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Premises, Perils, and Promises of ASEAN Integration



This article is aimed at analyzing the premises, perils, and promises of ASEAN integration. Beyond examining the region’s situation, this article will also draw lessons from the European Union and various incipient Latin American integration projects. Specifically, this article will address the following questions: (a) How does the ASEAN’s founding myth affect the ASEAN integration project’s general direction? (b) What is wrong with ASEAN’s current neoliberal framework? (c) What country will be the likely hegemon of the ASEAN economic and socio-cultural community? (d) Is a solidarity-based, people-centered, grassroots-driven, and non-neoliberal model for ASEAN integration possible and sustainable? (e) What lessons can be drawn from the European and Latin American integration schemes?
Premises, Perils, and Promises of ASEAN Integration
David Michael M. San Juan
De La Salle University, Manila
Note: The final, definitive version of this paper has been published in Journal of
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This paper is aimed at analyzing the premises, perils, and promises of ASEAN
integration. Beyond examining the region’s situation, this paper will also draw
lessons from the European Union and various incipient Latin American integration
projects. Specifically, this paper will answer the following questions: 1) How does the
ASEAN’s founding myth affects the ASEAN integration project’s general direction?; 2)
What is wrong with ASEAN’s current neoliberal framework?; 3) What
country/countries will be the likely hegemon/s of the ASEAN economic and
socio-cultural community?; 4) Is a solidarity-based, people-centered,
grassroots-driven, and non-neoliberal model for ASEAN integration possible and
sustainable?; 5) What lessons can be drawn from the European and Latin American
integration schemes?.
Keywords: ASEAN, economic integration, development studies, neoliberalism
Established in 1967 as an anti-communist buffer against the then seemingly
imminent communist domination of Southeast Asia (or, arguably, Asia), the ASEAN
should have become logically irrelevant after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the
restoration of capitalism in China, Vietnam and other nominally communist or
socialist Asian countries, and more especially after its neoliberal framework has been
widely exposed as bankrupt and unsustainable when the 2008 financial crisis hit and
subsequent neoliberal remedies such as austerity measures failed to bring about
genuine economic growth and holistic human development. Instead, the ASEAN has
successfully concealed its Euro-American neoliberal connection, by hyping up its
Asian-style capitalism through what it labels as socio-cultural and economic
“integration.” Academics and citizens alike now use “ASEAN integration” as magical
catchphrase to resolve the social ills plaguing the region, the way the establishment
tirelessly used “globalization” as the bandwagon in the early 2000s.
Hence, there is an urgent need to re-evaluate the ASEAN’s contemporary
relevance, and explore the possibilities of steering the ASEAN project towards a
solidarity-based, people-centered, grassroots-driven, and non-neoliberal model,
roughly aligned with progressive goals. Within this context, this paper is aimed at
analyzing the premises, perils, and promises of ASEAN integration. Beyond
examining the region’s situation, this paper will also draw lessons from the European
Union and various incipient Latin American integration projects. Specifically, this
paper will answer the following questions: 1) How does the ASEAN’s founding myth
affects the ASEAN integration project’s general direction?; 2) What is wrong with
ASEAN’s current neoliberal framework?; 3) What country/countries will be the likely
hegemon/s of the ASEAN economic and socio-cultural community?; 4) Is a
solidarity-based, people-centered, grassroots-driven, and non-neoliberal model for
ASEAN integration possible and sustainable?; 5) What lessons can be drawn from the
European and Latin American integration schemes?.
