The role of youth in ASEAN countries is very important since they in fact the next leaders in the highly strategic area where economy-politic and military blends. As the aim of ASEAN association first was to curb the communist’s tentacles to grab the whole South-East Asia, countries like Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia looked at the association as a menace. Beijing, as the protector of those countries were always fanning sentiments against the association as a toll of “Warmonger and Exploiters” i.e. the US. But now, even Beijing embraced capitalism, followed by the Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. In very short time Vietnam emerged fantastically into a developed country and joined the association. Still embraced the old and tattered religion of socialism, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia at first found the road to capitalism not so easy to tread, but step by step they danced to the tune of free world.
So, the association changed from politic and military aims toward economy and better understanding the role of youth is to build a bridge of cooperation without any suspicion, it easy because the association is a loose one. In this area, the Western standards will not fit nicely, the youth must always aware about that. As the next leaders they have to build understanding and personal friendship with the other. In the past Soeharto and Lee Kuan Yew’, were fast friends and always discussed in Malayan, they trust each other solidly. The youth in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei, with dominant Muslim population must recognize the way of thinking with their counter parts in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand, whose culture deeply influenced by Buddhism. The youth must not allergic to these differences. Not only Buddhism, but Confucianism has strong root here especially in Singapore. So the youth must learn the “Asian Values”, which are more flexible compared with the Western standards with rigid rules. As the next problems is not annexation by belligerent doctrine but to develop the countries, the youth must direct their attention and energies to fight together the very dangerous menace that already germinating in each country i.e. : Narcotics, Human Trafficking, Illegal Logging, Illegal Fishing, and Terrorism.
The menace of narcotics is very real and able to ruin the young generation. Human trafficking is a very cruel and inhuman that needed strong actions against them. Illegal logging is dangerous, not only for any country but for the whole planet, they rapidly disappearance of rain forest in the area directly support the carbon emission unchecked into more and more dangerous level and rapid global climatic change. Illegal fishing is a heinous crime since it robbed the poor fishermen’s right to feed their family. Forward human rights violations, the youth must be cautious. Democracies in this area are still a baby. The Mexican, highly irritated by American prodding in the 1960’s said “you can not pour hot soup into mouth of a baby, it will kill it”. ASEAN countries still in the process of practicing democracy and they have many problems. Myanmar, Thailand, and Philippines all have nasty domestic problems with insurgents. To meddle in this problem without the accord of a country involved are not only unwise but detrimental for the association. Even Malaysia, relatively a prosperous member have a strict policy, I.S.A. or Internal Security Act with a large population of Chinese and Indians which sometimes went to the road protesting what they called as discriminating policy. The youth have to build a strong friendship with the Myanmar next leaders. The West, always very eager to paint the Myanmar military leaders as monsters, in effect makes the strong mans there angrier and choose to become more silence to harsh critics. The role of youth in ASEAN countries is to glean the experience of the past as well as avoid the wrongs. Only with warm personal friendship and full toleration, the next generations will success to make ASEAN brighter and prosperous.
The doctrine of the West will never of any use if practiced with rigid formula “Freedom for Freedom” in the area with strong Muslim, Buddhism, and Confucianism influences. Those deeply rooted religions are strange to the Western’s standard, for them (very rightly) the mantra “Freedom for Freedom” is nothing but a philosophy of a cancer cell. Non-Governmental Organizations, many of them doing good works, but to irritate, to pricks the governments with toxic to reign’s supported injections, in not only unwise but downright treason in any language.
The next generation youths are students, writers, politicians, merchants, and military students ought to learn the culture and the way of thinking of the area. In the past, the only warmly welcomed delegations are dancers and acrobats, since they were classified as colorless and relatively very tame species. Of course, exchange tours of singers, dancers, sword swallowers, wire walkers, still good medicines to ease tensions, biologically, or politically.
But in these very rapid developments in every field of sciences, the role of youth is always to builds cooperation honestly in order to keep out dangers of misunderstanding that can burst into unnecessary conflicts. ASEAN youths have much greater responsibilities in the next, the next generation’s leader is better to call his counter part on the phone by the name such as “Hello Procheangmung !” than the hypochondriac greetings “His Excellency Prime Minister of Thailand….”. A hearty answer with loud guffaws at the end of the phone is the best medicine for the countries involves and the rest of the association.