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A Puzzle without the Jigsaw: Connectivity as a Metaphor in the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity and the Philippines RORO


Lorna Q. Israel
MA Philippines Studies Asian Center, University of the Philippines

Prof. Edgardo Dagdag

In fulfillment of the final requirement for PS 201 (Philippines in Asia and the Pacific)

23 April 2012

Abstract: Metaphors are problem-setting tools, which can facilitate the direction and outcome of a policy. A policy is formulated from stories on a problematic situation and highlight what that policy would have to solve. These stories are sources of metaphors, which can be examined to determine the appropriateness of the metaphor and by extension the appropriateness of the policy.
The ASEAN Master Plan on Connectivity was borne out of stories about its situation as a fragmented market whose touted solution is connectivity. These stories seem convinced about connectivity but quite uncertain about its actualization. Such uncertainty is visually represented by the puzzle pieces in the Master Plan. The puzzle pieces, however, neither conforms nor follows a complete image to be assembled. What emerges as the underlying metaphor of the puzzle is that of a jigsaw. The Philippines RO-RO policy is promoted as an example of how ASEAN could undertake the jigsaw approach, which basically entails cutting and streamlining regulatory procedures perceived as barriers to economic globalization in the region.

Keywords: metaphor, connectivity, ASEAN, Philippines RO-RO, puzzle, jigsaw


--------------1. Introduction: The Imperative of Metaphor 2. Connectivity as a Metaphor 3. ASEAN and the Metaphorical Imperative of Connectivity 4. Story and the Analytical Imperative of Metaphor 5. Four Selected Stories about Connectivity and the ASEAN 6. Connectivity Stories and the Master Plan 7. Jigsaw Approach to Connectivity 2-3 4-7 7-11 11-12 13-20 21-25 25-29

List of Figures Figure 1: Dimensions of Connects and Disconnects Figure 2: Cover Page, Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity Figure 3: Interaction between ASEAN Connectivity and ASEAN Community Figure 4: Vision and Goals of ASEAN Connectivity 6 21 27 28




The Imperative of Metaphor

--------------------------In a world assumed as complex, a policy cannot be expected to yield definite and tangible outcomes based on facts alone. Facets in the real world, the real world itself, are highly ambivalent, which can generate multiple choices and necessitate a structure from which one can manipulate and manage probabilities (Bauman, 1991). One such structure is metaphor whose function is to make convenient the framing of the problem, which a policy seeks to address.

For Schn (1979) reality is usually described in metaphorical terms, which can facilitate drawing out inferences, setting goals, making commitments, and making plans. He adds that often times the framing of the problem becomes the problemwhen analyzed in metaphorical schemes. As an example, he investigated the case of slum housing whose underlying metaphor is that of a blight or disease. Thus, the policy approach corresponded to a set of medical remedies, including the removal of the disease through surgery. If the slums underlying metaphor is that of a natural community, it might have directed the policy response into life enhancing programs for that community.

Lakoff and Johnson (2005) emphasize the relevance of metaphors in shaping a new social and political reality. They characterize the essence of metaphor as having the ability to make us understand and experience something new in another term. That something is created by emphasizing certain features of a concept while de-emphasizing other aspects, and by building around very specific aspects of a concept. Metaphors can acquire the status of truth because they can be used to sanction actions, justify inferences, and help set goals.

From the perspective of metaphor studies, a metaphor is a cognitive device used in creating a new and mental models of a product category or an emerging market (Teichert, et.al, 2006).

For Barret and Cooperrider (1999), a metaphor is an invitation to see the world anew. To expedite imagining the world as globalized, politicians, corporations and the media are using connectivity as the easy shorthand for such a world (Tomlinson, 2007). Kellner and Pierce (2007) likewise note that it is common among the globophiles (pro-globalization) to use connectivity because it provides them with a broad picture by which one could imagine the link to the global market. There is even a proposal to replace the term global with connectivity due to the internets grand connectivity and the prediction that it will be an unstoppable presence (Green, 2009).

Tomlinson (1999) advises prudence in applying connectivity in a world presumed to be connected by globalization. This is because he finds globalization as an extraordinarily prolific term. As such, it easily generates speculations, hypothesis, powerful social images and metaphors that may not be found within bare social facts. In such a speculative or hypothetical situation, connectivity is liable to become a trivial term if it is not subjected to elaboration and interpretation.

2. Connectivity as a Metaphor

-------------------------------Angwin and Vaara (2005) contend that connectivity had replaced culture, which used to highlight the notion of being connected, particularly in organizations that operated in a multi-cultural setting. Rather than enriched appreciation of connectivity between organizations and their context, analyses ended up underscoring differences and polarities. They thus define connectivity as a metaphor that highlights the complexities, interconnected processes and synchronized activities in organizations and their contexts. They emphasize that connectivity calls attention to issues of coordination, interdependencies, linkages, and power, which might be overlooked due to preoccupation with cultural differences.