Premises of ASEAN Integration
It is clear from the start that the establishment of the ASEAN in 1967 is political
in nature, as it was conceptualized as an anti-communist bastion against the perceived
rise and expansion of communism in Southeast Asia and even in Asia (Singh, 1997;
Ganesan, 2004; Pongsudhirak, 2007). Jha (2000) summarized the setting in which the
ASEAN was founded: “ASEAN was born in 1967 as the US was losing its grip on the
Vietnam War and SEATO was proving itself a paper tiger. Then a conglomeration of
five nations, namely Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and the Philippines,
ASEAN was anti-Communist and afraid of Communist aggression, as some of its
member states had collaborated with the US in anti-communist drives. Back then,
Thailand and the Philippines had provided military and naval bases, besides offering
contingents of their armed forces.” Hence, politically, these Southeast Asian countries
were aligned with the USA and its allies, rather than with the Soviet Union and its
satellites. As Kapur (1990) emphasizes, in the organization’s early years – prior to the
entry of nominally socialist/communist Southeast Asian countries “All the ASEAN
governments have declared communism illegal and even opposed the free
dissemination of Marxist literature. The total ban of communism is a result of many
years of struggle between the communist parties and the non-communist
governments...All of them face the constant threat from the communist party either
through covert or overt actions. Hence, there is a common basis for the ASEAN
governments to ensure that the indigenous communist movement does not succeed in
any ASEAN country.” Anti-communists (still) rule Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore
and Thailand all founding members of the ASEAN. Among the founding members,
only Indonesia can be considered as partly influenced by communists at least during
the time of Sukarno’s alliance with the Partai Komunis Indonesia (PKI), at the peak of
his administration’s attempt to help form a third way between the capitalist camp led
by the United States and the socialist side led by the Soviet Union. Despite having
described himself as a leftist lightly bolstered by seasonal anti-American rhetoric
the Philippines’ current president is yet to develop an independent/non-aligned foreign
policy and remains tethered to Western influence at least in the medium term (as
proven by Donald Trump’s 2017 state visit
and the continuation of existing joint
US-Philippines military exercises
), while at the same time playing cozy with an
ascendant China.
The political nature of ASEAN’s foundation is of course entwined with
economic realities. In its official website, the US State Department boasts that “U.S.
relations with ASEAN have been excellent since its inception. The United States
became a Dialogue Partner country of ASEAN in 1977.” In fact, “ASEAN’s first
wave of Dialogue Partners included the European Union, Japan and the United States
which were ASEAN’s major trading partners” (Pushpanathan, 2003) while Russia has
been “elevated to a full dialogue partner of the ASEAN” only in 1996
(ASEAN-Russia Summit Website, 2016), when the successor-states of the Soviet
Union are already in the advanced stages of completing their integration to the
capitalist world. Thus, it can be asserted that the big capitalist powers supported the
ASEAN as a way to ensure their grip to this region a proven colonial source of raw
material (and even human resources), an expanding market for their exports and a
source of commodities for their respective countries as well. Hock (1978) analyzed
trade statistics from the 1960s 1970s, and concluded that “(i)n the foreign trade
sector...ASEAN countries have shared a number of common characteristics” such as
being “highly dependent on trade,” “concentrated on a few commodities” and “heavy
reliance on a few industrial nations” which made the “ASEAN economies highly
vulnerable to the fluctuations of commodity prices and ups and downs of the
economic activities in the United States, Japan and the EEC countries.”
The ASEAN’s subscription to the US-led dominant neoliberal-capitalist
framework has only strengthened through the years as even nominally (or formerly)
socialist/communist and/or non-capitalist countries integrated themselves to the
capitalist camp. In 1995, Vietnam joined the ASEAN, and in the late 1990s, Laos,
Myanmar and Cambodia joined the organization as well. As Bresnan notes (1994),
these Southeast Asian countries metamorphosed into dynamos of capitalism from
being perceived as dominoes of communism. With ideological lines now blurred, the
ASEAN “envisages the following key characteristics” as the goals of the ASEAN
Economic Community (AEC) formally launched in: “(a) a single market and
production base, (b) a highly competitive economic region, (c) a region of equitable
economic development, and (d) a region fully integrated into the global economy
(ASEAN Secretariat 2015). ASEAN’s roots as an anti-communist bastion is now
distant history, as present realities point to its swift integration into the capitalist world
through the region’s free trade agreements with Australia, New Zealand, China, India,
Japan, and South Korea
and continuing mimicry of Western neoliberal policies from
bank deregulation to privatization of industries and social services
Perils of ASEAN Integration
Such goals of ASEAN Integration give circumspect observers a clue about the
perils of economic integration. As mentioned in A Blueprint for Growth ASEAN
Economic Community 2015: Progress and Key Achievements” published by the
ASEAN Secretariat (2015), it is clear that the ASEAN Integration Project is
essentially an economic globalization scheme. Within the lopsided framework of
neoliberal globalization, the global economic system is more favorable to
developed/capital-rich countries because 1) developed nations’ investments in
developing countries earn profits which the former typically repatriate, rather than
reinvest in the latter; 2) developed countries control multilateral financial institutions
such as the IMF, World Bank, and even the biggest private banks that are capable of
bankrolling or frustrating any effort towards industrialization contemplated by
progressive developing countries’ governments; 3) technology transfers on a massive
scale seldom happens, hence developed countries tend to retain a monopoly on
innovations vital to the growth of the manufacturing sector; 4) the bulk price of the
developing countries’ main exports (raw materials and semi-manufactured goods) is
lower than the bulk price of their typical imports from developed countries
(technology/ machinery and high-value products); 5) the migration of workers and
professionals from developing countries to the developed countries depletes the
former’s human resources which they need to free themselves from poverty and
dependency; and 6) the education system of developing countries is aligned with the
needs of developed/capital-rich countries which are also typical destinations of
migrant workers from the developing nations. From its inception, any economic
integration scheme will have its hegemon the core, and consequently, its peripheries
(San Juan, 2016).
