Stressed by Strife:
ASEAN from Pattaya to
Preah Vihear
Dr. Thitinan Pongsudhirak
Associate Professor and Director
Institute of Security and Int’l Studies
Faculty of Political Science
Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok
Visiting Scholar, CDDRL-Humanities
Center, 26 April 2010
Presentation outline
Southeast Asia as a region
Southeast Asia as an
Domestic strife and regional
Premises and prospects
1. Southeast Asia as A
1.1 Comparative politics of Southeast Asia
 570 million people (ASEAN Sec figure);
GDP: $1.5trn
 11 countries (ASEAN + East Timor)
 All post-colonial, except Siam/Thailand
 Multi-ethnic; multi-religious; multi-lingual
 All influenced by overseas Chinese
 All affected by Japan’s Co-Prosperity
Sphere in WWII
 Postwar independence movements and
interstate conflicts in the region
1. Southeast Asia as A
Region (cont.)
1.2 Diverse and disparate regime types
 Absolute monarchy: Brunei
 Constitutional monarchy: Cambodia,
Malaysia (federal), Thailand
 Socialist: Laos and Vietnam
 Military authoritarian: Burma/Myanmar
 Republic: Indonesia, Philippines,
Singapore, (East Timor)
1. Southeast Asia as A
Region (cont.)
1.3 Vibrant economic development
 tamed tigers?; formerly ASEAN Four; Asian
Values?; East Asian Miracle
 1997-98 economic crisis; recovery and new
1.4 Political change and continuity: A mixed
bag of democratization and autocracy
 Indonesia/Malaysia/Philippines/Thailand/Sin
 Brunei/Laos/Vietnam/Burma-Myanmar
1.5 Internal conflicts and insurgencies in
Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand
2. Southeast Asia as An
2.1 International relations of Southeast Asia
2.2 Evolution and development:
 Malphilindo; ASA; SEATO; ASEAN
 Why ASEAN?: Konfrontasi; major
powers/national development; ethnic and
power balance
2.3 ASEAN as longest regional vehicle after 42
years; Cold War during 1967-87; economic
exuberance in 1987-97; APEC (1989); AFTA
(1992); ARF (1994)
2.4 No War in ASEAN; just border tensions
and skirmishes
2. Southeast Asia as An
Organization (cont.)
2.5 Expansion: Brunei (1984); Vietnam (1995);
Laos and Burma/Myanmar (1997);
Cambodia (1999)
2.6 Miracle-Meltdown; Chiang Mai Initiative
(CMI) under ASEAN Plus Three (APT) from
2.7 GWOT (2001-08); Second Front;
Separatist insurgencies
2.8 ASEAN Charter (December 2008); legal
entity; 3 pillars in APSC, AEC and ASCC;
ASEAN Community by 2015
2. Southeast Asia as An
Organization (cont.)
2.9 Underlying dynamics of charter:
 Maintaining relevance
 ASEAN charter as codification of
 Non-interference with democratizing
principles (Article 1: 7)
 ASEAN Intergovernmental
Commission on Human Rights
(AICOHR); People-centered ASEAN?
 A personal encounter
3. Domestic strife and
regional effects
Perennial Burma/Myanmar albatross;
ASSK’s confinement; elections in 2010
 Indonesia’s frustration
 Vietnam’s domestic concerns
 Cambodia’s posture
 Singapore’s imperative
 Malaysia’s growing polarization
 Philippines’ constraints
 Thailand’s nadir
3. Domestic strife and
regional effects (cont.)
Thai crisis and Thai chairmanship of
ASEAN in mid 2008-09; two years for
4th East Asia Summit (EAS)
 From Pattaya to Preah Vihear
 Preah Vihear v. Phra Viharn
 Hun Sen-Thaksin and Hun Sen-Abhisit
 Thailand’s founding pillar to weakest
link (ASSK’s comment and 16th
summit machinations in April 2010)
3. Domestic strife and
regional effects (cont.)
ASEAN at 42; a midlife crossroads
 ASEAN Plus Three; China’s orbit
 East Asian Community; Japan’s timid
 East Asia Summit (ASEAN+6)
 East Asia Summit Plus US and
 Australia’s Asia-Pacific Community
3. Domestic strife and
regional effects (cont.)
APEC; ARF (no PD); AFTA (largest markets
still external)
Trends in bilateral FTAs
Trilateral Summit in NEAsia; Six-Party Talks
(SPT) sometimes efficacious
ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting
Shangri-La Dialogue
Asian Six in G-20
An architectural search for regional order
4. Premises and prospects
Centrality without performance?
 Evolution of the “ASEAN Way”
 Interests, institutions and identity
 Domestic constraints on regionalism
 Implications for the US (hub-spokes no
 Glass half-empty or half-full
 Shallow and patchy integration (e.g.
NTS) but won’t go away

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