Part I


Both the ideals espoused by the founding fathers of ASEAN, as expressed in the Bangkok Declaration of 1967, and the logic of global geopolitical, social, economic and technological changes require that ASEAN strive to be truly region wide association and that relations among its members be elevated to increasingly higher planes of co-operative endeavours.

ASEAN should becomes a community which would be a major political, diplomatic, social, economic, cultural and moral force on the world stage in the twenty-first century.

This community should be a pluralistic community of equal and sovereign states, reflecting unity within diversity, bound together by a common sense of destiny and dignity, and enjoying co-operative peace and shared prosperity; a community where there is rapid and ecologically sustainable economic growth and where disparities in wealth and income, both within and among nations, are reduced to minimal levels; a caring community where there is shared responsibility in helping one another to meet the basic requirements in food, shelter, clothing, healthcare and education; a community whose spiritual values and quality of human resources are elevated to the highest possible planes; a community, endowed with both a rich cultural heritage and dynamic technological capabilities, with pride in its past and confidence in its future.

This community should be open to co-operation with others in all fields of endeavour on the basis of mutual interests. It should also be firmly committed to certain international norms and principles, most notably those related to the promotion of free trade, human values, and the fight against crime, terrorism, drug trafficking and environment degradation.

In this community all members must be able to participate in, contribute to, and benefit from, all common activities and all the process of interactions to the fullest possible extend. For ambivalence, weakness, or a sense of deprivation and alienation on the part of one undermines the collective strength and resilience of the whole region.

To survive and to thrive in a world where competition for trade and investment opportunities is likely to become more intensified and where successful economic performance is, and is seen to be a most important source of internal legitimacy and international influence, Southeast Asia must continue to be region of high economic growth and must strive to be an increasingly dynamic epicentre of economic activities. Continued success also requires that the ASEAN countries individually and collectively enhance their technological capabilities to sharpen and to help sustain their competitive edge into the next century.

But achievement of growth should not be an end in itself.

Given the rapid deterioration of the region’s environment and natural resources, the process of development must be ecologically sustainable, and of the region’s rich natural heritage.

The benefits of growth, moreover, must be and must be seen to be more equitably distributed.

Inequity can cause divisiveness at all levels of human affairs. ASEAN should be a community where disparities in wealth, income and opportunities for advancement, both within and among nations, are reduced to minimal levels. Poverty and life’s other miseries cannot be easily eradicated, but in this Southeast Asia of the future the tradition of kinship and compassion must be revive and sustained.

This sense of shared responsibility is to be just one attribute of an ASEAN community which elevates human values and the equality of human resources to the highest possible planes.

In other words, the focus should be on the human dimension

For, first of all, communities are ultimately about people. The tie that truly binds is not faceless institution and agencies, impersonal agreements and procedures, but a commitment, a sense of caring and sharing, a sense of participation and ownership, a sense of belonging and attachment, which can only be nurtured in the spirit of real, live human-beings.

And, secondly, with some 460 million people in the region, most of whom are in the younger age groups, human resources constitute perhaps Southeast Asia’s greatest asset. The logic of global competition, the pace of technological change, and the twin imperatives of economic growth and distribution require that this asset be enhanced in value to the fullest possible extent.

While looking forward to the future with confidence, this community should also seek to preserve and to revive Southeast Asia’s traditional values and rich cultural heritage. For judicious pride in one’s past often helps to forge a sense of identity and common purpose necessary for undertaking collective endeavours, to provide a sense of proportion when making hard decision, and to give strength to one’s commitment during times of doubt and uncertainty.

[This report is divided into three interrelated parts. Part One contains the SGCL’s vision of the Southeast Asia; this is intended to spell out the Study Group’s ideas and perspectives, regarding not only the future of the region and the general direction in which it should develop, but also Cambodia’s and Laos’ "places" in this Southeast Asian of the future. Part Two identifies the problems and challenges, which are or may be obstacles to the realisation of this vision, especially with respect to the integration of Cambodia and Laos as full partner in regional co-operation. Part Three puts forward various policy options for managing, alleviating, or resolving these problems and challenges in the immediate, the medium and long term.]

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