AS the East Asia Summit (EAS) is under way in the Philippines, the world is once again reminded of the centrality of the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) in regional strategic and security matters. Various economic and trade matters gradually took over as main items of discussion in Asean meetings. Asean formed an economic community in 2015, creating a common market and production base for the whole of Asean, and has just concluded a free trade agreement with Hong Kong. An Asean country would host such meetings, attended by leaders or representatives from other Asean countries and also those from outside the grouping. Asean centrality in security and strategic matters is still desired by most Asean countries, but for it to be maintained as such, perhaps it is time to put some degree of “toothfulness” in it to address some urgent concerns.
Source: Manila Times November 14, 2017 16:07 UTC