Hello fellow ASEAN citizens. Thank you for reading our blogs. You can feel free to participate with our activities. If you feel you want your article to be posted here or want to join our team, please send mail to:


Happy New Year!

My wish is that we are going to have a new beginning and a fresh start for a better union among the South East Asian nations! Happy New Year, my sisters and brothers of ASEAN!

Selamat Tahun Baru!

Sou Sdey Chnam Tmey!

Sabaidee Peemai!

Hnit Thit Ku Mingalar Pa!

Manigong Bagong Taon!

Sawasdee Peemai!

Chuc Mung Nam Moi!


Meanwhile, in Bali

ASEAN through Indonesia hosted the United Nations Climate Change Conference at Nusa Dua, Bali. Heated debates occurred over negotiation tables due to various differences while ASEAN continues to give lip services to climate change without actually doing anything about it. Amid those serious discussions, on the sidelines are activities with witty campaigns and the picture by AFP below illustrates those campaigns:


Awww... those thoughtful fuzzy polar bears!


Two countries, one VISA (Thailand and Cambodia)

[quote name='anniehou' date='Dec 14 2007, 01:16 PM' post='123297']
Friday, 14th December 2007

The Nation (Thailand)
Wed, December 12, 2007

Thailand and Cambodia will sign a single visa agreement on Monday enabling visitors from outside to use only one visa for two countries, the Foreign Ministry said Wednesday.

Foreign Minister Nitya Pibulsonggram would sign the agreement with this Cambodian counterpart Hor Namhong when he makes his official visit to Phnom Penh on Monday.

The pact was a pilot project under the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS).

Set up since 2003, ACMECS is a joint development scheme made of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.

Under the initiative of "Four countries, One Destination", the ACMECS Single Visa pact aimed to facilitate tourism in the region.

Foreign ministers of four countries agreed in Siem Riep in August 2005 to allow Thailand and Cambodia to implement the scheme first and the remaining members might join later if it is successful.

Visitors from outside could apply entry visa at embassies of either Thailand or Cambodia for two nations, said the ministry's spokesman Tharit Charungvat.

The arrangement would benefit for tourism of the two countries and visits apply only one visa to both Thailand and Cambodia which have many different attractive sites, he said.

However, the pact would not come into force until the Interior Ministry and concern agencies issued related regulations to enforce, Tharit said but did not say when such related regulations would be finished.



Happy Birthday, Denith!

Gals and guys, let’s hear it for our homeboy, Denith! He’s done so much for our clan and there’s no doubt that he’s the guy with the kind of enthusiasm we need to keep the clan going.

So, Brother Denith, Happy Birthday to you!

- Selamat Hari Lahir!

- Soursdey Tgnai Kourb Komnert!

- Selamat Ulang Tahun!

- Souksaan Van-kheud!

- Selamat Hari Jadi!

- Mwe Nay Mingalar Pa!

- Maligayang Kaarawan!

- Souksan Wan-keud!

- Chúc Mừng Sinh Nhật!

May your life be blessed with good health and prosperity for many years ahead, Denith!


Talk about the SEA Games Opening

I really want to say much about the SEA Games opening ceremony here, but because I am stupidly opinionated (haha!), let me redirect you to where my article lurks. I did not post it here because this is not the right place for opinions so let's respect the solemnity of ASEAN unity. ^_^

Click the link to read my article.


Forum for ASEAN Clan contributors

I, Denith, hereby to announce that the forum for ASEAN Clan contributors has been created for the mutual communication of each contributors. We are using free-hosting forum, however, but I believe that it is good enough for us since we are still a small clan.

Here is the address:

All contributors, register now.

And note: this is for ASEAN Clan contributors ONLY. Unknown email address is not acceptable.



Maligayang Pasko (Merry Christmas)

The San Sebastian Church on Christmas Eve
The Philippines is a largely Catholic Country. 60% of Filipinos are Roman Catholic while the remainder comprise the Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu filipinos.

Though filipinos mostly enjoy parties on special ocassions, Christmas is always celebrated with solemnity. The Christmas fever usually starts in September where most malls are decorated with Christmas ornaments. At the start of December when strong winds blow, night markets start to rise in Manila and other big cities. The high demand for ham and cheese (queso de bola) starts and cheap bargains for christmas lights and trees swarm the Markets.

In December 16, the night mass or most commonly known as simbang gabi starts. People (especially the elder ones) are the first ones in the churches. After the mass, filipinos love to eat the bibingka and puto bumbong, a native delicacy that are commonly sold outside the churches.
Children start to serenade the neighborhood with their lamps, flashlights and instruments. In the eve of Christmas (Bisperas ng Pasko), people go for the last simbang gabi and, whoever completes their attendance on all night masses (as what I was told of), their wishes are said to come true. After it, families gather for Noche Buena and eat the all-time filipino christmas favorite, ham and cheese with hot chocolate.

On the day of christmas, children go to their godparents' house and recieve their gifts for being good kids.

So let's be good kids and recieve gifts at the end of the year!


The "parol", a traditional filipino lantern

Some of the majestic churches on christmas

The SM Mall of Asia on Christmas
pictures courtesy of Yahoo! and Google Philippines

NOTE: The percentage on filipino catholics have recently been corrected. Thanks to our readers!


Khmer Traditional Story: Ko Samot Teuk Dos

Here I'd like to share you all a shot in a scene of Ko Samot Teuk Dos story performed by Khmer students. To see more: click here!

Cambodian Culture of Dancing Art

I am happy to share you all some shots of Apasara dance as well as Greeing dance and a scene of Ko Samot Teuk Dos story ( a traditional story of Cambodian ancient history). Other asian countries also have this similar story as well.

Planning to create clan e-mail

We, the clan members, are thinking of creating a clan e-mail for non-contributors who want to share some article to publish in ASEAN Clan Blog.

Which domain should be used? We need recommendation from all of you whether it should be gmail or yahoo or hotmail.

I hope to get kind suggestions from all of you. ( ^ , ^ )


First blood!

The first blood has been drawn!

And yet again, I was caught off guard, not knowing that the race for medals has begun!

Vietnam currently sits on top of the table, looking down on others. Malaysia's second. But hey, there's a long way to go. Anything could happen.

I hope this Games won't be as controversial as the last one. The last time, Thaksin, the former premier of Thailand accused the organizer of the XXIII Games, Philippines as biased officials. He then nonchalantly declared Thailand could organize the Games better. That, prompted a diplomatic storm in a tea cup. Well, here's Thailand's chance to prove just that. But of course, Thaksin is no more the PM of Thailand. Nevertheless...

And wow! The Sea Games' site is hard to navigate. The template changes instead of staying constant upon entry into certain links. Thus, I'm convinced that the author of the site has done a bad job.


