Can Indonesia deliver on high expectations?

07 Februar, 2011 | Source: Jakarta Post

The Indonesian Government has announced its logo, ASEAN Community in a Global Community of Nations, and said that it will also speed up the pace of development toward the establishment of an ASEAN community by 2015.

Photo: Joining hands: President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (right), together with other ASEAN leaders, pose for a photograph during the ASEAN Summit in Hanoi on April 8, 2010.

The Indonesian Government has announced its logo, ASEAN Community in a Global Community of Nations, and said that it will also speed up the pace of development toward the establishment of an ASEAN community by 2015.

Indonesia is shouldering high expectations of playing a greater role in ASEAN and beyond as it officially became the new chair of ASEAN at the beginning of this year. Activists and experts have underscored a number of targets Indonesia should meet, including on human rights, migrant workers and security issues, while expressing concern that Indonesia’s government’s own targets may be “too ambitious” to meet.

Human rights NGO Imparsial’s program manager, Al Araf, said Tuesday that the need to empower the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights’ (AICHR) authorities was among the human rights issues Indonesia needed to address. “It would be more appreciated if Indonesia could push for the establishment of a national commission on human rights in countries that don’t have one yet,” he told The Jakarta Post.

Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand are the only countries in the 10-member group that already have such commissions. Araf said Indonesia needed to push for reconciliation in the restive country of Myanmar, and improve the definition of the ASEAN political security community by collecting input from each member. “But the next question is will ASEAN’s non-interference principles be further discussed later? This is because these principles will definitely hamper efforts to promote human rights related to economic, social and cultural issues,” he said.

Echoing Araf, a senior researcher at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences Center for Political Studies, C.P.F. Luhulima, said that designing and necessitating ASEAN’s economic scorecard had not been greatly hampered by the classical Westphalian principles of sovereignty and non-interference because of the very nature of the economics to achieve a single market and production base, while on the other hand those principles hampered attempts to designate and necessitate a political and security scorecard.

Migrant worker NGO MigrantCARE executive director Anis Hidayah said Indonesia must prioritize finishing the negotiations on the draft of the ASEAN Framework Instrument on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers. “ASEAN must complete immediately the draft of the framework because the deadlock has gone on for quite a long time at least make it legally binding,” Anis told the Post. The deadlock, she said, was mainly attributable to Malaysia, which opposed both the legally binding concept of the framework and standards of protection of undocumented migrant workers on a human rights basis.

The negotiations have stalled since a meeting in Kuala Lumpur in December in 2009 as the draft proposed by Indonesia and the Philippines — the two largest migrant worker providers in the region — is contested by the one proposed by the two biggest worker-receiving countries, Malaysia and Singapore, despite the fact that the first draft had already taken into consideration submissions from the opposing countries.

National Commission on Child Protection chairman Aris Merdeka Sirait said Indonesia needed to further promote child protection from violence despite its leading role in ASEAN’s already existing efforts in child protection. “On top of that, Indonesia should also take a stance in domestic affairs because sometimes it is the state itself that is committing ‘violence’ against Indonesian children,” he told the Post. He said many children from poor families did not have access to proper healthcare and education.

Centre for Strategic and International Studies expert Evan Laksmana and Islamic State University international relations expert Mutiara Pertiwi said ASEAN’s ambitious 2015 targets for the ASEAN community were unlikely to be met because of the diverse backgrounds of each country and the antagonistic jargons the countries exchanged. “What we have done all these years is to organize conferences and generate ideas and stop just right there. We need to stop that,” Evan told the Post.

Mutiara said Indonesia needed to empower civil societies to bridge differences and to help form an ASEAN community. “In Indonesia, the old jargon of ganyang [crush] Malaysia still exists, while at the same time Malaysians still think Indonesians are merely troublesome neighbors,” she said. “This can be overcome through cooperation between community-based organizations [from respective countries].”

University of Indonesia international relations expert Makmur Keliat said Indonesia needed to empower the ASEAN secretariat through its leadership.

Source: Jakarta Post



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