Region's future lies in people-centred Asean

ASEAN must consolidate and build upon its achievements over the past few decades to deal with the challenges of globalisation.

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam in a titah during the 7th Bali Democracy Forum in Bali, Indonesia yesterday said Asean needs to clarify what it hopes to achieve through people-centred development and reflect clarity in its strategies and programmes for the future.

Politically, peace and stability should mean ensu-ring basic security of its citizens. Economically, rapid development is not merely about gaining material benefits but also about narrowing disparities in wealth and alleviating poverty,” His Majesty said. Globalisation should nurture equitable growth, whilst also preserving human dignity.”

According to His Majesty, while the Asia Pacific region, including Southeast Asia, has seen good progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, a number of challenges still remain to be overcome.

His Majesty said, The accomplishments of the last 50 years have eluded a sizeable proportion of people in many parts of the world. Despite impressive growth figures and positive statistics, extreme poverty, inequality and social injustices still exist.

Although globalisation has brought notable progress and forged new partnerships, a great many still struggle with its negative impacts.

Rapid growth and develo-pment in many regions have also had negative impacts on the natural environment.

These remaining challenges clearly pose great risk and uncertainly to both the region’s governments and its people.”

On the challenges of the 21st Century economic inequalities, pandemic disasters or transnational crimes His Majesty noted that all of these directly affect the region’s people and this is why they will be required to be constructively engaged in shaping their future.

This form of engagement calls for political, economic and social development, which promotes greater interaction between the government and its people,” His Majesty said. It should result in a partnership that is peaceful, inclusive and consultative. This partnership must recognise and support the roles and responsibilities of all its stakeholders, and is based on trust, dialogue and consensus. This essentially equates to good governance.”

In this regard, His Majesty noted that currently, Asean is actively taking meaningful steps to reach out to and engage its citizens.

There is also much greater engagement with the private sector, academia, youth and civil society. Dialogues between governments and these vital components of the society have become a constant feature of the Asean process as they play an important role in assisting governments in their decision-making processes.

His Majesty, meanwhile, believes that more can still be done to fully realise a people-centred Asean.

According to His Majesty, technology can be utilised to both listen to the views of the people, and to share information with them on how they can benefit from regional cooperation.

His Majesty noted that both the government and non-government sectors should prioritise their work on issues that directly affect their citizens, such as disaster management, human trafficking, drug abuse and the impact of climate change.

More than ever before, countries in this region need to listen to each other’s concerns and work collectively for the common good of all its people,” His Majesty said.

On how changes in the regional landscape over the last three decades have fundamentally altered the way governments engage their citizens, His Majesty said, These past years have brought the region and its people rapid development and positive improvements in the quality of governance, which is required to reflect the growing expectations of the people.

At the same time, the world has also seen substantial progress particularly in the socio-economic area, with global populations enjoying higher standards of living, better healthcare and education.

According to His Majesty, in the Asia Pacific, including Southeast Asia, the overall picture has been the most impressive.

The region's current combined output amounts to 40 per cent of global growth and one third of the world’s trade. The size of the region's affluent middle class is increasing and most importantly, the development drive has lifted substantial numbers of the region’s people out of poverty.

Furthermore, His Majesty highlighted that the region has seen good progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, which bodes well for the current generation.

In this regard, His Majesty expressed his satisfaction that work has started at the United Nations on a transformative post-2015 development agenda, which will greatly benefit the future generations.

The agenda strongly advocates the critical importance of human development that is inclusive, people-centred and sustainable,” His Majesty said, adding that the trend, in many ways mirrors, what Asean has strived for in realising its vision of a regional community next year.

Earlier, His Majesty expressed his pleasure to be in Bali amongst close friends and extended his congratulations to Dato Laila Utama Dr H Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, President of the Republic of Indonesia, for hosting the 7th Bali Democracy Forum.

According to His Majesty, the convening of this series of Democracy Forums is testimony to Yudhoyono’s farsightedness, and in his 10-year tenure as president, he has led Indonesia through significant economic growth and development.

Indonesia’s smooth and successful elections held this year augur well for both Indonesia and the region, and has helped inspire confidence in continued peace, stability and prosperity for Southeast Asia, His Majesty added.

His Majesty expressed his confidence that under the guidance of Yudhoyono’s successor, Joko Widodo, Indonesia will continue to be a beacon of progress for the region. His Majesty said he looked forward to working with him for the betterment of the region as a whole.

Earlier, upon arrival at the Bali International Convention Centre, His Majesty was greeted by the Indonesian president. After the opening session of the 7th Bali Democracy Forum, His Majesty later consented to join other leaders and heads of delegation for a group photo. His Majesty also joined other leaders and heads of delegation for a luncheon held at the Nusantara Room, Bali International Convention Centre.

Later in the afternoon, His Majesty departed Bali. Before leaving St Regis Bali Hotel, a Doa Selamat was read by Pehin Datu Seri Maharaja Dato Paduka Seri Setia (Dr) Ustaz Haji Awang Abdul Aziz bin Juned, the State Mufti.

Present at the Ngurah Rai International Airport, Bali to bid farewell to His Majesty were Prof Dr Ir H Mohammad Nuh, Indonesia’s Minister of Education and Culture, Nurul Qomar, Ambassador of Indonesia to Brunei Darussalam, Brigadier General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Awang Haji Mahmud bin Haji Saidin, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Brunei Darussalam to Indonesia, as well as officers from the Brunei Embassy in Indonesia and senior Indonesian government officials.

Accompanying His Majesty were Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Abdul Rahman bin Haji Ibrahim, Minister of Finance II at the Prime Minister’s Office and Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Dewa Dato Seri Setia Lim Jock Seng, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade II. - Borneo Bulletin (11 October 2014)