A Citizens Summary of the 1st ASEAN Constitution

The ASEAN Constitution states that the organization shall promote its common ASEAN Identity and a sense of belonging among its people in order to achieve its shared destiny, goals, and values. To add (and to start) the forming of the new ASEAN Identity, our ASEAN Constitution provides us with the following:

ASEAN Emblem

The ASEAN Emblem represents a stable, peaceful, united, and dynamic ASEAN. The colours of the emblem - blue, red, white, and yellow - represent the main colours of the crests of all the ASEAN countries.

  • Blue - represents peace and stability

  • Red - depicts courage and dynamism

  • White - shows purity

  • Yellow - symbolises prosperity

The ten stalks of padi represent the dream of ASEAN's Founding Fathers for an ASEAN comprising all the ten countries in South-East Asia bound together in friendship and solidarity. The circle represents the unity of ASEAN.


The ASEAN Flag is a symbol of ASEAN cooperation and solidarity in promoting the common aspirations of Member Countries for peace and prosperity in the region. It has the ASEAN emblem in the centre which is set against a light blue background depicting peace and harmoney. The ASEAN emblem colours of brown, yellow, and dark blue symbolize strength and stability, prosperity and friendship which form the foundations of ASEAN solidarity, harmony, and coopration.

ASEAN Motto: One Vision, One Identity, One Community

The motto from the 11th ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur in 2005 is now the Official ASEAN Motto: "One Vision, One Identity, One Community".

ASEAN Day: August 8

And I'm surprised how "August 8" was only recognized as the ASEAN Day as part of the 1st ASEAN Constitution, when during my elementary days, we celebrate August 8 here in the Philippines as.. well.. the "ASEAN Day"! I also declared it on my "ASEAN Citizens" blog as the ASEAN Day without knowing it wasn't even official.

Regardless, it is good news it is now an official regional day which we have to observe (since the Philippine education institutions stopped celebrating the ASEAN Day since I entered High School 15 years ago). In other words, every August 8 starting next year, all ASEAN members will be on holiday (and market close) to celebrate the Founding Day of the Association of South-East Asian Nations or ASEAN.

ASEAN Anthem

This one, the 'new' ASEAN is still to write and compose. I strongly suggest to our Secretary-General that you make this an open competition for all ASEAN Citizens. Entries must be recognized as "Asean", not as "Filipino/Philippines", "Singapore", "Laotian", "Khmer", and so on. Then open a fool-proof voting system online and let the people take part in the voting for some percentage. Then the other percentage will be taken from the decision of the high-level and/or top-level ASEAN Ministers.

For the ASEAN Citizens, I suggest you start writing and composing, then gather everyone's contribution together, I am listening to three ASEAN songs while writing this.

ASEAN changing from State-centric to be more People-oriented

  • Do more FOR the people, by mobilizing regional and international cooperation.

  • Institutionalized consultations with other stakeholders such as parliamentarians, private sector, civil society, and non-governmental organizations.

  • Tourism and people-to-people exchanges

  • Sports (SEA Games and ASEAN Para Games)

  • ASEAN Languages (although "English" is the only official working language in ASEAN)

  • Cooperation in education, and university network

  • Facilitated mobility of professional and skilled labour

  • Resources for human development

  • Narrowing the Development Gap between members

Other ASEAN signed Agreements

  • Formation of the ASEAN Human Rights Body (part of the ASEAN Charter)

  • the ASEAN Economic Community (blueprint) by 2015 - Integrating all 10 Economies into ONE Market and Production Base

The 3 Pillars of an ASEAN Community

* For the purpose of ensuring durable peace, stability, and shared prosperity in the region.

If you want to read the "leaked" draft version of the ASEAN Charter, click here.

ASEAN (Association of South-East Asian Nations)
Founded: August 8, 1967
Founders: Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, and Thailand
Where: Bangkok

New Members in order of membership:

  • Brunei Darussalam - January 8, 1984

  • Viet Nam - July 28, 1995

  • Laos - July 23, 1997

  • Myanmar (Burma) - July 23, 1997

  • Cambodia - April 30, 1999

Other Facts:
* ASEAN succeeded "MaPhilIndo"
* ASEAN signed its 1st Consitution on November 20, 2007
* The ASEAN Way is "Peaceful Diplomacy" not sanctions


Who's Who at the SEA Games 2007

When the 1st Southeast Asian Peninsular Games reeled off in 1959, the region started its long term bond that now stretched not just in the Southeast Asian peninsula but to the whole world. Participated by 6 peninsular countries, the inaugural game in Bangkok became the start of a continuing success.

In 1977, two new countries joined in as Indonesia, Brunei and the Philippines were accepted in the Southeast Asian circle, thus became the birth of the Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur. Though Thailand never liked the idea of admitting these three countries and dropping the word "Peninsular", it did not hinder the spirit of the games to unite the peaceful Southeast Asians. Eventually, the three neophyte countries (already earning bronzes and silvers in the Olympics) showed far better competitors for Thailand.

Now that it goes back to where it first emerged, this coming December 6, who takes home the laurels? Check out the possibilities.

  • Brunei Darussalam- Since its inclusion to the Games in 1977, this great little kingdom was a potential SEA Games major competitor. Brunei garnered 4 golds among the 47 medals they bagged during their hosting of the 20th SEA Games in 1999.

  • Cambodia- Though appointed host and declined for so many times, Cambodia proved that they really had their say in the games. Cambodia's highest earn is a 17-gold medal sweep in the 1971 SEAP Games in Kuala Lumpur.

  • Indonesia- When this country joined in in 1977, they immediately champed the over-alls which proved that these men from the south were a powerhouse. Indonesia champed 9 times in the Games.

  • Laos- Laos is among the original members of the Southeast Asian Games and has been a fair player ever since. Though not with greater performance, this country is a promising hub of athletes. Vientiane, its capital is scheduled to host SEA Games the 25th in 2009 for the first time.

  • Malaysia- This country played a key role in the continued success of the SEA Games. When participating countries realized the burden of hosting the SEAP, Malaysia was the one who pushed to the inclusion of the three potential countries of Indonesia, Brunei and the Philippines and stepped on hosting to some very tight spots especially when Cambodia and Laos begged off to their hosting rights in 1963 and 1965 respectively. Kuala Lumpur has hosted the Games 5 times and is scheduled for another one in 2015. Malaysia holds some powerful athletes that might strip down this year's medal tally.

  • Myanmar- Alongside Thailand, Myanmar was a major contributor to the establishment of the SEAP Games after hosting in 1961 and 1969. Myanmar champed twice and may fight for another one this year.

  • Philippines- Being the defending champion and among the powerful teams in the games, the Philippines takes with them a great responsibility to defend their title. The Philippines has hosted 3 SEA Games editions with 113 gold medals in its highest tally board.

  • Singapore- Originally scheduled to host this year's SEA Games, this promising country tries a bite at the apple this year.

  • Thailand- This is where it all started. Thailand, the mother of the SEA Games cradles its fruit once more. This country hosted 6 times and has champed for countless editions. Thailand is one of the most powerful country in the games and in the whole of Asia after ranking 5th in the 2006 Doha Asian Games. Can they still make it this year and prove to their brothers its great power?