The perils of such an economic system is highlighted by the proven weaknesses
of the European Union’s (EU) economic integration project, laid bare by the recent
decision of UK voters to reject EU membership and exit the said organization in a
move popularly known as Brexit. The economic integration through the lifting of
trade barriers of heterogeneous economies in the EU produced a system where
countries with strong export sectors prospered at the expense of nations with weaker
manufacturing sectors. For example, the German economy benefited from continuous
export growth, at the expense of countries in Southern Europe such as Greece. Greece
was unable to compete or catch up with Germany and it is impossible, for
globalization is somehow a zero-sum game. One country’s weak manufacturing sector
is the gain of another nation’s strong industrial output, especially that the EU is both a
monetary and a fiscal union where both monetary and fiscal policies are tightly
regulated by the European Central Bank. One entity can only grow at the expense of
another entity, as trade barriers have been smashed and no safety nets are left for the
weak to compete or catch up with the strong ones. Magoulios and Athianos’ (2013)
analysis of European trade figures starting from the early years of Greek
membership in the EU found out that “The trade deficit of Greece with the countries
of the Euro Zone rose by 42.49% during the period 2000-2007. Increase of the deficit
occurred in trade with eleven (11) out of fifteen (15) countries. 9/10, roughly, of the
cumulative trade deficit (2000-2007) was produced by Greek transactions with five (5)
EZ developed countries (Germany, Italy, France, Holland, Belgium), while half of the
total deficit was produced only from trade with two countries, Germany and Italy. It
appears that in the era of the Euro, Greece's deficit, like that of other
weaker economies, creates surpluses in developed countries, thus enhancing
the uneven growth in the Euro area.” The economies of stronger industrial countries
in the EU led by Germany grew primarily at the expense of their weaker
counterparts such as Greece. As per World Bank statistics, the Greek manufacturing
sector’s contribution to the GDP was 11.2% in 2001 (the year it adopted the euro),
registering steadily decline until 2006, reaching a record-low 8.19% in 2010, and
recovering to 9.14% in 2015, yet still below the pre-euro membership peak of 12.1%
in 1995. Not surprisingly, the German manufacturing sector’s contribution to the GDP
registered steady increases from 2002-2007 (22.1% to 23.4%). German exports to
Greece steadily increased reaching an all-time high in June 2016
. Germany’s trade
surplus with Greece (or Greece’s trade deficit with Germany) continuously widened
throughout the Euro era
Europe’s present can become the ASEAN’s future. Any economic integration
scheme will pit the strongest economy against the weakest ones. In the ASEAN’s
situation using ASEAN trade aggregates as basis Malaysia, Singapore and
Thailand are the regional hegemons. On intra-ASEAN import and export, only
Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand registered positive trade balances, while the rest of
the ASEAN registered negative trade balances for a number of years, with Cambodia,
Laos, Viet Nam and the Philippines registering negative statistics for the whole
10-year period
. Meanwhile, Brunei, Malaysia, and Singapore registered over-all
positive balance of trade in goods from 2007-2016. The Philippines registered
negative balance of trade from 2007-2016. Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Viet Nam
registered negative balance of trade in most years in the said 10-year period
. These
negative trade balances of weak economies can be only be reversed if they will be
able to innovate and catch up with stronger economies and that means that they’ll
have to outperform other countries in a race where they started as the laggards. As the
Greek economy’s fortunes under the EU tell us, catching up is almost impossible
within a free trade zone, especially if the economies involved have started with
already wide trade gaps and gaps in other fields such as education and innovation. In
the ASEAN, Singapore leads in the Global Innovation Index 2017
and with the
World University Rankings 2016-2017 too
(with two universities in the top 100, a
feat which other Southeast Asian countries is yet to replicate). In the World Bank’s
Logistics Performance Index (LPI) that covers data on infrastructure and international
shipments, regional trade hegemons Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand are ranked
above regional trade laggards Philippines, Cambodia, Laos and Viet Nam in both
2016 and 2007
The United States’ experiences with free trade agreement can also provide
lessons for Southeast Asia. As his first official act, US President Donald Trump
rescinded his country’s membership in the Trans-Pacific Partnership/TPP described
as “the largest regional trade accord ever,” binding “...the United States and 11 other
nations in a free-trade zone for about 40 percent of the world’s economy...”
