by President J. Ramos-Horta, Timor-Leste.

Our desire to join ASEAN is a long-standing one and in the last 10 years we have shown unequivocal determination to join the organisation.

Geographically, we are very much part of Southeast Asia. Indonesia has shown statesmanship, vision and a real sense of history by being among those who are most strongly advocating for Timor-Leste’s early membership — as early as this year.

Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Brunei, The Philippines, Cambodia and Myanmar have expressed public support. When I visited Cambodia a few weeks ago, I was told by Prime Minister Hun Sen that in preparation for Cambodia’s 2012 chairmanship of ASEAN, they are already making additional arrangements to accommodate Timor-Leste as the 11th member. Prime Minister Hun Sen said in his usual straightforward way: ‘If Indonesia is so supportive of Timor-Leste joining ASEAN now, why should any of us object?’ Even Myanmar has expressed support for an early membership in spite of our criticisms of the regime’s human rights record. But Singapore, while agreeing with Timor-Leste’s ASEAN membership, objects to early membership as, it argues, Timor-Leste is not yet ready to absorb the many challenges and complexities of ASEAN membership. Below I argue why Timor-Leste is ready to join ASEAN.

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Additional information:
An excellent opinion piece on ASEAN’s vital role: