Delivered by H.E. SA VIGNESWARAN
President of AIPA and Head of the AIPA Delegation,
President of the Senate of Malaysia
Meeting between ASEAN Heads of States/Governments and AIPA Delegation
28th ASEAN Summit
Vientiane, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, 6 September 2016
Your Excellency Thongloun Sisoulith, Chairman of the 28th and 29th ASEAN Summit, Prime Minister of Lao People’s Democratic Republic;
Excellencies, Heads of State and Heads of Government of ASEAN Member States and Secretary General of ASEAN;
Honourable Fellow Speakers, Deputy Speakers, Heads of Delegation and Parliamentarians of AIPA Member Parliaments and Secretary General of AIPA;
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
- On behalf of the AIPA Delegation, allow me to convey our sincere gratitude to Your Excellency Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith for the invitation extended to us to attend this 28th ASEAN Summit in this beautiful city of Vientiane on the banks of the Mekong River.
- AIPA congratulates ASEAN on the establishment of the ASEAN Community in December last year. Indeed, it was a truly remarkable achievement and transformation for what started off as an association for regional cooperation of five countries in 1967 that had evolved into an integrated community of 10 nations today working closely in the political-security, economic and socio-cultural fields to bring peace, stability, security, and prosperity to the region.
- From the parliamentary perspective, AIPA views itself as a committed supporter and partner to realize the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the goals of establishing a dynamic, prosperous, peaceful, stable and integrated ASEAN. The Vision, reflected in the theme of the 28th and 29th ASEAN Summit “Turning Vision into Reality for a Dynamic ASEAN Community” is envisaged in the blueprints of the three pillars of the ASEAN Community, comprising the ASEAN Political-Security Community (APSC), ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), and ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC).
- ASEAN has pledged to become a rules-based, people-oriented, people-centered Community by 2025. To realize these goals, ratification of all ASEAN conventions and agreements needs to be expedited, which would be meaningless if they cannot be implemented across the region. Further, we should also study if our domestic laws are aligned with the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and its three Blueprints. There may be a need for some laws to be either introduced, amended or repealed to complement ASEAN Community building.
- AIPA supports ASEAN centrality. ASEAN must enhance its ability to determine the course of affairs in our region, our own backyard, while continuously engaging all the major powers in the world.
Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
- At this important outset, we would like to present our thoughts in line with the perspective of the three ASEAN pillars. We are aware of the significant efforts made in the field of Political – Security, which have contributed to a stable and peaceful environment in the region.
- We observe with dismay that despite the most advanced security technologies deployed to protect lives and prevent terrorism, the terrorists are still able to carry out their heinous acts, inflicting casualties and spreading fear and uncertainty even among the developed nations. Our region also saw terrorist acts taking place although our security agencies were successful in pre-empting some of the pre-planned terrorist attacks in our region.
- ASEAN is encouraged to enhance counter terrorism efforts through stronger intelligence cooperation. Common measures should be taken by the member countries in preventing terrorist and transnational criminals from using border areas as safe haven; while at the same time promoting the culture of dialogue and engagement as a mean to de-radicalization of extreme faith groups. ASEAN should expedite immediate measures to address safety and security issues in the region, including maritime security.
- The hostage crisis, where Abu Sayyaf claimed responsibility in the abduction of Indonesian sailors/ship crews and tourists, has threatened maritime security. The Framework on Trilateral Cooperative Arrangement Indonesia-Malaysia-the Philippines on Immediate Measures to Address Security Issues in the Maritime Areas of Common Concern was signed on 14 July 2016 in Jakarta, Indonesia. It is therefore important to ensure the implementation of the Framework.
- AIPA recognises the importance of maritime security and supports efforts to maintain and promote peace, security, stability, safety and freedom of navigation in and over-flight including the South China Sea and enhance mutual trust and confidence, exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities and avoid actions that may further complicate the situation, and pursue peaceful resolution of dispute in accordance with international law including the 1982 United Nation Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). We further support the efforts to fully and effectively implement the DOC in its entirety and work expeditiously for the early adoption of an effective Code of Conduct (COC).
- On the issue of Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing, AIPA supports ASEAN commitment to expand regional cooperation in addressing IUU Fishing, as it has undermined our economy, environmental sustainability, and maritime security. Therefore, it is pivotal for our region to build regional mechanism in order to prevent, deter, and eliminate IUU Fishing.
- AIPA is also of the view that addressing trafficking in wildlife and timber should be our priority. ASEAN is one of the regions mostly affected by illegal activities of wildlife and timber trafficking. We need to strengthen our cooperation in preventing and combatting illegal trafficking of endangered species and its products, including through the effective implementation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the operationalization of ASEAN mechanisms, such as ASEAN-Wildlife Enforcement Network (WEN) and Senior Officials’ Meeting on Transnational Crime (SOMTC).
Distinguished Leaders of ASEAN and AIPA,
- On the Economic Pillar, AIPA urges the full translation of ASEAN Agreements into national legislations to ensure that the full implementation of these agreements would attain the visions of ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). It is important for us to ensure that the grassroots level will benefit, including Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and business community as significant element of ASEAN integration. Evaluation on the impact of the AEC should be regularly conducted to monitor its progress. This should be carried out along with continuous outreach efforts to the grassroots level. It is important for ASEAN to empower MSMEs across the region in order to bring prosperity to its people and business communities, which remain the significant elements of ASEAN economic integration.