Kolb (2008) supports Angwin and Vaaras view and proposes connectivity as a new and useful metaphor to explain organizational interactions. He defines connectivity as the: mechanisms, processes, systems and relationships that link individuals and collectives by facilitating material, informational, and social exchange. It includes geo-physical, technological, social interactions and artefacts, shared histories, travel, trade, migration and other social activities.

He thinks that it is a misinterpretation to equate technological connectivity with increased cultural and social connectivity. Technical connectivity is just one dimension of connectivity. Connectivity can encompass geo-physical, interpersonal, group, organizational, networks, economic, cultural, political, and philosophical realms. Being connected is different from connectivity. For Kolb, the difference is fundamental: being connected refers to an established condition (past tense) while connectivity serves to connect (present tense) with options for the future.

Aware that connectivity is generally associated with a technical system such as a telecommunication device and how it has conjured up a range of meanings and applications, Kolb endeavors to show what makes connectivity a metaphor and its applicability to social phenomena. He ascribes four attributes to the connectivity metaphor:
1. latent potentiality: can mean past quality, present condition, something that can happen in the future or all of these three. Depending on the needs or wishes of social actors, connectivity can be brought metaphorically from the background to the foreground.

2. actor agency: related to the first, the metaphor of connectivity can be used or not by the actor involved. Connective options may be available but one has the option to use or not to use them.

3. temporal intermittency: technical connectivity temporarily breaks down, changes, or avoided in deference to the different time zone of the other party.

4. unknowable pervasiveness: with so many potential links, one can never know all the real or potential links. One will also not know if the situation is one of connection or disconnection. Uncertainty and accidents will inevitably happen,

which can shock us because we cannot see all the implications that may be generated from many and varying connections.

Evident in Kolbs discussion is the dual nature of connectivity: it may connect or it may not. Despite its apparent pervasiveness or ubiquity, parties may opt to use or not to use it. Calling it connectivitys theoretical duality, Kolb maintains that disconnect is a real possibility within the realm of connectivity, that connectivity, in fact, is triggered by a sense of disconnect. For instance, smooth and reliable internet connectivity can be disconnected by technical shortcomings but these gaps only become remarkable because the user had a prior experience of a fast and reliable connection. Communication within groups or collectives may

be facilitated by the latest devices and gadgets but lack of trust on the leadership may impede a smooth and connected flow of communication.

Kolb further explains that as a metaphor, connectivity is being used in order to highlight a fluid and dynamic condition of everything and everyone being somewhat connectedalthough never perfectly connected. In other word, connectivity must be appreciated in the context of disconnect. Kolb provides a summary of the connect and disconnect dimensions of the connectivity metaphor:
Figure 1: Dimension of Connects and Disconnects


Sail and steamship, rail, air travel facilitate exchange at reasonable cost

Enduring effects of spatial distance and local context; global risk deters physical travel Unevenness of internet use and reliability; technical gaps exist and plague most users. Isolation, alienation, avoidance of real life, individualism, language differences; struggle for self identity within a vast number of others Internet as medium, not network; distribution effects do not sure efficacy


Internet, satellite, wireless mobile technologies increasingly affordable and accessible. Personal communication technologies; cyberspace offers endless opportunities to connect everyone



Compelling case for collaboration; rise of network society; networks increasingly becoming personal Globalization of trade, market convergence, economies of scale and scope, lower transaction costs, startup firms born global. Internet as cross-cultural, neutral space, convergence, alignment, homogeneity of values, norms and worldviews, global culture Supra-national alliances, allegiances, NGOs, grassroots participation on the net New forms of communitarianism; we are already close to those we care about; we are all in this together


Trade barriers, regulation, customer needs and preferences, limits to growth, local (cluster) advantages


Cross-cultural communication problems, resistance to globalizing to cultural hegemony, resurgence of local identities, loyalties Global risks, wars, grassroots resistance to globalizing forces, global powers reinforcing territoriality Fear of lost identity; individualism, sectarianism, fundamentalism; we are each alone; existential angst



In conclusion, Kolb points out that connectivity can be elusive because of its latent potentiality, temporal intermittency, actor agency and unknowable pervasiveness. It is, therefore, important to view connectivity as also positing disconnect in an increasingly interconnected world. In such a connected-disconnected continuum arose the imperative for ASEANs connectivity.

3. ASEAN and the Metaphorical Imperative of Connectivity

---------------------------------------------------A regional association is a feature of connectivity whose connects is manifested in globalizing markets, consolidation, alliances and hard networks and increasing reliance on information (Kolb, 2008). The ASEAN, however, has been found wanting in terms of connectivity. The 2002 McKinseys ASEAN Competitiveness Study, which was commissioned by the ASEAN economic ministers, concludes that the ASEAN is nothing more than a collection of disparate, fragmented markets that tends to be unpredictable in policy implementation (Ravenhill, 2007). It is estimated that the lack of connectivity is costing the region around 10-20% of its GDP growth from potential foreign investors supposedly discouraged by the regions fragmented situation.

