Chiangrai Times – With the ASEAN Community to be introduced in 2015, Thailand has to prepare itself for the up-coming changes. There will be a lot more cooperation between the members in this region. Everybody will have to somehow play a role and fit into the new environment. The Royal Thai Navy as well will have to prepare itself and play a part in the new community.
The word “ASEAN” stands for Association of Southeast Asian Nations. It was first established in 1967, with an aim of strengthening relationships among the 10 member countries. Objectives of the establishment include accelerating economic growth, social progress, and cultural development among its members, protection of regional peace and stability, and opportunities for member countries to discuss differences peacefully.China claims almost all of the South China Sea as its own
Plenty of changes are about to come with the introduction of ASEAN Community. The Royal Thai Navy will play an important role in cooperating with other nations. The cooperation envisages all aspects in navy activities such as preventing threats that could harm the region. There are 2 kinds of threats, traditional and non-traditional. The traditional threat is an existing issue that is going on in the region such as maritime boundary dispute, while the non-traditional threat ranges from terrorism, piracy, drug and weapon smuggling, to law violation and natural disaster. Other cooperation activities include humanitarian assistance, disaster mitigation, anti-terrorism, and marine resources utilization.
The biggest issue in ASEAN that the Thai Navy is expected to play a corrective role is the maritime boundary dispute. None of the ASEAN nations want to give up what they think is rightfully theirs. This is a very sensitive issue and seems to be an ongoing problem that is nowhere close to a conclusion. Despite all the threats and problems, the Thai Navy will have to revise its strategies and policies to be consistent with the ASEAN community as the motto of ASEAN states “One Vision, One Identity, One Community”.
After a seminar on the topic of the “Thai Navy’s role in ASEAN community”, Professor Dr. Surakiat Sathirathai, former Deputy Prime Minister and former Foreign Minister, has revealed that Thailand is still lacking behind other ASEAN nations in many aspects. For example, Thai people don’t know the laws and regulations of other ASEAN countries, or there are a lot of Thai people who do not have a clear perception of what ASEAN Community will bring to them and the nation as a whole.
Dr. Surakiat added that trust is the main factor that will drive the formation of ASEAN Community to a success. Therefore, trust needs to be built between the members. Successful cooperation and communication are based on trust.
In conclusion, as ASEAN Community is coming in 2015, Thai people immediately need to be educated and informed of what will happen or what advantage or disadvantage people could gain from the formation in order to prepare themselves for the inevitable changes. – Narumon Ngamsaithong