His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam lauded ASEAN’s positive progress in advancing the region’s community-building efforts while addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a titah at the 38th and 39th ASEAN Summits yesterday, the monarch emphasised that ASEAN’s unity and collective efforts are vital for the region’s future in a rapidly changing world.
For this year, the monarch added, Brunei has emphasised the importance of caring for the people and preparing them for the future.
His Majesty the Sultan, as the Chairman of ASEAN 2021, also announced that ASEAN has established the ASEAN Junior Fellowship programme which will be funded by the sultanate for the next ten years.
“ASEAN has continued to empower its youth to be resilient and dynamic by developing their skills and knowledge,” said the monarch during the virtual conference broadcasted from Istana Nurul Iman.
The region is also making initiatives to ensure youth will inherit a region that can prosper and develop in a sustainable way.
In this regard, His Majesty expressed the belief that the circular economy model that ASEAN has developed will enhance efficiency and lay the foundations for green recovery.
Furthermore, the Sultan welcomed ASEAN’s work to protect vulnerable groups through the ASEAN Comprehensive Framework on Care Economy to ensure the recovery is also inclusive.
“These initiatives will help strengthen ASEAN’s preparedness and safeguard peoples’ welfare and development and enable sustainable prosperity for all,” His Majesty concluded in a titah.
At the beginning of the summit, ASEAN Leaders were presented with a progress report by the ASEAN Secretary-General which included the ASEAN’s recovery efforts in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic through the prioritisation of vaccine security and successful implementation of recovery frameworks, as well as the need to operationalise interconnectivity and digitalisation to spearhead regional recovery.
Aside from that, the Leaders also commended ASEAN’s collective efforts in the successful development of the ASEAN Post-2025 Community Vision and urged for the continued cooperation with external partners in promoting ASEAN’s regional frameworks.
In preparing for future public health emergencies, Leaders emphasised the importance of affordable, accessible and equitable distribution of vaccines as well as medical, technical and financial support across the region.
ASEAN should also leverage on opportunities to develop its digital sector to accelerate economic regional recovery.
39th ASEAN Summit
The 39th ASEAN Summit then commenced with His Majesty the Sultan highlighting ASEAN’s significant progress in strengthening cooperation with external partners, noting the expansion of work to collectively address COVID-19 and prepare for the future.
ASEAN-led processes continue to be the best way for ASEAN to effectively address issues of common concern, said the monarch in a titah at the virtual session.
His Majesty also welcomed the United Kingdom as the first new Dialogue Partner of ASEAN in over two decades before highlighting the need for ASEAN to uphold an open, inclusive and rules-based regional architecture, with ASEAN at its centre.
“Hence, ASEAN should foster strong and diverse partnerships and consider how partners can enrich the ASEAN-led processes towards the shared pursuit of regional peace, stability and prosperity,” said the Sultan.
His Majesty expressed the belief that it is important to reflect on developments within the region, while ASEAN should also uphold its integrity and credibility.
It was also acknowledged that the situation in Myanmar has captured global attention this year.
To this end, the monarch reaffirmed that Myanmar is a part of the ASEAN family and, with respect to the principle of non-interference, it is important to give Myanmar space to return to normalcy.
Lastly, His Majesty expressed the hope that Myanmar fully implements the Five-Point Consensus in a timely manner to help the country regain the confidence of the regional and international community.
At the Summit, the Leaders underscored that, considering geopolitical tensions and conflicts between major powers, ASEAN centrality and unity are especially vital when engaging with external partners on issues such as the Indo-Pacific, South China Sea, Korean Peninsula as well as new security agreements.
Leaders also urged for the mediation of the situation in Myanmar to uphold ASEAN’s credibility and preserve regional peace, security and stability.
At the summit, the Chairman’s Statement of the 38th and 39th ASEAN Summits was issued and endorsed by the ASEAN Leaders.
The ASEAN Leaders also adopted Bandar Seri Begawan Declaration on the Strategic and Holistic Initiative to Link ASEAN Responses to Emergencies and Disasters (ASEAN SHIELD); ASEAN Leaders’ Declaration on Upholding Multilateralism; ASEAN Leaders’ Declaration on the Blue Economy; Terms of Reference for the High-Level Task Force on the ASEAN Community’s Post-2025 Vision and the Roadmap; Consolidated Strategy on the Fourth Industrial Revolution for ASEAN; ASEAN Leaders’ Statement on Advancing Digital Transformation in ASEAN; ASEAN Comprehensive Framework on Care Economy; ASEAN Strategic Policy Framework on Promoting an Adaptive ASEAN Community of Greater Understanding, Tolerance and a Sense of Regional Agendas among Peoples of ASEAN; ASEAN Joint Statement on Climate Change to the 26th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP-26); Bandar Seri Begawan Declaration on the Importance of the Family for Community Development and NationBuilding; ASEAN Declaration on Promoting Competitiveness, Resilience and Agility of Workers for the Future of Work; ASEAN Leaders’ Declaration on the Reformulation and Production of Healthier Food and Beverage Options; and Declaration on the Elimination of Bullying of Children in ASEAN.
THE BRUNEIAN | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN