ASEAN Community needs deep involvement of civil society

Makarim Wibisono, head of the ASEAN Foundation, believes it is critical to the success of the integrated ASEAN Community from 2015 for the vigorous involvement of civil society.

“A community is shaped from intensive and quality communications among social, economic, cultural and political leaders, not only the interactions of government officials,” he said in an interview.

While government officials may remain calm in a crisis between countries, because they regularly interact and communicate with each other, "this is not the feeling of most people. So, it is important to intensify contact among the mass media, political parties, militaries and NGOs in ASEAN," he said.

“In the European Community, they think of Europe. Do we think of ASEAN in the same way?” he asked.

He suggested the most important factor is to raise a common "we feel" identity.

“For example, if an Indonesian migrant worker is abused, we feel that it will affect ASEAN. So far, we haven’t had such feeling,” he said, adding that people still feel ASEAN has not brought significant benefits or impacts to their lives.