Friday, August 24, 2007


If Southeast Asia is an office that opens at 7am, Burma would be 30 minutes too early. Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam would just be on time but Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia and the Philippines would be an hour late. An office with half of its staff coming in late wouldn’t do the job efficiently, would it?

Our region is in 4 Time Zones (UTC+6.30, +7, +8 and +9). Indonesia is the only country that uses 3 time zones from +7 to +9 and Burma is the only country that uses +6.30. If you would look closely at the map; Singapore and Kuala Lumpur is in line with Bangkok and Jakarta is in line with Hanoi at +7 -- but they are on a different time zone (+8). They share it with Manila, which is hundreds of miles east of Thailand. Have you ever wondered why?

In 1981, Malaysia’s Mahathir Mohammad changed their time zone to +8 to unify East and West Malaysia. And for economic cooperation, the great Lee Kwan Yew followed suit for Singapore because they will be in an awkward position. Meaning technically, the Philippines and Brunei should be the only countries in the +8 time zone.

If Southeast Asia is a hospital and baby Burma came in at 6:30 with an asthma attack, she has to wait 30 minutes to see if Dr. Thailand or Nurse Vietnam got a Ventolin inhaler. But when they came in at 7.00-- they don’t have any. Meanwhile, old Mrs. Laos and baby Cambodia came in with an asthma attack too! Now all of them -- panicked and all -- have to wait another hour to see if Dr. Singapore, Dr. Malaysia or Nurse Philippines have the inhaler. Unfortunately, when they came in at 8.00, it turned out that Dr. Indonesia got the inhaler but he’ll come in at 9.00! Now the hospital is in one BIG 2 ½ hour mess! An utter tragedy!

The ASEAN Common Time is an idea by the ASEAN to adapt a standard time for all member countries. The initiative will unify our great region – economic wise, for efficiency and mutual benefits.

If we can come to the office all at the same time, we can finish more work. And if we can come to the hospital altogether, we can relieve more patients and efficiently solve the problems.

Should the whole of Southeast Asia be in one single common time?

What do you think?


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Sanne Dee said...

I second the suggestion. Just like how the Eastern states in Australia are 3 hours ahead of Western Australia during summer and we are only left with 2 hours in the day to get things done from the East.

Q The Conqueror said...

Hmm... I really didn't know that the government could change your timezone at will. It's really strange. But I guess, you have a point in saying that it would encourage more productivity and trading.

Manami said...

If this really happened, maybe Europe would do the same and then other continents or sub-continents miight follow suit, resulting in the people who travel alot having a lot more convenience. Hey that might just work.
now....what about a common currency.....*muses*

Anonymous said...

i know that china had adapted only one time zone even if their county covered more than one... in this case i think it would be a great adjustment for almost everybody in our region if this ASEAN project would push through

Anonymous said...

What a cracking article.
You have a very creative imagination.

Pisanu for BISEAN said...

Thanks guys!

Reyville of Simply Manila said...

Is there a need? I mean if we're going to change it to unify the office hours, that's just so lame right? The US and Canada have different time zones but it didn't really make them immobile. And so is the European Union. And it would be awkward if, say, it's 4am here and the sun rises already. Well, but if the majority wins, I'll respect the decision though. HaHa.

Reyville of Simply Manila said...

Anyway, great post u there. It really encourages us (your readers) to participate in the discussions and freely share our thoughts. But I back the ASEAN's goal of creating one currency... only if all will open its borders for ASEAN travellers like the EU. What do u think?

Pisanu for BISEAN said...

@ Reyville..Borders ARE open to all ASEAN member countries. We don't need visas to visit our neighboring villages! Well, except Laos, who charge $30! Those Bastards! LOL!

aries said...

pisanu, how can i support this move as a netizen?

Pisanu for BISEAN said...

@ Aries...You mean, support the ASEAN Common Time as a netizen? Feature it in you blog and stress the bnefits from it. That's all we can do at the moment.

Mihael Keehl said...

This would be fine. Another step into unification. Think of it as The United South East Asian Nations or begin a new name like South China or Celebes with (at this time) Singapore as capital city while having a federal government. Dream big!

Laibeus Lord said...

Great post!! Also read your post on the United SEA blog and replied there, which I will re-post below.

