This article will describe several reasons on why the title was stating how wonderful it is to be an ASEAN resident. So what is so wonderful about being an ASEAN resident? There are two main components for this: Diversity & Respect. ASEAN is made of 10 countries, namely Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. In comparison with other regional organizations, ASEAN celebrated one of the most diverse when it comes to culture, religion, language, customs, currency and more. It is very interesting to see such uniqueness to be celebrated and was given importance rather than diluting each culture to become a monotone one.
How can ASEAN withhold its celebration of diversity? The common ground is respect. This is what makes ASEAN people wonderful. They respect one another’s culture and choices. With such variety in religions such as Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism and more, people are respectful of each other’s practices. When talking about currencies, even though ASEAN is a regional organization, ASEAN did not communalize all different ASEAN currencies into one like what the European Union did. Though ASEAN did not practice the theory of open border and common passport like EU, it gives a sense of respect and privacy as people from on ASEAN country can still visit another country without any problem.
The values of respect and diversity are deeply embedded in the ASEAN as well. The association has this “ASEAN way” whereby non-interference is practiced. This means that foreign interference is limited to sustain domestic peace in a member country and ensure regional stability. Although this is only at a diplomatic level, it is widely agreed by all ASEAN political leaders. It roots from respect that is deeply practiced by all residents of ASEAN.
In addition, ASEAN peoples are accepting and respectful of other cultures as well. They have the capability to incorporate western ideologies to eastern ideologies, making an idea feasible and ensuring the process of fusion goes along to the culture of norms rather than opposing it. They are also innovative while sustaining their own traditional culture.
There are a lot of reasons than the mentioned reason above that makes ASEAN people wonderful but these are two main reasons that colors the ASEAN realm so beautiful.
By Mohamad Akmal Fauzan ABU BAKAR, ASEAN Correspondent from Brunei Darussalam