7 Asian Leaders: Mahathir Mohamad, Junichiro Koizumi, Gloria Macapagal - Arroyo, Goh Chok Tong, Megawati Sukarnoputri, Phan Van Khai, Bounnhang Vorachith. Speak on Economics, Trade and Terrorism.
Just a little over five decades ago all but Thailand among the ten nations that comprised the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) were colonised, impeding their economic and political development. The colonial powers exploited the natural resources of the region for their own gain, retarding industrialisation, advanced education and any cooperative efforts to develop mutual trade and infrastructure. After independence internal and external conflicts such as border disputes, the Vietnam war, the Indonesian-Malaysian Confrontation, the separation of Singapore from Malaysia, the breakup of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Malaysia, and the Khmer Rouge holocaust, followed by Vietnam's liberation and immediate occupation of Cambodia, robbed these countries of any opportunity to form an association that would help them speed reconstruction, cooperation and regional friendship.
Not until 1974, when the first five member countries formed Asean, was there a beginning for regional unity. By November 2002, the occasion of the 8th Asean Summit, all ten nations in the region were members and a number of cooperative economic efforts had been forged, including plans to develop road and rail links aimed at leapfrogging regional cooperative development. On the eve of the summit, held in Cambodia - the last nation to join Asean - seven leaders of the region voiced their views in interviews with the editors of The Cambodia Daily on such issues as poverty reduction, women empowerment, competition from China, human rights, "Asian values", impact of the Internet, threats from terrorism, the responsibility of the richer nations others' affairs.
This book focuses on the issues facing these ten Southeast nations and how their leaders assess the problems, solutions and the new direction Asean is moving in uncertain times.