ASEAN is not EU, unlikely to have a Brexit situation: PM Lee

ASEAN makes decisions by consensus.

By Kayla Wong | March 13, 2018

Prime Minister (PM) Lee Hsien Loong gave a lecture today (Mar 13) at the 50th anniversary of the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute — a research institute located in Singapore.

He started off by talking about the origins of the research institute, saying that despite Singapore’s economic and social issues in the 1960s, it was still established in order to promote understanding of the region.

In his lecture, PM Lee also brought the European Union (EU) into the conversation, comparing ASEAN to the political and economic union of the 28 member states which are located primarily in Europe.

Here is what he has to say about ASEAN and EU:

ASEAN is not EU

ASEAN will continue to “pursue closer integration” under the framework of 3 pillars: economic, political-security, and socio-cultural.

However, PM Lee emphasised that ASEAN “will not become an ASEAN Union, like the European Union”:

It is less ambitious than the EU in terms of scope, membership, and integration.

ASEAN does not aim to have an ASEAN Parliament, ASEAN Court of Justice, ASEAN currency, or ASEAN Central Bank, not even in the very long term.

ASEAN is too diverse to aim for a European style union.

ASEAN countries have different histories and cultures, diverse political and economic systems, contrasting views of the world.

He added that because of such differences, ASEAN will work together wherever member states’ interests align.

‘Brexit’ situation for ASEAN?

Fielding a question from Dr Tan See Seng, a professor of International Relations from the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), who asked if there’s a possibility of ASEAN having to deal with a ‘Brexit’ type situation in the future, PM Lee said that the situation is unlikely.

He answered the question by saying jokingly “I don’t understand, who’s having a referendum?”, to laughter from the audience.

He then continued saying that as ASEAN makes decisions by consensus, it means that “you will not be in a situation where you are compelled by the rules to agree to something because you’ll be overruled by the majority.”


Top image via Lee Hsien Loong/FB

About Kayla Wong

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