In this project, experts from prominent ASEAN countries will take part in discussions on topics of regional interest, including security guarantees and economic cooperation. The objective of this project will be for the Fund, as an actor in the private sector, to promote dialogue between people from diverse sectors and thereby strengthen the function of ASEAN. In FY2011, high-ranking government officials, and individuals from prominent think tanks, universities and NGOs in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam took part in discussions on topics of particular regional interest, including terrorism, labor issues, and territorial disputes in the South China Sea. This year, representatives from Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia will join the discussions for the first time. Moreover, experts in related fields from Japan will join the discussion in an attempt to further dialogue on the contribution Japan can make to the realization of the ASEAN community and regional cooperation in East Asia.
In the second year of the three-year project, in the four countries of Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam, as well as in new additions Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos, the SPF grantee the Malaysian Foreign Policy Study Group (FPSG) will carry out the following activities.
1. Preparatory meeting
To prepare for the international conferences, FPSG personnel visited Yangon, Phnom Penh and Vientiane to exchange views with relevant organizations.
2. Hosting of international conferences (3 times)
Three international conferences are planned: two in Kuala Lumpur and one in Penang
With the active participation from the private sector, including companies and media, discussions will be held
on issues relating to the three pillars of ASEAN community building, namely, the Political/Security Community,
the Economic Community, and strengthening of people-to-people exchanges.
Youth leaders responsible for the future of ASEAN will be invited to discuss 'Regional integration issues and
the role of future leaders' (working title) with the cooperation of Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM).
3. Drafting of the report and sharing of results: The results of each conference will be compiled into a report
and distributed to the ASEAN Secretariat and internal/external ministries.
4. In order to deepen the discussion about the contribution of Japan to ASEAN regional integration, in addition
to participants from target countries, professionals involved in the fields of economic cooperation and
security will attend from Japan.
●1st International Conference Held
The first international conference of the Foreign Policy Study Group (FPSG) was held from August 27 to 28 at the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Institute of Diplomacy and Foreign Relations (IDFR). The event, which had as its main theme 'ASEAN Vision 2020', was attended by representatives from four coutnries: Malaysia, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia.
The participant countries in last year's international conference were Vietnam and mostly founding members of ASEAN, namely, Thailand, Indonesia and Malyasia. This year, countries that joined ASEAN after its formation (hereinafter, 'new members')will be invited to Malaysia to take part in an international conference. If regional integration is to be achieved in ASEAN in future years, it will be of great importance to eliminate the economic disparity between the ASEAN founding members and the new member countries. Any expansion of the disparity could lead to social and political unrest, and the upcoming seminar is to be held on the understanding that such factors could inhibit regional integration.
The main topics announced at the First International Conference included: 'The ASEAN Community and CLMV' (politics, economics), 'Changes in the Geopolitical Environment in ASEAN' (security), 'The US-ASEAN Relationship'.
* Please see the accompanying program
for details on individual topics.
The presenters at the high-level conference came from a dvierse range of sectors, and included former ambassadors, as well as diplomats, researchers from state universities and research institutes and NGO activists. The audience, too, included around fifty distinguished individuals, including the ambassadors of Singapore, Pakistan, Russia, Australia, and Japan resident in Malaysia, as well as ministers and office staff from respective embassies, representatives from Malaysian government agencies (the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the National Defence University, University of Malaya,etc.), and journalists active within Malaysia. During the conference, a number of opinions were forthcoming from the floor on topics relevant to the future regional integration of ASEAN.
●The 2nd International Conference held
From December 3 to 4, the 2nd International Conference on ASEAN Regional Integration was held by the Foreign Policy Study Group (FPSG)in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The venue was the same as previously used for the first conference in August, namely, the Institute of Diplomacy and Foreign Relations (IDFR). The conference was attended by individuals from seven countries, namely Malaysia, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, and Singapore.
The participants were made up of a balanced group of individuals from the public and private sector, with diplomats, leaders and researchers from strategic research institutions, professors and associate professors from state universities, high ranking figures from the foreign ministry, corporate consultants and NGO staff. The conference has now taken place five times since the inception of the related project last year, and with the event now receiving public recognition it was attended by individuals from the Foreign Embassies in Malaysia.
Among the other notable individuals at the event, H.E. Abdullah Bin Haji Ahmad Badawi, former Prime Minister of Malaysia was attending in his capacity as keynote speaker.
The 2-day international conference was split into five separate subgroups. The themes of each subgroup were as follows:
Subgroup 1: ASEAN and the changing geo-strategy environment in the region
Subgroup 2: Regional integration from the perspective of bilateral issues
Subgroup 3: ASEAN Economic Community (AEC)
Subgroup 4: Other topics (not handled by groups 1, 2, 3, 5)
Subgroup 5: Responsibility to Protect (R2P)
*Please see the accompanying program
for details on individual topics.
Venue: The Institute of Diplomacy and Foreign Relations (left, right)
Left: Welcome speech (Mr. Santhananaban, Executive Vice Chairman of FPSG) Right: Keynote speech (Mr. Badawi, Former Prime Minister of Malaysia)
Left: Subcommittee meeting Right: Working lunch
●The 3rd International Conference held
The ASEAN Youth Workshop on ASEAN Community (AYWAC 2012) convened in Penang, Malaysia attended by twenty participants representing the ASEAN countries with the exception of Brunei Darussalam. The Sasakawa Peace Foundation (SPF) was generous enough again to provide the necessary funding for the Workshop.
The workshop was aim to raise the awareness of the role of youth in developing efforts to achieve peace and stability and economic progress through multi-channel dialogues and in turn contribute to the strengthening of ASEAN.
The participants diverse backgrounds and different academic disciplines with many having community work contributed to a more meaningful dialogue and interactions among the participants during the two-day Workshop.
Various events such as discussion in Plenary, group Presentation and essay competition were held. The winner of the AYWAC 2012 Best Essay was Thuta Aung from Myanmar submitted under the title: "From bad apple to darling of the world".
The AYWAC 2012 ended on a very high note of expectation and hope for the ASEAN Community 2015.
Malaysia and the ASEAN Community: The role of young people in promoting democratic community building and regional integration
The Malaysian Foreign Policy Study Group, an SPF grantee, produced a report entitled 'Malaysia and the ASEAN Community: Institutional Democracy and Active Regional Integration - Inquiry on Role of Youth, Democracy Building'.
The report was written by the central figure of this project, Azari Karim, Associate Professor at Universiti Sains Malaysia, on the basis of conferences and seminars held from July 2011 to March 2012.
In order to realize the ASEAN Community by 2015, it will be necessary to tackle a mountain of issues, including reform of the ASEAN mechanism, construction of a common identity for the Member States and region-specific foreign affairs. In addition, the large gap in the level of democratization and economic level between member states is proving a barrier to regional integration. In view of the current status of ASEAN, this report incorporates various proposals and highlights areas that need work in order to realize the establishment of an ASEAN community as a mechanism for democracy.
In particular, Associate Professor Azari Karim has pointed out that the participation of young people, who comprise approximately half of the regional workforce, in the democratic process, regional education and ASEAN community formation is essential. Moreover, Prof. Karim maintains that projects to educate young leaders with a democratic viewpoint and skills in diplomacy will lead to the continued development of the ASEAN community.
Foreign Policy Study Group (FPSG) (Malaysia)
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