The Rohingya problem in Myanmar could have been a blessing in disguise for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The issue reminds Asean backers that the three "legs" of its supporting pillar _ economic, social and security _ should be going in the same direction, even if at a different pace.
The "club" has moved with a singularity of purpose and made remarkable moves on the economic front as the Asean Economic Community shimmers into view, but there is less cohesiveness on other issues among the 10 members.
The Asean bloc has in fact shown a real seriousness in tightening the economic knot. Most of the promises for economic union have been implemented; the rest will eventually be tackled in time for the launch of the community at the end of 2015. These remaining issues are, of course, the most sensitive ones and are a concern for trade and economic negotiators. However, the fast-approaching deadline will force them to work harder. There could be a heavy price to pay for another delay in the launch of the Asean community, which has already been deferred from the start of 2015 to December that year.
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