  • Timor-Leste- The youngest country to join the SEA Games is East Timor. After its first appearance in the 22nd SEA Games in Vietnam, East Timor showed their great potential to jot their names on the top of the tally board. East Timor won 3 bronze medals in the 23rd SEA Games in the Philippines (2005).

  • Vietnam- Hosting the games for the first time and winning over-alls in the first time in 2003 was a big leap for Vietnam. Now that they know what they can reach, will they take back from the Philippines what they got first? Or will Thailand prove that they are the masters in their own land?

Goodluck to the athletes and to SEA Games in Nakhon Ratchasima!


2007 SEA Games and the Charter

I honestly was caught off guard when I read in the news that the next edition of the SEA Games is coming up. I of course will be supporting the Malaysia. Yes, I want golds for Malaysia but the goal of the Games undoubtedly is greater ASEAN integration. The Games is one of few occasions which the people of ASEAN could come together and celebrate our Southeast Asian union, very unlike the recently adopted ASEAN Charter.

The ASEAN Charter beings with "We, the peoples of the Member States of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations..." despite the fact that the document is mostly drafted by bureaucrats that worked far detached from the people the Charter claims to represent.

It's highly likely that the Charter will be ratified by the legislative arms of each member state. While that may be acceptable, given the state of Southeast Asian democracy, especially of that on the mainland including Malaysia and Singapore, I doubt the Charter will have the legitimacy to really enforce its wills — or rather, theoretically, the wills of the people — throughout ASEAN. In other words, I'd refer to have a referendum as a barometer to measure grassroots support for the Charter rather than have the legislative to rubber stamp the Charter by demand of the executive.

I have a few more misgivings for the Charter but regardless, I look forward to a more integrated region to rival the European Union. I look forward to a day when I could cross the border of Southeast Asian countries with impunity. Most of all, with the disappointing Doha Round, regionalism is the next best solution to global free trade.

Anyway, so, who is going to the SEA Games?

Asia's Perfect 10 v2.0

Welcome to "ASEAN - Asia's Perfect 10" blog version 2.0!

We hope you enjoy the new design and layout. A good timing for the recently signed ASEAN Constitution and ASEAN Economic Blueprint.

Now let's go back to our usual ASEAN discussions and let's learn more of our culture, rich histories, and traditions!


South-Western landscape in cambodia

South-Western landscape in cambodia

Water Festival in Cambodia

Water FestivalWater festival is one of the national festival and holidays in Cambodia. It is celebrated in the mean to thanks to the Mekong River which provides water for the crop and to welcome new harvest season. (read more by clicking on the link....)


welcome dee dee and allen

We are proud and delighted that we receive two new assistants. They are Dee Dee, from Cambodia and Allen from Philippine. We hope to see more from them.

Welcome Dee Dee and Allen

We are proud and delighted that we receive two new assistants. They are Dee Dee, from Cambodia and Allen from Phillippine.

Collect Pearls in the Orient

It may not be new to the Philippines being banned on travel guides by other countries because of countless turmoils that's happenning. Sad as it seems, the Pearl of the Orient's scattered beauty falls to a blur.
But now that its facing a (some kind of) period of peace, let me tell you something about what the Philippines looks like and, maybe, bring more visitors to the archipelago.

Like most Asian cities, Manila, its capital, wasn't designed by architects and engineers that's why it ended up with a residencial house beside hardwares. But nevertheless, the Republic has made all efforts to make it a better place to live in.

Manila flourished around the 1600s when the Spanish invaded the ancient settlement and drove away the natives headed by Rajah Sulayman. The spanish took away the settlement and built a fort on the mouth of the Pasig River to what is now the ruins of Fort Santiago. Manila grew and the invaders built Intramuros, the walled moor. In it, they built the majestic Manila Cathedral and facing it is the Palacio del Gobernador, the former residence of the Governors-General.

Yet all of them vanished. When the japanese arrived in 1945, the city was heavily bombarded and the city was left in havoc. The only structure left standing in Intramuros was the San Agustine Church and the Manila City Hall which was situated outside the walls (used as temporary hospital by the americans). So what? The governemnt reconstructed it anyway. Now, Intramuros and its walls stand sturdily over the city. And the once-ruined structures were rebuilt. Nice isn't it?

Oh my, am I talking so long? So what does the Philippines have for tourists to visit?



While other world-class cities clamour to beautify their streets and erect tall buildings, the Philippines stay as simple as it can be. Doing what they are used to everyday. It may sound boring, right?

Maybe not.

If Rio de Janeiro boasts of its world-class Carnival, the Philippines is very proud to show the world of its countless festivals all year round. They have street dancing, lechon (roast pork with an apple in the mouth), sounds ( the usual bands), foods in every houses (we call it "handa"), beauty pageants and most of all, the games.

Thanks to the Italians for giving us spaghetti, applause to the Chinese for giving us noodles but you may thank the Filipinos for giving you, Pancit Habhab and Pancit Luglog. Some of the various delicacies of noodles that keeps tourists coming back for more.

The Philippines may be very late in technology unlike Germany and the United States but we have other means of transportation that will take you to your dreams(wow!), the Philippines is famous for its jeepneys that taxis along the streets of Manila. We also have the "calesa" a horse-drawn rickshaw inspired from the spanish. Afraid of riding one? Don't worry, we have cabs and buses anyway.

When it comes to natural resources, we compete with Australia, the Amazon and New Zealand for we have one of the best and most diverse forests there is. Be amazed by the glittering waters of our beaches like the Boracay Island, known for its white sands and Palawan, the Philippines' last frontier as well as the perfectly-cone shaped Mayon Volcano and the dormant Taal with fascinating Tagaytay City beside it.

The last of the best attractions in this country are the people. Why? Ask me.

When we have visitors in our house (even if we don't know 'em), my mother asks me to buy softdrinks( a traditional drink for visitors), brings out the best plates and glasses we have, and talks to them and entertain them. She cooks foods that she don't usually cook for us and lets the visitors sit and eat first.

My mother isn't the only one who does that. Everyone in the Philippines does that. Why? Its because we value our visitors much. We value you.

Try to visit us some time. You may not know, you might add more to what I said.


Two New Portals about the ASEAN Identity

ASEAN Vision 2020

ASEAN should be a community conscious of its ties of history, aware of its cultural heritage, and bond by a common regional identity.

Remember when I discussed about the ASEAN Identity.. crisis? Raising the questions of what is an ASEAN Citizen, what is it to be an ASEAN Citizen, and what is the ASEAN Identiy? We are a mixture of 10 Nations with different views, opinions, culture, history, and identities. That makes the "ASEAN Identity" a big question for us ordinary people (YOU and me), I even hinted that maybe they forgot about us - the Citizens, the 500 million people of ASEAN.

