The Bangkok Declaration and the birth of Asean (video)

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As Thailand prepares to take over the Asean Chair for its 52nd year, state-owned broadcaster NBT World is digging through the archives to highlight Thailand’s not inconsiderable role in the establishment and direction of Asean.

Episode one, The Birth of Asean, focus on how an unofficial talk between then Thai foreign minister Thanat Khoman and leaders from Malaysia and the Philippines in Bang Saen district Chonburi Province led to the signing of the Bangkok Declaration, also known as the Asean Declaration, on August 8, 1967.

Captured in black and white movie film and photographs of the era, The Birth of Asean provides a very brief glimpse of Asean’s founding fathers — Indonesian foreign minister Adam Malik; Malaysian deputy prime minister Abdul Razak Hussein; Philippine foreign affairs secretary Narciso Ramos; Singaporean foreign minister S. Rajaratnam; and Thailand foreign minister Thanat Khoman — as they gather for the historic signing.

The Birth of Asean notes the joining by Brunei Durussalam on January 8, 1984, followed by Vietnam on July 28, 1995, Laos and Myanmar on July 23, 1997, followed by Cambodia on April 30, 1999.

The Asean Declaration states that the aims and purposes of the Association are:

  1. to accelerate the economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region through joint endeavours in the spirit of equality and partnership in order to strengthen the foundation for a prosperous and peaceful community of Southeast Asian nations
  2. to promote regional peace and stability through abiding respect for justice and the rule of law in the relationship among countries in the region and adherence to the principles of the United Nations Charter.

At the First Asean Summit, held on February 24, 1976, the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) in Southeast Asia signed by the five Asean member states and subscribed to by those joining subsequently, declared that in their relations with one another, the ‘High Contracting Parties’ should be guided by the following fundamental principles:

  • Mutual respect for the independence, sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity, and national identity of all nations;
  • The right of every State to lead its national existence free from external interference, subversion, or coercion;
  • Non-interference in the internal affairs of one another;
  • Settlement of differences or disputes by peaceful manner;
  • Renunciation of the threat or use of force; and
  • Effective cooperation among themselves.

The TAC also stated that ‘Asean political and security dialogue and cooperation should aim to promote regional peace and stability by enhancing regional resilience.

Regional resilience shall be achieved by cooperating in all fields based on the principles of self-confidence, self-reliance, mutual respect, cooperation, and solidarity, which shall constitute the foundation for a strong and viable community of nations in Southeast Asia’.



Feature video NBT WORLD




  • Thanat Khoman, Thai Statesman and Co-Founder of Asian Alliance, Dies at 101 (The New York Times)
  • Malaysian Prime Minister list_Abdul Razak is the sixth and current Prime Minister (Active Knowledge)
  • Narciso Ramos (Wikipedia)
  • Who were ASEAN’s 5 founding fathers? (Rapler)



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John Le Fevre

Thailand editor at AEC News Today

John is an Australian national with more than 40 years experience as a journalist, photographer, videographer, and copy editor.

He has spent extensive periods of time working in Africa and throughout Southeast Asia, with stints in the Middle East, the USA, and England.

He has covered major world events including Operation Desert Shield/ Storm, the 1991 pillage in Zaire, the 1994 Rwanda genocide, the 1999 East Timor independence unrest, the 2004 Asian tsunami, and the 2009, 2010, and 2014 Bangkok political protests.

In 1995 he was a Walkley Award finalist, the highest awards in Australian journalism, for his coverage of the 1995 Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) Ebola outbreak.

Prior to AEC News Today he was the deputy editor and Thailand and Greater Mekong Sub-region editor for The Establishment Post, predecessor of Asean Today.

In the mid-80s and early 90s he owned JLF Promotions, the largest above and below the line marketing and PR firm servicing the high-technology industry in Australia. It was sold in 1995.

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