Stressed by Strife: ASEAN from Pattaya to Preah Vihear
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is Asia’s most resilient regional organization. Its ambitious new charter aims to foster, in a dynamic but disparate region, a triply integrated region comprising a Political and Security Community, an Economic Community, and a Socio-Cultural Community. The charter’s debut under Thailand’s 2008-09 chairmanship of the Association was badly marred, however, by political strife among Thai factions, clashes on the Thai-Cambodian border, and border-crossing risks of a non-military kind. How have these developments affected ASEAN’s regional performance and aspirations? Are its recent troubles transitional or endemic? Do they imply a need for the Association to reconsider its modus operandi, lest it lose its role as the chief architect of East Asian regionalism?
Dr Thitinan Pongsudhirak is director of the Institute of Security and International Studies and an associate professor of international political economy at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. He is a prolific author, having written many op eds, articles, chapters, and books on Thailand’s politics, political economy, foreign policy, and media, and on ASEAN and East Asian security and economic cooperation. He has worked for The Nation newspaper (Bangkok), The Economist Intelligence Unit, and Independent Economic Analysis (London). His degrees are from the London School of Economics (PhD), Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (MA), and the University of California (BA). His doctoral study of the 1997 Thai economic crisis won the United Kingdom’s Lord Bryce Prize for Best Dissertation in Comparative and International Politics—currently the only work by an Asian scholar to have been so honored.