Peace And Security: Challenges And Opportunities

ASEAN’s ideological, cultural, political and economic diversity at times poses a threat to the region’s harmony. Territorial and border conflicts still exist and cause political tensions. These include Thailand’s and Cambodia’s dispute over the Temple of Preah Vihear which has resulted in armed clashes and loss of lives, while disrupting the lives of the people living along the borders. The Philippines and Malaysia have failed to completely resolve their historical dispute over Sabah, while Indonesia and Malaysia argue over ownership of some islands.


Separatist ethno-religious groups also cause political instability in the region. Among these are the Philippines’ Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Abu Sayyaff Group, Indonesia’s Free Aceh Movement, Burma’s Rohingya Solidarity Organization and the Arakan Rohingya National Organization, and southern Thailand’s Pattani groups. Some of these groups have sympathizers in other ASEAN countries across the border, thus disrupting not just the member-state’s internal harmony, but the region’s as well.


Economic differences have also contributed to the problems of peace and security in the region. The mainland countries all share the Mekong River but attempts to control and manage the riparian environment have caused tensions between them. Thailand has a stronger hold over energy and the natural resources because of its more developed economy. Burma, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia have a more difficult time in managing and controlling the river to maximum benefit.


Learn more about the politics in Southeast Asia through the Weaving Identities website.

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