Surin Pitsuwan: “English as Common Language will be Most Benefit for ASEAN Countries”


Former Secretary-General of ASEAN (Association of South East Asia Nations), Prof. Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, said that one of the important things for ASEAN Integration by 2015 is common language usage. According to Pitsuwan of Thailand, as keynote address in an International Symposium on “Regionalization of Education? The Implications of the 2015 ASEAN Integration” organized by GSID (Graduate School of International Development) at Nagoya University, Japan, on February 22, 2014, English as common language for ASEAN countries is most benefit and very important.

Attending in the Symposium is also the representative of ASEAN countries as Panelist in the Discussion on “Citizenship Education and Education for ASEANness in ASEAN Countries”. The Panelists are: (1) Dr. Sallimah Salleh, senior lecturer, University of Brunei Darussalam; (2) Mr. Seng Sary, lecturer, Mean Chey University, Cambodia; (3) Mr. Andi Suwirta, lecturer, Indonesia University of Education; (4) Ms. Souphany Heuangkeo, officer, Ministry of Public Works and Transport, Lao; (5) Dr. Kumaraguru Ramayah, lecturer, Technology University of Malaysia; (6) Dr. Jerrick C. Ferrer, lecturer, Philippine Normal University; (7) Dr. Sim Boon Yee Jasmine, lecturer, National Institute of Education, Singapore; (8) Dr. Sumlee Thongthew, lecturer, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand; and (9) Mr. Gian Tu Trung, president, Institute for Research on Educational Development, Vietnam. Unfortunately, the representative from Myanmar unable attend due to the internal problems.

asean.delegates.2014Before Symposium, previous two days, on February 20-21, 2014, GSID Nagoya University has also organized the Workshop on “Citizenship Education and Education for ASEANness in ASEAN Countries”. In the Workshop, every ASEAN countries presented the working paper as research findings about responding the students and education experts, via Questionnaire and Delphi Survey, toward the Citizenship Education and Education for ASEANness in ASEAN Countries.

Meanwhile, Andi Suwirta, also as Chairperson of ASPENSI (Association of Indonesian Scholars of History Education) in Bandung, has presented the working paper entitled “Citizenship Education in Indonesia”. The paper is jointly authorship with Assoc. Prof. Dr. Mina Hattori of Nagoya University, Japan; Dr. Yuki Nakata of Toyo University, Japan; and Ms. Sri Redjeki Rosdianti, teacher at SMP (Junior High School) Lab-school UPI Bandung, Indonesia.

sri.asean.2014Sri Redjeki Rosdianti, also as Treasurer of ASPENSI and teacher of Social Studies Education at SMKN (Public Vocational High School) 9 in Bandung, said that the workshop is very interesting due to more information related to teaching-learning process of citizenship education from ASEAN countries. Sri, accompanied by graduate student of Japan, also visited the SMP Lab-school at Nagoya University.

In an International Symposium, Andi Suwirta has presented the Power Points entitled “The Impact of ASEAN Integration on Education: An Indonesian Perspective”. Following is his ideas and opinions related to issue of “Regionalization of Education? The Implications of the 2015 ASEAN Integration”.

For Indonesian people, it is clear that ASEAN Integration by 2015 is “hard fact”. It means that we, Indonesian people, are ready to receive and to agree this social and political realities. ASEAN Integration, in which concerning on three pillars, namely: political stability and security, economic growth and prosperity, and social and cultural development will, however, affect and impact on our life (Indonesian people).

Because of that, Indonesian people, especially the younger generation, should be change in the mindset. In the development program orientation, for example, Western or Global orientation is important, but the Regional (ASEANness) orientation is also very important. Indonesian government and people should learn more to Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, and in fact Brunei Darussalam that empowering the human resources quality through development program priority in education and health is drivingforces to become the developed nation.

Meanwhile, educational program development based on the national-interest is very important; but let’s we also aware and to change our mindset that educational program based on regional (ASEANness)-interest is also important and relevant.

It is important to note here that, based on the research findings, Indonesian students from primary and secondary education, even to tertiary education, know less about the ASEAN countries, especially continental ASEAN countries. So, as we recommended in working paper, that the content of ASEAN countries in subjects such as Citizenship Education, Social Studies, History and Geography education should be elaborated or be expanded so that Indonesian students know more about other nation-states in the ASEAN countries.

Reason for knowing more about ASEAN countries, to Indonesian people, is based on the fact that according to historical sources, Indonesian ancestor, namely Austronesian people, came from Yunan, the area surrounding to Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. We as Indonesian people always claimed that “our ancestor was sailor”. So, let’s we aware and know more not only nearest countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei Darussalam, and the Philippines in Malay archipelago (Nusantara), but also should know more, due to based on historical fact, that Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, and Myanmar people are our brother, origin ancestor, for Indonesian people.

Another research findings for Indonesian students, related to ASEANness education, is low ability in English as an International language. Off course, Indonesia and Malay languages, estimated used by more than 300 millions people in ASEAN countries, is very important for Indonesian people. But Indonesia language cannot be understood by the people of Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Lao, Myanmar, and in fact the Philippines. Accordingly, upgrading the ability and competency in English as an International language is very necessary for Indonesian students.

Probabely not only English but also other ASEAN countries languages should be learned by Indonesian students. At least they should know about language usage in everyday life, such as what does it mean about “terima kasih” (thank you), “apa kabar” (how are you), or “selamat datang” (welcome) in Thai, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Philipino (Tagalog) languages.

Indonesia has actually been having a good experiences in implementing the democracy, freedom in expression, especially in mass media, in managing diversity in unity (Bhinneka Tunggal Ika). We have more than 250 millions people, more than 250 ethnics and local languages, and all great religions in the world lived in Indonesia: Hindu, Buddha, Islam, Catholic, Protestant, and Confucianism. We are really different, but we are as One Motherland, One Nation, and One Language, namely: INDONESIA.

Since 1998, Indonesian people entered to new era with Reform agendas, such as Democracy, Human Rights, Transparency, Openness, and so on. But don’t worry brothers, that Indonesian people will not EXPORT about the Reform agendas. On the contrary, Indonesian people will still IMPORT about the rices from Thailand and Vietnam; and Indonesian people also will still IMPORT from Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei Darussalam about knowledge and ability on how to manage and to maintenance the good infrastructure development.

Finally, I think that under the ASEAN Integration by 2015, we can learn and respect each other. And I belief that under the ASEAN Integration, the hopes and ideals of our Founding Fathers that Indonesia will be progress, prosperity, and freedom will be achieved together with brothers in ASEAN countries.

Thank you and wassalam (peace and prosperity be upon you).

Nagoya, 23th February 2014

Panelist of Indonesia,



  1. Dear, all my colleagues of ASEAN countries. I have forgotten the full address of Ms. Souphany Heuangkeo, officer, Ministry of Public Works and Transport, Lao PDR (People Democracy Republic). Please inform me about her address. I will send you the journal print via post to your office address. TQ and best regards: Andi SUWIRTA of Bandung, Indonesia.


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