The Diplomatic Society

 
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Spirit of Sport – Shirt Diplomacy and ASEAN integration

By Srimal Fernando, Global Editor, and Chaminda Padmakumara
 
South East Asia is a strategically important region on the global map and is home to almost 625 million people. Determined to deepen regional integration in Southeast Asia the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was set up on 8 August 1967. Presently, there are ten member countries in ASEAN namely Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Vietnam, Lao PDR (People's Democratic Republic), Myanmar and Cambodia.  Although it has been decades since the creation of ASEAN it is important to re-look at the informal as well as formal cooperation manifested in  establishing this South-east Asian regional grouping through the efforts of Sport – Shirt diplomacy.  

Photo: ASEAN Heads of States at the opening ceremony of the 26th ASEAN Summit, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - 27 April 2015

Diplomacy is often viewed as a prescribed way of interactions due to its formal affiliations. Inevitably, it is a culture of protocols that formalize the relations among nations. In other ways, it convinces the international community to seek friendly engagements under various pre-determined environments. On the eve of the establishment of ASEAN, foreign delegates from five nations; Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand met each other at Bang Saen seaside resort in Bangkok prior to their official engagements.

In August 1967 an informal meeting paved a path for Adam Malik of Indonesia, Narciso R. Ramos of Philippines, Tun Abdul Razak of Malaysia, S. Rajaratnam of Singapore, and Thanat Khoman of Thailand for more friendly engagements. That was a few days of good humor, sports and relaxation for the founding fathers of ASEAN. It also became a venue for a number of informal negotiations over the document which later became the ASEAN declaration or Bangkok declaration.

In such a welcoming atmosphere, the five leaders were able to ease many of their historical political contradictions and develop a kind of ‘forgiving mentality’.  This informal diplomatic initiation was later known as “Sport-Shirt Diplomacy” and added a historical experience to the diplomatic expertise. Indeed, this relative isolation helped five leaders to move beyond their political sensitive matters with goodwill and cooperation.  Minister Adam Malik of Indonesia, in his speech, emphasized the need of collective efforts to address possible negative influences coming from outside the region as the ultimate goal. Similarly, he suggested pursuing a cooperative approach in resource and manpower sharing for deep economic cooperation. He pointed out how the Southeast Asian region can further move with its own capacities and strengths.

Tun Abdul Razak, the Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia also highlighted the necessity of building common responsibility towards peace and stability in the region. He further added “we must get together and form by ourselves a new perspective and a new framework for our region”. What this statement says is a deep desire of all five nations to work together for mutual benefit while creating a certain regional identity. Today ASEAN is a successful model for regional integration and is capable of bringing various socio-economic and political benefits for its members. With the togetherness of its ten members, contemporary ASEAN is more confident in achieving its motto "One Vision, One Identity, One Community" in the near future. 

By contrast, the inauguration of ASEAN has added a fresh outlook into diplomatic endeavors by revealing “how to start simply” and “how to move successfully” following an informal opening. Equally, this particular event shows how informal and friendly beginnings are important in sustaining diplomatic relations among nations. Certainly this can be “a model initiation” that would enable diplomatic negotiators to build up mutual trust, confidence and familiarity among themselves prior to the formalities.

Consecutively such friendly environments with goodwill, humor, mutual understanding with psychological preparation for cooperation will add more pragmatic meaning to diplomacy. Although more than four decades have passed since the formation of ASEAN through Sport – Shirt Diplomacy of 1967, the spirit of Sport – Shirt diplomacy is still alive today and ASEAN is strengthening comprehensive connectivity and strengthening its ties and sustaining growth in the Southeast  Asian countries.

*Chaminda Padmakumara is a Research Scholar from Sri Lanka following a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) programme in International Relations at the South Asian University.

 

More News

 



African Union and Germany agree on further cooperation12/10/2017
article thumbnail

African Union and Germany agree on further cooperation Addis Ababa, 5 October 2017 The annual bilateral consultations on the development Cooperation between the African Union (AU) and Government of  [ ... ]


Building Bridges between Europe and Asia: Dr Kiril Avramov 12/10/2017
article thumbnail

Building Bridges between Europe and Asia: Dr Kiril Avramov   2017-10-12 The New Bulgarian University (NBU) is one of Bulgaria’s top-ranked universities at the heart of Bulgaria’s capital, S [ ... ]


Tango Spectacular Rodolfo Mederos Trio in South Africa10/10/2017
article thumbnail

Tango Spectacular Rodolfo Mederos Trio in South Africa 10 October 2017 Tango legend Rodolfo Mederos from Argentina will be delighting South African music lovers with his trio this month. Mederos is [ ... ]


Baz-Art graffiti exhibition at the French Residence in Pretoria09/10/2017
article thumbnail

Baz-Art graffiti exhibition at the French Residence in Pretoria On Wednesday 4 October 2017, Ambassador of France to South Africa, H.E. Mr. Christophe Farnaud, and NGO BAZ-ART hosted an exhibition of [ ... ]


 

 

 

 

 

 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
_________________________________________________

September 2017 Edition

 
 
_________________________________________________

Translater


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Human Capacity 26 August 2017 Ambassador LIN Songtian of the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) to South Africa (SA) outlined China’s policy and vision and how it is developing to position China as... <|> India’s Foreign Policy Analysis:  Modi Doctrine a book authored by Dr. Sreeram Chaulia This month in an exclusive interview The Diplomatic Society Global Editor Srimal Fernando engages Dr.... <|> Progress made in Libya talks 12 September 2017 President Jacob Zuma has commended the progress made towards the resolution of conflict in Libya. The President was on a working visit to Brazzaville... <|> Egypt Candidate for UNESCO 12 September 2017 Egypt Special Envoy has started an African tour to convey the Egyptian government's thanks for the African countries support to Minister Moshera Khattab... <|> Easing travel regulations between South Africa and Kenya 3 May 2016 South Africa and Kenya have announced measures that will make travelling between the two countries easier. South African Home... <|> Iran-South Africa cooperation promote global peace 12 September 2017 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says cooperation between Iran and South Africa can play a prominent role in promoting peace... <|> South Africa and Vietnam accelerate trade 12 September 2017 South Africa and Vietnam have agreed to fast track trade relations. This emerged during SA Minister of International Relations and... <|> BRICS: Stronger Partnership for a Brighter Future 12 September 2017 The 9th BRICS Summit was successfully held in Xiamen, China from 3 to 5 September 2017. Chinese President Xi Jinping chaired the... <|> Seeking trade opportunities in Russia 11 September 2017 Local companies have been urged to look for trade opportunities in the Russian market. Minister Plenipotentiary at the South Africa Embassy... <|> Seeking study opportunities 14 September 2017 A delegation from China recently visited the Pearson Institute for Higher Education in Ashlea Gardens Pretoria, to talk about study opportunities for... <|>
© copyright 2011-2017| The Diplomatic Society| All Rights Reserved.