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Russia Injects New Enthusiasm in Ties with ASEAN

Russia’s relations with ASEAN have tended to trail behind those of dialogue partners like the United States, China and Japan. But the Sochi Summit shows how Russia, grappling with unfavourable political and economic environments around it, wants ties with ASEAN to now go full throttle, says Kavi Chongkittavorn in this analysis for the Reporting ASEAN series.

Myanmar’s Deep Fissures Make Explosive Powder Keg

A sense of apprehension and impatience, at times reluctantly expressed but nevertheless real, is fast tempering the heady optimism about Myanmar’s political change nearly two months into the Aung San Suu Kyi-led government. Johanna Son analyses the reasons behind this feeling of discomfort in this piece for the ‘Bangkok Post’.

MYANMAR: Suu Kyi-led Gov’t Has Its Hands Full

Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi led her party to a decisive landslide victory in last year’s elections in Myanmar. Democracy may have won but real struggles regarding governance will be the true test of her leadership. Mia Gomez looks at the challenges the new government faces in this story for the ‘Reporting ASEAN: 2015 and Beyond”‘ programme.

South China Sea: Who Occupies What in the Spratlys?

The discourse over the South China Sea disputes never abates as there is still no real clarity about who occupies what in the huge-contested Spratly Islands. Alexander L. Vuving of ‘The Diplomat’ attempts to list what different countries occupy in the South China Sea.

ASEAN Strives to Balance Ties With China, Japan

As a result of souring China-Japan ties, ASEAN finds itself being wooed by its dialogue partners. The deterioration in the two countries’ relations has led to the economic giants increasing their efforts to strengthen ties with the regional grouping. Kavi Chongkittavorn looks at ASEAN’s reaction in this commentary for the ‘Reporting ASEAN: 2015 and Beyond’ series.

Burma’s Puppeteers Put On Cross-Asean Performance

ASEAN integration comes in many forms – in this case, it’s with puppets. Puppet artists and musicians from around the region met with their counterparts in Myanmar to learn from each other and exchange ideas. Kyaw Hsu Mon of ‘The Irrawaddy’ looks at the outcome of the workshop in this ‘Reporting ASEAN: 2015 and Beyond’ story.

Japan Announces 244 Billion Baht Plan to Develop Mekong Region

On the heels of China’s overtures to ASEAN and Mekong countries, comes Japan’s answer — a 244 billion baht new cooperation fund for the region. Tassanee Vejpongsa of the Associated Press explains how the initiative will help promote “connectivity” within ASEAN countries and Japan through funding in infrastructure and development of human resources.

As ASEAN Chair, Laos Walks Tightrope Among Big Powers

A small and landlocked country, Laos has learned, throughout its long history, how to survive among big powers. As ASEAN chair this year, it handles summits with external powers courting the organisation – the US, Russia and China. So far, so good, writes Kavi Chongkittavorn in this commentary for the ‘Reporting ASEAN: 2015 and Beyond’ series.

Philippines, Singapore Push for Asean Solidarity, Centrality in Resolving South China Sea Rows

Two ASEAN member states stress ASEAN centrality – precious to the regional organisation – amid tensions in the swirling waters of the South China Sea. The region’s solidarity, unity and centrality are “fundamental as they are vital” in resolving issues related to the disputed body of water, the Philippines and Singapore said in this ‘Straits Times’ article by Raul Dancel.

Thailand Being Left Behind by Neighbours

If Thailand were to regress from a democracy to the military-authoritarian rule of before, it would not look out of place in Southeast Asia’s mixed neighbourhood of absolutism, communism, and competitive authoritarianism. But the region is changing, leaving Thailand as the laggard, argues Thitinan Pongsudhirak in this ‘Bangkok Post’ article.

Building the Bloc

ASEAN Secretary-General Le Luong Minh, seen as low-profile compared to his Thai predecessor, has been underrated for achievements such as strengthening the secretariat, getting the European Union to open a mission to ASEAN, and telling China its behaviour in the South China Sea has eroded ASEAN-China links, says this article in SEA Globe.

Japan Counts on ASEAN Tourists to Boost Economy

Japan’s flagging economy is getting a boost from its neighbours – tourists from Southeast Asia keen to see samurais and indulge in a little shopping. Tourist arrivals from ASEAN have jumped 30 to 40 percent, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization. Suvendrini Kakuchi finds out why ASEAN visitors are flocking to Cool Japan.

What is ASEAN?

The Philippines will be ASEAN chair when ASEAN turns 50 next year. Yet in this report by Daniel Abunales and Jake Soriano of ‘Verafiles’ for the ‘Reporting ASEAN’ media fellowship programme, listen to Filipinos say of ASEAN: “I don’t know.” “It includes the US.”

How Do MNCs See the ASEAN Economic Community?

With the freer movement of labour, capital, investment and goods across Southeast Asia, multinational corporations (MNCs) look set to benefit from deeper economic integration under the ASEAN Economic Community. Industry leaders weigh in with their expectations of what the AEC means for their organisations and ideas on how to speed up the integration process in this article from ASEAN UP.

Five Decades On, Is ASEAN Ready to Grow Up?

Strong outside, weaker inside? ASEAN needs to address its internal contradictions before it can achieve true integration and be considered a regional powerhouse. Ahead of the ASEAN Community’s launch, Johanna Son takes a closer look at the ASEAN way in this story for ‘The Irrawaddy’ under the ‘Reporting ASEAN: 2015 and Beyond’ series.

ASEAN Countries Slow in Funding Women Empowerment

Less than a fifth of all projects under a 2012-2016 ASEAN Work Plan to promote and protect the rights of women and children have been completed due to a lack of funding by member states. Natashya Gutierrez from Rappler looks into the reasons for the slow disbursement of funds in her story for the ‘Reporting ASEAN’ media fellowship programme.

ASEAN Political-Security Community ‘Still A Distant Goal’

ASEAN’s reticence to speak as a united voice against Chinese incursions in the South China Sea threatens to set back regional security and political cohesion efforts. Albert Wai of Today explains how this will affect the creation of the ASEAN Political-Security Community in his story for the ‘Reporting ASEAN’ media fellowship programme.

ASEAN Economic Integration Faces Tough Road Ahead

With a year to go before the ASEAN Economic Community is launched, challenges remain in the creation of a single market and production base with free movement of labour, goods and capital. Albert Wai of TODAY looks at what’s needed to make regional economic integration a reality in his story for the ‘Reporting ASEAN’ media fellowship programme.

What ‘Public Morality’? Women’s Groups Ask

In this July 2012 statement, the South-east Asia Women’s Caucus on ASEAN argues that the phrase ‘public morality’ has no place in the draft ASEAN Human Rights Declaration because it can too easily be used to violate the rights of women and girls.

ASEAN Urged to Set Up Mechanism for Migrants’ Rights

It has been five years since ASEAN adopted a declaration to protect and promote migrant workers’ rights, but it still has not managed to hammer out a legally binding instrument to implement this path-breaking declaration. Critics say ASEAN is much more friendly to business than to its own migrant workers, prompting one to call it “schizophrenic”. Vera Files’ Tess Bacalla reports on ASEAN’s uphill climb to come to terms with the migrants in its midst.

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