Asean still has much work to do

Asean's founding leaders can rest in peace for doing right by their countries and South-east Asia, without any approbation from an extra-regional organisation like the Nobel Foundation (Why Asean deserves a Nobel Peace Prize; March 26).

The group and its member states should, however, refrain from smugness and complacency over their success in fostering intra-regional peace and stability, and do more to promote inclusivity and sustainability across all levels.

For example, 50 years after Asean's founding, Muslim secessionist movements continue to be very active in the southern region of Thailand and in the Philippines.

Radical extremism is heating up cross-border terrorist threats, putting further pressure on ties between and within racial/religious communities.

Fault lines by class, race and religion are obvious and growing, no different from the situations in Europe and the United States.

The road to inclusivity and sustainability remains a hard slog for all countries and communities.

Majoritarian tendencies continue to dictate the organisation of many nation states, including a vast majority in South-east Asia.

Unscrupulous politicians have ample opportunities to boost their local standing at their neighbours' expense and, not surprisingly, some have.

The road to inclusivity and sustainability remains a hard slog for all countries and communities.

Multiculturalism within and between nation states is not a natural state of affairs and requires constant and careful nurturing.

No one should take this harmony for granted, or be under any illusion that Asean has arrived as a beacon of peace.

Toh Cheng Seong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 02, 2017, with the headline 'Asean still has much work to do'. Print Edition | Subscribe