Before I give you the two new portals launched about the "ASEAN Identity", here are some answers from the ASEAN Citizens like YOU and me.

Jeremy: "For me, an ASEAN identity is living as an asean on top of being an individual. We have our own countries, culture, and races that we are proud of and ready to protect, but to be an asean is to care for your neighbors in the region. To die for them, to help, and together create a strong and stable region. That is, for me the ASEAN identity."

Dyan: "Being one and friendly to each other. Having one economy and a healthy relationship with the whole region. Being WHOLE."

Bachok: "ASEAN.. where everyone with different cultures, beliefs, histories, colors, are one and united."

And as Aaron said: "Before we can attain that, there are lot of things to do. Create awareness, allow borderless travel, asean must impart its footprint on the society not just on the government of 10 member countries."

I agree with Aaron. The ASEAN Body must bring down the ideals to the Citizens level, to us ordinary people, and they must give more effort and money, and be aggressive with promoting ASEAN, "impart its footprint on the society". It is only then that we will truly know what an "ASEAN Identity" is and be able to associate ourselves with being an "ASEAN Citizen".

So now, to present the two new portals, ASEAN has launched two new sites that showcase the grouping's rich culture and creative talents.

First is the revamped Culture and Information Portal ( is a one-stop destination for information on all things ASEAN, including culture, heritage, and cuisines (ooh, ASEANs loves food! We love to eat!!) The site is managed by the ASEAN Secretariat which is based in Jakarta, Indonesia.

The second is a Media Portal ( which contains short films, video clips, and interactive games that showcase the region's entertainment and media industry. An example:

The ASEAN Snapshots is a 10-part documentary series. Each episode will portray a member country's individual identity, be it the country's colourful places or its unique ethnic costumes or iconic symbols or its majestic heritage. The series is produced by MediaCorp with partners from ASEAN countries, and was commissioned by the ASEAN COCI.

And they also have games:

  • ASEAN Next Top Chef - Travel around ASEAN and answer general knowledge questions about the region

  • Preview of Upcoming ASEAN Adventure Game - Join an ASEAN investigator as she completes mini-quests in each ASEAN country

The two new portals are aimed at forging a stronger identity among the 10-member states. "The ASEAN Media Portal in particular, has the potential to serve as a global gateway to the region's vibrant media industry," said Lee Boon Yang, Singapore's Minister for Information, Communications, and the Arts.

He added, "The convergance of arts, business, and technology will spark many new possibilities and opportunities for ASEAN creative industries, as well as our creative entrepreneurs with far reaching impact on other sectors, such as tourism, retail, manufacturing, and education."

Visit the two new ASEAN Identity portals:
ASEAN Culture and Information
ASEAN Media Net

the ASEAN Identity.. crisis?
Two Internet portals launched to showcase ASEAN identity (Channel NewsAsia)


The 13th ASEAN Summit in Singapore - All Eyes Watching

THIS IS IT!! Yes, this is it fellow ASEAN Citizens! The moment when ASEAN will finally decide its road for the future of our region. Are we going to remain as ten independent countries or are we going to slowly adopt a unified region legalized by law? The 13th ASEAN Summit in Singapore will witness the signing (or not signing [God forbid]) of the ASEAN Constitution as well as the presentation (and perhaps signing) of the ASEAN Economic Blueprint.

On the 21st of November, 2007, ASEAN Ministers will meet in Shanri-La, Singapore to discuss and (hopefully) sign the ASEAN Constitution (aka ASEAN Charter). This Constitution will bind the ten member states more together and will make the ASEAN a legal Regional Body. Currently, ASEAN is simply an organization of 'loving countries' or if you will, a 'subdivision committee' or a 'family-clan'. Everything is done by concensus which consumes a lot of time. As Prof Koh puts it:

We have created this high comfort level that we have with one another. We have also evolved a unique ASEAN Way of solving problems, of talking as a family, of developing a habit of what I call 'mutual accomodation in the search of consensus'.

Additionally, the current ASEAN have no binding agreements between its member states as to how fast and when each members must implement the agreements. For example, during the 12th ASEAN Summit, it was agreed upon that all Overseas Workers within the region should be treated and given equal pays. Filipino workers in Singapore get a higher pay, while Indonesians gets lower. Now that isn't fair right? Many questions when this agreement will be implemented, because the current ASEAN do not have 'laws' that governs the ASEAN. The past 40 years, according to the study of Secretary-General Ong Keng Yong, Rod Severino, and Ajit Singh, only about 30% of ASEAN's agreements have been implemented, and that is obviously not an acceptable record.

Once the 1st ASEAN Constitution is signed, every member state is now obliged (as per agreement and the ASEAN Secretary-General) to the laws and projects. If a member-state fails to comply, the ASEAN will have an appropriate study and investigation, and will give the right punishment. Also, this will make the ASEAN a respected and legal regional organization. The UN, EU, and the US, will finally show us respect and treat us as a "group" and not as an individual. The ASEAN will finally have a "Legal Identity", it will become a legal "Entity".

The 1st ASEAN Constitution is a framework or the first step. From hereon, the ASEAN will slowly grow and become more integrated. A new identity will be born, a new belongingness and respect will be felt and earned. New lessons will be learned. Two of the plans are the ASEAN Human Rights Body and the ASEAN Economic Blueprint.

The ASEAN Economic Blueprint talks about the integration of the ten independent economies of ASEAN into ONE. If the Economic Blueprint is implemented, then it is foreseen that by 2015, the still fragmented ASEAN Economy and Market will become ONE. The whole region will be treated as one. A foreign investor investing in ASEAN is not anymore talking to one member state but talking to the WHOLE, to the TEN. This ONE Economy will also help in preventing another 1997 Economic crash, as it will serve as a buffer before it is felt by everyone. Inter-economy will be strong, and this is the very reason why Japan is considered the #1 Economy in the world. Yen appears to be weak against the US Dollar when we look at the exchange rates, but in reality, Yen is one of the strongest money in the world, all due to their internal economy.

As a single economy, our internal economy will give the region its economic strength similar to Japan, the EU, and other regional blocs and huge countries like the US. Keeping trading among the members will keep the money moving thus creating a stronger market than if we all have independent markets. This will also help us compete internationally, especially with our adjacent neighbors like China and India (who are both competing to dominate and control the ASEAN region).

All these eventually leads to the creation of what I call that "ASEAN Identity". One day, when we wake up in the morning, or maybe the time of our children, or the next generation, they will now not only think of themselves as Filipinos, Singaporeans, Vietnamese, Laotians, Myanmarese, ... but also think of themselves as "ASEANs", as "ASEAN Citizens".

Today's generation, and our parents generation, we won't be able to make the 'switch' easily, and we'll be asking what it is to be an "ASEAN (Citizen)", but what we are doing now is paving way for the future of our region, for our children, and I am very glad to be part of 'history in the making'.

