This month ASEAN celebrates its 49th anniversary. What does it mean for us?
For almost half a century, ASEAN has been a big illusion fed to all of us. In school we were taught about ASEAN and told that we were “ASEAN people”, without ever understanding what that meant or using the term outside of our classrooms.
We use many other personal factors as a source of our identity – country, religion, ethnicity – but never our membership of ASEAN. I can say that I am Javanese, Muslim, Indonesian, but it’s impossible for me to say that I am an ASEAN person – even if I am clearly a Southeast Asian person.
ASEAN nations range from Singapore, a dynamic city state with the GDP per capita of a developed nation, to small, back...