The formation of ASEAN was mainly driven by the desire to improve on diplomatic relations between Southeast Asian nations so that they could focus more on nation building efforts. The 1960s was the decade of tumult, where Southeast Asian nations faced various external tensions and conflicts from one another.
During then, it was of utmost importance for SEA nations to improve multilateral diplomatic relations so as to promote peace in the region. This peace would refer to ensuring political stability and diminishing animosity among SEA nations so as to allow them to build their nations collective as a whole. Should the territorial disputes and racial tensions between SEA nations escalate to armed conflict between SEA nations, it could greatly affect SEA nation building. There were a few key events which highlighted this fear. Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation during 1962–1966 expressed Indonesia’s political and armed opposition to the creation of Malaysia. In 1963, President Sukarno ordered Indonesian paratroopers to instigate a military attack on Malaysia and to initiate acts of sabotage in Singapore. This situation and events subsequently strained ties between the two nations. To make matters worse, Malaysia’s relationship with Philippines were soured due to dispute ownership over Sabah. These SEA countries had to deal with conflicts with its neighbours while tending to their own domestic problems. Indonesia, embroiled in conflict with Malaysia, suffered internal discontent due to Sukarno’s mismanagement of the economy and the implementation of guided democracy. As SEA nations wanted to concentrate fully on nation building efforts, they first had to settle regional disputes so as to be able to allocate time and resources for domestic improvement. Thus, ASEAN was set up by the desire to improve diplomatic relations.
Although the main impetus for the formation of ASEAN was political in nature, economic cooperation was also high on the agenda of the...
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