ASEAN member states are using the 44th Anniversary of the ASEAN Community as an opportunity to reaffirm their commitment to the regional grouping in the future. Today, for the first time, the ASEAN flag has been raised in front of ASEAN embassies around the world. This is seen to be a symbolic sign that ASEAN is moving towards its goal of becoming a single community based on the its 'three pillars' of economic cooperation, political and security cooperation and sociocultural cooperation by 2015. Real integration however, still has a long way to go and will take time. An ASEAN and Asia community is still in its infancy as many people do not know about it. From the perspective of human rights and democracy, the recent establishment of the Intergovernmental Commission for Human Rights, despite its weaknesses, has been argued to be an important step forward for ASEAN.
Promising first steps towards a united region [Nation, 8 August 2011]
Cambodia hoists ASEAN flag to mark bloc’s 44th Anniversary [Xinhua, 8 August 2011]
That said, some warn that ASEAN is moving too slowly, with its harshest critics arguing for a review of the Charter, to ensure tougher sanctions for the delays in implementation of ASEAN programmes. “ASEAN is in the middle of traffic jam. We can’t achieve an ASEAN Community and other goals by 2015,” according to Rizal Sukma, the executive director of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies. Others are more optimistic, pointing to the signing of political agreements and new regulations towards the goal of creating a single market.
Is ASEAN moving toward a community too slowly? [Jakarta Post, 8 August 2011]
In the meantime, leaders, including Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung have reflected on the groupings growth over recent years, emphasizing the achievements that have been made towards cooperation. Dung also emphasized the need for further action to enhance the efficiency of regional co-operation mechanisms such as the Treaty of Amity and Co-operation in Southeast Asia (TAC), the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (SEANWFZ), the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). Myanmar President U Thein Sein has said that his country would intensify work towards a people-oriented, people-centered and rules-based ASEAN, while Singapore's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Mr Masagos Zulkifli was guest of honour for a flag raising ceremony in Singapore at the Indonesian Embassy there. At a volatile time for the Asian stock markets, such displays of regional solidarity may be especially welcome.
Asean plays significant role in regional peace, development [Viet Nam News, 8 August 2011]
Myanmar reiterates efforts for regional peace, stability [Xinhua, 8 August 2011]
Singapore celebrates ASEAN's 44th anniversary [Today, 8 August 2011]