Beyond Readiness: Rethinking Timor-Leste’s ASEAN Membership
Ariel Mota Alves Department of Political Science - St. Olaf College, USA
Using the Narrative of Readiness set forth by Seixas, Mendes, and Lopes (2019), this entry asks that the debate on Timor-Leste ASEAN membership should be examined more sophisticatedly, beyond readiness. The focus on readiness, while infuriatingly dominates the conversation, fails to account for the centrality of ASEAN as a regional organization and its distinct approach to leadership and cooperation. The debate reveals ways in which pundits essentialize sovereign transfer, political unification, and functionality of ASEAN to make their verdicts -- characteristics that do not quite capture "the ASEAN way" of doing regionalism. Nevertheless, this failure is part of a larger conversation that needs to be addressed: the narrow, sometimes naiveté, inquiry to regionalism using primordial theoretical traditions and Eurocentrism has clouded the judgment of the so-called agents of public opinions, who dominate the platform through their writings. Their opinions ultimately find their way to shape important decision makings. They act as whisperers to policymakers and may or may not influence ASEAN heads of states to decide on the fate of Timor-Leste.