ASEAN: Unproductive or Ultracareful?

By SkyNews at 3:05 PM 5/31/2020 (PDT)

As we are nearing the end of this conference, the delegates of the ASEAN committee are pouring their thoughts into working papers and draft resolutions to conclude this committee session on a high note! Sky News had the opportunity to join each bloc in their unmoderated caucus. The first bloc that shared their view included several countries such as, Laos, China, Viet Nam, Nepal, and Papua New Guinea.

We are excited to see which resolution gets passed and we heard interesting insights from this specific bloc of delegates. Specifically, the delegates of Vietnam and China went into depth and explained their perspectives clearly to our reporters. After hearing their views, we can’t help but question if the same could have been accomplished through one, cohesive bloc and thus reduce the time and effort put into drafting two resolutions.

Here’s what we learned from the delegates of Vietnam and China. To start, the delegate of Vietnam and China made it clear that education was the first step in their plan as a short-term, effective approach. Vietnam made it clear that education was their primary means of combating the issue and consider literacy as a long-term plan. He also mentioned the importance of collaboration with private companies to fund their solutions and bring unethical labor to light without endangering the country’s relationship with private corporations. Overall, this bloc is emphasizing the need to make citizens aware of their rights. China voiced her agreement in pointing out that many economies are dependent on international incorporations. The delegate of China expressed that it is imperative that they remain cautious in not taking an aggressive approach.

This sentiment was shared by Indonesia, a member of the other bloc. When asked if she was afraid of the economic impact of regulating unethical labor, she made it clear that this was not a primary concern. She expanded by stating, “Indonesia just does not want to be overly aggressive with addressing unethical labor issues in international corporations because then they might choose not to do their business in our country.” As Sky News reporters delved deeper into this unmoderated caucus with Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Japan, and more. We specifically spoke to the delegate of Thailand, a prominent member of this bloc, who explained that this resolution is primarily centered on the enforcement of laws rather than education. She stated, “Education of the public comes after clearing out immediate issues.” When asked to expand on immediate issues, she claimed that the loopholes that companies currently used need to be addressed before raising awareness. These loopholes include ways in which companies can claim that they’re following labor laws while breaching actual policies.

Clearly, both blocs want the same thing and are simply prioritizing different things. We wonder if perhaps ASEAN could have made much more progress if delegates simply compromised and created a resolution in which education and enforcement laws were both included with equal emphasis. The director herself stated that the resolutions are not opposing and contain the same views in differing weights.

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