Highlighting the importance of connectivity, Schwarz and Villinger (2004) metaphorically conceived ASEAN as a paradise. They point out that if the ASEAN could just get into the connectivity mode, it could be an investors paradise whose estimated worth is more than $300 in terms of consumer value, which they think is comparable to China and

greater than the other markets in the Asia-Pacific. Connectivity is also conceived as enhancing ASEANs competitive edge relative to other regional economic powers. Ho (2006), for instance, resorts to metaphor in order to amplify the relative importance of Southeast Asia. It is his observation that the region continues to play second fiddle to China, India, and Japan.

Not surprisingly, regional cooperation and connectivity are themes currently pursued in globalization. One describes regionalization as one of the many paradoxes of globalization process whereby regions are becoming sub-national focal spaces of economic activity. It is further argued that governments have turned to regionalism because they lack the capacity to manage the challenge of globalization at the level of nation-state (Coe et al, 2004). There is also the metaphorical view that regional economies are synergy-laden systems that seem to intensify globalization (Scott, Storper 2003). Kim (2004) thinks that regionalism could Asianize globalization.

The sea is perceived as relevant to Southeast Asias connectivity. It comprises 80% of the areas covered by the region and accounts for more than 60% of its economic output. Thus, maritime connectivity, particularly the transport sector, is strongly advocated because it could transform the region into an artery of communication and commerce (Bradford 2005). The significance of an improved maritime connectivity is foreseen by as boosting the regions economic performance as evidenced by the competitive advantage of countries with reliable shipping services. Reliable shipping service is envisioned as contributing to the development of maritime economic corridors, which could integrate highly scattered island economies (Trace, et. al., 2009)

Maintaining that the sea has historically played an economic and military commons, Holmes (2009) suggests that it be seen in metaphorical terms for it offers the region a glimpse of potential futures. Holmes metaphorical portrayal of the sea includes a nautical highway (that connect regional seaports), a moat (a defensive buffer against seaborne threats), a marine belt (with strategic depth), and a defensive rampart (against rival navies or scourges such as piracy, terrorism, weapons or drugs trafficking. What Holmes basically sees is a sealess region. Bhattacharyay (2010) recalls the 13th century metaphorical status of Asia as the Silk Road to signify its position as the world most important cross-border artery that spanned across the whole of Asia and the rest of the world.

In order to motivate the ASEAN to get into the connectivity mode, the carrot and stick metaphor is being used. As a metaphor, it is meant to motivate, to test or even to knock down confidence so that one is forced to look for a new position, which can constitute positive change (Policy Alternation for Development, 1984). Bhattacharyay (2010), for instance, praises Asia for its increasingly important role in global production of being much richer and more developed than others. But he tries to belittle it by adding that it is lacking in infrastructure of connectivity, which is posited as being world-class in parts but generally below the global average. He then inferred that the regions fragmented situation is a bottleneck to future growth, a threat to competitiveness, and an obstacle to poverty reduction.

The ASEAN is warned they could no longer afford to be indecisive about connectivity. This is seen as inimical to the region as an investors paradise. For one, it can no longer compete based on low compensation package because China and India are offering lower rate. For another, investors can very well pick and choose their own market (Schwarz,


Villinger, 2004). Arguably, connectivity is the elephant in the room, which is so obvious but the ASEAN seemed unaware oftill the McKinseys Report, which Ravenhill (2007) alleges as having sent a blunt and shocking message.

At the Second Asian Economic Forum (April 2006), the Secretary General of the ASEAN acknowledged that they have been stirred up by the McKinseys Competitiveness Study. Having stirred up recalls the metaphorical image of the ASEAN as slouching tigers (Schwarz and Villinger, 2004). Stressing the peace, prosperity, and equity outcomes of a connected ASEAN, Ong Ken Yong calls on the members of the ASEAN to have the heart to compete. As the ASEAN Secretary General himself explained, the heart signifies the ASEANs seriousness in regaining and enhancing its competitiveness.

The metaphor of connectivity has thus facilitated the re-visioning of the ASEAN as a fragmented regional grouping thereby producing a new reality about it. It is being used to de-emphasize its potentials or achievements despite the supposed absence of connectivity in order to justify the creation of a connected ASEAN. Implicit in discussions that deemphasize the regions economic achievement is its correlation with the apparent absence of connectivity; that economic growth was achieved despite criticisms of being fragmented. Schn remarks that the policy emphasis on partnership, collaboration and related terms had created a situation whereby non-integration becomes an organizational weakness in order to promote the idea that connection and integration are good. He surmises that the notion of fragmentation might very well be a description of autonomy, which can act as a check and balance to other agencies. In other words, the advantages of integration are highlighted while hiding the benefits of fragmentation.


