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

 



South Africa and Brazil enjoy strong relations16/05/2017
article thumbnail

South Africa and Brazil enjoy strong relations 16 May 2017 South African International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane hosted the Minister of External Relations of the Fede [ ... ]


South Africa and Tanzania to work on Intra-Africa trade16/05/2017
article thumbnail

South Africa and Tanzania to work on Intra-Africa trade 12 May 2017 There is a need for South Africa and Tanzania to work together in establishing linkages that will allow effective and efficient in [ ... ]


Public meeting with Palestinian and Israeli activists15/05/2017
article thumbnail

Public meeting with Palestinian and Israeli activists 15 May 2017
 
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) will host Palestinian scholar Dr Adam Hanieh and activist Tali Shapiro on Monday the 22n [ ... ]


Kwibuka23: remember-unite-renew15/05/2017
article thumbnail

Kwibuka23: remember-unite-renew 11 May 2017 The High Commission of Rwanda in Pretoria in partnership with the Johannesburg Holocaust & Genocide Centre hosted a commemoration of the 23rd annivers [ ... ]


 

 

 

 

 

 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
_________________________________________________

April 2017 Edition

_________________________________________________

Translater


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

South Africa vs Francophonie soccer tournament 29 March 2017 As part of the Festival de la Francophonie taking place in Pretoria this month, the Embassy of France in South Africa hosted a... <|> President Zuma reshuffles cabinet 31 March 2017 Pretoria – President Jacob Zuma has made changes to the National Executive in order to improve efficiency and effectiveness.“The changes bring... <|> Imbali Legacy Project founder empowers school in the Eastern Cape By Stella Sigcau 5 April 2017 Prominent Durban-based businesswoman, lawyer, social entrepreneur, leadership coach and founder of... <|> Enhancing relations between South Africa and the Central African Republic 6 April 2017 President Jacob Zuma hosted the President of the Central African Republic, His Excellency Professor... <|> 9th of April – Commemorating Victim’s Day April 9th has become an important date to Colombia over the past years, due to Law 1448 in 2011 – also known as the Victims Law – establishing it as... <|> 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... <|> Kgwebong Consulting Celebrates Partnerships for the Creation of Communities of Excellence By Kgomotso Kgoale 7 April 2017 Kgwebong Consulting, whose vision it is to Create Communities of... <|> Science, Technology and Environment Cooperation between South Africa and Argentina 6 April 2017 The Scientific and Technological Cooperation between South Africa and Argentina was further enhanced... <|> High Court on Dagga 6 April 2017 The Hemp, Dagga, Weed, Herb, Marijuana and a plant by any other name, Industrialisation report back presentation was full of positive excitement. Medicines,... <|> Transforming ballet in South Africa 10 April 2017 Transformation in ballet has a long way to go. In order to make the most of talent that is available in South Africa, talented dancers from all... <|>
© copyright 2011-2017| The Diplomatic Society| All Rights Reserved.