claiming that such “...ridiculous trade deals...have taken everybody out of our country
and taken companies out of our country
. Trump’s tirade is based on the reality that
hundreds of American companies are “either sending American jobs overseas, or
choosing to employ cheap overseas labor, instead of American workers”
Despite USA’s technological superiority in the early 2000s, it was unable to
defeat China under the World Trade Organization’s rules for free trade competition,
causing America to shed “3.2 million jobs between 2001 and 2013,” resulting from
being trapped in the equivalent of an economic quagmire where “a growing U.S.
goods trade deficit with China has the United States piling up foreign debt, losing
export capacity, and losing jobs, especially in the vital but under-siege manufacturing
sector (Kimball and Scott, 2014). The same research remarks that even after free
trade, “the envisioned flow of U.S. exports to China” failed to materialize because
“...of China’s currency manipulation and other trade-distorting practices, including
extensive subsidies, legal and illegal barriers to imports, dumping, and suppression of
wages and labor rights.” Even workers in the supposed winner of globalization
China lost under free trade. In its quest to be the world’s main source of cheap
exports, China kept wages low, a strategy which both the Philippines, Laos and other
laggards can attempt to impose at their own citizens’ peril. In the case of Greece,
industrial hemorrhaging persists even after it joined the EU and deepened its
economic integration with the said trade zone, despite having a lower minimum wage
rate than that of Germany, France, Netherlands, and Belgium the same countries
with which it typically registers negative trade balances. Hence, it is clear that even
the beggar-thy-neighbor scheme or a subscription to the race-to-the-bottom doctrine
has its limits and does not work for all countries. Peripheral countries of the
ASEAN can still try keeping their wage rates very low to make their export sectors
more competitive but that will be very difficult if not impossible as both have very
low wage to begin with
Promises of ASEAN Integration
Beyond current free trade’s prevailing race-to-the-bottom creed where both
governments (outwitted by tax-dodging corporations) and peoples (squeezed to the
hilt by corporations seeking maximum profits partly through imposing the lowest
wage rates possible), it is not too late for the ASEAN to change course. There is
enough time to steer the ASEAN scheme away from the neoliberal framework that is
in crisis in many parts of the world today making income inequality rates stagnant if
not worse and turning countries into competitors rather than partners for mutual
development and towards more cooperation- and solidarity-based integration
projects where the main goal will be the pursuit of the common good over corporate
profit, sustainable development rather than endless macroeconomic growth, and
sharing and cooperation rather than competition. The fulfillment of the people’s
collective aspirations can be inspired by the so-called “Spirit of Bandung” the spirit
that fueled the Asia-Africa Conference held in Bandung, Indonesia in 1955. Then
Indonesian President Sukarno summed up Third World people’s collective aspirations
in a speech entitled “Let a New Asia and New Africa Be Born”
: “Let us remember
that the stature of all mankind is diminished so long as nations or parts of nations are
still unfree. Let us remember that the highest purpose of man is the liberation of man
from his bonds of fear, his bonds of human degradation, his bonds of poverty the
liberation of man from the physical, spiritual and intellectual bonds which have for
too long stunted the development of humanity’s majority.” Internalizing the “Spirit of
Bandung” will pave the way for a paradigm shift required in implementing more
concrete policies that will help countries and citizens walk the path of development
As a practical springboard towards remaking the ASEAN scheme, ASEAN
members could take a look at Latin America’s Venezuelan-led Alianza Bolivariana
para los Pueblos de Nuestra América/ Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our
America (ALBA) which promoted “trade based on solidarity rather than the market,”
where “trade between members is done at preferential, non-market rates and payment
can be made through goods as well as through payments over a period of time at
lower-than-market interest”
. At the minimum, such fair trade schemes must provide
“jobs paying living wages to anyone who wants them, for social housing, for health
and education.
