People-centered ASEAN: From mantra to reality

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Dino Patti Djalal (The Jakarta Post)

In recent years, ASEAN has embarked on a new path based on a mantra about achieving a “people-centered, people-oriented ASEAN Community”. This began with the ASEAN Charter in 2005, the first ASEAN document that began with “We, the peoples…” The reality on the ground, however, is that ASEAN still has a long way to go to become a truly people-centered community. While Southeast Asian citizens are aware of the existence of ASEAN, and generally do not have a negative attitude toward the organization, many are clueless as to what it is all about.

I once asked a group of international relations students in a top Indonesian university what they knew about the ASEAN Economic Community, and received no show of hands. I have repeated this exercise many times at other universities with similar results.