Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The ASEAN Partnership

Let's Start the Revolution of the Filipino Youth XXII

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is one of the emerging powerful regional blocs in the world today. With a combined market of over 500 million consumers, ASEAN remains to be one of the largest groupings of nations in Asia, accounting for well over a tenth of the world's total population. With its close proximity to India, China and Japan, ASEAN is even more important as a base for operations. For one, Singapore has become the world's most diverse city with experts, innovators and leaders working here from all across the globe.

The Philippines is one of the founding member-nations of the group, back when we were still considered the de-facto leader in Southeast Asia along with Indonesia. Back then in 1975, the Philippine National Bank was considered to be the second biggest bank in all of Asia, it was bigger than banks from China, Singapore and Hong Kong. So what happened?

I believe today we seriously have to ponder our next moves. As the newer ASEAN members like Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos are playing catch up to globalization, the country still seems adrift in the sea. It is about time that we take the steering wheel again and show the world what the Filipino can do. The ASEAN group is a great start where we can make the changes that we need to see. With a more integrated Southeast Asia, we will be more powerful when dealing with other countries from across the globe. Tie-ups between companies in Southeast Asia should be encouraged. Centers of Excellence in research & development should be established. A regional approach towards combating the challenges of HIV/AIDS, SARS, bird flu, terrorism, narcotics trade, organized crime, and others will have a higher chance of success. Southeast Asia is considered one of the richest regions of the world in terms of natural resources - that fact can greatly help us in moving our agenda forward.

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