If free trade is to be retained, Stiglitz’ prescriptions (2016) are also
instructive: “impose a tax on surplus countries...” (countries with a huge trade surplus
exports minus imports such as Germany) which “...could be used to help the
deficit countries to finance a solidarity fund for stabilisation, to help the countries that
are having difficulties...One of the real problems that we’ve seen in Europe is that,
rather than convergence, we’ve got divergence. The weaker countries have gotten
poorer and the stronger countries gotten stronger. That has to be reversed. One way of
preventing that is strong industrial policies that help the poorer countries catch up on
the stronger...” Such “solidarity fund” will ensure that no one is left behind and
everyone is helped to “catch up” with the rest of the trade bloc members. Stiglitz et al.
(2014) provided an expansive proposal on the egalitarian set-up of which the so-called
solidarity fund is just one component. Reforms in the said proposal are parallel with
Piketty’s call (2014) for a “global tax on capital” that involves the imposition of “a
tax schedule applicable to all wealth around the world and then decide how to
apportion the revenues.” Revenues from this tax can be used to finance ways to bridge
the gap between the richest and poorest countries, between the trade surplus holders
and the trade laggards. In the ASEAN’s case, Singapore’s trade surpluses can help
fund educational and infrastructure boosts in the region’s peripheries. Presently, the
is the only feasible mechanism for a regional version of solidarity
fund for peripheral countries, albeit ASEAN member nations contribute equally
Singapore could be persuaded to provide a larger contribution to the said fund. As the
top intra-ASEAN trade surplus maker, Singapore can also easily match Malaysia’s
initial $150-million equity contribution to the Asian Development Bank-backed
ASEAN Infrastructure Fund
, as a way to help trade laggards catch up.
On a more practical level, countries such as the Philippines and Laos that risk
becoming ASEAN’s peripheral regions under a full-blast economic integration
scheme, should specialize on things/services that other countries are unable to
produce adequately. For example, tropical countries with vast vacant lands, such as
the Philippines may start focusing on solar energy production (Shead, 2017)
especially that demand for renewable energy will increase as newer technologies are
developed, and as climate change impact forces nations to cut carbon emissions from
fossil fuels. Peripheral countries may utilize renewable energy to gain from the
hunger of developed countries for such sources (Tabary and Purdie, 2016). The
Philippines may also start maximizing its potentials as a potable water-producing
country, through investments in technologies for drawing out and purifying surface
water, and collecting rainwater that regularly inundate many parts of the archipelago.
Finally, re-organizing production at the global level shall be pursued, as the
common sense of sustainable development prevails. Countries will develop product
and service specialization based on their over-all capability and resources, and treat
each other as neighbors still do in many rural Southeast Asian countries: as neighbors
who share in the community’s work and wealth, helping each other survive and live.
In other words, instead of zero-sum game of deficits and surpluses, countries should
work towards an international economic system where the world’s resources are
utilized and shared based more on the people’s needs rather than for the pursuit of
private profit, considering that the worsening effects of climate change are making us
realize that in the short run, unlimited economic growth under the neoliberal
globalization framework may lead to humankind’s extinction. Under such a system,
the strong ones will help the weak ones, rather than trounce and gobble them up
through free trade agreements, or in the words of Pete Seeger’s English version of
“Ode to Joy”: “Speed the slow, remind the eager. Help the weak and guide the strong.
None shall push aside another. None shall let another fall. Work beside me, sisters
and brothers. All for one and one for all. In a nutshell, people are exhorted to be
citizens of one big country/planet called Earth, sharing borders and resources so that
no one will be left behind. Such paradigm shift will only be possible through intensive
campaign and organizing work of broad-based, labor-led social movements (San Juan,
2017) capable of influencing policymakers and/or altering power structures.
