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Jovito Jose P. Katigbak | August 11, 2015 | Source: Center for International Relations & Strategic Studies (CIRSS)

On 31 December 2015, as envisaged in the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Blueprint, ASEAN will declare itself as a single market characterized by free movement of goods, services, investment, skilled labor, and freer flow of capital. But at the sidelines of the 2015 World Economic Forum, Malaysia’s Trade Minister Mustapa Mohamed remarked that the free flow of skilled labor within the region would only come in 2020.

Pattharapong Rattanasevee | July 30, 2015 | Source: East Asia Forum

The ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) is set to arrive at the end of 2015. It is a significant step forward and could be a crucial turning point for ASEAN. But without a strong central authority and mandate, ASEAN integration will remain in a mess and the AEC remain an illusion.

The goal of the AEC is to implement economic integration initiatives by creating a single market across ASEAN nations. This requires a strong central authority that can harmonise and standardise regional regulations, and it must be recognised by all member countries.

Jemimah Joanne C. Villaruel | July 7, 2015 | Source: Center for International Relations & Strategic Studies (CIRSS)

Because of the volatility in the current world order, states are faced with the daunting task of continuously addressing new and emerging security challenges. These threats have the capacity to disrupt peace, security and stability. From the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the Middle East to the Ebola epidemic in Africa, they continue to evolve in ways that significantly tests on how states respond to them.

Mark Valencia | June 18, 2015 | Source: East Asia Forum

We are witnessing another round of China-bashing — this time because of its reclamation activities on islands and submerged reefs in the South China Sea. The US Department of Defense has accused China of undermining the status quo and generating instability, being out of step with international rules and norms, and ‘militarising’ these features.

Richard A. Bitzinger | May 20, 2015 | Source: RSIS


Para-naval forces, particularly Coast Guards, are increasingly active in the South China Sea when it comes to enforcing maritime rights. These so-called “white-hulled” fleets are more and more serving as proxies for naval forces, ratcheting down confrontations at sea. This may not last forever, however.


Kaewkamol Pitakdumrongkit | March 18, 2015 | Source: RSIS


Although Southeast Asian economies rely on international labour as a key element of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), the progress of labour liberalisation has been disappointing. It is obstructed by domestic laws and regulations due to differing concerns of labour-exporting and labour-importing countries.


Walden Bello | March 17, 2015 | Source: Foreign Policy in Focus

American fingerprints are all over a botched commando raid in the southern Philippines that left dozens dead and shocked the country.

Early in the morning of January 25, commandos belonging to the Special Action Force of the Philippine National Police crept into the southern town of Mamasapano — a stronghold of the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front. The elite Seaborne Unit had come for Zulkifli Abdhir, a Malaysian bomb maker better known as “Marwan.”

By the end of the morning, dozens lay dead.

Barry Desker | March 5, 2015 | Source: RSIS


As ASEAN enters a critical year in which it has to declare itself as a single ASEAN Community, a fundamental question needs to be asked: Is ASEAN integration a growing reality or an aspiration that remains unfulfilled?


Julio S. Amador III and Jeremie P. Credo | February 24, 2015 | Source: CIRSS

Enjoying steady bilateral relations since diplomatic ties were established after the Vietnam War in 1976, the Philippines and Vietnam are now engaging in high-level dialogues to try to establish a strategic partnership.

Raman Letchumanan | February 11, 2015 | Source: RSIS


The ASEAN Community is to be established this year. ASEAN should convey, very early in the new year, a coordinated message on what exactly the ASEAN Community 2015 is and what the people can expect come 31 December 2015.



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