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Society, Monthly Spotlight

ASEAN Turns 50: Charting Priorities Ahead

With Singapore assuming the rotating chairmanship of ASEAN this year, leaders of the member states have been actively discussing the regional grouping’s priorities and challenges.

In late 2017, Blackbox conducted a survey across all ten countries to understand how people in Southeast Asia feel about ASEAN, its impact on their lives as well as its future development and progress. The study also coincided with ASEAN’s 50th anniversary.

Whilst 86% of Southeast Asians would describe ASEAN as being a success in its first 50 years, less than half (47%) would say it has been a ‘major success’. Looking into the future, 74% believe that ASEAN needs to move faster than it is today.

Key priorities on the wish list of ASEAN citizens include economic growth (72%), defence and security (48%) and free trade (36%). Despite Singapore’s focus on the digital economy and e-commerce as it takes on chairmanship, the new industry sector is not necessarily something that people in Southeast Asia yet associate with ASEAN (7%).

As ASEAN begins its next 50 years, it is clear that those in the region still believe very much in its promise. Nearly all (88%) are optimistic that ASEAN will become more important to people in the region in the future.

Should you be interested in obtaining more extensive data and/or other detailed breakouts, please contact Yuling at