An inspiring ASEAN 50 years of age
Over the past 50 years, ASEAN has become the common home of those who share many common similarities. ASEAN has been created the image and inspiration for small and medium size countries because the Association has been able to develop their own identity in a constantly changing world.
This statement above was made by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Pham Quang Minh, the Head Principle of University of Social Sciences and Humanities in an interview with TG&VN on the upcoming ASEAN’s 50th anniversary.
It is clear that the theme “Joining hands in making changes and creating global connection” in 2017 of ASEAN stresses the changes and integration of the group with the outside world. After 50 years of development, it is necessary for ASEAN to strengthen its standing and influence on the world stage. Over the past half century, in terms of integration level, ASEAN, as a group, has clearly integrated less than its member countries. What ASEAN needs to focus on in the coming times is narrowing down development gap, promoting connection from within and then integrating the whole Association to the outside world.
It is hoped that the Philippines will lead ASEAN to the direction of innovation and integration. Particularly, in this crucial period, members need to promote solidarity and unity so that the Chair country can complete their term and bring ASEAN to a new height. It is undeniable that the current affairs pose numerous challenges to the Philippines. Specifically, major domestic changes are now taking place in various countries. For instance, new administrative is coming to power in the US, China is preparing for its upcoming Communist Party Congress and many key countries in Europe is going to hold election. In this context, the Philippines, the Chairman of ASEAN in 2017 will have to make the best efforts so that the association could overcome difficulties and take advantage of development opportunities.
Many complicated issues namely terrorists, illegal immigration, economic regression, the increasing populism and protectionism are surfacing in the international environment which have brought about various difficulties to ASEAN. However, they are also the chance for the association to prove that integration, trade liberalization and connection within regional countries remain a beneficial trend. Countries thus should not follow ‘close door’ policy and return to protectionism. Instead, they need to build an action program in the interest of people, build a caring community. Over the past years, globalization has ignored a section of people. Therefore, ASEAN has to work forwards establishing organizations for the sake of people, centering the people and reduce making empty and ineffective statements.
The future ahead ASEAN is promising for Vietnam. As the third populous country in the Association with stable politics and successful dynamic economy, it is high time for Vietnam to play a more proactive role in ASEAN. However, it is important to harmonize ASEAN integration and domestic reform. More than ever, it is necessary for Vietnam to bridge the gap with more developed economies in ASEAN, so that Vietnam can become an important partner of member countries and gain trust from partners.