virtue of our geography and demography, by virtue that we are caught between the East and West, Southeast Asia has always been a zone of overlapped mixing hybridity. So, once again Prof. Farish raises the question “Conceptually, historically where is ASEAN?” ASEAN enters the language in vocabulary of Southeast Asia since 1966 or 1967 onwards. From the beginning, ASEAN was set for the stability and neutrality of the region towards cold war. During this time, ASEAN was merely talked as a vocabulary of political and elites group that is why ASEAN does not growing down to the ground level. Embarking from this point, Prof. Farish argue that the trust deficit occurs on the level of state-to-state relations. States in the post colonialism era necessarily acted to protect their territorial and economic sovereignty. People, on the other hands, do not have a trust deficit. In terms of people to people contact, what we need to do now, particularly academics who works with policy makers and architect of future ASEAN is to bring an aspect of genuine intra-Southeast Asia exchange that is happening all the time to the discussion of ASEAN. Take for the example on how many cross-border or cross-nation marriages between ASEAN member countries actually take place which he believes there are no statistics available to represent the general idea. Prof. Farish continues that the unavailability of the statistic is merely because on the perspective of nation-states, such aspect simply does not necessary. The technocrat does not see values on this, but sociologist does. That is why, meetings like this are important. It allows conversation between economist, sociologist, and technocrats to exchange their views on ASEAN Community.

Professor Farish then moves the discussion on how to lay down the normative foundation of common region homeliness in the context of Southeast Asia, ASEAN, that people would feel the common sentiment of belonging to ASEAN, part of ASEAN, citizen of ASEAN. This is where the crucial roles from academics, historians, and sociologist, especially anthropologist come in. If we expect the states to these roles, there are two fundamentals limitation of a state: by definition, a state should think of our (citizen) interest (i.e. national borders, economic borders, societal borders), a state could only lay down the architecture of communication and contacts, the process of integration by opening up the borders where comfort zone has been established, trust has been taking place and encourage people to interact at all level. However, no matter how powerful state is, it can’t force each of us to love ASEAN. States, in his explanation, can only provide the architecture; what need to be injected into the whole ASEAN debate is the vocabulary and epistemology, and the ground level knowledge of an actual organic dynamic that takes place in terms of people to people contact. This is exactly why Southeast Asian Studies matters. It is also important to set up ASEAN Studies Center to live up and bridge up this people to people contact. There is a need to formulate an operationable steps that allows people at the most ground level notice ASEAN and feels as ASEAN citizen, whom unfortunately often ignored by technocrats who is design the architecture. Southeast Asia is not something new and ASEAN is just another lieu of identity formed to represent the region. We should try to reconnect to the history of Southeast Asian that already exist out-there to create the homeliness of ASEAN on each level which come from complexity not homogenous. In the end of his speech, Prof. Farish reminds us that it is important to create an equal economic community, at the same time avoiding middle-income trap. If such kind inequality to be appears, then hyper nationalism sentiment would be contradictive to ASEAN spirit to create a regional sharing and caring community.

ICONAS Speech Summary – Mr. Suthipand Chirathivat

Feature - Remarks Suthipand

Championing ASEAN Economic Community

– Mr. Suthipand Chirathivat  

Mr. Suthipand focuses his discussion on the framework of championing ASEAN Economic Community by discussing it on four remarks: growing ASEAN economies and market integration, driving AEC through growing ASEAN market integration, managing AEC through sectoral and regional change by learning from Thailand’s experiences and the opportunities lies behind AEC for ASEAN people.

On first note, Mr. Suthipand highlights the growing number of ASEAN market and its integration despite global slowdown. He quoted that there are an average of 4% of GDP growth in all ASEAN 10 member countries where Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam turn to be the new growth center. Although so, ASEAN markets should remain its concern on the possibilities of scale back US QE, Chinese currency movements, capital flows and exchange rate fluctuations and exports slowdown. However ASEAN economies stand as 3rd biggest population in the world, with the GDP size rank 9th in the world and trade value rank 5th in the world. This shows the growth of South markets where ASEAN is more regionally integrated and globally connected than ever before although intra-states transaction remains low.

On the second note, Mr. Suthipand delivers issues on how to drive the growth of AEC through growing ASEAN market integration. AEC means single market, production base and increasing connectivity, which will allow each ASEAN country to involved in the network of global production thus allowing also ASEAN country to grow in the context of rising ASEAN, Asia and the world. However, progress is still below expectations and uneven.

AEC development is supported by four strategic pillars, which are single market and production base, competitive economic region, equitable economic development and integration into the global economy. These all four pillars pay attention on the development of human resources as well as research and development. Through this four pillars, the expected outcomes are such as readiness acceleration through active involvement from private sector, easier and cheaper access to product for consumers because the competitive region with wide range of options and extensive consumer protection. Another expected outcomes are the free flow of skilled labor within the region, which will create bigger job creation and opportunities; and providing platform for agreements to integrate ASEAN member countries deeper into global economy.

