ASEAN beyond 50: What does the future hold for the youth?

We dare to dream we care to share.

Together for ASEAN

we dare to dream,

we care to share for it’s the way of ASEAN.

asean 50 years
Have you ever sang the Asean anthem, aptly titled “The Asean Way”? I love the melody and the lyrics.  The stated intention of  the Association of Southeast Asia Nations  (ASEAN) is  to turn the region into a community. As the anthem goes: “we dare to dream, we care to share, for it’s the way of Asean.” No one believed that ASEAN would survive after 50 years. There was much pessimism about ASEAN for many reasons. Almost every member country has its story of conflicts with one another.

Do you feel optimism in the next 50 years? Kishore Mahbubuni in his book “The Asean Miracle” is optimistic. ” There is no doubt that ASEAN will be around on August 8 2017 to celebrate its 50th anniversary, and built-in momentum alone will keep ASEAN going for a decade or more after that.  Endy M. Bayuni Editor-in-Chief of  The Jakarta Post has a different perspective “Asean is a neighbourhood, not yet community…What is grossly missing is the political will of its leaders to take up the community idea more seriously and see Asean as more than just a geopolitical and economic concept.

READ:  10 opportunities and benefits for the citizens in ASEAN

It is difficult to predict what will happen to the ASEAN in the next 50 years.  One thing for sure, the future belongs to the youth.  In 5 years , the region will be composed of millennials . One needs to look at Asean in their perspective so I talked to two movers from the Asean Community ,  now known as the ASEAN Youth Organization  (AYO)

asean 50 years

I met Boon, one of the founders in 2013 during the 2nd Social Media Conference organized by the ASEAN Secretariat in Bangkok.  Along with some friends, they started the ASEAN community facebook page in 2011 when he was just 17 years old high school student .  I was very impressed by the vision of their community.  At that time, the facebook community had more members than the ASEAN facebook page . It was through their community that I learned  more on what ASEAN means to them. Today that vision remains. The AYO “envisions a world where the youth exhibit a heightened interest on ASEAN and on each other. To this end, the organization, through its networks and members, conducts programs and projects that empower the youth and engage their respective communities to instill and implement forward-looking ideas that would result in positive change.”


asean 50 years
Kobchart J. Boon, founder , ASEAN Community , now known as ASEAN Youth Organization

Boon  wanted to do his share no matter how small his role was, in “integrating ASEAN young and online communities together to bring about a successful and fully united regional bloc prior to 50 years time.”

He is optimistic about the future of ASEAN .  He says “ASEAN will be more integrated in the future as more young people will be taking higher positions in driving their countries’ political decisions. Increased population means greater values in trades with one another, and ASEAN economic integration should be fully successful before reaching 50 years time.”

 asean 50

Senjaya Mulia, also a founder of the ASEAN Youth Organization and currently the President , focuses on youth empowerment so they are more aware about their environment and societies and become more competent in their field. Once ASEAN integration  is already implemented , they will be ready for it.

Just like Boon, Senjaya is optimistic. “ASEAN in next 50 years will be one of the best place for living. Good economy condition, good environment, good people without losing the cultural aspect and the tradition. The government will also become more transparent, free of corruptions, and have excellent services in all ASEAN Countries, so it will makes the citizen’s trust also increase. By that time, all goals will be achieved and we will live “perfectly” in the future.”

READ: Educational opportunities for your children in the ASEAN

These are just two young professionals in ASEAN so you can just imagine what the  young and growing population  have to say. The youth create “a golden moment in a country’s economic development journey, promising a powerful demographic dividend. As the working-age population grows in number, it will boost the region’s spending, but also increase its savings and hence its capacity to invest.” This is the big question:

By 2025, most countries in ASEAN will see their populations start to age. Governments and policy-makers must ensure they pursue the right policies today to guarantee their demographic dividend is realized. They must think deeply about education and how best to prepare workers for the jobs of the future. They must identify areas of inter-generational tension, such as the environment and the funding of pensions and healthcare. Growth today cannot come at the expense of future generations. How should governments plan long-term for sustainable finances and a sustainable environment?

Another 50 years is too far ahead to predict but we can start looking forward to the ASEAN  vision for the year 2025 .

READ: The ASEAN community 2025 vision: What is in it for me?

In a nutshell, for the ASEAN citizens, ASEAN 2025 means that:

  • They will continue to live in a more united, secure, peaceful and cohesive region;
  • They will benefit and enjoy the gains resulting from enhanced sustainable environmental governance and practices in the region;
  • Their human rights, fundamental freedoms, dignity and social justice will be promoted and protected;
  • They will enjoy good governance that shall be further strengthened;
  • They will be part of a participative and socially responsible community with equitable access to opportunities for all;
  • They will be better protected against pandemics, natural and human-induced disasters and calamities, transnational crimes and transboundary challenges;
  • They can engage purposefully with one another in ASEAN and the world;
  • They will enjoy greater prosperity through increased economic opportunities, enhanced regional connectivity, ease of intra-ASEAN travel and doing business as well as a resilient regional economy;
  • They will benefit from greater employment opportunities and quality jobs as well as from mobility of skilled labour and talents;
  • They will enjoy access to wider choices, safer, and better quality products and services;
  • They will benefit from better cost savings for businesses as well as consumers through improved access and connectivity;
  • They will benefit from access to a wider and better range of technologies and expertise; and
  • They will benefit from a strengthened ASEAN institutional capacity to implement the ASEAN agenda.

The goal of working towards a people-centered and people-oriented ASEAN  is indeed, something to look forward to. Singing the ASEAN anthem in my mind, I am just as confident .

We dare to dream we care to share.

Together for ASEAN

we dare to dream,

we care to share for it’s the way of ASEAN.