Blackbox Briefings

Southeast Asians Positive About ASEAN But Want To See Faster Pace In The Future

A survey conducted by Singapore-based independent research consultancy, Blackbox Research, to coincide with ASEAN’s 50th anniversary, reveals that 78% of Southeast Asians have a positive view of ASEAN.

In the first major public survey of citizens conducted across all ten ASEAN nations, findings show that while most Southeast Asians are both positive and optimistic about ASEAN and its future, nearly 3 in 4 (74%) believe ASEAN’s future development should be faster than it has been to date.

The survey of 3040 adults (aged 18 and over) was conducted across the region in October 2017.

Some of the key findings include:

  • 78% have a positive view of ASEAN. The most positive are citizens in Laos (88%) while the least positive are Singaporeans (59%).
  • Just under half (47%) believe ASEAN has achieved major success in its first 50 years while 39% only think it has been a minor success. Indonesians and Myanmar citizens are most likely to view ASEAN as a major success (65%) while Singaporeans are the least likely (only 26%).
  • 54% of respondents view ASEAN primarily as an economic association while 20% view it first and foremost as a political association.
  • Southeast Asians in describing ASEAN are more likely to use the word ‘hope’ (63%) than ‘trust’ (49%) or ‘enthusiasm’ (33%).
  • Only 26% believe that ASEAN should continue with its current pace of development moving forwards, while 53% said it should move ‘a little faster today’ and 21% said it should move ‘much faster than today’.
  • 88% would support eventual full economic integration between ASEAN countries while 68% would even support a regional currency in the future.

Commenting on the findings, Blackbox owner and Managing Director David Black said, “The findings show that perceptions often differ between Southeast Asian nations on specific topics and issues relating to ASEAN. This reflects the diversity in the region. It is clear, however, that Southeast Asians are firmly behind ASEAN and if anything, want to see more ambition from it. The results also show that even after 50 years, ASEAN is still viewed more in terms of its potential and what it promises rather than on any specific achievements.”

Major Global Powers

The study also examined perceptions about the two major global powers (China and the US) and their influence in the region. Although Southeast Asians are largely positive about both countries, they are four times more likely to see strong ties with China as a key ASEAN priority rather than the US (17% to 4%). More than half (55%) of those surveyed also view the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as an opportunity rather than a threat to ASEAN.

Select charts can be found appended and the full findings of the study will be published in a public report in December 2017.

Perception of ASEAN Citizens – Preliminary Highlights

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