The (Re-)Emergence of State Racism on the Eve of Regional Integration in Southeast Asia: A Survey of Five Countries

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Up to the eve of the unveiling of ASEAN Regional Integration in 2015, cases of ethnic and racial discrimination have been reported within ASEAN member countries, with the persecution of the Rohingya of Myanmar being just one of many. This study is a preliminary look at how negative race and ethnic relations between ASEAN nationals have not abated, coloring their view of regional integration. It looks at how race relations between ASEAN member countries have developed alongside the creation of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Blueprint in 2007 up to the present. Based on a review of the structure of the ASEAN and a tally of racial conflicts within five Southeast Asian countries, we offer two observations. First, the situation in Southeast Asia parallels the growth of an anti-regionalist sentiment in Europe due to supposed violations of national sovereignty. Second, and perhaps more importantly, due to the fraught histories and conditions of nation-state consolidation experienced by the ASEAN member countries, they do not fit in the scheme of cross-national integration as framed by the ASEAN itself.