The 41st General Assembly of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA 41) themed “Parliamentary Diplomacy for a Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN Community” opened in Hanoi on September 8.
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc (fifth, right), National Assembly Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan (fifth, left) and other officials pose for a photo at the opening ceremony of AIPA 41 on September 8 (Photo: VNA)
The online event saw the participation of Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and leaders of Vietnamese Party and State, ambassadors, representatives from embassies of participating countries to the AIPA 41, as well as representatives from observer countries and guests of host Vietnam.
Addressing the opening ceremony, NA Chairwoman Ngan said this is the first time in 43-year history the AIPA General Assembly has been held virtually amid the complicated developments of COVID-19, showing determination and efforts of ASEAN member parliaments and governments in overcoming difficulties, fighting the pandemic and moving forward for people’s well-being and cooperation and development of the ASEAN Community.
National Asembly Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan (Photo; VNA)
This is the third time Vietnam has undertaken on the role of AIPA chair and hosted the General Assembly of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly. This event affirmed Vietnamese National Assembly’s role and responsibility as well as AIPA’s international mission in multilateral cooperation mechanisms.
She informed delegates that the Vietnamese National Assembly has closely cooperated with ASEAN member parliaments to organise numerous activities, promoting roles of the AIPA and its members in building ASEAN Community.
Party General Secretary and State President Nguyen Phu Trong applauds the organisation of AIPA 41 in the form of a teleconference (Photo: VNA)
In his video message at the opening ceremony, Party General Secretary and State President Nguyen Phu Trong applauded the organisation of AIPA 41 in the form of a teleconference.
A strong ASEAN that plays the central role and serves as a driving force of regional and international cooperation will be both the mainstay and the goal of Vietnam, he noted.
It’s now more important than ever that AIPA keeps contributing to efforts to promote ASEAN’s central role in an evolving regional architecture while promoting multilateralism, international connectivity and cooperation, and respect for law.
He expressed his belief that this time’s general assembly will work towards community-based mindset and actions so as to achieve a strong and cohesive ASEAN Community that is oriented towards and centres on the people with its role established in the international arena.
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc addresses the AIPA 41 meeting. (Photo: VNA)
Speaking at the event, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc spoke highly of the AIPA’s role as a significant organisation of legislative bodies in ASEAN. During the past decades, AIPA parliamentary cooperation has always played an important role in coordinating with ASEAN member governments in maintaining and consolidating regional peace, security, stability, cooperation and development; as well as enhancing people-to-people connectivity.
He stressed the effectiveness of the ASEAN Leaders’ Interface with AIPA representatives during the virtual 36th ASEAN Summit and the need to uphold the dialogue mechanism, adding that the dialogue has helped the governments implement policies to improve its people’s livelihoods and well-being.
A meeting of Women Parliamentarians of AIPA (WAIPA), AIPA Young Parliamentarians and meetings of the Political, Economic, Social Affairs and Organisation Committees will be held within the event’s framework.
The ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) is a regional parliamentary organisation. It was originally formed on September 2, 1977 as the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Organisation (AIPO) by the leaders of the parliamentary delegations of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand attending the Third ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Conference in Manila, the Philippines. In 1995, Vietnam became a member, followed by Laos in 1997, Cambodia in 1999, and Brunei in 2009. At the 27th AIPO General Assembly held in Cebu city, the Philippines in 2006, there was a consensus to transform the organisation into a more effective and closely integrated institution and to change the organisation's name from AIPO to AIPA.
AIPA-41 holds first plenary session
National Assembly Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan (R), Chair of AIPA 41, and Vice Chairwoman Tong Thi Phong (L) at the first plenary session of AIPA 41 on September 8 (Photo: VNA)
The first plenary session of the 41st General Assembly of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA-41) took place in Hanoi on September 8, following the online opening ceremony of AIPA 41.
Participants approved the heads of AIPA member delegations as vice presidents of AIPA-41.
In their speeches, heads of AIPA member delegations recognised leadership by the National Assembly Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, Chair of AIPA 41 and dedication and steadfast commitment of the National Assembly of Vietnam in making it possible to convene the 41st AIPA General Assembly this year albeit virtually amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
They also recalled challenges facing ASEAN member countries, which are brought by the pandemic, while stressing coordination within ASEAN to overcome the challenges posed by COVID-19.
Vice Chairperson of the Vietnamese National Assembly Tong Thi Phong, who headed the Vietnamese delegation to the AIPA 41 General Assembly, said given adverse impacts by the pandemic, ASEAN and AIPA are evidence of the spirit of solidarity and mutual assistance to overcome difficulties. The organisation of the AIPA 41 General Assembly has showed efforts of AIPA member parliaments and Secretariat as well as of support parliaments of observing countries of AIPA.
She voiced her support for the theme of AIPA 41 “Parliamentary Diplomacy for a Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN Community”, and said the Vietnam National Assembly applauded ASEAN’s initiatives in 2020 in order to maintain an environment of peace, security and stability in the region, promote regional connectivity, take advantages of opportunities brought by the fourth Industrial Revolution, and promote awareness on ASEAN community and identity as well as partnership for peace and sustainable development.
Vietnam also supports ASEAN cooperation efforts in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, she added.
She also held that AIPA and its member parliaments should stay united to overcome challenges brought by the pandemic in all fields, including universal health coverage, health emergency response network, environment protection, biodiversity and waste management.
She emphasised cooperation to develop a vaccine against COVID-19 as one of immediate tasks needed to be done.
At the session, participants adopted the AIPA-41 General Assembly’s operations programme, its agenda, dialogue theme with observing countries and planned compositions of committees.
Former ASEAN chief: ASEAN-AIPA Dialogue at AIPA General Assembly should be formalised
Former Secretary-General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Ong Keng Yong shared his views of the 41st General Assembly of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA 41) as well as the role of host Vietnam in regional inter-parliamentary diplomacy.
According to the former ASEAN chief, this time’s general assembly could focus on enhancing AIPA’s structure to support ASEAN in its Community building process; and convincing their respective governments to strengthen the process of Community building and the ASEAN platforms already in place to implement the agenda of ASEAN.
Currently, AIPA and ASEAN only engage each other on informal platforms, he said.
He suggested the current Interface with ASEAN Leaders at the Summit should be held regularly; one or two practical proposals from AIPA could be tabled for an exchange of views with the ASEAN Leaders each time the Interface takes place.
Besides, he said, the ASEAN-AIPA Dialogue at the AIPA General Assembly should also be formalised and public awareness programmes can be instituted to outreach the citizens in the respective ASEAN member states.
Sharing his views about the role of inter-parliamentary diplomacy in strengthening ASEAN's cohesion and responsiveness to deal with regional and international challenges, Ong said unlike the European Union (EU), where the European Parliament is the legislative body that passes bills/laws, AIPA is not the legislative body of ASEAN.
As each ASEAN member state has its own process in passing international/regional commitments into national laws, the pace of ratification of regional agreements among ASEAN member states often varied.
The former ASEAN chief held that AIPA could bridge this gap by facilitating and pushing ratification/implementation of regional agreements in the legislative body of each ASEAN member state.
In the face of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the ASEAN Leaders have adopted Hanoi Plan of Action at their recent Summit, he said, adding AIPA may wish to use the forthcoming General Assembly to monitor and report on how each ASEAN member state has incorporated this Plan into their respective national laws; and to use the General Assembly for sharing best practices of ASEAN member states in handling COVID-19.
He spoke of the Vietnamese National Assembly’s initiatives introduced at this time’s event such as unofficial Meeting of Young Parliamentarians.
He said he believes this is useful and relevant in bringing ASEAN closer to ASEAN citizens, especially the younger generation.
Vietnam’s COVID-19 measures are useful learning experiences which the younger citizens of other ASEAN member states can discuss and adapt when possible, he affirmed.
The 41st General Assembly of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA-41) themed “Parliamentary diplomacy for a cohesive and responsive ASEAN Community” is taking place virtually from September 8-10. VNA