Indonesia: Bridging the Better Future of South-East Asia

Association of South-East Asian Nation, ASEAN, is now on the new phase of cooperation. Ten member-states -namely Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam, Philippines, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Singapore- have committed to build a strong cooperation by confidence building measures, to enhance economic integration between member states, and to nurture the ASEAN way. The 15th ASEAN Summit in Hua Hin, Thailand, has already done by the 23-25th October 2009. Ten member-states and seven dialogue-partners (India, China, South Korea, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand) have just taken part in the summit.

‘Strengthening connectivity’ is one of the ASEAN Summit themes. It is very attractive and also impressive words regarding the progress of ASEAN cooperation itself. As reflected in the ASEAN Charter, that all member-states should support and maintain the centrality and proactive role of ASEAN as the primary driving force in its relation and cooperation with its external partners in regional architecture that is open, transparent, and inclusive. The word ‘connectivity’ is described as the effort of ASEAN itself in nurturing awareness to all member-states that they are well-integrated, strongly-united, and also one identity.

There were several strategic agenda to be discussed in the summit. The agenda is about how to implement the ASEAN Community 2015. It also includes dialogue between ASEAN and the partner-states regarding the issues of education, economic and financial stability, climate change, energy and food, development and strengthening partnership. Some important issues existing in the region were also discussed in the summit, as North Korean nuclear issue and Myanmar.

Indonesia: Challenge and Opportunity

South Asian is the nearest concentric circle for the implementation of Indonesia’s foreign policy. Therefore, South Asian has long been described as the primary element of Indonesia’s multilateral diplomacy. Indonesia has strived to get the ties among South Asian states into force. Relation between states in the region has grown up and get into progress. The progress itself, not only made in the context of ASEAN, but also strong and good will from all South Asian states to build respect and solidarity.

Indonesia, one of the members of ASEAN, has also taken part at the 15th ASEAN Summit. As the largest country in the region, Indonesia has its important role in enhancing and strengthening cooperation in a whole sector. The summit itself, will create both challenge and opportunity for Indonesia. Nowadays, ASEAN is on the progress of development and empowerment. It rise more question about how Indonesia can take more key role in the region, and ensuring that our national interest can be obtained in the context of ASEAN regionalism. Important key role means how far Indonesia can propose some significant and valuable problem solving, and how far Indonesia can actively influence in all sector of cooperation.

So far, Indonesia has been regarded as an important state in ASEAN. Indonesia has its own roles from the beginning of the cooperation itself. As original member-states, Indonesia also contributed in creating and nurturing the aspect of cooperation towards strong and mature relation. For instance, Bali Concord II (the result agreement in 9th ASEAN Summit in Bali), was generated to ensure that ASEAN will build regional community in 2020 namely ASEAN Community. It consist of three pillars of community include ASEAN Security and Political Community (ASPC), ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), and ASEAN Social-Cultural Community (ASCC).

There are three reason can be explained the important and significant role play for Indonesia within ASEAN. Firstly, Indonesia is the largest territorial maritime states passing the two strategic seas (Atlantic Sea and Indian Sea) and two strategic continents (Asia and Australia). It is not merely been a strategic card play for Indonesia to the region, but we should aware that we are ‘the beauty’ for all. From that strategic geographical place, we could make special bargaining position regard to use of Indonesia’s maritime sea in supporting the economic and trade relation over the Asian states (Malacca Strait, Natuna Islands, Banda Sea, and Sunda Strait). Secondly, Indonesia is the largest states with more than 200 million people. It means that Indonesia is strategic market and trade for the other. Therefore, the government of Indonesia should facilitate its potency to use for our prosperity, our economic growth and development, and also our leading role.

Thirdly, as the member of most powerful economic group of G-20, Indonesia should be leading force in ASEAN economic ties. Indonesia could use its own position in G-20, to enforce the change in ASEAN and also could represent ASEAN voice to take some respond in the context of international economic covered by G-20. As we know that now only seven Asian countries participating G-20, namely China, Japan, South Korea, India, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Indonesia. Recently, G-20 has officially replaced G-8 to take some role in common international economic group.

Future South-East Asia

Southeast Asia has grown up into a new phase of connectivity covered by ASEAN. In the recent development, ASEAN is undergoing the strong level of solidarity and integration. Therefore, all ASEAN member-states intensify their coordination and harmonious policy toward integration in a whole three pillars namely political and security, economic, and social-cultural. As mentioned before, Indonesia has enough sources and potency to take a leading role in bridging the ASEAN future. ASEAN future is described as the ability of ASEAN states to improve the scope of integration and regionalism.

China, South Korea, and Japan are now being the close ASEAN dialogue partner. Those three East Asia states, has shown their commitment to build East Asia Community through ASEAN plus Three (APT). They also intensify their relation with ASEAN states in all scope. Chiang Mai Initiative is one of the efforts from those three East Asia states to approach ASEAN through economic and financial aid. In the 15th ASEAN Summit in Thailand, China, Japan, and South Korean promised of US$ 120 billion financial assistance for ASEAN states, to solve the impact of the economic crisis. It shows us, how important ASEAN is for all those states.

The ASEAN future, is the future of Asian where all ten member-states bind together in harmonious, solidarity, unity, and one identity. It needs commitment from all member-states to enforce the three pillars of cooperation. It is also challenging all member-states to the question of centrality of ASEAN. How they can make ASEAN as the primary driving force in bridging relation to the international system. In addition, Indonesia has to take a leading force to build and nurture the sense of solidarity, awareness, and sense of identity inside ASEAN. The era of ASEAN will definitely close and closer

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