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Why Singapore Rocks

Carol Cooper, Crawdaddy!, September 2000

As an acronym, the term A.S.E.A.N. has become the name of a small regional trade & tourism organization known as the "Association of South East Asian Nations." Not all of the nations in the greater south east asian region have joined (India, for example, most conspicuously absent), but the current membership includes: Indonesia, Cambodia, Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, The Phillipeans, Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand. There remains, however, a larger concept of the term "Asean", which embraces a sense of shared destiny and multicultural imperatives among these various emerging economies. Particularly when it comes to their globally-aware youth cultures. Historically distinct as these nations are, grouping them together for mutual benefit is no more unlikely than the mutual interests that make NATO possible. 

To the extent that various ethnicities of Chinese, Malay, Indian, Eurasian, Aboriginal and Pacific Islander origin are splayed over the whole "south east asian" region, there is an awareness of an inherent multiculturalism within these nations which makes them "modern" in the same way — if not the same flavor — as America is "modern". It is this pluralistic sense of modernity that unites them most. Therefore if a Chinese-dominant immigrant nation like Singapore can be "Asean," then certainly the dynamic and diverse (island?) cultures of Taiwan and Hong Kong can be seen as "Asean" in spirit if not precisely in geopolitical reality. Such an expanded notion of "Asean" as both a regional and a socio-cultural term couldn't help but factor-in the pop-cultural influence of such places, even to the point of reaching to embrace a huge Pacific Rim dynamo like Japan.

Total word count of piece: 4117


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