American Journal of Applied Sciences

Attitude towards Community Building in Association of Southeast Asian Nations: A Public Opinion Survey

Ravichandran Moorthy and Guido Benny

DOI : 10.3844/ajassp.2012.557.562

American Journal of Applied Sciences

Volume 9, Issue 4

Pages 557-562

Abstract

Problem statement: The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) envisioned an integrated regional community by the year 2015, following the European Union model. However, unlike the European Community which was formed after years of discussion at different levels of society, institutions and government, ASEAN was rather quick to conceptualize this initiative, without seeking the feedbacks for the public. Consequently, ASEAN Community initiative has been criticized for being elitist in its policy formulation process and for the lack of public opinions regarding this policy. The study examines how people in three ASEAN countries (Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore) view the concept of community building, especially from the perspective of the obstacles that this initiative is perceived to encounter in its formation. Approach: The study employs public opinion surveys to gather feedback from respondents regarding their opinion of the obstacles towards the establishment of the ASEAN community by the year 2015. The surveys conducted in eleven cities in three ASEAN countries, namely Indonesia (Jakarta, Makassar, Medan, Surabaya and Pontianak), Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Melaka, Johor Bahru and Kota Kinabalu) and Singapore. The surveys involved 1256 respondents- 551 from Indonesia, 451 from Malaysia and 294 from Singapore. Results: The study reveals several findings; firstly the low levels of education in several ASEAN countries have been cited as the main factor that hinders regional integration; secondly there has been a lack of initiative to engage the public regarding their opinions on regional integration and thirdly, issues such as lack of economic competitiveness, dependency on develop countries, socio-economic disparity, differences in legal and political systems and technological divide have scored high agreements among respondents-as contributory factors that would possibly slow down regional integration initiatives. Conclusion: The study concludes that ASEAN has remained elitist, with least amount of public participation. As such, it requires legitimization from the population which the regional integration wishes to serve.

Copyright

© 2012 Ravichandran Moorthy and Guido Benny. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.