Has Asean delivered tangible benefits to S’poreans?

Office workers walk through the central business district during lunch break.PHOTO: BLOOMBERGOffice workers walk through the central business district during lunch break.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

Has Asean delivered benefits to ordinary Singaporeans in the last decade or so?

I refer to the article “Winning hearts, minds in Asean” (Straits Times, Aug 25).

“Integration must bring tangible benefits to the people”

It states that “But “the need to anchor Asean in the hearts and minds of its citizens” is crucial for the continued success of the grouping, Prof Koh wrote. Its integration must bring tangible benefits to the people of Asean, and not be seen as the preserve of big businesses and the urban elite.

As Singapore chairs Asean next year, it can strengthen efforts to win the hearts and minds of the ordinary citizens of Asean.”

AICHR Terms of Reference

In this connection, the Asean InterGovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) (Terms of Reference) states that

“PRINCIPLES
The AICHR shall be guided by the following principles:
2.1 Respect for principles of ASEAN as embodied in Article 2 of the ASEAN Charter, in particular:

a) respect for the independence, sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity and national identity of all ASEAN Member States;

b) non-interference in the internal affairs of ASEAN Member States;

c) respect for the right of every Member State to lead its national existence free from external interference, subversion and coercion”.

“Non-interference” has hindered human rights in Asean?

Arguably, the principles of “non-interference” have been an obstacle to the enhancement of human rights in Asean.

Outcomes for Singaporeans?

As to the “tangible benefits to the people” – let’s look at some of the outcomes for Singaporeans as reflected in the following listing of “poor” rankings of Singapore in its recent history (current and past) in the last decade or so:-

Singapore’s “poor” rankings?

2nd highest gini (inequality) in the world

151st – Press Freedom ranking 2017 (Reporters Without Borders)

2nd lowest in Asia-pacific for employee engagement 2017

Bottom 10 in the world for the least number of United Nations human rights conventions signed and ractified

1st – Most expensive city in the world 2017 (The Economist)

4th – Capitalism-cronyism index 2017 (The Economist)

2nd lowest in the world 2016 – Total Fertility Rate (TFR)

Highest paid Ministers, Members of Parliament and top civil servants in the world

Longest work hours in world

2nd highest work stress in Asia

2nd lowest for libido in a study of 40 countries.

Gallup ranked Singaporeans as having the least positive emotions, most emotionless and least optimistic

Happy Planet Index has ranked Singapore at 90th – most unhappy

The World Happiness Report 2013 ranked singapore as the 126th (most unhappy) and 144th (most emotionless)

Second least likely to help a stranger, out of 135 countries.

Singapore has been rated only partly free at 4 out of 7 for political rights and civil liberties (where 1 is most free) by Freedom House Freedom in the World 2013 Index

81st on The Economist Democracy Index 2012

Leong Sze Hian

About the Author

Leong
Leong Sze Hian has served as president of 4 professional bodies, honorary consul of 2 countries, an alumnus of Harvard University, authored 4 books, quoted over 1500 times in the media , has been a radio talkshow host, a newspaper daily columnist, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow, columnist for theonlinecitizen and Malaysiakini, executive producer of Ilo Ilo (40 international awards), invited to speak more than 200 times in over 30 countries, CIFA advisory board member, founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of Indonesia and Brunei. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional  qualifications.