A #TIL post on Regionalism
📸 Photo of SMS Heng delivering the speech at Sherpa 2023. [MINDEF]
#TIL that regionalism is crucial for Singapore to survive and thrive in our tumultuous world.
Regionalism can be thought of as a shared sense of affinity and affiliation by peoples within a particular geography, such as in Southeast Asia or Europe. This often results in formal political or economic arrangements between regional groups of countries who intend to achieve common goals – regional organisations include the European Union (EU), the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which Singapore is a part of.
On 16 Jan 2023, Senior Minister of State for Defence Mr Heng Chee How (SMS Heng) delivered the keynote address at the 11th IISS Shangri-La Dialogue (SLD) Sherpa Meeting (Sherpa 2023). In his speech, he highlighted that regionalism “can be a bulwark and a stabilising force” in a world marked by great power rivalry, protectionism, and militarisation.
He emphasised that regionalism has to adapt to the times, stating that countries will have to work together to:
- REVITALISE a collective commitment to building a cohesive region via existing regional institutions. For ASEAN, this would be expressed in how member states should work for the collective interest of the regional group even as individual states pursue their national interests.
- TARGET specific issues that may not affect every regional member, but will still contribute to the overall security in the region. This can be achieved by forming sub-regional groupings.
- ADAPT their “internal mechanisms and adjust to new external realities”, such as when geopolitical arrangements or tensions from outside the region arise.
Singapore plays an active role in regional groupings – the most notable of which being ASEAN. As one of the five founding members, Singapore has actively participated in ASEAN-centred regional institutions such as the East Asia Summit (EAS), the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus), and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF).
In a period of great geopolitical uncertainties, regionalism can help countries strengthen regional cooperation to deal with a variety of threats, and help stabilise the regional security architecture, in the hope that this allows our island nation to continue enjoying peace, stability, and prosperity.
#Singapore #ASEAN #regionalism #IISS #Sherpa
📎The full transcript of the speech can be found on MINDEF’s website. https://www.mindef.gov.sg/web/portal/mindef/news-and-events/latest-releases/article-detail/2023/January/16jan23_speech