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uni'wissen 02-2015_ENG

scope, as Rüland says. The association aims to create a common market by the end of 2015. “ Although this will have a direct impact on the people, for instance with regard to the job situation or the development of competition for small and family-owned businesses, they have practically no say in the matter.” But the pressure from the populace is rising, and the keyword is empowerment. The people are beginning to articulate their interests and demand their say in political processes. The number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and interest groups is on the rise in Southeast Asia. But their work is difficult, says Rüland. Meetings between ASEAN functionaries and representatives from NGOs last no longer than 30 minutes and consist of a statement read by a third party. Moreover, the NGOs aren’t allowed to elect their own representatives. “The pressure from below is there and it’s real, but the extent of its success is questionable at the moment.” Rüland visits the region regularly and seeks direct contact with the actors from societal groups. Field research is a key component of his complex mix of methods. ASEAN representatives are also important dialogue partners for him, for instance officials from the foreign ministries of the member states or the departments that serve as interfaces between the organization and the people of the individual countries. Since ASEAN’s high function- aries speak a language that is driven by interests and designed to project a certain image, however, it is essential to consult additional sources that present alternative points of view. In addition to the interviews with experts, Rüland analyzes various written sources, such as websites, blogs, newspapers, official documents, and specialist literature. In this way, he compares data and facts and puts them into perspective. Rüland contradicts the common view among researchers that regional organizations around the world are growing more similar to the EU. With regard to terminology, ASEAN has many institutions modeled on Europe. In 2007, for instance, the organization passed a charter in which all of the member states pledged to uphold democracy, the rule of law, and human rights. In the same year, the regional parliament, which had been founded at the end of the 1970s, was subject to a formal reform. By renaming it, the authorities hoped make it appear more demo- cratic – as a reaction to the growing international “The parliament is essentially a facade.” The member states of ASEAN: Jürgen Rüland visits the region regularly and interviews representatives of the organization and actors from local non-governmental organizations. Photo: kameonline/Fotolia 1. Thailand 2. Myanmar 3. Laos 4. Vietnam 5. Cambodia 6. Malaysia 7. Brunei 8. Singapore 9. Philippines 10. Indonesia ASEAN Association of Southeast Asian Nations 26