Since its conception 52-years ago, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations has maintained a policy of political non-interference. All statements released together as a group must be unanimously approved less it hinder domestic considerations.
During the last 52 years, many countries within the bloc have transitioned from despotic, totalitarian rule to semi-democratic and fully democratic states. Gone are the Marcos, Suhartos and Sarits of yesteryear, replaced by a new guard with clearer mandates and blossoming economies.
But as ASEAN members have transitioned and politically matured, so to has the world around the region. Gone are the black and white days of the cold war, replaced by a burgeoning China, a still powerful United States and competing transnational corporations all vying for the region’s currency, its workforce and its favour.