Europe's open borders hold lessons for Asean

While the signing of the Facilitation of Cross-Border Transport of Passengers by Road Vehicles is a laudable boost to cooperation among Asean member states (Asean to boost land, sea, air links in region; Oct 13), there is a danger that it may pose a security threat.

Lessons should be learnt from Europe's Schengen Agreement, which allows the free movement of people across the borders of 26 countries.

While it facilitates trade and tourism, it also allows criminals to go into a country, commit crimes and flee to other countries easily.

Two recent examples are the November 2015 Paris attacks, where the killers slipped into Paris from Belgium, and last December's attack in Berlin, where the suspect managed to flee Germany and reach Italy via France.

We live in difficult times.

It is manifestly hard to balance basic freedoms with the potential security threats those freedoms pose to innocent people.

I hope Asean will ensure that the most comprehensive security measures are in place as member states forge a single shipping and aviation market and make border crossings easier for buses.

Europe's Schengen Agreement allows the free movement of people across the borders of 26 countries. While it facilitates trade and tourism, it also allows criminals to go into a country, commit crimes and flee to other countries easily.

Agnes Sng Hwee Lee (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 16, 2017, with the headline 'Europe's open borders hold lessons for Asean'. Subscribe