Asean must stay united and strong

The debate over whether Asean is united has taken on a new dimension, but with extreme caution when dealing with China over its claims to the South China Sea.

But whatever the arguments, it is imperative that Asean strengthens its stand when facing up to such challenges as and when they arise.

As stated in Thailand correspondent Tan Hui Yee's news analysis ("Little room for Asean to move in maritime dispute"; Sept 10), China leans on its allies in Asean to stop the grouping from taking a strong unified stance on the South China Sea issue.

Asean is a diverse bloc and works by consensus. However, its members must show that they are willing to stand together and not be cowed by anyone, or fall into the trap of temptation when made offers individually.

Only then can the regional bloc remain strong and united, and not be divided by larger powers.

Manoraj Rajathurai