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Thursday 24 Aug 2017 | 09:54 | SYDNEY
Thursday 24 Aug 2017 | 09:54 | SYDNEY

Asia Pacific Community backlash

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COMMENTS

8 January 2009 16:55

Singapore’s growing think tank community has not taken too well to Prime Minister Rudd’s Asia Pacific Community idea, even after he and Foreign Minister Smith have repeated that ASEAN will be at the centre of the Asia Pacific Community discussions. Soon after its announcement, Barry Desker, head of Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, referred to the idea as ‘dead in the water’.

This week, members of the ASEAN Studies Centre at Singapore’s Institute of Southeast Asian Studies have also trained their intellectual guns on the Asia Pacific Community idea, calling it a ‘dangerous concept’ in an opinion piece for the Bangkok Post and, in Singapore’s Straits Times (subscription only), querying whether the idea has a point. This second piece, by the head of the ASEAN Studies Centre and former ASEAN Secretary-General, Rodolfo Severino, is a pointed critique of a 20 December Paul Kelly piece in The Australian discussing the future of the Asia Pacific Community idea.

The common thread linking these criticisms of Rudd’s first major Asia engagement idea is the lack of consultation with ASEAN and adequate recognition of its central organising role in Asia Pacific regionalism.

Alas, Thailand’s domestic problems continue to dog ASEAN’s ability to play this role. Not only has the 2008 meetings of the ASEAN-3 grouping and the East Asia Summit been postponed until the second quarter of 2009, they have now been shifted from turbulent Bangkok to the royal resort of Hua Hin. The 2006 meetings of the ASEAN-3 grouping and the East Asia Summit held in Cebu, Philippines were also postponed, at the last moment, until early 2007.

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