ASEAN IN FOCUS

Reform-minded outsider Widodo takes over as Indonesia’s president

BY FERGUS JENSEN AND FRANSISKA NANGOY (Reuters) – Indonesia’s Joko Widodo took over as president of the world’s third-largest democracy on Monday with supporters’ hopes high but pressing economic problems and sceptical rivals set to test the former furniture businessman. Widodo won a narrow victory over a former general in a July election with promises of clean government and tackling entrenched interests. It was the first time in the young democracy’s history that a president […]

Why abolishing direct local elections undermines Indonesia’s democracy

Authors: Jonathan Chen and Adhi Priamarizki, RSIS (Courtesy East Asia Forum) — A bill that will transfer the election of local leaders in Indonesia from the people to the Regional Legislative Councils is currently being contested. The Indonesian parliament passed the bill to end direct local elections on 26 September. But outgoing President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono announced on 30 September that he is preparing an emergency presidential decree to overturn the decision and restore elections. Direct […]

Initiatives to strengthen trade with key ASEAN partners gaining momentum

QUEZON CITY, 12 Oct. (PIA)- After the visit of Indonesian Vice Minister for Commerce Bayu Krishnamurti, Vietnam’s Ministry of Trade Vice Minister Tran Tuan Anh arrived recently to meet with trade officials from the Philippines. “We have been actively engaging our key ASEAN partners to provide greater market access for our exporters and SMEs. Our dialogues with Vietnam focus on expanding our market access particularly for flour and processed fish,” Undersecretary for Trade and Industry Adrian […]

Agri sector preparing for ASEAN Economic Integration by end-2015, Alcala says

QUEZON CITY,  Oct. 12 — Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala assured the agribusiness sector and its development partners that the government has been working to better prepare the agri-fishery for fast-liberalizing global trade, including the much-anticipated ASEAN economic integration by end of 2015.  Speaking at the opening ceremony of the 21st AgriLink, Foodlink and AquaLink trade show Thursday at World Trade Center in Pasay City, Alcala said the DA has intensified the small farm clustering initiative and […]

Bali Democracy Forum manifests will of united Asian people, says President Aquino

The democracy forum in Bali manifests People Power, as it harnesses the resolve of the Asian people to attain a free and opportunity-laden region, President Benigno S. Aquino III said on Friday.“What we continue to demonstrate here, I believe, is one of the many manifestations of People Power: of harnessing our united resolve towards a democratic regional community, one where our respective peoples fully enjoy the freedoms borne of democratic aspirations, where our peoples have […]

Aquino: “Indonesia has indeed been a true friend to my people”

President Benigno S. Aquino III and fellow leaders in the Asia-Pacific region were welcomed by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at the opening session of the 7th Bali Democracy Forum Friday morning, where he paid tribute to the Indonesian leader as a “big brother.” President Aquino was greeted by President Yudhoyono upon his arrival at the Bali International Convention Center for the opening of this year’s forum.    President Yudhoyono officially opened the 7th Bali […]

ASEAN and China Sign Agreement on Disaster Management

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations and China signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Disaster Management Cooperation on Monday, Oct. 6, underscoring the importance of disaster management in light of recent calamities and natural disasters. ASEAN Secretary General Le Luong Minh hailed the signing of the MOU as a “milestone in the developing partnership with China in the area of disaster management.”  The signing ceremony took place at the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta, Indonesia. “The […]

Kerry stresses U.S. involvement at ASEAN business dinner

(Reuters) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry emphasized the importance of investing in Southeast Asia at the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council 30th Anniversary Gala reception at the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington Thursday night. (October 2). “We are going to be in Burma, the president and I are going to be there, a month from now. We are looking forward to being in China likewise in November for the APEC conference. We will be there for the East Asia summit. We are front and center and […]

The ASEAN Economic Community’s labor policy needs work

Author: Sanchita Basu Das, ISEAS (Courtesy East Asia Forum) — Driven by the looming 2015 deadline, discussion is heating up about the impact ASEAN’s Economic Community (AEC) will have on employment. Set to begin on 31 December 2015, the AEC envisions ASEAN as a single market and production base characterised by the free flow of goods, services, investments and the freer flow of capital and skills. Two key factors will affect the region’s employment prospects. First, […]

ASEAN issues first statement against ISIS and other terrorist groups

MANILA, Philippines (ENS) — In its first ever statement against terrorist and extremist organizations, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) sent a strongly worded expression of concern  against radical groups in Iraq and Syria saying these groups pose a serious threat to the rest of the world if left unchecked. “ASEAN Member States expressed concern over the rise of violence and brutality committed by terrorist/extremist organisations and radical groups in Iraq and Syria, noting […]

ASEAN Parliament Commits to Stronger Co-op

(Courtesy ASEAN Secretariat News) VIENTIANE, 23 September 2014 – Taking on the theme “Strengthening Parliamentary Cooperation in the ASEAN Community Building,” the 35th General Assembly of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) was held on 15-19 September in the capital of Lao PDR. It was attended by six Speakers and four Deputy-Speakers of AIPA Member Parliaments, Chairs of Committees of the respective parliaments, and eight Observer Parliaments from Australia, Belarus, People’s Republic of China, India, Japan, Russia, Republic […]

Why cultural values cannot be ignored in international relations

Author: Kadira Pethiyagoda, Canberra Courtesy East Asia Forum One hundred years ago began the war that was supposed to end all wars. This inauspicious centenary has allowed the foreign affairs commentariat to indulge in one of the things it is best at — drawing historical analogies. It is true that aspects of the global landscape look similar to a century ago. States push the boundaries of international law and act unilaterally, returning to old-school territoriality. A major […]