To those who are following or dreaming of a united ASEAN and/or East Asian Union (similar to EU) may have heard in the news recently about the upcoming meeting this December 2006 to finally form the long-proposed by the Philippines – the ASEAN Parliamentary, which will handle many of the ASEAN or regional decision making that will be for the benefit of all ASEAN member nations.
But, does this mean we will have to give up our sovereignty or part of it? At the beginning, just part of it, in my view, it is a long way to go for the region to be fully united, in fact, not even EU is 100% “One State”. If and whatever the agreements will be, I can see the ASEAN members passing on sovereignty of their decision making for the fields of Economy, Security, Environment, Human Rights – with the Economy encompassing both Corporate laws and Inter-Trading like the Free-Trade-Zone or Zero-Tariff.
This is good in my opinion, especially for the ASEAN economy and security. This will further move forward the materialization of the East Asia (Economic) Community, as the ASEAN is the major leader of the ASEAN+3(+3) group.
What I am more interested at is the ASEAN Security. We all know what InterPol is. And with all the terrorism happening in the region and ASEAN’s connection to the 9/11 World Trade Center incident, our region really needs an integrated and centralized Security Unit. Something in the line of InterPol but with more real people in the organization than representatives. With the National/State Police of each ASEAN members now under the jurisdiction of the ASEAN Parliamentary, our fight against terrorism will be better than today.
Another advantage I can see is, again using the terrorism example, is when the ASEAN Parliamentary sees that all members must have an Anti-Terrorism bill, member Nations must comply. Or as another example, the Haze problem in South-East Asia today, Indonesia is still not signing the Environmental agreement (I can’t recall what it’s called), which is preventing the ASEAN to move the program forward (rules, regulations, laws against intentional forest fire for example). But if an ASEAN Parliament is in existence, these type of regional related decisions will be under their jurisdiction and again member nations must comply.
This is similar in function with the European Union or the EU. They pass this one bill in the EU, all member Nations adopts it.
So does it mean we will really lose control over certain matters? More likely yes, this is where trust comes in. We need to trust our neighbors. Though EU doesn’t say it, there is trust among the EU members. Example, if the EU Court of Justice says to ban this giant software in the European Union, all member Nations must follow.
But that’s way far into the future, though we are getting there. And speaking of the Court of Justice, I can also see the formation of an ASEAN Court of Justice, where regional matters will be tried, again as an example, EU vs Microsoft.
Now depending on our respective governments, if ASEAN will follow EU’s steps, then each ASEAN members will conduct a nationwide vote before for each and every section of sovereignty we are willing to passed on to the regional government – the ASEAN Parliamentary. Yes, it’s a literal government.
I just hope though that here in the Philippines, the government will fully explain the pros and cons of whatever we will be voting on in the near future. Of course we don’t want the regional government to just burge in our territories arresting people as “terrorists” right? Before we fully commit our full security to the ASEAN government, we need concrete and tested regional laws to be strictly implemented and disected. And again, trust. We have to trust our neighbors and we ourselves must commit for the betterment of our region.
In other words, less “me first mentality™” and more “community first mentality™”.
Good luck to the forming of the ASEAN Parliamentary this December and God Bless to all.
You may also want to read this great article where I took the name of my post: The idea of ASEAN Parliament seems distant, but not unrealistic.
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