"Ten Commandments For East Asian Regional Cooperation"

June 8, 2001

Noordin Sopiee
Chairman, Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS) (Malaysia)

I believe that East Asians must not only work together. We must make sure that we do it right. Perhaps, in order to do it right, we should be guided by the following "Ten Commandments".

First, East Asian cooperation must be outward-looking. Until it is unwise for us, we must be committed to open regionalism. There must be no fortress East Asia, no circling of the wagons, no raising of barriers to the outside world.

Second, we must bear malice towards none, goodwill to all. In word and in deed, we must be in no way confrontationist of anyone; certainly, we must be non-confrontationist of the powerful. We should make sure that we do not hurt or damage ASEAN or APEC.

Third, East Asian cooperation should aspire to be an example in North-South relations, showing what can be accomplished when we seek "win, win, win" solutions; we must live by the doctrine of "prosper thy neighbour" rather than the creed of "beggar thy neighbour".

Fourth, East Asian cooperation should contribute to a sense of security and well being for all in our neighbourly village. Our community must have no bully. One for all, all against all bullies.

Fifth, we must each of us be caring and concerned to ensure that everyone benefits and none are left too far behind.

Sixth, East Asian cooperation must not be hegemonistic but democratic in process and egalitarian in precept.

Seventh, East Asian cooperation must proceed on the basis of mutual respect and mutual accommodation, however inconvenient.

Eighth, we must be determined and patient, non-Cartesian, with the stress not on producing paper but progress, not on building institutions but results, slowly evolving, slowly and quietly accomplishing, according to "our Asian way" (which so many say does not exist).

Ninth, whilst adopting an open membership, a "consenting adults" policy, we must now proceed on the basis of the "ASEAN Plus Three", or the APT formula; we must, at the same time, be prepared to move forward with a greater congregation or a lesser grouping, depending on the specific circumstances.

Tenth, we must not be too ambitious in our aspirations or too lacking in ambition. The civil society underpinning the entire process - - the corporate support and the non-governmental activism -- must be developed. And we must cooperate comprehensively in many areas, at varying levels of specificity, activity and substance. We must be prepared to let a hundred flowers bloom.

Titles of speakers, names of companies, etc., were correct as of the time when the forum was held.