This year’s ASEAN Day (every 8th August) has seen region-wide celebrations, opinion pieces and navel gazing obligated of any national or supra-national entity on its anniversary. Formed between just five countries in 1967, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations now includes double that number and attends forums with participants far beyond the geographical region. Given its historical goals of regional stability and economic integration, ASEAN is often compared to the European Union, though its members are far more diverse in both population and economic strength (for example, tiny Singapore is 80 times richer than Myanmar).

Many have praised ASEAN for bringing relative stability to a region that, 43 years ago, seemed constantly under threat of violent revolution and territorial disputes. Others, however, note that economic integration still has much to achieve. Trade among members of other super-blocs the EU and NAFTA is 65.8% and 44.3% of their respective totals, while ASEAN’s hovers around the 20% mark and has not increased significantly in the past decade (the above-mentioned diversity is cited as a reason for this). Still, the dream of full economic integration someday remains among believers, who will continue to pursue it even if the process takes a little longer than desired.

from the Jakarta Post:

ASEAN turns 43, gets praise, critics

What is ASEAN consciousness?