‘ Trump hails 'great relationship' with Philippines' Duterte’, The Guardian, 11-13-2017
‘What Will US-Philippines Military Exercises Look Like in 2018?’, The Diplomat, 9-7-2017
4 and
See Tables 5.5 and 5.7 in
See Table 5.8 in
‘Trump Abandons Trans-Pacific Partnership, Obama's Signature Trade Deal’, New York Times, 01-23-2017
‘10 Achievements of the ALBA Alliance in 10 Years’, TeleSur, 3-17-2015
‘We need an alternative to Trump's nationalism. It isn't the status quo,’ The Guardian, 1-22-2017
See Table 1 in
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Hock, O. C. (1978). “US Trade Policy and Trade Relation with ASEAN Countries”
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Piketty, T. (2014). Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Harvard University Press.
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in East Asian regional order.” In Regional order in East Asia: ASEAN and Japan
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Dependency, Labor, Privatization, Critical Pedagogy, and the K to 12 System.”
Asia-Pacific Social Science Review, 16-1: 80-110.
San Juan, D. M. (2017). “Why Marx Was Right: Third World Edition.” Journal of
Developing Societies, 33, 1: 1-27.
Shead, B. (2017). “Solar Power Industry in the Philippines.”
Singh, D. (1997). “ASEAN and the Security of Southeast Asia.” in ASEAN in the New
Asia: Issues and Trends. Chia Siow Yue and Marcello Pacini (eds.). Singapore:
Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.
Stiglitz, J. (2016). “The Real Issues Of The Eurozone And How To Solve Them.”
Stiglitz, J. et al. (2014). “A Call for Policy Change in Europe.” Challenge, July
August 2014.
Tabary, M. and E. Purdie. (2016). “Sustainable development and the demand for
US State Department (2016). “Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).”
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الْمُسْتَخْلَصُ: تعرض هذه الورقة المرجعية لأبرز الاتجاهات الحديثة والمعاصرة في بحوث علم اجتماع التنمية، وقوفًا على تحديد منهجي تحليلي كاشف للتوجهات النظرية والمنهجية التي تستحق مزيد من الدرس السوسيولوجي. وعبر الاستعانة بمحركات وقواعد البيانات الدولية تم تحديد إطار احصائي للدوريات الإنمائية، سحبت منه عينة عمدية لثلاث دوريات متخصصة في سوسيولوجيا التنمية، وذات تصنيفات علمية متقدمة، وتم التَحصُل على ما جملته 271 ورقة بحثية، غَطت الفترة الزمنية من العام 2018 وحتى أكتوبر من العام 2021م. وعليه، أمكن لهذه الورقة التعرض لسبعة اتجاهات إنمائية تطرح نفسها وبقوة على ساحة البحث السوسيولوجي آنيًا، منها ما يتعلق بخطاب التنمية، وذلك على أربعة أوجه (البرجماتي، والقسري، والتكاملي، والمثالي). ثم اتجاهات الاستدامة العادلة، والتنمية الاحتوائية، والمسؤولية الاجتماعية، ورأس المال الاجتماعي، والتنمية الرقمية، وأخيرًا اتجاه الصحة والرعاية الإنمائية. الْكَلِمَاتُ الْمِفْتَاحِيَّةُ: خطاب التنمية، الاستدامة العادلة، والتنمية الاحتوائية، والمسؤولية الاجتماعية، ورأس المال الاجتماعي، الرقمنة.
Conference Paper
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ASEAN’s external relations took a strong footing in 1976, more than a decade after the formation of ASEAN in August 1967. In the first ten years of its existence, ASEAN was preoccupied with building the new association, fostering mutual confidence and keeping the region from being an arena of Cold War conflict. The aim was to create national and regional resilience so that economic and national development could be pursued by the newly independent ASEAN countries to improve the livelihood of their people. As ASEAN progressed and became more confident as a regional organisation, it expanded its membership to include Brunei Darussalam, Viet Nam, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia by the turn of the last century fulfilling the desire of its founding fathers to have an ASEAN embracing all the countries of Southeast Asia. At the same time, ASEAN admitted India, China and Russia as dialogue partners in a strategic move to secure the peace and security of the region in the Post Cold War era whether multi-polarity became the new reality of politics. ASEAN external relations will continue to be a pillar in ASEAN cooperation. It will continue to deliver benefits to ASEAN as the regional organization pursues its objective to be a force of peace, prosperity and moderation in Southeast Asia and beyond. However, the future directions will be very much dependent on several multi-dimensional factors that include the changing strategic landscape, integration and transition towards an ASEAN Community, and how effective ASEAN addresses the challenges facing it both at the intra-regional cooperation and external relations levels.
