Bangkok – The Association of Southeast Asian Nations has reached a decision to refrain from admitting East Timor to the regional grouping within the year, it was learned Saturday from ASEAN diplomatic sources.
Amid the 50th anniversary this year of the bloc's founding, there have been repeated discussions on whether or not to let East Timor join as its 11th member.
The former Portuguese colony submitted an application for membership in 2011, but some members have been cool to the idea. Singapore, for example, has voiced concern over the country's lack of human resource capability to cope with the large number of ASEAN meetings.
A feasibility study to assess the country's readiness to join the organization in the areas of its politics and security, economy, and social issues has been completed and the findings are being studied by high-level officials.
Despite receiving oil and gas revenues since 2005, it remains one of the world's poorest countries, with a yawning economic gap with ASEAN member countries.
There had been a possibility of East Timor's membership being put on the agenda of the grouping's summit in November. East Timor Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri recently confirmed that he will attend the ASEAN Summit in the Philippines as an observer.