East Timor is deep in crisis and they’re in need of help. I’m glad to hear that East Timor has requested assistance from Malaysia and even happier to know that Malaysia is responding to the request. My only regret is that Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN) has neither been proactive nor responsive to the conflict. What’s more embarassing is to see Australia leading the expedition instead of ASEAN (tag).
Those that have been reading my blog long enough would know that I advocate a stronger ASEAN. Since East Timor is part of Southeast Asia, I strongly feel that East Timor is part of ASEAN, regardless the fact that the country has yet to be granted an observer status, much less a membership. Therefore, I see the conflict as a trouble in ASEAN’s backyard. So, it’s only logical for me to want to see ASEAN to assist East Timor. Unfortunately, ASEAN has not and because of this, I believe ASEAN has failed East Timor.
I do understand that ASEAN is primarily an organization concerned with economic, political and cultural cooperation. It’s not a military alliance and ASEAN has no peacekeeping force of its own. However, I have no desire to see a failed state within Southeast Asia; ASEAN should feel the same way too. If ASEAN does feel the same way, then it should have the means to prevent states from falling into anarchy. That means must include a way to maintain law and order.
Perhaps, it’s time for ASEAN to have a formal body that could take police actions in time of crisis. If ASEAN had such body, it could have taken the lead in assisting East Timor and indirectly telling the world that we are capable of caring for our own welfare. More importantly, ASEAN wouldn’t have failed its small neighbor.