ASEAN Secretary General Lim Jock Hoi has spoken highly of Vietnam’s capacity in its role as ASEAN Chair.
ASEAN Secretary General Lim Jock Hoi (Photo: VNA)
In an interview granted recently to the Vietnam News Agency in Jakarta on June 25, Lim said the theme “Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN” adopted for its ASEAN Chairmanship Year 2020 suits current realities, adding that the 36th ASEAN Summit is a concrete demonstration of ASEAN’s solidarity and leadership, manifested in robust regional cooperation. Such solidarity is needed in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Leaders have openly declared their shared commitment to strengthening regional cooperation in addressing public health emergencies, enhancing social safety nets, and preserving the regional supply chain, he said.
According to the ASEAN chief, ASEAN needs to continue working together to articulate a collective response to COVID-19 to complement and amplify national and local responses, he said. The 36th ASEAN Summit, therefore, serves as an opportunity for the bloc to further enhance its cohesiveness and responsiveness.
He said the summit reaffirms the need for a regional recovery plan, which ASEAN continues to focus on following the ASEAN Special Summits on COVID-19 in April. The plan will involve collaboration among ASEAN member states’ government agencies, industries, private sector, and other relevant stakeholders.
“We expect a greater collaborative effort in information and knowledge sharing, in medical development, and in domestic policies relating to social and health security,” he said.
“Managing public health risks and reviving economies until an effective vaccine treatment is found are high on this summit’s agenda. Other highlights will be leaders’ interfaces with core stakeholders of the ASEAN Community, for example Youth, Business Community, and Parliamentarians, all of whom can contribute significantly to regional integration efforts.”
He said that, from the outset, ASEAN member states have promptly responded to COVID-19 nationally, regionally, and globally. The quick response and information sharing among ASEAN health officials, and the robust collaboration between ASEAN and external partners, for example with ASEAN Plus Three, the EU, and the US, have also proven critical during the outbreak.
On the whole, ASEAN has come together and responded quickly to the pandemic, through the two special summits as well as the various measures undertaken collectively and specifically by sectoral bodies. Moving forward, the key task is for ASEAN to have a robust, holistic, and practical recovery framework to minimise the socio-economic effects of the pandemic.
He affirmed that in its capacity as ASEAN Chair, Vietnam has demonstrated strong leadership in spearheading a collective regional response to the pandemic. He expressed his appreciation of Vietnam’s contributions, in particular giving aid to some ASEAN member states and also to partners, and congratulated the country on its effective fight against the pandemic.
“Vietnam has been recovering very well and done a lot of good things internally,” he said. “And now it is in the recovery stage.”
Led by Vietnam, work is also underway to finalise the establishment of a “COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund”, a regional reserve for medical supplies and a standard operating procedure on public health emergencies.
Vietnam has also kick-started discussions on ASEAN’s post-2025 vision. This is critical for the bloc to attain greater cohesiveness and responsiveness in its regional integration journey, while adapting to the “new normal” and factoring the key lessons learned into considerations, he added.
Lao, Malaysian media spotlight ASEAN Summit
Major newspapers of Malaysia and Laos have published a series of articles on the upcoming 36th ASEAN Summit and other activities hosted by Vietnam as ASEAN Chair 2020.
Malaysian-based New Straits Times said in an article that after nearly two months being postponed due to COVID-19, the summit will take place virtually on June 26 under the chair of Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.
It gave information on a host of key activities that will be held. Accordingly, it said the Vietnamese PM will chair dialogues between ASEAN leaders and the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA), ASEAN youth representatives, and ASEAN Business Advisory Council. He will also preside over the opening, plenary and special sessions on women's empowerment in the digital age, the paper added.
Another Malaysian paper, the Malay Mail, in its article, titled “Women key to ASEAN’s COVID-19 response, economic development”, praised Vietnam’s efforts in the regional fight against the pandemic.
It noted as part of its chairmanship, Vietnam envisions a “cohesive and responsive” ASEAN community, saying such theme is an appropriate call for the bloc in its collective response to the epidemic.
Vietnam wants to focus on solidarity and unity, economic connectivity, promoting the values and identities of the ASEAN Community as its priority areas, among others, the newspaper reiterated PM Phuc’s statement at the turnover ceremony of the 35th ASEAN Summit in Bangkok in November 2019.
“Solidarity among all member-states and with all ASEAN people is the region’s only way out of the pandemic,” it said.
Meanwhile, news on the Informal ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (IAMM), the 21st ASEAN Political-Security Community (APSC), and the 26th ASEAN Coordinating Council Meeting, which were held online on June 24, came in droves on Lao newspapers the next day. These events were chaired by Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh.
According to Laos’ media, at the IAMM, regional ministers exchanged views on efforts and measures done as part of cooperation frameworks among ASEAN member states and between the bloc and its partners to curb the spread of COVID-19.
The meeting also considered some countries’ proposals to join the bloc’s Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC). Lao press said such discussion demonstrated ASEAN’s leading role in and important contributions to ensuring peace, security, and order in the region and in the world.
Lao media said the 26th ASEAN Coordinating Council Meeting acknowledged progresses and praised efforts made by the bloc in building the ASEAN Community under Vietnam’s chairmanship this year./.VNA