Accordingly, the ASEAN began addressing the issue of connectivity with the adoption of a Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity in October 2010. One of the Master Plans flagship projects is a study on the Philippines Roll-On-Roll-Off (RO-RO) Network and Short-Sea Shipping, which was introduced by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo during the ASEAN Leaders Summit in February 2009.

4. Story and the Analytical Imperative of Metaphor

----------------------------------------------In The Jigsaw Puzzle as a Metaphor for Knowledge, Gozzi (1996) characterizes the puzzle as a very large and indeterminate situation. Such situation can stop us dead in our tracks because we dont know what to do. The cardboard-and-paper collection comprising the jigsaw puzzle is actually the physical form of the metaphorical process for the method of solving problematic situations. The method involves moving backward from solutions and does not involve a step-by-step process that begins from assumptions to conclusion.

Schns Generative Metaphor: A Perspective on Problem-Setting in Social Policy (1979) approaches metaphor as a tool for problem setting. Metaphors set the issues or questions problem-solvers need to work through. A problem requires triggering a new situation, which he characterizes as puzzling, problematic and speculative when compared to the existing situation. Problems are set by stories told about troublesome situations. These stories typically describe what is wrong and what needs fixing.

It becomes apparent that the problem-setting of these stories rely on metaphors, which generate the problem-setting and directions of problem solving. Metaphors need to


be spelled out, their assumptions elaborated in order to determine their appropriateness in the present situation.

Specifically, metaphors can be drawn from:

1. a story to frame the obviousness of a solution: Schns theory begins with the premise that what is involved in setting a problem is the circulation of stories, which tell of problematic and troublesome situation. What is usually highlighted in these stories are whats wrong and what needs fixing. These stories can be examined in order to reveal the metaphors from which a problem is generated and the direction of the solution is set. The obviousness of the solution in the story can be found in an underlying metaphor, which remains tacit and unexamined.

2. the normative force of generative metaphor: The function of a generative metaphor is to provide a tool by which we come to see things in new ways. It entails the process of carrying frames of perspectives from one domain of experience to another. Generative metaphors name and frame the problem and set the direction for its future transformation. They usually make a normative leap from data to recommendation, from facts to values, from is to ought. They appear persuasive because they are anchored on certain goals, principles, or values.

3. the underlying metaphor as derived from generative metaphor: The generative metaphor requires further analysis since it only provides the surface metaphor, or the very story upon which problem and solution are framed. A surface metaphor contains a deep or underlying metaphor, which is actually the central element of the situation. It can go unexamined unless one pays attention to what is omitted or included in a problematic situation.


5. Four Selected Stories about Connectivity and the ASEAN

----------------------------------------------------1. Connectivity and the Rising Tide of Development1

The Asian and Pacific region is becoming more economically integrated and that it has considerable scope for deepening this integration. As a result of its higher rates of economic growth vis--vis the rest of the world, the regions intraregional trade has increased faster than its total trade, which is expected to continue into the future.

A major obstacle to the expansion of trade is the high cost of moving goods to the hinterlands of some countries and across countries. Long distances, high vehicle operating costs, high transshipment costs and complex border crossing procedures constitute a much more serious obstacle to trade and development than the lack of physical transport infrastructure.

The process of ASEAN economic integration is the most advanced in the region. It covers a progressive deepening, with AFTA being complemented by a number of agreements. While these agreements provide incentives to increase trade among their members, their bilateral and sub-regional nature does not contribute to the creation of a seamless, larger market in the region.

Economic development involves expanding not just production and consumption but also the kind of exchange activities that are enabled by the growth of cities and by the development of long-distance transport, telecommunication and energy networks. These exchange activities can happen through connectivity. This term has often been associated with crosscountry connectivity or regional connectivity such as the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity.

Enhancing connectivity requires a two-pronged approach. On one hand, it is necessary to build strong regional institutions for planning, managing and

Lifted from Regional Connectivity and Economic Integration (UN ESCAP, Asia Pacific Survey Report 2011).


funding major cross-country initiatives in physical infrastructure, trade, transport and harmonization of rules and regulations. It is also important to provide specific support to the regions least developed countries, landlocked developing countries so that they can take full advantage of better regional connectivity.

The volume of trade could be adversely affected by various costs, including import tariffs, export taxes, costs related to fulfilling regulatory import and export requirements, and domestic and international shipping and logistics costs. In particular, the costs associated with completing documents and other import and export procedures for international trade can account for up to 15% of the value of traded goods. Other costs include documents, administrative fees for customs clearance and technical control, customs broker fees, terminal handling charges and inland transport.

Trade costs are also affected by restrictions on the movement of vehicles and trains across borders. For example, many countries allow only international transport by road within 30 to 100 km of their borders, or along limited routes, and designate only a few loading and unloading points. In addition, there are restrictions on the number of transport permits issued per year and on the length of their validity.

