Tue, 02 Nov 2010

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Under Indonesia`s leadership, ASEAN should be made more economy-oriented in preparation of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC)`s platform without abandoning its traditional three pillars, an observer said.

"As chairman of ASEAN, Indonesia will have a big opportunity to determine the direction of ASEAN cooperation," Adriana Elisabeth, a researcher at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), told ANTARA News in an interview, on Monday.

She was asked for her comments after President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said at a press conference when he was in Hanoi attending 17th ASEAN Summit last week that Indonesia would work on a declaration on ASEAN`s commitment on world affairs and play a more active role in the creation of a fair and prosperous new global order.

The declaration will be brought to the 18th ASEAN summit in Bali, said President Yudhoyono after Vietnam handed over the ASEAN chair to Indonesia.

Elisabeth said ASEAN member countries had set themselves the target of realizing the ASEAN community by 2015, therefore the three pillars of ASEAN, namely politics-security, economy and socio-culture, needed optimum and simultaneous progress in their implementation as they were interconnected.

"However, in my opinion, based on the president`s explanations yesterday, Indonesia should prepare a master plan for ASEAN`s economic development as a way for realizing the ASEAN Economic Community," Elisabeth said, adding that the plan should include revitalizing the sub-regional cooperation schemes such as the Sijori (Singapore-Johor-Riau) growth triangle.

This approach would need an integrated land and sea infrastructure to accelerate economic relations between the member states and their communication, she said.

Elisabeth said there were several growth triangles, besides Sijori, namely Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand (IMT-GT), Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippine East Asia Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA).

In facing global challenges, Elisabeth said, ASEAN needed to revise its elitist character and make itself popular among its own peoples. This could be done through making down-to-earth programs aimed at elevating the prosperity levels in the region.

Elisabeth said Indonesia, as chairman of ASEAN, could help Papua New Guinea to become a full member of ASEAN and be able to make considerations bearing in mind the diversity of interests, political-cultural system and level of economic growth and threats faced by ASEAN member countries.

She said if Papua New Guinea could get full membership, ASEAN would ethnically become more diversified.(*)