It is the Asian's ERA, and the ASEANs are leading this new era. Let's all hope and pray that next week's presentations and signing will be a huge success.

One ASEAN at the Heart of Dynamic Asia and One Caring and Sharing Community!!

Welcome to ASEAN!

Transcript of interview with Ambassador Tommy Koh by Channel News Asia
ASEAN Prepares to Make Itself Legal, But Change in Actions May be Slow in Coming
Myanmar expected to respect ASEAN charter: Indonesia

Also posted at:
ASEAN - Asia's Perfect 10 (a regional blog by the ASEAN People)
ASEAN Citizens (a blog)


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If you are an ASEAN and you own or is a member of a blog or a site, please reply back by posting a comment on this post with the following details:

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Site/Blog URL:
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Thank you and we will wait for your entries.


About Brunei

A small Islamic sultanate, Brunei is one of the few remaining countries in the world without personal income tax. Located on the northwestern coast of the island of Borneo, it was a powerful state in the 16th century, with authority over the whole island.

Brunei has an area of 2,226 square miles (5,765 square kilometers). The sultanate is bounded on the north by the South China Sea and on its landlocked sides by the Malaysian state of Sarawak. The geographic position of Sarawak also divides Brunei into two separate portions.

The climate in this hilly and rugged country is determined by the equatorial monsoons, or rain-bearing winds. Rainfall is heavy and is distributed throughout the year. Annual precipitation varies from 100 inches (250 centimeters) in the coastal areas to more than 200 inches (500 centimeters) in parts of the interior. Temperatures average between 76° and 86° F (24° and 30° C). Dense tropical rain forests cover three fourths of the country and are characterized by a variety of hardwood species. Brunei's animal life includes lions, tigers, monkeys, birds, insects, snakes, and lizards.

The principal language is Malay, but Chinese and English are widely spoken. Most of the people live near the petroleum fields at Seria and Kuala Belait. Brunei is a major petroleum producer and enjoys one of the highest standards of living in Southeast Asia. The state's economy depends almost entirely on its petroleum production.

The largest concentration of urban population is in Brunei's capital, Bandar Seri Begawan (population, 1999, 85,000). Whereas wooden houses are found in the rural areas, Bandar Seri Begawan has modern apartment buildings, hotels, a shopping center, a commercial center, and port facilities. Alongside the modern section of the capital is the older section known as Kampong Ayer, where people live in small houses on stilts along the inlets of a broad, winding river. These houses are interconnected by footbridges, and small boats provide transport. Since roads are poorly developed, rivers are the main means of transportation in Brunei. At Bandar Seri Begawan is an international airport.

Brunei's economy is based on the exploitation of petroleum and natural gas. Agricultural and forestry products include rubber, pepper, wood, and cork and account for about 1 percent of the export earnings. Other agricultural products, including rice, sago (a starch), and local fruits, are grown on a small scale.

Brunei became a British protectorate under treaties made with its sultan in the 19th century, when the state was troubled by piracy. The sultan signed a new treaty in 1979, making Brunei a fully sovereign and independent state on Jan. 1, 1984. Population (2002), 351,000.


Lord Keo and the Cow God (a Cambodian folktale)

Hi everyone, today I'm posting my favorite folktale from Cambodia. The story was provided by Goombaking of AsiaFinest (thx bro!), and the illustrations was given to me by my friend (an Indonesian artist), Li Julian. It's quite a long story, so brace yourself! The post was taken word-for-word from Frank Smith's Khmer textbook (Kamlang Phiasaa by Frank Smith, 2006,

The tales unfolds as follows: there was a peasant couple, and the wife had a dream. In this dream, a holy man in white gave her three rings, which she soon lost. The man told her that the rings represented three types of BON . Intrigued and puzzled by her dream, the woman sent her husband to a fortune teller. He told the husband that the dream meant his wife was pregnant with a child who would have great spiritual power or BON BARAMI . The fortune teller also warned her to avoid eating unripe mangoes at all costs (it’s very common for magical powers to be dependent on the avoidance of a taboo of some kind; for instance, if KRU KHMER walk under a woman’s skirt hanging on a clothesline, they lose their powers). Mangos also happen to be a food that Khmer pregnant women are commonly thought to crave (the Khmer version of “pickles and ice cream,” or something like that). So of course, the woman got a craving for them. When her husband was off working the fields, she shimmied up a mango tree to try to pick one. While high up in the tree, she reached out for a lone fruit on a far branch. The branch she was perched on broke and she fell to her death. As the woman hit the ground, her belly burst open and out came a baby - Preah Kaew- and his older brother, a calf, who was born able to talk: ‑­Preah Ko. The father returned and was of course distraught at the scene. But the villagers reacted in a worse way. They were convinced that the death of a pregnant woman (bad enough to begin with, if you’ll recall!) out of whose belly came an animal could not be a good omen, and they chased the man and his children out of the village. The father foraged for them the best that he could.

Meanwhile, after moving on to another village, while talking with some village boys tending cows, the now young lad Preah Kaew is taunted for being poor and having no food to eat. At this, Preah Ko moos and from his mouth comes forth silver and gold dishes with all sorts of delicious food on them, so his brother could eat in style. When he was done eating, Preah Ko swallowed the dishes again. The cowherd boys run and tell their parents about the cow who had coughed up and then swallowed the gold and silver plates. The villagers formed a posse to cut open ‑­Preah Ko's belly and take the riches for themselves. At that point in the story, we’re introduced to yet another of ‑­Preah Ko's powers. He commands his younger brother to grab hold of this tail, and takes to the sky flying to escape.

Eventually ‑­Preah Ko and ‑­Preah Kaew‘s father dies in the forest of starvation, for Preah Ko explains that he was not allowed to provide magical food for their father, only for ‑­Preah Kaew. After ‑­Preah Kaew grows into a handsome young man, one day he stumbles upon the king’s daughters bathing in a pond, and falls in love with the youngest, Neang Poev. ‑­Preah Kaew complains to his brother that there’s no way he could court a princess in his ragged and destitute state. ‑­ Preah Ko once again opens his mouth, and this time produces an entire palace for ‑­Preah Kaew to live in, and splendid, regal clothes for the younger brother. A bit of flirting ensues between ‑­Neang Poev and Preah Kaew, which is seen by her older sisters. Jealous, they report her “scandalous” behavior to her father the king. He is furious, and orders Neang Poev executed (in some versions of the story, he simply banishes her to the forest). The royal guard drags her out of the palace and beheads her.