Regional economic integration could enhance regional demand, driven by populous and rapidly growing economies, such as China and India. However, such a desirable outcome cannot be taken for granted. The rising tide of development opportunities will not lift all boats if these are separated by water locks. These are obstructions, which can take the form of restrictive non-tariff measures, complicated and time-consuming customs procedures, crosscountry differences in legal and regulatory regimes and poor transport infrastructure. As a result, the enormous opportunities generated by the more dynamic economic growth centers may stop at their national borders.


2. Maritime Connectivity between aSEA and the ASEAN2

Appreciating its archipelagic nature is the key to understanding the region. Its archipelagic areas, the aSEA, cover five members of the ASEAN: Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore together with Papua New Guinea and Timor-Leste. The designated growth areas of aSEA are the BIMPEAGA Growth Area3 and the IMT-GT.4

The bulk of aSEAs international trade is carried through the sea. Demand for shipping services, however, between the ASEAN members of the aSEA is very limited while efficiency of container ports varies across the region. Despite attempts at sub-regional cooperation, ship owners still report of difficulties in maintaining sufficient cargo to sustain regular service. Infrequent maritime connections have discouraged economic development between the less developed regions of aSEA countries. In general, productivity in regional ports suffers as a result of inadequate investment and poor management. "Thin" cargo flows on regional shipping routes have discouraged entrepreneurs from opening new routes or purchasing new equipment.

Ports are the gateways through which maritime trade must pass. If a ports physical infrastructure is inadequate and/or if it is operationally inefficient, the costs incurred by shipping lines will be higher than necessary, forcing them to increase charges for handling imports and exports. As a result, trade growth will suffer and regional economic growth will be somewhat constrained, which should not be the case.

The ASEAN has not taken a leadership position in liberalizing shipping policies, which are implemented on a country-by-country basis. The maritime sector has not been declared as a business of this type. In general, aSEA countriesunlike developed western economies such as the US and Australiahave not attempted to control the activities of shipping

Lifted from Trace, et. al.s Maritime Connectivity in Archipelagic Southeast Asia: An Overview (2009). 3 Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area. 4 Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle.


conferences. Given todays competitive environment, there seems to be no pressure to control the activities of shipping conferences.

The archipelagic nature of the aSEA region means that countries except Brunei Singapore and Timor-Lesterequire many ports. In an increasingly competitive world, nations with access to efficient and reliable shipping services have a competitive advantage over those that are poorly served. In a globalized world, efficient connections between the aSEA region and international markets are absolutely essential.

Since trade volume is the main determinant of maritime connectivity, it is appropriate that domestic initiatives be undertaken to build a large enough cargo base to attract ship owners. Substantial gains are possible if ports can enhance their productivity and efficiency. Efficient ports lower ship turnaround time, increasing vessel productivity and leading to lower port and voyage costs.

While direct government intervention in the provision of international shipping services does not appear necessary or desirable, governments can promote the efficiency of international shipping services by improving the performance of ports and inland transport networks as well as by encouraging more efficient and reliable domestic and regional shipping services.

What seems clear is that the archipelagic nature of the region makes the development of maritime economic corridors very favorable. In such corridors, a chain of islands with its road network and necessary ports will allow connections between adjacent islands. Careful consideration should be given to the sequencing of policy measures designed to enhance regional connectivity. Before setting a definite timeline for implementing policy measures designed to enhance regional maritime connectivity, the

interrelatedness of such measures have to be thoroughly understood.


3. Modeling Maritime Connectivity after the Philippines5

Stimulating broad-based economic growth, reducing poverty, and improving the welfare of people inhabiting the numerous remote islands of aSEA is a major challenge, the solution to which starts with improved connectivity.

In theory, the region offers numerous possibilities for such nautical highways. For the moment, the as yet hypothetical Southern Marine Economic Corridor (SMEC) serves as a model to think through this approach. The SMEC runs from Jakarta eastwards through Bali and Lombok, through other islands, including Timor-Leste, to the island of New Guinea and Port Moresby. The network effects from linking a chain of islands could be considerable. Linking islands within such a network would stimulate trade between neighboring islands, promote economic activity, and reduce transaction costs significantly. Lowered shipping costs and improved timeliness in the delivery of products are important in enhancing the investment climate.

Connecting 24,000 islands of the aSEA, most of which have poor infrastructure, productive capacity, and natural resources, is not easy. The Philippines model of nautical highways, which has resulted in seamless connectivity from north to south across seas and islands, is seen as having great potential for aSEA.

In 2003, the Government of the Philippines issued a policy to promote Ro-Ro, a system designed to carry rolling stock cargo which does not require cranes for loading or off loading. Because this eliminates cargo-handling labor and equipment, and reduces the amount of time required to be in port, reductions in sea transport costs can be considerable. Due to the introduction of the RoRo policy, transport costs have been significantly reduced. The principal sources of savings have been the elimination of cargo handling charges and wharfage fees.

Lifted from ADBs Bridges across Oceans: Initial Impact Assessment of the Philippines Nautical Highway System and Lessons for Southeast Asia (2010).


Ro-Ro is a system designed to carry rolling stock cargo which does not require cranes for loading or off-loading. Because the cargoes are rolling cargoesi.e., cars, buses, trucks, etc.which simply roll on and off the Ro-Ro ships, Ro-Ro does not require cargo handling services. This eliminates cargo handling labor and equipment, and reduces the amount of time required to be in a port which can lead to considerable reductions in sea transport costs.

The Ro-Ro transport system has not only linked the countrys major islands of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao but it has also had positive network effects on the economies of the smaller islands along the major routes. These nautical highways have opened new markets for agri-fishery producers; stimulated regional trade, tourism, and area development; and reduced transport costs. In the process, economic development can be seen in previously isolated places, where none existed before.

One of the major lessons from the Philippine experience with the introduction of the Ro-Ro system is that, given the right policies, the public sector need not make large investments for a policy to be beneficial to all. This is an important lesson that applies to aSEA as a whole: policy reforms that would allow aSEAwide Ro-Ro services would have beneficial impacts on national and local economies.

Another lesson for aSEA is that the introduction of Ro-Ro services linking neighboring islands can have important network effects, where smaller islands benefit through connections with a wider network. New growth centers also emerge. Eastern Indonesia, southern Philippines, eastern Malaysia, TimorLeste, and Papua New Guinea islands can all be expected to benefit strongly from such network effects.

The Philippine Ro-Ro experience shows that reforms have a better chance of succeeding if they are market-driven, and supported by a majority of private sector interests. In the case of aSEA, those interests have yet to be mapped out.


4. The Philippine Islands as Pieces of Jigsaw Puzzles 6

The Philippine archipelago consists of more than 7,100 islands and islets. Like the various pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that must be locked together, these islands need to be linked efficiently by a seamless transport infrastructure network providing inter-modal land, air and sea transport systems that form an integrated national highway.

Various studies recommended the extensive use of RO-RO shipping as the most appropriate mode of sea transport for linking the countrys various islands. Assuming that the islands to be connected are farther apart such that it becomes impossible or very costly to construct a bridge similar to the San Juanico Bridge, then what can be employed is a RO-RO ship which will serve as a moving bridge.

One persistent issue raised by the shippers was the high cost of transport from Mindanao to Manila. Among others, Roll-on/roll-off (RO-RO) shipping was proposed as a solution to the transport problem. RO-RO shipping would answer the clamor of the business community for greater efficiency and lower cost in the inter-island transport of goods. It would be consistent with the Presidents 10-point Agenda to promote decentralization of progress around the nation through the use of transportation networks.7 As an integral part of the national highway system, the nautical networks are not burdened by any costs and procedures that are not required in land-based transportation systems.

The impact of RO-RO policy on the economy varies. It ranges from area development to the promotion of regional trade and agro-tourism. The RO-RO policy has introduced changes in shipping operations and port administration. Port charges and documentation requirements were reduced and simplified, commodity classification no longer applies to RO-RO cargoes, freight rates are now based on lane-meter, and cargo handling and wharfage have been eliminated. Finally, private sector participation and investment in the RO-RO policy have been
6 7

Lifted from Basilio, Linking the Philippine Islands through Highways of the Sea, 2008. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued Executive Order No. 170 on January 22, 2003 defining the RO-RO shipping policy.


unleashed-- both in the operation of RO-RO, development of RO-RO terminals, and/or operation of a RO-RO link.

The advent of RO-RO, which provided an alternative mode of transport to the market, heightened the level of competition within the domestic shipping industry. As a result, existing players restructured their operations to take advantage of the opportunities brought about by this market development. Based on a study done by the Center for Research and Communication (CRC) in 2006, transporting goods via the Western Nautical Highway is cheaper compared to conventional shipping.

Walk-in passengers still find RO-RO cheaper than fast crafts especially if they are not in a hurry to reach their destination. These transport savings from RO-RO emanates from service efficiency as well as the fact that RO-RO service is not saddled by costs embedded in conventional shipping such as cargo handling and wharfage.

Since the promulgation of the RO-RO policy in 2003, the annual rate increases in cargo handling rates came to a halt, except the one in 2006, which was a result of increasing oil prices. Compared with other modes of transport (air, traditional shipping), transport of people on the long haul (distance) remains to be competitive via RO-RO.


Figure 2: Cover Page, Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity

6. Connectivity Stories and the Master Plan

-------------------------------------------The above stories, which come in the form of reports or working papers, have been published a year before or after the Master Plan was adopted in 2010. To read through the Master Plan is to re-familiarize oneself to the stories told about it. One can even argue that the Master Plan endows these stories with credence and authority. Passages related to connectivity and the Philippine RO-RO policy in the Master Plan basically reiterate these stories:
Enhancing intra-regional connectivity...would benefit all ASEAN Member States through enhanced trade, investment, tourism and development. All these efforts would significantly narrow the development gap within ASEAN.

Enhanced ASEAN Connectivity is required to achieve competitive growth, to facilitate economies of agglomeration and integrated production networks, to enhance intra-regional trade, to attract investments.

Connectivity in ASEAN refers to the physical, institutional and people-to-people linkages that comprise the foundational support and facilitative means to achieve the economic, political-security and socio-cultural pillars towards realising the vision of an integrated ASEAN Community. Connecting the archipelagic regions of ASEAN requires efficient and reliable shipping routes in order to enhance intra-ASEAN connectivity. The results of the


initial impact assessment of the Philippines RoRo System demonstrate significant benefits in terms of reduction in transport costs, the creation of new regional links and expansion of markets.

More efficient shipment of goods and people that have particularly benefited the poorer provinces in the maritime routes, acceleration of local area development

Establishing a RoRo system and inter-state shipping within the region will also boost tourism, including cruise tourism in the region, establish efficient and reliable shipping routes connecting mainland and archipelagic Southeast Asia

The Master Plan has identified prioritized projects from the list of key actions These include a study on the RoRo network and short-sea shipping. This study will be a first step in exploring one of the options in the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity.

The Master Plan does not have yet a plan on how an ASEAN RO-RO system would fit together. By stating that a study will have to be undertaken first, the Master Plan seems to have simply endorsed the need to further understand the interrelatedness of such a measure (as recounted in the story Maritime Connectivity between aSEA and the ASEAN) specifically how to map out the stakes of the private sector (as reflected in the story Modeling Maritime Connectivity after the Philippines). The Master Plan, therefore, seems justified in choosing puzzle pieces as its own visual metaphor. They are spread across the Master Plan, which it defines as a strategic document and a plan of action for immediate implementation towards the realization of the ASEAN Community by 2015 and beyond.


Even EO 170-B8 is not (yet) clear on the private sectors participation. Relevant government agencies are mandated to regularly report to the Philippine President in order to realize the ultimate goal of bringing down transport costs. How to really cut down transport costs, which most of the stories reiterate as obstruction to trade growth and expansion, seems to be the most puzzling/problematic aspect of connectivity.

The Philippine RO-RO Policy, as the generative metaphor of ASEAN connectivity, provides the model of how cutting down transport could be realized. It might have worked quite well at the domestic level but as the EO 170-B itself states, it would require the participation of the private sector, which for now is couched in terms of seeking their cooperation. This is another piece of the puzzle, which requires additional stories to be told. Nevertheless, there is the expectation that the ASEAN will take a leadership role in liberalizing shipping policies as cited in the story Maritime Connectivity between aSEA and the ASEAN. This requires formulating right policies, which means governments would have to take a business or market oriented approach, according to the story Modeling Maritime Connectivity after the Philippines. For the moment, however, it seems that direct government intervention does not appear necessary according to the story Maritime Connectivity between aSEA and the ASEAN. This story, however, still finds it necessary to stress that what seems clear is that the archipelagic nature of the region makes the development of maritime corridors very favorable.

The same contradiction is apparent in the story Connectivity and the Rising Tide of Development. It lauds the region for becoming more economically integrated than before thus

Encouraging Further Expansion of the Countrys Road Roll-on/Roll-off Terminal System (RRTS) and the Reduction of Transport Cost through Increase in the Number of RORO-Capable Ports and Conversion of More Private Non-Commercial Port Operations to Private Commercial Port Operations.


resulting in higher economic growth rates than the rest of the world. It also notes the ASEAN as being the most advanced in economic integration. There seems to be need for integration because it is already there. The story, however, restores that need by pointing out that its bilateral and sub-regional nature is a hindrance to a seamless regional market. To further justify that seamless market, the story ominously evokes a boat, its own metaphorical scheme for a development that will not take off if it is separated by water locks. Finally, the story reveals the source of such ominous possibility by speculating that opportunities that come with economic growth may stop at their national borders.

The problem with these national borders as depicted in the same story is that they do not have uniform legal and regulatory regimes, which result in complicated and time-consuming customs procedures. This seems obvious enough given the national character of these borders. But such obviousness is somewhat concealed by making references to the international character of traded goods--of how costly export-import taxes and requirements are along with international shipping services. To magnify this costly situation, the story cites an estimated figure: import-export procedures for international trade can account for 15% of the value of traded goods.

Another instance of the obvious is indicated in the story Maritime Connectivity between aSEA and the ASEAN: The archipelagic nature of the aSEA region means that countries except Brunei Singapore and Timor-Lesterequire many ports. The obviousness of the many ports is disguised by judging them as inadequate and poorly managed. The storys definition of an adequate and efficiently managed ports are those that would lower turnaround time and therefore lower port and voyage cost.


The Master Plan recognizes the critical element of an ASEAN Single Shipping Market but it also calls attention to the issue of the cabotage principle. In practice, the cabotage principle is very political. A maritime country reserves the right of navigating and trading between two ports of its national territory to ships duly registered in that country. No mention is made about the cabotage principle in any of the stories because it has been disguised in the call for ASEAN to liberalize its shipping policies. The plan of the Master Plan regarding this issue is to implement specific measures that conform to relevant international conventions and national laws and regulations.

