Strengthening ASEAN’s Credibility

MP Gerald Giam

Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song (Aljunied): Sir, the Workers’ Party supports Singapore’s efforts to work with our neighbours to bolster ASEAN.

The regional grouping plays an important role in fostering deeper social, cultural and economic ties, enhancing regional stability and integrating Southeast Asian economies. An effective ASEAN can help countries in the region, including Singapore, to punch above their weight when dealing with major powers.

Despite all its benefits, ASEAN’s flaws have been laid bare on several occasions, most recently with the crisis in Myanmar.

A key tenet of ASEAN is the requirement for decision-making to be based on “consultation and consensus”, effectively giving any member the veto power over decisions. This requirement can hamper ASEAN’s ability to address critical security issues.

How is Singapore working with ASEAN to overcome situations where consensus is hindered by a minority of member states?

According to Article 20 of the ASEAN Charter, “where a consensus cannot be achieved, the ASEAN Summit may decide how a specific decision can be made”. Has there ever been any push by Singapore at the ASEAN Summit for a decision to be taken by majority vote on issues where arriving at a consensus is impossible?

Has Singapore asked ASEAN to adopt stronger mechanisms to enforce its own consensus decisions?

For example, little progress has been achieved by the Myanmar Armed Forces in the implementation of ASEAN’s Five-Point Consensus to put Myanmar back on the path to peace following the military coup.

Does the ASEAN Summit have the authority to decide by a vote to suspend Myanmar from participation in all ASEAN meetings and initiatives? This will send a strong signal to the country’s military rulers that their violent actions against their own citizens are not compatible with ASEAN’s principles.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs
27 February 2023

%d bloggers like this: