Thailand and ASEAN
The Kingdom of Thailand and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations
The title of the present topic of study appears highly intriguing, to say the least. In the first place, it seems strange to conjure up a subject entailing the study of one Kingdom and the role, relations, functions and activities of that Kingdom in regard to the initiation and operation of a regional grouping for active economic cooperation, such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN. It may be of some initial interest to enquire as to the author of the acronym ASEAN. Its five founding members, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, must have been endowed with extraordinary far-sightedness to envision that within less than half a century, membership would redouble itself to grow to 10 nations by embracing Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.
Much has indeed been written about the activities of this regional or sub-regional association for economic, social and cultural cooperation, not to mention the strength of its collective political power. The quality of neighboring states as the foundation of the invisible strength of the collectivity of these Southeast Asian nations has indeed provided what it takes to sustain its strong collective unity and powerful individual and collective existence with relative strength and natural timely growth as the result of uninterrupted economic development. This short study will be confined initially to the establishment, management and operation of ASEAN as an institution of durability, and to its activities within the purview and for the purposes for which it came into being, especially in regard almost exclusively to the perspective of the Kingdom of Thailand, as one of the co-founders of ASEAN in the mid-1960s. This topic may be divided into two separate but not unrelated parts, namely ASEAN and Thailand or the significance of ASEAN to Thailand, on the one part, and “Thailand and ASEAN”, and the importance of Thailand from ASEAN’s standpoint, on the other. These two parts could be followed up by a third: “ASEAN and Thailand in the World Community”.