On the eve of 50th anniversary of ASEAN, State Counsellor and Foreign Minister Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said that a viable ASEAN Community would need people’s support.
“The participation of our people is essential. Without their support there cannot be a viable ASEAN Community” she said in her speech yesterday in Nay Pyi Taw to commemorate this special occasion.
The ASEAN charter and ASEAN Vision 2015 were very succinct in promoting the well-being and inclusiveness of the ASEAN Community of 640 million.
“Our goal is a rule-based, people-oriented, people-centered, peaceful, stable and resilient ASEAN Community,” she said.
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi pointed out that as a member of ASEAN, Myanmar has a responsibility to work towards the building of a successful ASEAN Community. “We share the common aspirations of all our members striving for peace, stability, security, and prosperity in each of our member states.”
Myanmar joined ASEAN in 1997 and chaired the grouping in 2014. Since then, it has become an active member of the ASEAN family. In November 2011, Myanmar became the fifth member to establish national committee on human rights joining Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines.
ASEAN members have travelled a long, and sometimes rugged road, together, sharing experiences and helping each other as a family, according to her. Even in times of crisis, she added, ASEAN has been able maintain its unity. ASEAN has stood the test of time and endured, in spite of it being one of the most diverse cultural and political regions in the world.
“We are confident that ASEAN will continue to uphold its centrality and act collectively and pro-actively in times of political uncertainty in the future,” she emphasized.
She was candid in stating that despite the ASEAN achievements in the fifty years which has fostered deeper understanding, built trust and partnership amid diversity, the grouping remains a work in progress.
She said that the past progress should not make ASEAN complacent. “It should inspire and enable the peoples of ASEAN to step up the momentum to realize a participative, resilient, and socially-responsible community for the betterment of all ASEAN peoples.”
The commemoration ceremony was attended by ambassadors from the ten-member ASEAN members and diplomatic community. The event also witness song and dances from member countries to display the grouping’s cultural diversity.
Throughout the years, she said in her speech, ASEAN has steadily fostered “ASEAN Values” and followed the “ASEAN Way” that has led the grouping to thrive and prosper.
The principles of dialogue, consensus, cooperation and non-interference have enabled the grouping to overcome many challenges and to remain relevant throughout its half-century of existence, according to her.
These principles have served as a foundation for building mutual trust, friendship and cooperation, not only within the region but also beyond.
They have empowered ASEAN to be at the center of many ASEAN-led mechanisms such as the ASEAN Plus One with Dialogue Partners, the ASEAN Plus Three, the ASEAN Regional Forum, the East Asia Summit and the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus.
Suu Kyi said that the successful implementation of ASEAN’s AEC Blueprint 2025 will turn the ASEAN region into the fourth largest economic bloc in the world by 2050.
This will include the finalization of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) ,an initiative that aims at the economic integration of countries with different levels of economic development. Once launched, this partnership will account for half the world’s population and thirty percent of global GDP.
The State Counsellor added that a result of ASEAN’s implementation of social and cultural pillar, a baby who was born in this region in 2016 will live an average 15 years longer than one that was born in 1967; access to safe drinking water is now 90 per cent whereas it was 68.1 percent in 1999; and adult literacy reached 94.9 per cent in 2016.
ASEAN is now entering a wider arena of regional integration as new and diverse challenges to sustainable development emerge: poverty, rising inequalities within and among members states, terrorism based on religious ideology, natural resource depletion. “We must meet these challenges together, developing further our capacity for united endeavor,” she concluded.