- ASEAN, as a regional community, is a unique entity with its own characteristics. Although the ASEAN model differs from that of the European Union, many lessons can be taken from recent events. ASEAN should be prepared in preventing or facing similar events in the future.
- While ASEAN strives to be a highly integrated and cohesive regional economy under the AEC, that advances a single market agenda and a more seamless movement of skilled labor and business persons, the different level of economic development among ASEAN Member States remains a huge challenge to regional economic integration. In this regard, it is essential for us to continue our concerted efforts in narrowing this development gap and augment capacity and capability of ASEAN’s CLMV through various initiatives such as the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI), and the ASEAN Framework for Equitable Economic Development.
- The IAI’s core activities have been aimed at addressing the development and accelerate the economic integration of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Viet Nam (CLMV). At the meeting on 6 August 2016 in Lao PDR, The CLMV Economic Ministers endorsed the recommended Work Plan for the formulation of the Framework for CLMV Development. AIPA holds the hope that Lao PDR’s Chairmanship of ASEAN will adopt that framework as an economic strategy for CLMV to advance economic development and to enhance their capacity to reap the benefits arising from regional integration and increase living standards of ASEAN People.
Distinguished Leaders of ASEAN and AIPA
- AIPA recognizes the importance of the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) that benefits and improves the quality of life of its peoples through cooperative activities that are people-oriented, people-centred, sustainable, environmentally friendly and geared towards deepening the sense of ASEAN identity. AIPA will steadfastly continue to support the work of ASEAN, particularly in line with the ASCC Blueprint 2025.
- We should also dedicate more effort to enhance public awareness of ASEAN, as well as our sense of ASEAN Identity. Indeed, surveys suggest that not many of our people are fully aware of ASEAN, its pillars and its aspirations, therefore we must do more to forge a greater sense of ASEAN Identity. AIPA will continue to fully support ASEAN in this endeavor.
- We can also do more in terms of ASEAN Socio-Cultural cooperation. We should continue to strengthen cooperation and coordination on cross-sectoral and cross-pillar issues and to engage all stakeholders. We should also continue to align our socio-cultural sectoral work plans with the ASCC Blueprint 2025. In addition, we should encourage more frequent usage of ASEAN symbols, themes and celebrations such as the ASEAN Day celebration and the ASEAN Anthem to foster a greater sense of ASEAN Identity.
- On labor and migrant workers, AIPA welcomes the outcomes of the 24th ASEAN Labor Ministers Meeting (ALMM) on 15 May 2016 in Vientiane and congratulates the ALMM for endorsing the Vientiane Declaration on Transition from Informal Employment to Formal Employment towards Decent Work Promotion in ASEAN. We encourage the resumption of the negotiation to finalize the ASEAN Instrument on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers with specific deadline that has been agreed by ASEAN Labor Ministers.
- Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) is also important in order to promote the development of skilled and trained labor in the region. As the economies of many ASEAN Member States continue to expand, challenges related to the supply and mobility of a skilled workforce have also increased. To date, our region has tended to focus mainly on higher/tertiary education cooperation. AIPA calls upon ASEAN members to intensify efforts in promoting TVET cooperation in this region so that it will contribute to sustainable development and poverty alleviation efforts of all countries.
- Next year, ASEAN will celebrate its Golden Anniversary, a milestone truly worth celebrating. AIPA and ASEAN can undertake joint activities that will highlight the achievements of ASEAN during its last 50 years, and how it has contributed to the maintenance of regional peace, economic progress and social development during that period. It will be an occasion to reflect on the future of ASEAN and the role it can play regionally and internationally. The strong partnership of ASEAN and AIPA should be an integral part of this narrative.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
- On ASEAN-AIPA relationship and cooperation, as well as AIPA’s continued engagement with ASEAN, we endorse a food for thought about our two entities’ engagement. Knowing that legislative support is crucial to the success of the implementation of ASEAN Agreements and Policies, AIPA pledges its unconditional support to ASEAN. Challenging regional issues are our day-to-day reality, whether they are political, security, economic, environmental or even social in nature. Hence, ASEAN must always uphold the moral high ground to facilitate their resolution through a peaceful and cooperative manner.
- In this regard, the cooperation between ASEAN and AIPA needs to be strengthened at the operational level, such as through the Senior Officials’ Meeting or Secretariat. This includes monitoring and follow up on all legal binding agendas and agreements adopted by ASEAN, or to take in-depth substantive study on specific matters to increase capability of strategic planning, and maintaining its role in dealing with challenges and mutual interest according to the ASEAN Community Vision 2015.
Distinguished Leaders of ASEAN and AIPA,
- Allow me to conclude this message by conveying our high appreciation and gratitude to His Excellency Thongloun Sisoulith, Chairman of ASEAN and Prime Minister of Lao People’s Democratic Republic, and the Government and the National Assembly of Lao PDR, for the kind and warm hospitality granted to AIPA as well as for the friendly gesture extended to us since our very first day upon arriving in this charming city of Vientiane.
- We wish you a successful and productive Summit and, most of all, a peaceful, stable and prosperous ASEAN! Thank you!
H.E. S.A. VIGNESWARAN
Acting President of AIPA, President of Senate of Malaysia
Vientiane, Lao People’s Democratic Republic
6 September 2016
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