Luckily for all involved, Indra (Preah Ehn) takes pity on the princess and magically restores her head back to her neck and breathes life back into her body. After wandering in the forest for a while she is seen by Preah Ko, who gives her the same kind of fabulous royal clothes he gave his younger brother. Then he performs a marriage ceremony for the two. Now, here’s where the historical part of the legend comes in. It seems that the king of Siam has designs on Khmer land. So he challenges the king of Cambodian to a cockfight. If the Khmers lose, they must cede land to the Thais. The Thais put up their fiercest rooster and the Khmers theirs, but alas, the Thai bird is victorious. Before giving up Khmer soil, the Khmer king asks for a rematch, which the Siamese king agrees to. The Khmer king then scours the kingdom for a suitable fighting cock with which to beat the Thai champion. Preah Ko hears of this and agrees to help. He transforms himself into a rooster and easily whups the Thai rooster. Of course, the Thai king then wants a rematch himself, but this time with elephants. Once again, Preah Ko uses his magic and this time changes into an elephant, and trounces the Siamese pachyderm.

All’s not well that ends well, though, and the Siamese get suspicious. Their royal fortune teller discovers the existence of Preah Ko preah kaev in particular Preah Ko, who has within him all the mystical, scientific, artistic, military and literary knowledge that the Khmers learned from the Indians. The Thai king then hatches a plot with his ministers and advisors to abduct Preah Ko for his own uses. Now you can start to see the large-scale metaphors in this tale, right? Preah Ko —or more accurately, the magic contained within him, which is in fact the third type of BON spoken of by the fortune teller who Preah Ko Preah Kaew‘s father consulted when his wife first related her dream to him—symbolizes all of the high knowledge that the powerful Khmer kingdom learned from Indian sources and put to use in their rise to ascendancy in the region. The Siamese desire to usurp the Khmers as the premier mandala in the region is
symbolized in this story by the their desire to acquire Preah Ko. This reflects the actual Thai desire to acquire all of the high knowledge of the Khmers, something they did with the sacking of Angkor in 1431, when they carted off most of the learned religious figures, artists, dancers, diviners, etc. to Ayutthya. After that, the Thais did in fact rise to a position of dominance in the region, rising well above the Khmers in almost every way, a state of affairs that continues to this day.

So here’s how all of this historical reality is played out in the story: the Thais decide to challenge the Khmers to an oxen fight next, knowing for sure that Preah Ko will be the Khmer combatant. But the Thais don’t put an ox of their own into the battle. They instead build a mechanical or robot ox, emboldened by their fortune teller’s prediction that Preah Ko will soon meet with misfortune. Sure enough, the mechanical ox is too much for our hero, and rather than face defeat and capture by the Siamese (the match is being held on Thai soil), he yells for Preah Kaew and Neang Poev to grab onto his tail, and off they go. Unfortunately, as the trio is flying over Cambodian, Neang Poev loses her grip on Preah Ko‘s tail, and falls to her death. Indra shows up again, this time not to bring her back to life but rather to turn her into a mountain, which is supposed to be in the province of Kompot . Preah Kaew is of course distraught over the loss of his wife, but with the Thai army in hot pursuit, the two brothers must continue running—er, flying. The Thais pursue the duo all the way to the Khmer fortress of Longvek, which was for a time the Khmer capital (in real life). At that time, according to the legend, Longvek was surrounded by a thick grove of bamboo, which served as its major defense. Soldiers attempting to penetrate the bamboo forest, presumably, would have to move quite slowly, and would easily be picked off by Khmer soldiers guarding the actual fortress.

The Siamese general got a brilliant idea, however. Instead of shooting cannonballs at the fortress, he had his men load their cannons with silver coins, and fired those into the dense bamboo cover. The Siamese army then retreated back to Siam. The residents of the city then rushed out into the forest and hastily chopped down all the bamboo in their rush to gather up the coins. You guessed it, once the bamboo was gone, the Thai army returned, easily overran the fortress and captured Preah Ko Preah Kaew. Once again, this event echoes an actual historical occurence, as the Thais really did overrun Longvek, in a significant battle in 1594. The larger significance of the way they manage to capture the fortress—and our two heroes—is an implicit accusation that the people of Longvek were not good Buddhists and only thought of and acted on their desire for impermanent riches. This lack of “right thought” and “right behavior” leads to the loss of the Khmers’ most precious resource—the knowledge contained in Preah Ko—which of course ultimately means their right and ability to dominate the region. This point is not lost on tellers of the oral version of the story, who invariably point out this “moral” when they get to the bamboo-cutting episode. The story sometimes ends there, but in many tellings it continues. In some versions, including a verse version published in the 1950s, copied from palm leaf manuscripts, Preah Ko Preah Kaew are first held prisoner by the Siamese but soon escape and return to Cambodian. The Siamese army pursues them again, and this time they seek refuge among a herd of water buffalo. Preah Ko transforms both himself and his brother into krabey and of course the Thai soldiers cannot tell them apart from the real krabey. Time for another ingenious Thai trick, of course. The Thais use a prout, a kind of rope made out of leather—in this case, water buffalo leather—to create a magical boundary or seymea around the herd. The ordinary water buffalo have no problem with walking under (in some versions, over) the leather rope to get away from the soldiers, but Preah Kaew and Preah Ko can’t pass under or over the rope, especially Preah Ko. If he did, he would lose his powers.

Such taboos are common for those with magical powers in Khmer belief, as mentioned in Chapter Three. For instance, kru khmae, traditional ritual specialists, are not allowed to walk under speu `trees, women’s clothing hanging on a line, and various other things, lest they lose all their magic (saabaselb). The Siamese were thus able to capture the pair. They took them back to Siam, where they imprisoned them in a fortress with seven successive sets of walls, under constant guard. And from that time until the present day, the legend holds, Preah Ko Preah Kaew are under control of the Thais. That is what has enabled the Thais to prosper while Cambodian continues a steady decline. Various other details are told in some oral versions of the story. One postscript is that Preah Ko Preah Kaew turn themselves to stone when they realize they can’t escape from the Siamese, which supposedly limits the enemies’ access to at least some of Preah Ko's powers. Related to this, some Khmers—although admittedly, it’s not a large number—believe that it’s possible for a Khmer to free the two magical brothers even today, if s/he can manage to enter the place where they’re being held in Thailand, and splash some soy sauce—some say vinegar—on the brothers! It’s easy to see the place that the tale continues to play in Khmer feelings of loss and anger over their current social and political place vis-à-vis the Thais, especially in light of the way history has played out with the Thai rise in power going hand-in-hand with the Khmer fall. Preah Ko also continues to loom large in the Khmer imagination, as reports come in from time to time—and they’re duly covered by the newspapers—of rural people
claiming to have seen Preah Ko. Some people even claim to own a cow or ox who is inhabited by Preah Ko’s spirit and can perform healing of the sick and other acts.

Denith: Preah Ko is also known as the Keeper of Khmer culture for some reasons: the loss of Preah Ko results in today similarity of Khmer and Thai culture. Actually, Preah ko is a statue containing Khmer records on religions, traditions, cultures, knowledge, study, history... King Chan Reachea managed to keep all of these records in Preah Ko in order to secure it from being lost. But...


