“ASEAN has succeeded against all odds”: an interview with Professor Kishore Mahbubani
What do you believe are the core elements of the ASEAN model? What defines ASEAN and its principles, and what differentiates it from other regional organizations?
I think the key differentiating factor within the ASEAN regional organization is its unique culture. In the book I talk about what I call the culture of musyawarah and mufakat—“consultation” and “consensus”. Over the years, ASEAN’s members have evolved a capacity to talk to each other, resolve differences and reach agreement.
Unlike the European Union, which is very legalistic and negotiates thick agreements, ASEAN is very loose and does not believe in trying to force through an agreement if people are not yet ready. This of course means that ASEAN moves very slowly, but this may be its competitive advantage.