Asean a long way from winning Nobel Peace Prize

Asean has a long way to go before it can be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize (Asean deserves a Nobel Peace Prize, says Kishore Mahbubani; March 9).

The European Union, which was conferred a Nobel Peace Prize in 2012, upholds high standards for membership and has seven decision-making institutions, making it a strong and powerful union.

In contrast, Asean practises a loose and easy-going collaboration.

As a regional cooperation body, it is still grossly under par. There are few, if any, major regional collaboration projects it can claim credit for.

Asean's economic progress may be considerable, but in areas such as democracy, public governance and mobility of people, goods and investments among member nations, there is much room for improvement.

Without a clear vision and strong political will and commitment from the member nations, the organisation cannot move forward.

If it believes strongly that regional cooperation and integration is the way to go to achieve greater heights collectively, then the principle of non-interference must go.

Asean has serious issues with leadership, as it does not have two or three strong leader nations akin to Germany and France in the EU.

Moreover, the playing field in Asean is also uneven.

We should ask ourselves whether member nations are willing to give more power and resources to the organisation to develop and expand it into a full-fledged authoritative body. I doubt they are.

Even if Asean gets all the backing and commitment it needs, it will still take years before it can reach the level of the EU.

Albert Ng Ya Ken

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 21, 2017, with the headline 'Asean a long way from winning Nobel Peace Prize'. Print Edition | Subscribe