Fighting and Fallout in Sabah

The fighting and fallout in Sabah rises interesting and sombre questions about the value of ASEAN in resolving issues among its member states.

The association prides itself in providing a forum whereby the heads of states are able to meet and resolve regional tensions in an amicably manner, plus a few photo shoots and shopping in various capitals would not hurt. However, in terms of deliverables such as trade, political or military interoperability (I don’t even dare to use the term integration), the association is far behind other regional organisations such as the EU.

This latest crisis will continue to strain the relationship between Philippines and Malaysia as Malaysian leaders toe the line between fighting the insurgents and respecting Philippine’s sovereignty. Back home, Malaysia citizens are criticizing the way the crisis is being handled and elections are looming. Mr Najib will likely win this election but his popularity may suffer if this crisis drags on and is mishandled. Philippines, likewise, faces a dilemma as its leader, Mr Aquino is portrayed as not helping his fellow Filipinos in a fight against Malaysians.

With its non-intervention policy and deliberately not discussin “sensitive” issues in its official agenda, can ASEAN hope to provide a fast resolution to this issue?

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One thought on “Fighting and Fallout in Sabah

  1. It is a known fact that challenges remain in order to achieve a cohesive and security-oriented ASEAN. Part of the stumbling block is the history of each nations, while some were warm towards China, others kept it at arms length till the 1990s. While some were rooted in communism in history, others had already embraced democracy at a much earlier stage. In my opinions, such diverse history and territorial disputes will continue to divide the region. Each member states need to make careful and calculated moves especially with a rising China and its occasional military aggression.

    However, ASEAN as a whole as its successes which should not be overlooked, such as tapping the economic potentials of the Great Powers. Such feat could not be completed by individual member states.

    In this Sabah issue, what was surprising to me was the hasty use of military force. However, if conducted effectively, could earn Malaysia some brownie points. Unfortunately, the current situations seem to be spiraling out of control. It would not take long before other member states ask for restraint.

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