The Philippine Ambassador to Singapore Antonio A. Morales joined other distinguished panelists in a recorded discussion regarding ASEAN at Channel News Asia’s Between the Lines held at the Presidential Suite of the Pan-Pacific Hotel Singapore on 17 July 2017. Between the Lines is an investigative reporting program of Channel News Asia hosted by Loke Wei Sue.
Ambassador Morales was with Indonesian Ambassador I Gede Ngurah Swajaya, Dr. Termsak Chalermpalanupap and Dr. Vannarith Cheang of the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore. The free-flowing discussion revolved around the relevance of ASEAN, its strength and weaknesses and the way forward and related issues.
Ambassador Morales said that while ASEAN has its own challenges, it is instrumental in helping ensure peace in the region for the last 50 years, and, in the process, promoted economic progress and facilitated connectivity among countries.
On the ASEAN way, Ambassador Morales noted that the consensus-based decision-making process of ASEAN should not be taken as a weakness but rather a source of strength. As proof of the effectiveness of ASEAN way, the panelists cited that the democratization of Myanmar was achieved through ASEAN’s quiet diplomacy and not by sanctions imposed by Western countries.
The discussion touched briefly on South China Sea dispute where the members of the panel cited the progress made in talks on the proposed ASEAN-China Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.
The members of the panel agreed that the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) is very much a work in progress that is moving in the right direction with tangible benefits now being felt by the citizens of the region. During the panel discussion, Ambassador Morales shared that President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has spoken that ASEAN is indispensable to the Philippines and our interests are best served by ASEAN. The discussion concluded on the note that ASEAN will continue to provide hope for a better future in the region.