ASEAN as a group and experiment has been deeply flawed by its own operating "Asian values" [coded words for holding on to ultra-conservative, authoritarian style of governance] and undermined by its core deficiencies, ranging from corruption and nepotism to paying lip service to socio-political reforms. No need to bring out the hard statistics; any discerning eye will see through the facade of "economic miracle stories" bandied about by outsiders and those strangers to the real life conditions experienced by the vast majority of its have-not populations. It's no accident that these same so-called success stories are being touted and imitated by member states such as Cambodia and others, if only because its star attraction of westernised model of economic prosperity minus the political democracy provide them with the perfect template for justifying and prolonging autocratic rule, legitimising closed family-based ruling dynasties married [often literally] to financial elites, as well as the pretext required to crush progressive elements calling for genuine civil and political reforms as perceived threats to 'stability' and this pursuit of economic 'development'. Thus, while it hadn't been difficult for ASEAN to induct Cambodia onto its fold from the start, owing to these "shared values or culture", it is now beginning to count the costs of its own oversights and complacency.
ASEAN deserves all the headache coming its way courtesy of the Hanoi-backed Hun Sen regime!
Officials, including Foreign Minister Prak Sokhon (third right), pose for a group photo during the opening ceremony of the 49th annual ASEAN ministerial meeting in Vientiane yesterday. AFP
Cambodia again blocks ASEAN statement on South China Sea
Mon, 25 July 2016 ppp
AFP, Ananth Baliga and Vong Sokheng
Cambodia has come under fire yet again for blocking language related to the contentious South China Sea issue from appearing in an ASEAN joint statement, just weeks after an international arbitration decision dismissed China’s territorial claims to the waters.
Cambodian Foreign Minister Prak Sokhon is leading a delegation to the 49th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Vientiane, where Southeast Asian diplomats, on the condition of anonymity, have said that Cambodia was the only nation blocking a joint statement on the contested waters.
“It’s very grave. Cambodia just opposes almost everything, even reference to respect for legal and diplomatic processes, which already has been in previous statements,” the diplomat said on Saturday.
A draft of the communique obtained by AFP showed the section titled “South China Sea” left blank.
Cambodia and Laos have been criticised for their reluctance to condemn China’s aggressive claims in the South China Sea, with observers pointing to the heavy financial assistance and investment the two countries receive from the Asian behemoth.
Cambodia last month was blamed for preventing a strongly worded ASEAN statement on the South China Sea dispute, as it was in 2012 when it was the chair of the 10-nation group.
This week’s ASEAN meet comes in the wake of an international arbitration case brought against China by the Philippines, that saw the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague rule that China’s claims to the lion’s share of the sea were largely invalid.
Yesterday, Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan again reiterated Cambodia’s stance of staying out of the dispute, a position stated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs ahead of the arbitration ruling.
“Why are those individuals [ASEAN members], which tend to support the US, pushing Cambodia to support this or that,” he asked yesterday. “They have a trend of supporting the US, which is against China, but they accuse Cambodia because Cambodia is a close friend to China.”
One of the reasons Cambodia and Laos – two of ASEAN’s smaller, poorer and most-recent members – are able to stonewall attempts to issue a joint statement is because of a consensus rule, which effectively gives them veto power.
But recent talk of utilising a variant of the so-called ASEAN minus X rule – which has allowed certain members to embrace economic policies while giving others a longer timeline to adapt – might not be so effective in more politicised areas, said Aaron Connelly, a research fellow at the Australia-based Lowy Institute for International policy.
“It would clearly have to be a different system. In economics, the ‘X’ countries are expected to eventually ‘catch up’ to the rest of ASEAN,” he said yesterday. “That wouldn’t make sense in the political-security context.”
He added that removing the consensus rule and allowing a few member nations to release strongly worded statements could be a double edged sword. “It would be difficult in an ASEAN-minus system to pressure holdouts into going beyond their comfort zone, to join the ASEAN consensus. So in that way it could let Cambodia off the hook too easily.”