ASEAN is at last embracing the idea of flexible engagement championed by former Foreign Minister Surin Pitsuwan. The idea was first introduced as "constructive intervention" (echoing Anwar Ibrahim of Malaysia) in a speech I wrote for him to deliver at Thammasat. That speech made quite a stir, and he had to "refine" the concept further, finally renaming it "flexible engagement." That concept has never been embraced by the TRT government, which until recently was still insisting on strict non-intervention in ASEAN. I, for one, am glad to see ASEAN waking up and smelling the coffee, even if it is years late.
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