First Experience with Vietnamese Cuisine

Ga Tam Uop Nuong

Me and my friends love to try out different kinds of cuisines. We live in Bandung, a town with cool climate about 3 hours from Indonesia’s capital Jakarta. It’s not a metropolitan like the capital, but we are happy to say that we can always have a taste of international cuisine.

Banh Cuon Ga

After Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Korean and Thai, we decided to visit this Vietnamese restaurant. Neither one of us had the experience of eating Vietnamese food, so we didn’t know what to expect. This is kind of sad, as we live in the same region and our countries are partners in ASEAN.

Goi Cuan Rau

It took us quite a while before we ordered, because we have to ask the waitress about the food first. At last (to our waitress’ relief I’m sure), Bayou ordered Banh Cuo Ga and Ga Tam Uop Nuong, I ordered Goi Cuan Rau and Thit Bo Bam Xao La Hung, Julian ordered Pho Bo, and Mel ordered Mien Cua. For the drinks, we ordered Lemongrass Tea and Mint Tea.

Mien Cua

You know what? All of us enjoyed our meal! Although the names sounds foreign and the way they use the ingredients are a bit unusual for us, the tastes really fit our taste. Regardless if they were good examples of real Vietnamese food or not, they were spicy and hot, it suits our Indonesian palate well.

Pho Bo

Maybe this experience is not such a big deal for most people, but somehow I think these kinds of small, personal and trivial things that could bring us feel closer together.



About ASEAN (Context from official ASEAN website)


The Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN was established on 8 August 1967 in Bangkok by the five original Member Countries, namely, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. Brunei Darussalam joined on 8 January 1984, Vietnam on 28 July 1995, Lao PDR and Myanmar on 23 July 1997, and Cambodia on 30 April 1999.

The ASEAN region has a population of about 500 million, a total area of 4.5 million square kilometers, a combined gross domestic product of almost US$ 700 billion, and a total trade of about US$ 850 billion.


The ASEAN Declaration states that the aims and purposes of the Association are: (1) to accelerate economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region and (2) to promote regional peace and stability through abiding respect for justice and the rule of law in the relationship among countries in the region and adherence to the principles of the United Nations Charter.

The ASEAN Vision 2020, adopted by the ASEAN Leaders on the 30th Anniversary of ASEAN, agreed on a shared vision of ASEAN as a concert of Southeast Asian nations, outward looking, living in peace, stability and prosperity, bonded together in partnership in dynamic development and in a community of caring societies.

In 2003, the ASEAN Leaders resolved that an ASEAN Community shall be established comprising three pillars, namely, ASEAN Security Community, ASEAN Economic Community and ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community.


ASEAN Member Countries have adopted the following fundamental principles in their relations with one another, as contained in the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC):

  • mutual respect for the independence, sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity, and national identity of all nations;

  • the right of every State to lead its national existence free from external interference, subversion or coercion;
  • non-interference in the internal affairs of one another;

  • settlement of differences or disputes by peaceful manner;

  • renunciation of the threat or use of force; and

  • effective cooperation among themselves.


Through political dialogue and confidence building, no tension has escalated into armed confrontation among ASEAN Member Countries since its establishment more than three decades ago.

To build on what has been constructed over the years in the field of political and security cooperation, the ASEAN Leaders have agreed to establish the ASEAN Security Community (ASC). The ASC shall aim to ensure that countries in the region live at peace with one another and with the world in a just, democratic and harmonious environment.

The members of the Community pledge to rely exclusively on peaceful processes in the settlement of intra-regional differences and regard their security as fundamentally linked to one another and bound by geographic location, common vision and objectives. It has the following components: political development; shaping and sharing of norms; conflict prevention; conflict resolution; post-conflict peace building; and implementing mechanisms. It will be built on the strong foundation of ASEAN processes, principles, agreements, and structures, which evolved over the years and are contained in the following major political agreements:

  • ASEAN Declaration, Bangkok, 8 August 1967;

  • Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality Declaration, Kuala Lumpur, 27 November 1971;
  • Declaration of ASEAN Concord, Bali, 24 February 1976;

  • Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, Bali, 24 February 1976;

  • ASEAN Declaration on the South China Sea, Manila, 22 July 1992;

  • Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone, Bangkok, 15 December 1997;

  • ASEAN Vision 2020, Kuala Lumpur, 15 December 1997; and

  • Declaration of ASEAN Concord II, Bali, 7 October 2003.

In recognition of security interdependence in the Asia-Pacific region, ASEAN established the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in 1994. The ARF’s agenda aims to evolve in three broad stages, namely the promotion of confidence building, development of preventive diplomacy and elaboration of approaches to conflicts.

The present participants in the ARF include: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Canada, China, European Union, India, Indonesia, Japan, Democratic Republic of Korea, Republic of Korea (ROK), Lao PDR, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, the Russian Federation, Singapore, Thailand, the United States, and Viet Nam.

The ARF discusses major regional security issues in the region, including the relationship amongst the major powers, non-proliferation, counter-terrorism, transnational crime, South China Sea and the Korean Peninsula, among others.


The ASEAN Economic Community shall be the end-goal of economic integration measures as outlined in the ASEAN Vision 2020. Its goal is to create a stable, prosperous and highly competitive ASEAN economic region in which there is a free flow of goods, services, investment and a freer flow of capital, equitable economic development and reduced poverty and socio-economic disparities in year 2020.

The ASEAN Economic Community shall establish ASEAN as a single market and production base, turning the diversity that characterises the region into opportunities for business complementation and making the ASEAN a more dynamic and stronger segment of the global supply chain. ASEAN’s strategy shall consist of the integration of ASEAN and enhancing ASEAN’s economic competitiveness.

In moving towards the ASEAN Economic Community, ASEAN has agreed on the following:

  • institute new mechanisms and measures to strengthen the implementation of its existing economic initiatives including the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA), ASEAN Framework Agreement on Services (AFAS) and ASEAN Investment Area (AIA);

  • accelerate regional integration in the following priority sectors by 2010: air travel, agro-based products, automotives, e-commerce, electronics, fisheries, healthcare, rubber-based products, textiles and apparels, tourism, and wood-based products.
  • facilitate movement of business persons, skilled labour and talents; and

  • strengthen the institutional mechanisms of ASEAN, including the improvement of the existing ASEAN Dispute Settlement Mechanism to ensure expeditious and legally-binding resolution of any economic disputes.

Launched in 1992, the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) is now in place. It aims to promote the region’s competitive advantage as a single production unit. The elimination of tariff and non-tariff barriers among Member Countries is expected to promote greater economic efficiency, productivity, and competitiveness.

As of 1 January 2005, tariffs on almost 99 percent of the products in the Inclusion List of the ASEAN-6 (Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand) have been reduced to no more than 5 percent. More than 60 percent of these products have zero tariffs. The average tariff for ASEAN-6 has been brought down from more than 12 percent when AFTA started to 2 percent today. For the newer Member Countries, namely, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Viet Nam (CLMV), tariffs on about 81 percent of their Inclusion List have been brought down to within the 0-5 percent range.