In the midst all of these, Thailand is the second largest economy of ASEAN member country, with prospective advantages. Since the earliest effort to welcome AEC, Thailand has been experiencing significant growth on GDP percentage since 2007 to 2011. Meanwhile, total trading number has also increased by 6.0 percent since 2008. Thailand is also well-known as the regional hub for automobiles, electrical and electronic production networks.

Embarking from the experiences of Thailand, Mr. Suthipand continue the discussion to embracing AEC as an opportunity for ASEAN by addressing seriously challenges like putting ASEAN people at the centre of the regionalism, mapping out an education/a campus that could embrace the region’s diversity and working together to avoid the middle income trap. These efforts should be done by empowering ASEAN people as ASEAN is a people centered organization.

ICONAS Speech Summary, Amb. I Gusti Agung Wesaka Puja

Feature - Remarks Puja

Championing ASEAN Political – Security Society: Opportunities and Challenge

– Amb. I Gusti Agung Wesaka Puja

Mr. I Gusti Agung Wesaka Puja started his presentation on the question of how many people in the room know about ASEAN Community. The answer to this question was that not many people in the seminar room actually know about ASEAN Community. His Excellency identifies this unawareness as one of the challenge. He is not surprised toward the fact because initially, ASEAN was established 47 years ago for the security and stability of the region. It is now growing towards ASEAN Community, which is not an event but a process of having a caring sharing community. As an ongoing process, ASEAN Community 2015 is looking forward to a community, which is politically cohesive, economically integrated and socially responsible.

Focusing on ASEAN Political and Security Community, he conveys that this pillar is aimed to ensure the people of ASEAN live in peace at a large in a just, democratic and harmonious environment. To do so, 84% of ASEAN Political-Security Community Blue Print has been implemented per August 2014, 82.1% for scorecard, and 96.7 of Number Action Lines. The commitment ASEAN would like to achieve has always been peace, stability and economic growth for ASEAN member countries. The same commitment is also uphold through the realization of ASEAN Community, a sharing and caring society.

On the second part of his presentation, Mr. Agung Wesaka Puja focuses on opportunities and challenge faced by ASEAN. He identify that ASEAN has the opportunities to grow and develop because of factors such region relative stability and peace, established cooperation with major powers, equipped with legal instruments to ensure peace, security and stability through arrangement like ZOPFAN, TAC, SEANWFZ and ACCT; existing forum and mechanism to address the security issues and to promote peace and stability like ADF, ADMM and AMMTC. Also, another opportunities in ASEAN is that it is a huge market of 600 millions of people that still have rooms for substantial economic growth. However, Mr. Agung Wesaka Puja also admitted that despite those opportunities, ASEAN should be careful and aware of challenges on traditional and non-traditional security issues, territorial disputes, trust deficit, development gap among state members, middle income trap risk, corruption and poor governance and slowdown in the US, the EU and the Chinese GDP growth.

To address this challenges, Mr. Agung Wesaka Puja addressed in his conclusion in Indonesian perspective that there is a need of a call to action where consolidating ASEAN Community should start at home first by strengthening the ASEAN Secretariat and three pillars of ASEAN Community 2015, implementation of Bali Concord III and its action plan as well as pursuing the identified ASEAN Development Goals of 2030 which is to double up the total number of GDP of ASEAN state members and cut half the total poverty number of state members. Hopefully, by next year when the ASEAN chairmanship is on Malaysia, these goals can be followed up.

Mr. Agung Wesaka Puja then moves up his discussion into Indonesian Perspective on the Indo-Pacific. The discourse of ASEAN nowadays has also widened into other countries in the Pacific. For instance the conflict in South China Sea, which shows that there is trust deficit, maritime, and land borders conflict as well as the changing transformation of a country that affect the region. It adds up the challenging part of establishing “we feeling” among the state members of ASEAN.

In his closing remarks, Mr. Agung Wesaka Puja conveyed that it is important for the academician, scholars and students to first understand about ASEAN Community as the frontliner of ASEAN Community 2015. He also emphasized that ASEAN Community 2015 is not an event but rather a process of integration that is started on 2015.

Jelang MEA 2015, Indonesia Harus Memimpin ASEAN

Slider - ICONAS Feature

Dilansir dari Sumber Kedaulatan Rakyat pada Kamis, 2 Oktober 2014 (hal: 9)- Indonesia sebagai negara terbesar ASEAN harus menjadi leader dalam implementasi masyarakat ekonomi ASEAN (MEA) yang akan diberlakukan 2015. Sebagai pintu gerbang terwujudnya integrasi regional yang lebih terpadu, MEA harus siap menghadapi banyak peluang dan tantangan.

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Workshop MEA untuk Pemerintah Daerah

Event - Workshop Pemda

“Kesiapan Pemerintah Daerah Dalam Menghadapi Masyarakat Ekonomi ASEAN 2015”

Waktu: 18-20 Juni 2014

Tempat: Jogja Plaza Hotel, Yogyakarta

Dihadiri oleh 30 perwakilan dari beberapa pemerintah daerah di Indonesia, perwakilan dari dua kementerian terkait yaitu KEMENKO Perekonomian dan Kementerian Perdagangan.  Hasil dari workshop ini adalah komitmen pemerintah daerah dalam membantu mensukseskan MEA 2015”