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A Partnership For The Future: ASEAN-Australia Ties After The First 50 Years

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The Institute of Diplomacy and Foreign Relations (IDFR) in collaboration with the Australian High Commission was honoured to host a report launch titled: “A Partnership For The Future: ASEAN-Australia Ties After The First 50 Years” at IDFR’s Auditorium on Tuesday, 11 June 2024. The event was attended by 120 officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and other government agencies, foreign embassies, corporate organisations, as well as members of the academia and think tanks.

The report entitled “Comprehensive Strategic Partners: Australia and ASEAN after the first 50 years” reflects on ASEAN-Australia relationship since Australia became ASEAN’s first Dialogue Partner in 1974, through the establishment of the ASEAN-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in 2021 and the celebration of 50 years of ASEAN-Australia ties in 2024.

The event commenced with a welcoming speech by H.E. Ambassador Sarimah Akbar, Director of Management Services Division IDFR and opening remarks delivered by H.E. Ms Danielle Heinecke, Australia’s High Commissioner to Malaysia.

The event continued with presentations by two of the co-authors of the report, Professor Nicholas Farrelly (University of Tasmania and Australia-ASEAN Council Board Member) and Dr Lina Alexandra (Centre for Strategic and International Studies Jakarta) took the stage for their presentations. Professor Nicholas shed light on how the relationship between ASEAN and Australia evolved and strengthened in the last 50 years. He continued by exploring potential areas of future cooperation. With emerging challenges, Dr Lina emphasised that ASEAN should take a firm stand on “ASEAN Centrality” and lead the way in strengthening cooperation with middle powers. Transparency, functional cooperation with AUKUS and Quad as well as people-to-people relations are some of the key points underscored by Dr Lina as to how the ASEAN-Australia relations should move forward.

The session was followed by responses from a panel of two Malaysian experts namely Mr Thomas Daniel (Institute of Strategic and International Studies Malaysia) and Dr Nur Shahadah Jamil (Universiti Malaya). Mr Thomas pointed out that the recommendations for an integrated ASEAN-Australia youth model and assisting Timor-Leste’s full membership in ASEAN are critical to fuel the ASEAN-Australia relationship in the future. He also emphasised that Australia needs to be delicate in dealing with ASEAN Member States given the different approaches and views on major power rivalry and issues such as the crisis in Myanmar and the South China Sea, which could be addressed without constraints via Track 1.5 and Track 2 platforms. Dr Shahadah continued by commending the report for being balanced as it not only emphasised on the achievements in the past decades but also the current realities that the region is facing. She emphasised on three interesting “realities” mentioned in the report, which are the proximity of Australia to Southeast Asia which set itself apart from other Dialogue Partners; the nature of multifaceted and multilayered ASEAN-Australia relations; and the division within ASEAN at its preferences of approach and varying national interests.

The report launch was then wrapped up with an engaging Q&A session with the audience followed by light refreshments and networking sessions with the speakers.

  AAT50 1  AAT50 2  AAT50 3

 

Prepared by:
Ms. Hanun Insyirah Ishak and Ms. Aida Yasmin Azhar
Centre for Political Studies and Economic Diplomacy (PSED)

 

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