To answer a fellow pinoy, Reyville, it is awkward if we look at it the "Western" way, where "time-zones" were originally conceptualized and implemented. They are the ones who divided the planet into different timezones, 15minutes apart (if I remember it correctly).

It did good to us, true, but that was for the Western world, it is suited and designed for them. However, here in the Eastern World, the case is different. Being just the unwilling recipient of this time-zone idea, we were not 'bred' (if you will) to compute timezones by heart, and to live our lives with different timezones.

I mean, us Filipinos alone have what we call "Pilipino Time" which simply means, "always late". Add that attitude to the different timezones the ASEAN has right now, then we will have very serious problems in the long-run, especially now that the ASEAN is open-border* (more on this later), and secondly, Equal Treatment of Human Workers has been implemented, and third, the cost of air flights will be going lower with the approval of the ASEAN Free-Trade-Agreement for, well, air-flights, and many more.

In other words, we will be relying more and more with our ASEAN Community, the regional community, the 'bloc'. Sooner, we will be officing (if there is such a term) across borders just like they do in the EU.

Now the ASEN Open-Border is not yet similar as EU's, we are still a 'little' far from it, but we are doing well. Before the agreement 2 years ago, each ASEAN Member have to make their own deals with other members regarding the open-border policy.

Example: Filipinos can stay in Singapore for 30-days without a Visa. But we can not enter Cambodia without a Visa.

2 Years ago, a great changed happened. All ASEAN Members now have a mandatory open-border 2-weeks policy. All agreements between members (like PH-SG) are null and void in favor of the new ASEAN Rule (or Law if you will).

A year ago, it was 'upgraded' to ASEAN Open-Border 30-days policy. Meaning, you can enter without a Visa to any ASEAN members and stay there for 30-days.

And this year, it is reported, though I'm not sure how true, that a new length will be implemented. Which is great, as it paves way to giving solutions to long problems like over-staying or illegal immigrants, once we reach a 100% open-border policy, over-staying and illgal immigrants will be a thing of the past.

And before we come to that, we need the ASEAN Common Time or ACT. Which our Thailander family pointed out (ASEAN is a Family, a Commuity).


Btw, the Open-Border 30-days policy "upgrade" was explained by an interview with an ASEAN Official in a TV Talk/Politics/ASEAN Show, that's where I got the info that it was "upgraded" to 30-days.

Anyway, here's my other comment on this topic I posted over at United SEA.

Hi all..

Yes it will be very beneficial for the whole ASEAN. And to answer the question if there is a proposal about the ASEAN Common Time - yes there is!

It was in fact being pushed by the ASEAN members who are already at UTC+0800, the members who are reserving their comments and support for it are those who are not using UTC+0800.

Also, as a correction (if you don't mind), Singapore is on the correct time-zone, which is UTC+0800.

The official name of our time is the "ASEAN Common Time" or "ACT" for short.

The company I work for, we already adopted the still proposed ACT. We use it in all our communications from papers, media, to legal documents. We simply put for example: 2:30am ACT.

Our company's scope of business is the ASEAN region, and I really pushed the use of the ASEAN Common Time for our communications. It actually helped us, as there is ZERO questions and inquiries as to what time-zone or time our postings are for them.

It shows that ACT really works, and people understand what "ASEAN Common Time" is. And the name itself will make anyone new to it to do a research, and they will see that ACT is UTC+0800. From there they can compute it (say Vietnam is UTC+0700) and get used to it.

We have customers in these countries and they are happy and in full support with ACT. Now all that is left is for the Official ASEAN political body to finally implement it.

Now of course this is a small portion of our combined population, but think about the large reach of our business, it is still countless. If it is already working even at the proposal level, then how much more once it has become an ASEAN Law.

Anyway, I'd like to join United SEA. my blog is at Contact me at Laibeus at Laibcoms dot com.

Btw, I'd like to invite you guys to the East Asian Community at ->

Glad to know Thailanders are pro "ACT", let's push our respective societies and governments to support the "ASEAN Common Time"!

Laibeus Lord said...

Btw, I blog at

Pisanu for BISEAN said...

Laibeus dude! You name urges me to play PS2 longer! LOL

Your input is priceless! Yes, we support the ACT. It's just a matter of letting more people know about it.

