Saturday, December 1, 2012

Cambodia replies on ASEAN disagreement

 The Straits Times
Saturday, Dec 01, 2012

SINGAPORE - It is calumnious to state that Cambodia, as Chair of Asean, blocked the issuance of the joint communique of the 45th Asean Ministerial Meeting in July ("China plays its Asean game"; Nov 19).
In the joint communique, there were four paragraphs on the South China Sea, on three of which the Asean ministers had reached consensus.

The sole disagreement among the ministers was in paragraph 16 of the draft joint communique, because of the demand of two Asean members to include their demands on the South China Sea.

It has been Asean's established practice that any paragraph, sentence or phrase on which there is no consensus should be removed from the main document, instead of throwing out the main document, such as the joint communique.

The two Asean member states warned that if paragraph 16 did not include what they wanted, there would be no joint communique even though the Chair had prepared and submitted a revised paragraph 16 with written explanation, in order to have four paragraphs on the South China Sea acceptable to all parties.
The argument that "China had managed to game the system in Asean, by using a proxy in the form of Cambodia" insults Cambodia. Would the writer describe his own country in the same way?

The notion that "China's cultivation of Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar could in the long run undermine Asean unity and cohesion" could be applied to other Asean members as well, when it comes to the cultivation of ties and building long-term relationships between major powers and Asean.

Finally, the article's attempts to label Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar as China's proxies in discussing the "great power competition in Asean's backyard" is politically incorrect. This "China proxy theory" could be applied to other countries as well.

It should be noted that Asean has always tried to play a central role between and among big powers in the region.
Sin Serey (Mrs)
Royal Embassy of Cambodia, Singapore

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