Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The ASEAN Charter

A unification of ASEAN Countries? Is it good for Indonesia? These questions always comes to my mind whenever I read, heard news regarding plans to unify ASEAN countries. Because the facts shows that since its formation in the year 1967, ASEAN has been a loose type organization of countries in South East Asia, whereby each member countries are free to adopt policies according to their own wish, and agreements reached by ASEAN only serve as some sort of guidance. The main reason is perhaps because the 10 members has lots of differences among them, the current border despute between Thai and Cambodian armies proves this. Efforts have been made by its members to make ASEAN more unified, for example on 20 November 2007, the ASEAN Head of States/Governments signed the Asean Charter. According to Trade Minister Mari Pangestu, as quoted by Antara, this Asean Charter will function like a legal umbrella for the formation ASEAN Economic Community by the year 2015. Realization of this Charter became more hopeful on 21 October 2008 when Indonesia finally shows that it will ratify the treaty after the Indonesian Parliament (DPR) accepted the Law Bill regarding ASEAN Chapter. According to Kompas, Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda has stated that with Indonesia's ratification of the Chapter, it can be ascertained that the Charter will become officially effective during the next Summit Meeting of Asean Leaders in Bangkok on 13-14 December 2008.He further stated that ratification of the Charter by all Asean countries is the first step of a huge project to change Asean from a loose organization into a community.

As a member whose area and population is far more larger than any other members
of ASEAN, Indonesia should make extra careful consideration before we implement the Asean Charter. We should consider what benefits can we get, and whether or not we are ready Economically and Politically. And if by the year 2015 we are still not ready we should ask for postponement of the realization of the Chapter. Otherwise we would only be a huge market place for products of other ASEAN countries.

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