One Year of the ASEAN Community

It is already one year since the establishment of the ASEAN Community on 31 December 2015. The establishment was made possible by all 10 Member States of ASEAN through Kuala Lumpur Declaration on the Establishment of the ASEAN Community signed in Kuala Lumpur on 22 November 2015. At this opportunity, I commend Malaysia and the rest of ASEAN for all commitments in making this establishment possible, and in making the ASEAN Community standing for years to come.

The establishment of the ASEAN Community makes me proud. In the other words, I am proud to be a part of the ASEAN Community; not only for the spirit of unity and integration created and shared with all 600 million peoples of ASEAN, but also the opportunities promised by ASEAN itself through three community pillars: ASEAN Political-Security Community, ASEAN Economic Community and ASEAN Sociocultural Community.

Today, we are able to see – and, even, to showcase – some of opportunities provided in the ASEAN Community. Some of us have been travelling across ASEAN for trade and investment purposes. Some of us, at the other side, have been reaching undeserved communities and providing them voluntarily with social cares and educational activities. Some of us, at the same time, have attended meetings and conferences held around the world in order to establish and maintain policies and frameworks applied by ASEAN. I salute those who have been working very hard in order to make the ASEAN Community meaningful for the world.

Despite that, one big question remains in the ASEAN people: How meaningful the ASEAN Community is at this time? When some of ASEAN countries continue to claim sovereignty in Spratly Islands, and when the fate of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar’s State of Rakhine remains unassured, some of us loss their hope to ASEAN as if the philosophy of “we dare to dream” and “we care to share” becomes worthless.

As a part of the ASEAN Community, how I wish that the ASEAN Community will be meaningful for everyone living in all Member States of ASEAN and for the rest of the world. It has been insufficient for us, the ASEAN people, to only sit and see the situation befalling some parts of ASEAN. We, actually, need to act for ASEAN through possible ways and means; not only through high-level meetings and town hall sessions, but also through awareness campaigns, charities, and whatever gestures which will lead to the success of ASEAN.

Above all, let us come back to the foundations of ASEAN created by our ASEAN fathers in 1967. Appreciate the spirit created in the ASEAN Way since the first moment ASEAN is established. Recall the values that ASEAN have created for its Member States and their peoples. Share them with our ASEAN friends. Stay united in diversity as a “community of opportunities”.

In 2017, ASEAN will celebrate its Golden Jubilee. On such occasion, how I wish that the ASEAN Community will not be only in the name, but in the action as well. Therefore, let us continue working for our people and our region; may peace and prosperity remain in ASEAN countries for years to come.

Photo courtesy of ASEAN Secretariat