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The formation of ASEAN was mainly driven by the desire to improve on diplomatic relations between Southeast Asian nations so that they could focus more on nation building efforts. The 1960s was the decade of tumult, where Southeast Asian nations faced various external tensions and conflicts from one another. During then, it was of utmost importance for SEA nations to improve multilateral diplomatic relations so as to promote peace in the region. This peace would refer to ensuring political stability and diminishing animosity among SEA nations so as to allow them to build their nations collective as a whole.
Should the territorial disputes and racial tensions between SEA nations escalate to armed conflict between SEA nations, it could greatly affect SEA nation building. There were a few key events which highlighted this fear. Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation during 1962–1966 expressed Indonesia’s political and armed opposition to the creation of Malaysia. In 1963, President Sukarno ordered Indonesian paratroopers to instigate a military attack on Malaysia and to initiate acts of sabotage in Singapore.
This situation and events subsequently strained ties between the two nations.
To make matters worse, Malaysia’s relationship with Philippines were soured due to dispute ownership over Sabah. These SEA countries had to deal with conflicts with its neighbours while tending to their own domestic problems. Indonesia, embroiled in conflict with Malaysia, suffered internal discontent due to Sukarno’s mismanagement of the economy and the implementation of guided democracy. As SEA nations wanted to concentrate fully on nation building efforts, they first had to settle regional disputes so as to be able to allocate time and resources for domestic improvement.
Thus, ASEAN was set up by the desire to improve diplomatic relations. Although the main impetus for the formation of ASEAN was political in nature, economic cooperation was also high on the agenda of the organisation. The economies of the SEA nations were still developing in the 1960s and were largely dependant on their foreign colonel masters. As such, the SEA nations wanted to form ASEAN so as to promote regional trade and economic links. In this way, they can cut dependence from western countries but instead tap on resources from within.
In the 1960s, intra-regional trade was a mere 12% to 15%. With the formation of ASEAN, economic cooperation blossomed as new agreements were signed. These include the ASEAN Free Trade Area, whose objective is to increase the region’s competitive advantage as a single production unit. It was a way to help boost the burgeoning industries of SEA. It is important to develop the economy of these young SEA nations as it ensures peace, progress and prosperity in a nation. Thus, one of the other reasons for the formation of ASEAN was to promote economic development.
However, although the formation of ASEAN was spurred by various reasons, the desire to improve diplomatic relations among the countries proved to be the greatest motivation source. Strong diplomatic relations and trust among SEA nations will allow countries to develop their society and economy. If no trust exists between countries, there can be hardly any economic activity as countries would be skeptical of each other. Thus improving diplomatic relations would be more important than promoting economic activity. Bibliography www. wikipedia. org www. worldscibooks. com/eastasianstudies/4689. html
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