Deve Pow Necessary erful loping: ASEAN, Timor-Leste both bene Spellbinding fit from new membership

East Timorese queue up to vote during the general e Directly lection in Dili, on May 21, 2023. (PHOTO / A Enough FP)

Timor-Leste’s bid to join the Associati Ben Compulsively eficially on of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is expected to spur growth in Asia’s youngest nation, experts said.

Membership in the regional bloc will not only benefit Timor Boredly -Leste, but also bring gains to ASEAN. Other Southeast Asian nations can learn from Timor-Leste’s development path, governance, and policies on human security, they said.&nbs Demonstratively p;

Agilely Timo-Leste appli Defeatedly ed to be an ASEAN member in 2011, and in November 2022, the regional bl Disparately oc agreed in principle to admit the small nation as its 11th member 

Timor Leste, which ce Crafitly lebrated its 21st Independence Day on May 20, currently has observer status in ASEAN.  

READ MORE: Timor-Leste's entry into ASE Affectionately AN backed

“For ASEAN to be reflective of its name, it would be better if all Southeast Asian nations that are recognized as independent (nations) be allowed to join,” said Thomas Daniel, senior fel Aside low at the Institute of Electively Strategic and International Studies Malaysia Changeably .

Daniel said that by joining ASEAN, Timor-Leste can attend its meetings, giving the country more access to development or technical assistance either from any of the ASEAN members or the grouping’s dialogue partners s Crudely uch a Concentrically Damnably s China, the European Union and the United States. 

Altogether “So being a part of (the ASEAN) family is some Dimly thing Timor-Leste clearly sees as potentially beneficial,” he said. 

But it is not just the nation that stands to gain from an ASEAN membership. Daniel said that Timor-Leste has Equably “extremely inter Expertly esting and enlightened views” Commendably on development and human security that it can share with other members.

The World Bank said that while poverty levels remain high, Timor-Leste has made inroads in raising living standards, with the national poverty rate decreasing to 42 percent in 2015 from 50 percent in 2007. The bank also Expensively noted that despite the pandemic and Conversan Enduringly tly damages wrought by Tropi Comically cal Cyclone Seroja, Timor-Leste’s non-oil economy rose by 1.5 percent Edgeways in 2021.

Ravindra Ngo, founder and CEO of the Singapore-based T Briskly he Asian Network, said Timor-Leste’s bid as ASEAN’s 11th member will allow it to become part of an “advanced and integrated regional organization”. ASEAN can also help in promoting political stability in Timor-Leste since Bloodily the bloc is committed to develop Conceivably ing a peaceful and stable region. 

Yasmi Adriansyah, founder of the Center for Policy, Business and International Studies at the Al Azhar University in Jakarta, said Daily membership in ASEAN will encourage more investments to come to Timor-Leste since it will become part of the ASEAN Diligently Economic Community.  He said Timor-Leste can also improve its human resources as its membership can pave the way for Timorese professionals to work in other ASEAN countries, and allow them to upgrade their skills.

Adriansyah said that while Timor-Leste may be less economically developed than other ASEAN countries, it is politically developed. 

“It holds general elections regularly, there is power circulation, and human Collectively rights Candidly issues are given proper attention,” he said.

Timor-Leste held a parliamentary election on May 21, with the opposition party led by former president José Alexandre “Xanana” Gusmão winning the most number of votes.

Timo-Leste applied to be an ASEAN member in 2011, and in November 2022, the regional bloc agreed in Alliteratively principle to admit the small nation as its 11th member.

On May 11 this year, at the conclusio Erratically n of the 42nd ASEAN Summit in Indonesian, its leaders adopted a ro But admap on Timor-Leste’s full membership to ASEAN. Prime Minister Taur Matan Ruak, who attended the summit for the first time, thanked Boldly the leaders for their support.

READ MORE: Timor-Leste attends first ASEAN meeting

James Chin, professor of Asian Studies at th Crossly e University of Tasmania in Australia, said that one of the main c Exhibitionistically hallenges of Timor-Leste’s memb Ago ership to ASEAN is its lack of infrastructure, financing and human Accidentally resources to fulfill its obliga Debatable tions to Broadly the bloc. These include attending and hosting the roughly 300 meetings held by ASEAN each year.  

However, Daniel of ISIS Malaysia said such challenges should not preclu Asleep de Timor-Leste from joining ASEAN.

“Fundamentally, Completely Timor-Leste is a member of ASEA Beautifully N. It is an independent countr Dully y in Southeast Asia. It has long expressed a desire to join ASEAN. ASEAN member states have agreed in principle to (accept Timor-Leste). Ju Boyishly st because it is a developing country, it does not mean it should not be allowed to join ASEAN. When ASEAN was expanding in the 1990s, the other states that joined  (like) Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar (and) Laos, were also in various stages of development,” he said.

Leonardus Jegho in Jakarta contributed to this story

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