Asean should find independent statement that reflects its soul

It is easy to see that the aborted joint Asean ministerial statement expressing concerns over recent developments in the South China Sea is flawed ("Jakarta, Manila back aborted Asean statement"; June 17).

For example, the aborted statement expressed "serious concerns over recent and ongoing developments", without mentioning past and continuing developments, when it is precisely these past and continuing developments that have led to the "recent and ongoing developments" in the South China Sea.

Also, the aborted statement calls for "freedom of navigation", a terminology the United States uses to mean its close surveillance of China.

Asean does not undertake such surveillance, and Asean knows China has not, in any way, impeded its freedom of navigation. Statements containing this terminology are, therefore, totally inappropriate for Asean, unless Asean intends to be a proxy for the US.

Asean, for its own sake should come up with a fresh, bold, strategic and independent statement of its own that reflects its own soul, and not one that trots out what others want it to.

Chang Wen Lam (Dr)