Promoting ASEAN Community 2015

National 5 minutes, 55 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

WITH the launch of ASEAN Community 2015 just around the corner, the commitment to promote ASEAN more to the local community has been loudly voiced by youths through youth-friendly initiatives.

Recently, a forum for ASEAN student leaders was organised by the Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) where participant Ak Md Izwan Shafuan Pg Md Daud shared how it managed to enlighten him to the public’s need for greater awareness of ASEAN.

“ASEAN is very diverse in terms of socio-culture, economic differentiation and so forth. So, the forum was a perfect platform for us to get to know each other and learn about issues affecting the region,” he said.

Ak Md Izwan who is the president of the student council at Brunei Polytechnic said initiatives that could reach out to communities in ASEAN to explain what the regional grouping is all about has been discussed in a move to strengthen bonds.

Another participant, twenty-one year-old Nabilah Hj Mohamed Ismail, an undergraduate at UBD, emphasised, “Young people like us have the responsibility to contribute towards ASEAN’s objectives. After all, we are the nation’s future leader.

“We saw that Brunei still lacks proper awareness of ASEAN and this is where participants of the ASEAN Student Leaders’ Forum come in. Our alumni setting up an ASEAN unit in each university, initiated by the student council or other such organisations is something that we all look forward to,” said the head of UBD’s Executive Student Council for community service and student welfare.

Peace, Prosperity, People

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, better known as ASEAN, was formed in 1967 and currently has ten members. ASEAN has emphasised regional cooperation in the three ‘pillars’ - security, sociocultural integration and economic integration.

During the Ninth ASEAN Summit in 2003, the ASEAN Leaders resolved that an ASEAN Community shall be established with 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.

It was only at the 12th ASEAN Summit in January 2007, the Leaders affirmed their strong commitment to accelerate the establishment of an ASEAN Community by 2015 and signed the Cebu Declaration addressing the subject.

Economic stability

According to the Annual Conference Economic Freedom Network Asia, the ASEAN Community would bring advantage to the region’s economic stability with the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) as it will transform ASEAN into a stable, prosperous and highly competitive region with equitable economic development, and reduced poverty and socio-economic disparities.

This means that ASEAN will have a single market and production base with free flow of goods, services, investment, capital and skilled labour.

These factors will enhance ASEAN’s competitiveness in attracting foreign direct investment as well as intra-ASEAN investment.

“Imagine the ASEAN Community is realised by end-2015. The ASEAN finance and macroeconomic surveillance database and International Monetary Fund (IMF) have estimated that there will be a market of six billion consumers with a 1.2 per cent population growth rate,” said Ishmal Hadinas, a twenty-four-year-old NGO volunteer.

“On a more personal observation, if it has been successfully established, many economic restrictions will be abolished. The possibility of zero tariffs amongst ASEAN members means that more competition between countries and companies. Service suppliers should be able to provide their services beyond their national borders! Free flow of investment and the freer flow of capital increase the feasibility of business growth,” Ishmal added.

Youth: Not too young to contribute

Mohd Aziman Jamil, a UBD graduate in Geography and Development said that the establishment of ASEAN Community will gather all 10 countries to come together to build a better life for all of its citizens.

“When all 10 countries work together, the region will be stronger and can do more than one country alone. However, we need to address three main aspects, namely ‘Peace, Prosperity and People’ to achieve this vision,” he said.

The twenty-six year old added that, “Addressing ‘Peace’ requires all ten countries to work together to keep the region safe, for instance from terrorists, pirates and drugs come to ruin our countries. ASEAN countries also do not fight one another and we all live in peace. And when there is peace, we can have prosperity.”

Mohd Aziman noted that with stronger economic development, ASEAN countries will attract more investors and encourages businesses to grow, which will eventually provides more jobs and opportunities.

These improvements will increase the people’s quality of life such as having better road and transport systems, access to high tech innovation and be connected to the world.

Additionally, being good neighbours, ASEAN country members will also help one another to prosper.

Another youth, Khairulazri Irwandi shared the same sentiment and emphasised on the ‘People’ aspect to realise ASEAN Community 2015.

The private employee said that the people of ASEAN are the core of success of the ASEAN Community and there is as need to ensure our people to learn about one another and to learn from each other.

“Youth are never too young to help promote ASEAN Community 2015.

We can do simple things but significant such as making friends with young people from other ASEAN countries and leaning other ASEAN language if you can. Learning more about the region’s history too can nurture mutual understanding between ASEAN countries.”

Khairulazri said, “So far we have been cooperating quite well! We have been helping one another when disasters strike and working together to fight nasty diseases, just to name a few.”

“And when the ASEAN Community is successfully realised, we should all be proud of our identity as ASEAN citizens and look forward to what the future holds,” he concluded.

Initiatives to promote ASEAN

Institut Teknologi Brunei (ITB) representative during the recent ASEAN Student Leaders Forum, Naasiruddeen Abd Wahab proposed that the participants should network with other universities in ASEAN and connect through the student councils.

“One of the initiatives includes establishing an ASEAN unit within our student council to organise student exchanges with other ASEAN countries. Apart from that, we can also hold leadership programmes together and form there organise annual sports events and competitions,” he said

By doing so, Naasiruddeen hoped that it will foster good relations among ASEAN youth, and it will be a way to learn to accept and tolerate each other despite differences in culture and traditions. At the same time, we can also learn from each other in terms of skills and best practices.

Travelling to other ASEAN countries too is another way to promote ASEAN Community 2015. The president of Brunei Polytechnic Student Council shared this sentiment as another means to unite all countries in the Southeast Asian region and bringing about peace and prosperity.

“I believe youth travelling to ASEAN countries can promote ASEAN Community 2015, which is just a few months away.

“When a person travels by his or herself, they can actually learn more about the culture and traditions of the host country and then share their experiences with their family and friends back home. In a way, this will foster greater friendships too,” said Ak Md Izwan Shafuan.

The Brunei Times