The Master Plans restrained attitude towards liberalization is well-justified in the document itself. It duly notes as a key challenge, which is basically a source of disconnect, that domestic legal regulations and strong views on protectionism often constrain further liberalization. Not surprisingly, the ASEANs approach to maritime transport services is one of promoting progressive liberalization, which is in contrast to the full liberalization of air transport services. Not surprisingly also, it is the maritime sector that generated numerous stories, in particular of the imperative to cut the trading costs when using the sea. It is the sea that needs the jigsaw.

7. Jigsaw Approach to Connectivity

----------------------------------The oft-repeated description of the ASEAN as a fragmented market is clearly lifted from stories about its archipelagic nature. Fragmented is, therefore, simply a metaphorical reference to the scattering of lands across a body of water, which is intrinsic to the archipelago. To state the obvious: a fragmented geography is what an archipelago is.


Unlike the puzzle pieces, these scattered lands cannot be subjected to an interlocking procedure in order to assemble a complete and given picture.

An Englishman is credited for inventing the jigsaw puzzle in 1767. An engraver and a mapmaker, John Spilsburys jigsaw puzzle was the world map. Putting a piece of wood on top of the map, he proceeded to cut each country. Eventually used by teachers for teaching geography, students would put together each country according to the world map (McAdam, n.d.) To state another obvious: a jigsaw puzzle relies upon a recognizable image to be put together. The jigsaw, however, appears to be not so obvious. McAdam points out that it was only with the invention of the treadle saw in 1880 that it became a jigsaw puzzle but it was not a jigsaw that made the cut but a fretsaw. To make it more obvious: a fretsaw is a machine for cutting and shaping light materials; something thicker will slow it down.

In the context of what is expected of the ASEAN, cutting simply means cost reduction incurred if the region continues with its bilateral or sub-regional attitude, if legal and regulatory regimes are applied on a country per country basis, if custom procedures remain complicated and time-consuming, and if transport infrastructure remains poorly managed or unattractive to the private sector. Shaping, on the other hand, would involve the five areas, which need enhancement to further the goals of ASEAN Connectivity: 1) integration and cooperation; 2) global competitiveness; 3) well-being and livelihood of ASEAN people; 4) rules and governance for ASEAN; and 5) connections to economic centers within and between ASEAN members. In the context of the Master Plan, the ASEAN is a cutting and shaping machine of its own puzzle pieces. The Master Plan uses the tiling puzzle, which is premised on assembling small and variously shaped interlocking pieces with each piece


expected to form a pre-determined picture. Given that such pre-determined picture is lacking, the Master Plans puzzle is not a jigsaw puzzle but a crossword puzzle.

A word game where players are given clues and the number of letters needed to fill the numbered square, the crossword puzzle relies on these clues, which form a grid of meanings to be filled in. This grid forms an upward and downward crisscrossing of interlocking words. According to Gozzi (2001), the main challenge of a crossword puzzle is how to fill up its blank square with these interlocking words.

Figure 3: Interaction between ASEAN Connectivity and ASEAN Community


Figure 4: Vision and Goals of ASEAN Connectivity

The preceding diagrams were lifted from the Master Plan. They represent the interlocking words that a crossword puzzle usually requires. The puzzle, those areas in which the Master Plan is only aware of but has no definite actions yet and therefore serve as possible disconnected points, are not apparent in the diagrams. It is only upon examination of the metaphorical schemes of stories that influenced the adoption of the Master Plan that these disconnects become apparent.

Specifically, these disconnects attracting the private sector, a regional cabotage system, simplified and shortened customs procedures and regulations. These are all underpinned by the absence of a liberalized shipping policy whose expected outcome is fast delivery of goods at the cheapest possible cost. This is the main target of the jigsaw approach


to maritime connectivity in the ASEAN. For now, the Master Plan is still planning around it hence it could not even be put as a blank square in its own implicit crossword puzzle.

In the same article, Gozzi poses the underlying question about the crossword puzzle: are the important puzzles ever really solved? It seems they are not because the crossword puzzle does not lead to a larger meaning while joy in the process of solving them its only value. Indeed, the larger meaning seems to be what is missing in the ASEAN connectivity on account of the obviousness of the situation from which the Master Plan is based. Still, it bears repeating that such obviousness has overshadowed the fact that ASEAN, in a disconnected mode, has been attaining positive growth rate.

In other words, if the connectivity mode is premised on achieving economic growth, the same could also be argued for disconnectivity. Finally, the larger meaning would be not revealed on account of the tautology principle that runs through stories about connectivity-- a needless and redundant repetition of the same in different words. In terms of the logic of the crossword puzzle, these tautological words will soon blend into stereotyped memory schemas, which is enough for one to enjoy the process of solving the puzzle. One, therefore, could expect a repetition of the same in the call for ASEAN connectivity.



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