Official's remarks indicate danger of  ASEAN becoming "elitist."
PETER'S NEW YORK, August 7, 2007---An official from a member country of ASEAN, the loose federation of southeast Asian nations, indirectly warned in an interview that ASEAN had the potential of being taken over by what he called "elites."

"It (ASEAN) should not be just the monopoly or the preserve of the elites, the diplomats, of political leaders, even some journalists and academics doing some research and writing, or even businesspeople," said Thailand's foreign secretary, Surin Pitsuwan. Pitsuwan will become the group's next general secretary.

Pitsuwan may have been reacting to an article by Natalia M.L.M Morales, vice president of the Philippine Council for Foreign Relations, who said only a week ago that 
"A regional community demands a higher level and quality of interaction that may not initially involve the common man. ASEAN is definitely understood and appreciated by political leaders and the economic elite who have the means to benefit from the regional process. The 'trickle down' effect to the community could come later."

Councils on foreign relations around the world generally appeal exclusively to elites such as the ones described by Pitsuwan, taking their cue from The Council on Foreign Relations in New York City, which acts as a sort of "mother ship" among a flotilla of national "councils." Pitsuwan's remarks could mean that attempts to reshape ASEAN as meta-national politcal body run by "elites" or "council babies" such as Morales, will meet resistance from populists like Pitsuwan.

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