In a recent meeting Tun Mahathir of Malaysia has made some keen observation on the talk of Asean integration. His cautious welcome of the idea of integration is worth considering. Lessons must be learned from the experiment done in Europe. There are still some countries like UK and Norway who chose to stay out of this Union of Selective Convenience. Germany is being punished to bankroll the ailing economies of Greece and others. I wonder whether my dear country Singapore will be able to do such sacrifice, given its limited resources both in brawn and brain. Oops did I say brain, may be I might be wrong, since it has the brain to manage the region, nay the whole of Asia, with its sustained policy of drawing in the best brains of the world.
Coming to think of this integration, my thoughts are on the fate of Islam and Muslims in this jigsaw puzzle which the leaders are trying to conjure up. The spike in anti-Muslim violence in Myanmar and the situation of Muslims in Thailand and the Philippines call into question the benefit of such integration and the social stratification of Muslims in that equation. Experience and experiment in Singapore do not augur well for Muslims who have been systematically sidelined through policy of selective victimization under the pretext of meritocratic marginalization while showcasing to the world of its managed integration.
Integration must be carried out after a thorough scrutiny on the strength and weakness of each member country. Given the current socio-economic situation of Muslims in Asean, the time is not ripe for such a noble idea to come into fruition. If the integration is allowed to take effect then countries like Singapore will buy over the region with its financial clout and strength leaving others in a perpetual quandary of living with piranha. It is better for Singapore to stand alone like Switzerland or Sweden. It can continue to function as the safe haven for the regional swindlers to hide their ill-gotten wealth, same like Switzerland.
READ: ASEAN INTEGRATION