Other major integration-related economic activities of ASEAN include the following:

  • Roadmap for Financial and Monetary Integration of ASEAN in four areas, namely, capital market development, capital account liberalisation, liberalisation of financial services and currency cooperation;

  • trans-ASEAN transportation network consisting of major inter-state highway and railway networks, including the Singapore to Kunming Rail-Link, principal ports, and sea lanes for maritime traffic, inland waterway transport, and major civil aviation links;
  • Roadmap for Integration of Air Travel Sector;

  • interoperability and interconnectivity of national telecommunications equipment and services, including the ASEAN Telecommunications Regulators Council Sectoral Mutual Recognition Arrangement (ATRC-MRA) on Conformity Assessment for Telecommunications Equipment;

  • trans-ASEAN energy networks, which consist of the ASEAN Power Grid and the Trans-ASEAN Gas Pipeline Projects;

  • Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI) focusing on infrastructure, human resource development, information and communications technology, and regional economic integration primarily in the CLMV countries;

  • Visit ASEAN Campaign and the private sector-led ASEAN Hip-Hop Pass to promote intra-ASEAN tourism; and

  • Agreement on the ASEAN Food Security Reserve.


The ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community, in consonance with the goal set by ASEAN Vision 2020, envisages a Southeast Asia bonded together in partnership as a community of caring societies and founded on a common regional identity.

The Community shall foster cooperation in social development aimed at raising the standard of living of disadvantaged groups and the rural population, and shall seek the active involvement of all sectors of society, in particular women, youth, and local communities.

ASEAN shall ensure that its work force shall be prepared for, and benefit from, economic integration by investing more resources for basic and higher education, training, science and technology development, job creation, and social protection.

ASEAN shall further intensify cooperation in the area of public health, including in the prevention and control of infectious and communicable diseases.

The development and enhancement of human resources is a key strategy for employment generation, alleviating poverty and socio-economic disparities, and ensuring economic growth with equity.

Among the on-going activities of ASEAN in this area include the following:

  • ASEAN Work Programme for Social Welfare, Family, and Population;
  • ASEAN Work Programme on HIV/AIDS;
  • ASEAN Work Programme on Community-Based Care for the Elderly;
  • ASEAN Occupational Safety and Health Network;
  • ASEAN Work Programme on Preparing ASEAN Youth for Sustainable Employment and Other Challenges of Globalisation;
  • ASEAN University Network (AUN) promoting collaboration among seventeen member universities ASEAN;
  • ASEAN Students Exchange Programme, Youth Cultural Forum, and the ASEAN Young Speakers Forum;
  • The Annual ASEAN Culture Week, ASEAN Youth Camp and ASEAN Quiz;
  • ASEAN Media Exchange Programme; and
  • Framework for Environmentally Sustainable Cities (ESC) and ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution.


The ASEAN Vision 2020 affirmed an outward-looking ASEAN playing a pivotal role in the international community and advancing ASEAN’s common interests.

Building on the Joint Statement on East Asia Cooperation of 1999, cooperation between the Southeast and Northeast Asian countries has accelerated with the holding of an annual summit among the leaders of ASEAN, China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea (ROK) within the ASEAN Plus Three process.

ASEAN Plus Three relations continue to expand and deepen in the areas of security dialogue and cooperation, transnational crime, trade and investment, environment, finance and monetary, agriculture and forestry, energy, tourism, health, labour, culture and the arts, science and technology, information and communication technology, social welfare and development, youth, and rural development and poverty eradication. There are now thirteen ministerial-level meetings under the ASEAN Plus Three process.

Bilateral trading arrangements have been or are being forged between ASEAN Member Countries and China, Japan, and the ROK. These arrangements will serve as the building blocks of an East Asian Free Trade Area as a long term goal.

ASEAN continues to develop cooperative relations with its Dialogue Partners, namely, Australia, Canada, China, the European Union, India, Japan, the ROK, New Zealand, the Russian Federation, the United States of America, and the United Nations Development Programme. ASEAN also promotes cooperation with Pakistan in some areas of mutual interest.

Consistent with its resolve to enhance cooperation with other developing regions, ASEAN maintains contact with other inter-governmental organisations, namely, the Economic Cooperation Organisation, the Gulf Cooperation Council, the Rio Group, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, the South Pacific Forum, and through the recently established Asian-African Sub-Regional Organisation Conference.

Most ASEAN Member Countries also participate actively in the activities of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), and the East Asia-Latin America Forum (EALAF).


The highest decision-making organ of ASEAN is the Meeting of the ASEAN Heads of State and Government. The ASEAN Summit is convened every year. The ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (Foreign Ministers) is held annually.

Ministerial meetings on the following sectors are also held regularly: agriculture and forestry, economics (trade), energy, environment, finance, health, information, investment, labour, law, regional haze, rural development and poverty alleviation, science and technology, social welfare, telecommunications, transnational crime, transportation, tourism, youth. Supporting these ministerial bodies are committees of senior officials, technical working groups and task forces.

To support the conduct of ASEAN’s external relations, ASEAN has established committees composed of heads of diplomatic missions in the following capitals: Beijing, Berlin, Brussels, Canberra, Geneva, Islamabad, London, Moscow, New Delhi, New York, Ottawa, Paris, Riyadh, Seoul, Tokyo, Washington D.C. and Wellington.

The Secretary-General of ASEAN is appointed on merit and accorded ministerial status. The Secretary-General of ASEAN, who has a five-year term, is mandated to initiate, advise, coordinate, and implement ASEAN activities. The members of the professional staff of the ASEAN Secretariat are appointed on the principle of open recruitment and region-wide competition.

ASEAN has several specialized bodies and arrangements promoting inter-governmental cooperation in various fields including the following: ASEAN Agricultural Development Planning Centre, ASEAN-EC Management Centre, ASEAN Centre for Energy, ASEAN Earthquake Information Centre, ASEAN Foundation, ASEAN Poultry Research and Training Centre, ASEAN Regional Centre for Biodiversity Conservation, ASEAN Rural Youth Development Centre, ASEAN Specialized Meteorological Centre, ASEAN Timber Technology Centre, ASEAN Tourism Information Centre, and the ASEAN University Network.

In addition, ASEAN promotes dialogue and consultations with professional and business organisations with related aims and purposes, such as the ASEAN-Chambers of Commerce and Industry, ASEAN Business Forum, ASEAN Tourism Association, ASEAN Council on Petroleum, ASEAN Ports Association, Federation of ASEAN Shipowners, ASEAN Confederation of Employers, ASEAN Fisheries Federation, ASEAN Vegetable Oils Club, ASEAN Intellectual Property Association, and the ASEAN-Institutes for Strategic and International Studies. Furthermore, there are 58 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), which have formal affiliations with ASEAN.

More information on ASEAN can be found at the ASEAN Internet homepage at