I am an ASEAN skeptic. Not because I do not see merit and commonalities in the grouping but because ASEAN has for many years been hijacked by bureaucrats with a flair for making anything look dull.
So when the curator of this blog, Iman, asked if I’d post something, I thought why not start a conversation on whether ASEAN is relevant or useful to most of its netizens. Or is it merely a forced abstraction and a platform for politicians and bureaucrats to drone on and on about regional solidarity, the benefits of a common market, open skies etc while doing very little about it.
So the question is this? Is ASEAN relevant to you and if so in what ways?
For me while there are many common things between ASEAN residents these commonalities aren’t exactly of a better or higher quality than the commonalities I would have for, say, Australians (because I’ve studied there) or Americans, Birts or Eurporeans (because I work with them a lot).
The only convenience is that when I travel to another ASEAN country I would not need a visa and it’s good for a month. Except Myanmar, where I’d still have to apply for visa.
Other than that each country and its people are so different and unique that you’d have to take them on their own merits. So I struggle. I want to be pat of something larger, I want to belong to something close to home but I find little to convince me of my ASEANess.
This is even more acute when it comes to my ASEAN Netizenship, because by its nature netizens are borderless and I might have more affinity with a Netizen hal way across the globe than within five or six hours flight time.
But that’s just my experience. What about the rest of you. Is ASEAN real to you, do you want to make it real , and if so, why and how do you think it can me made real?