What are Regional Relations? The forming of associations with countries within a specific region Involves the combination of strengths of member countries, to allow association to become stronger Examples: European Union (EU) South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)
Singapore’s Participation Example 1: Singapore Cooperation Programme
Singapore offers scholarships to ASEAN students under (SCP)
Allow students from any other ASEAN countries to study courses offered in local universities
Foreign students return back to their country to contribute to its development after completing their studies
Singapore’s Participation Example 2: ASEAN Committee on Women
Fifth ASEAN Committee on Women (ACW) Meeting hosted at Orchard Hotel, Singapore.
Singapore Minister of State for Community Development emphasised that all women should have access to resources and opportunities so that they could participate in and benefit from the country’s development.
Prioritised advancement of women in respective countries and discussed ways to strengthen regional cooperation.
Singapore’s Participation Example 3: Singapore-ASEAN Youth Fund
SGD$5 million fund contributed to funding joint youth activities in the ASEAN region over a five-year period till 2011.
Initiated by Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports.
Created to promote ASEAN youth interaction and develop ASEAN youths through participation in ASEAN youth projects.
Aims to foster ASEAN unity in ASEAN youths and promote greater awareness of ASEAN internationally.
Contributes to greater understanding and closer ties within the ASEAN community.
Benefits of Regional Relations Political
Combines strength to put member countries in better positions when dealing with other countries or associations
Association provides avenue for countries to resolve conflicts and disputes peacefully
Development of arts policies and cultural industries made possible in Singapore under cultural hegemony between ASEAN countries
Singapore plays the role of the cultural hub among the ASEAN countries
Maintains warm and friendly relations with member countries
Member countries can provide support in times of need
Benefits of Regional Relations Economical
Gives Singapore a role to play in maintaining regional peace and promoting economic development
AFTA allows our country to remain economically vibrant even when facing inte intense competition from economic powers
Import taxes among Southeast Asian countries are removed
National Interests Security Terrorism is a threat to Singapore as it is to all civilised countries. The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is a particular threat to a small country like Singapore where a single chemical or biological attack will have a catastrophic effect on the entire nation, as well as our neighbouring countries. Henceforth, we need to work closely in collaboration with countries around and surrounding us to prevent against the occurrence of external threats
Resources As a nation with limited land area and resources, there is a need to import resources from surrounding countries for a continuous supply. Eg. Singapore has since signed four agreements with Malaysia to regulate water supply. Forging close relations with these countires can aid in trade and negotiation in attaining the resources we require National Interests
Great powers Singapore has for many years emphasised the importance of the US in providing the stability that is the irreplaceable foundation of Asia-Pacific growth since the end of the Second World War. A small country like Singapore can survive and prosper only when there is a stable balance of power. And the US is an irreplaceable part of any regional or international balance. However, self-reliance must also be ensured to escape possible domination or manipulation from these great powers. Thus, regional relations plays an important part in combining strengths to combat forced policies or decisions. National Interests
Why is it more beneficial than other forms of relations? Bilateral Relations
Although bilateral relations can further promote political, economic and cultural ties with neighbouring countries, it remains as a relation only between two countries.
It cannot provide strong support in terms of economical and military aid in times of crisis
Appears as less beneficial as compared to the many gains a country can attain in receiving help from member countries in regional relations
Does not help to maintain or improve terms with other countries
Though as a member of UN, Singapore does not appear to have benefited much from it. The membership only allowed Singapore to gain recognition as a sovereign state, but did not help in fostering relationships with other countries
Economic experts initially sent to Singapore by UN only assisted in its development till late 1970s. Singapore was left to fend for its own economy after that.
Regional relations would naturally react quicker to a country’s needs in times of crisis, as less members would indicate a faster response to agreements. Furthermore, international relations such as UN has too many members, thus it may easily neglect one member’s need and cannot efficiently help to solve its problem.
Why is it more beneficial than other forms of relations?