We didn't see your comment on the United SEA Blog, we thought that blog was dead already. LOL.

We'll come by your blog soon!

riain said...

@ Laibeus Lord

I digress- Filipino time is not late. If you think that we own that being not very punctual, then you havent worked with other nationalities. I am Filipino and I am always on time.

Reyville of Simply Manila said...

Laibeus Lord, I appreciated the effort but I still don't think a unified time is quite needed for this region. I can't even see a valid reason why we have to. ASEAN is a big place, not more like a hospital (which is open 24 hours, anyway) and those who work in a similar office will not really come from afar or abroad, for that matter. They will live under one zone and go to work at the same time. It doesn't matter if timezones were created and originated from the West, it ain't the problem here. (Timezones were not created for nothing.) I am not really good in scientific explanations but trust me, our planet will not rotate region after region but by time. No matter how you try to make people believe it's already 12noon in Burma if its 12noon in Manila, Burmese will still believe it's only 10:30am there because the position of the sun will tell them so.

But if they wanna pattern ASEAN to China's one timezone for the sake of having a one timezone, then I'm sorry to myself. But had I happened to be in ASEAN, I'll probably just focus on more important things like democracy for the region, regional peace, terrorism, Spratly's, piracy, drugs, education, poverty, etc. Putting the region under one time zone won't solve any of these problems.

MischMensch said...

I think the 'Pilipino Time' exist in almost every ex Spanish colony. Like in Argentina they will say we'll meet at 7pm but people will start coming only like at 8pm or ever later. It's like a culture thing. I got irritated by it but was ok later ok

lawrence said...

I think it'll be a great idea to standardize everything in ASEAN - time, currency, etc...

That's one of a few ways to unite this region.

Anonymous said...

it does not matter to have an ASEAN common time. the EU does not have it and they seem to be doing fine if not better than ASEAN.

Amelia said...

Most of their members are only in 1 time zone, anonymous. If not becasue of the accpetance of Eastern European countries they wouldn't have another time zone.

But the ASEAN is in 4 Time Zones.

MischMensch said...

Hmmm but the time in Germany is the same as Czech. I have never experienced time changes over there, or maybe when you include Romania and Slovenia? I know Greece has a different time and that is the only EU country that I know has a different time zone other than Portugal and Finland. Or maybe I just did not pass my European Geography :P

Anonymous said...

time zones should really depend on daylight hours. regular work hours in many countries are scheduled within the amount daylite hours they get, depending on the season. it is safer for commuting and energy efficient for a lot of these countries to follow this protocol.


Indonesia with most time zone, it has 3 <<>>>

Shazwan Azizan said...

As a Malaysian student in the US, I experience daylight savings time twice a year. In the Autumn/Fall, we push our clocks back an hour (so the day is 25 hours long and we get an extra hour's sleep). In Spring we push our clocks forward (so the day is 23 hours long and we get one hour less of sleep/miss exams/classes/etc).

What I gather from this is that:
1. At 8:00am ACT, people in Myanmar would think it's still 6:30am (and might not want to go to work). So they'd have to get up 1 1/2 hrs earlier. Filipinos would think it's 9:00am (and think they're late when in fact they aren't). They can sleep 1 more hour (after sunrise).

2. It will pose some awkwardness for Muslims all over due to their prayer time being based on the sun's movement. Noon, for instance would vary by up to 1 1/2 hours.

3. If implemented, once everything is cleared up and we all get going, it shouldn't be a problem as you describe above (sick at 6:30, doctor come in at 9:00) because with ACT Cambodia's 6am and Phillipines' 9am is the same!

Of course, being Malaysian (and at UTC+8) it's easy for me to say all this and expect so much from my neighbours (especially Myanmar with the 1/2 hour thing).

BTW, Malaysia has Malaysian Time too and it also means "late"!

Downsouth said...

Jakarta was already in UTC +7 not +8 for decades.

I didn't know KUL and SIN was in UTC +7 before 1981.

Nico said...

the government definitely has a say on time zones. the state of indiana wants to change their time zone to new york state's time zone to sync business. and china, from my geography class, only has one time zone despite its mammoth size. so people in west china wake up in darkness while those in east china wake up when the sun is up like hours ago.

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