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The Chinese Dream: Xi Jinping thought on Socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era The Chinese Dream is a desire for happiness, similar to the dreams of the people of other countries. – From the speech to representatives attending the Seventh Conference of Friendship of Overseas Chinese Associations, June 6, 2014. It is remarkable fact that Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era has been added to the Communist Party of China’s (CPC) Constitution during the 19th Congress recently held in Beijing during the week-long meeting ending 24 October. It is remarkable for a number of reasons: first, it confirms Xi Jinping’s second five-year term as General Secretary of the CPC and President of China; second, it represents Xi’s rising symbolic significance to the Party’s guiding ideology at a critical historical juncture in China’s transition to a global superpower; and third, it frightens some commentators, both domestic and international, that Xi is becoming too powerful. Xi’s thought thus sets the tone and direction not just for the next five years but importantly for the fifteen-year period following the establishment of ‘Xiaokang’—originally a Confucian term, meaning ‘moderately prosperous society’, used first by Hu Jintao (General Secretary, 2002–2012), to refer to economic policies designed to create a more equal distribution of wealth within China.1 The planning exercise itself is a great vision that looks forward to the mid-century and to China’s unequalled position as the largest world economy and as a civilisation whose culture and military have regained its place in the world as the leading power.
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The neoliberal onslaught on the peripheries shows no sign of abating even as neoliberalism's tenets-privatization, deregulation, corporatization, exploitation, austerity, destruction of labor power, developed countries' dominance, developing countries' dependence-are increasingly becoming unpopular or at least exposed as bankrupt by their clear failure to resolve the 2008 crisis. In the Philippines, the K to 12 scheme represents a clear neoliberal restructuring of the education system attuned to the core countries' attempt to manage the crisis. Using Dependency Theory and critical discourses on neoliberalism as tools of analysis, this research is aimed at mapping the contours of this restructuring through contextualizing its link to dependency, privatization, contractualization, technicalization of education, and other aspects of the neoliberal agenda. Furthermore, the current study will shed light on how K to 12 complements the Philippines' 30-year old Labor Export Policy.
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Two specters are haunting the Third World—the specter of massive poverty and the specter of vast income inequality. All the forces of the unjust social (dis)order—First World capitalists and their Third World partners, reactionary landlords, media moguls, undemocratic politicians—have entered into an unholy alliance to let these specters remain unchanged. Guided by Marxism and dependency theory, this article will provide evidence on the existence of the specter of Third World poverty and income inequality, and hence prove that Karl Marx was right in calling for the transformation of the global economic system. Ideas from manifestos of social movements to literary texts, news reports and researches, United Nations (UN) Human Development Report data, and papal encyclicals will be utilized and synthesized to present out-of-the-box approaches to resolve poverty and income inequality. Taking cue from Terry Eagleton’s eloquent defense of Marxism, this article asserts that a new world order is necessary and only a Marxistic critique and action plan can genuinely save the Third World from the current global crises of poverty and income inequality.
Water supply privatization was emblematic of the neoliberal turn in development policy in the 1990s. Proponents argued that the private sector could provide better services at lower costs than governments; opponents questioned the risks involved in delegating control over a life-sustaining resource to for-profit companies. Private-sector activity was most concentrated—and contested—in large cities in developing countries, where the widespread lack of access to networked water supplies was characterized as a global crisis. In Privatizing Water, Karen Bakker focuses on three questions: Why did privatization emerge as a preferred alternative for managing urban water supply? Can privatization fulfill its proponents' expectations, particularly with respect to water supply to the urban poor? And, given the apparent shortcomings of both privatization and conventional approaches to government provision, what are the alternatives? In answering these questions, Bakker engages with broader debates over the role of the private sector in development, the role of urban communities in the provision of "public" services, and the governance of public goods. She introduces the concept of "governance failure" as a means of exploring the limitations facing both private companies and governments. Critically examining a range of issues—including the transnational struggle over the human right to water, the "commons" as a water-supply-management strategy, and the environmental dimensions of water privatization—Privatizing Water is a balanced exploration of a critical issue that affects billions of people around the world.