Asean all set to meet targets
Danial Norjidi

ASEAN has come too far to turn back now as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations is well on its way with regards to meeting regional integration targets, and the platform for Asean leaders to act on is now much firmer than it was three days ago.

His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said this during a press conference as the Chairman of the Asean Ministerial Meetings (AMM) at the International Convention Centre in Berakas yesterday.

“First of all, as Chairman of the AMM, I think the last three days have gone by as we hoped they would,” said His Royal Highness, addressing reporters at the conference, which effectively marked the conclusion of the meetings that began on Sunday.

“We have been trying to build a firm platform on which our Asean leaders can act with confidence when they meet at the summit in October, and over the last three days, we feel a lot of work has been done.”

There are indeed things still to do before the next summit in October, but HRH highlighted that there are still a number of meetings to go.

HRH noted the upcoming retreat in Thailand next month as well as a special meeting between Asean and China, along with their annual meeting at the United Nations in September.

“So overall, we are pleased with what has been achieved so far and we feel that the platform mentioned is much firmer now than it was three days ago, and I have two reasons for saying that,” shared HRH.

“First, for us as foreign ministers, the big picture is much clearer, especially since the joint communiqué has been completed, and secondly, the more detailed picture is now well set out in terms of our targets for 2015.

“To do this, we have concentrated on following up from the last summit. We have all had a look at the overall progress in meeting our regional integration targets and I think everyone agreed that Asean is well on its way.”

“We do see some challenges ahead, of course, especially in the economic field, but everyone realised that Asean has come too far to turn back now,” HRH asserted, adding, “We only have about two-and-a-half years left to meet our targets and we believe the only way to do this is to move forward with our plans as quickly and as efficiently as we can.”

HRH Prince Mohamed Bolkiah went on to share that the ministers had a good exchange on regional and international developments, and got to know each other’s views on matters that affect the security of the region and its people, such as those of natural disasters, terrorism, sea piracy and human trafficking.

Touching on the Post Ministerial Conferences, the Asean Regional Forum and East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, HRH reflected that they gave the Asean ministers an opportunity to meet their partners and assess how Asean’s dialogue relations are going.

“This,” he said, “is very important because we have a number of ministers joining us here for the first time, and we had a good chance to get to know them and listen to their views and ideas on matters which our people are very concerned about, such as food and energy security, and climate change.”

HRH also affirmed that they had ended with “many good impressions” and highlighted that “relations with partners are very good”.

All these meetings were held in the spirit of close friendship and goodwill, and HRH noted that it was encouraging to learn that there is a strong interest in all areas of cooperation – political, security, economic, social and cultural.

“We thank them most warmly for all their ideas, friendship and cooperation.”

Moving on, HRH said that they have tried to keep the long-term Asean picture in mind.

“So, I would also like to thank the previous chairman, Cambodia and Myanmar who will be taking over next year.

“We have worked closely together and it has been a pleasure working with them and making sure that the AMM is not just a one-off event but is part of the total Asean process,” HRH said.

In conclusion, HRH said, “It has been a great honour for our country to host the AMM again and to welcome so many of our friends and partners and we thank them all most warmly for coming to join us.”

Sitting alongside His Royal Highness at the press conference yesterday was the Asean Secretary-General, Le Luong Minh.

When asked by the Borneo Bulletin for his thoughts on how Brunei has played its role as host with regards to all the issues that have been discussed, the Secretary-General said, “The 46thAsean Foreign Ministers’ Meeting has been a success, as has the Asean Regional Forum and the East Asia Summit, and this is thanks to the coordinating role carried out by the Chair country, Brunei Darussalam.” - Borneo Bulletin (3 July 2013)