His Majesty calls on Asean to strengthen regionís stability

OVER the past decade, Asean has proven to be resilient, even when faced with challenging developments around and within the region. Nonetheless, Asean leaders must continue with our efforts in building our resilience and strengthening the regionís stability. At the same time, Asean leaders need to remain vigilant of such external factors, and continue to enhance our competitiveness in trade and investment, with the aim of moving Asean up the global value chain.

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam said this in a titah as the monarch consented to attend the Opening Ceremony of the 24th Asean Summit; Plenary Session; Retreat Session; and Luncheon yesterday.

The events were held at the Myanmar International Convention Centre, Nay Pyi Taw, the Republic of the Union of Myanmar.

His Majesty was welcomed at the convention centre by U Thein Sein, the President of Myanmar and wife, Madam Daw Khin Khin Win.

The opening ceremony, which was officiated the President of Myanmar, was also attended by other Asean leaders with their delegations.

After the opening ceremony, His Majesty attended the Plenary Session which was chaired by the President of Myanmar. During the session, Asean leaders discussed, among others, the Nay Pyi Taw Declaration on ďMoving Forward in Unity to a Peaceful and Prosperous CommunityĒ and the progress of the realisation of the Asean Community by 2015; strengthening of the Asean institutions; and envisioning strategic direction for the Asean Community post 2015.

During the session, His Majesty delivered a titah and began by congratulating the President of Myanmar for hosting the Asean Summit for the first time and also for the welcome dinner, warm welcome and excellent hospitality from the Government and people of Myanmar.

His Majesty commended President Thein Sein on his statement and gave his full support for all the plans and priorities identified in the Nay Pyi Taw Declaration.

His Majesty believed that community-building is an ongoing process, and after 2015, Asean leaders must continue efforts with renewed enthusiasm. Therefore, the work in coming up with the elements for the post-2015 vision by the end of this year, is significant. At the same time, Asean leaders must focus on the existing community blueprints as there is less than two years to go.

His Majesty was also pleased to note that the officials have reviewed the implementation of the roadmap under each of the three pillars and should also coordinate with the Post-2015 Working Group to ensure that the vision being developed is bold, strategic, outward-looking and practical.

In line with this, His Majesty expressed his appreciations on the work done on the Asean business travel card and Asean visa-free travel. His Majesty looked forward to its implementation by this year to further facilitate the movement of business people within the region. This would further contribute to the connectivity of Asean.

His Majesty mentioned that Asean is building a community that is focused on people. His Majesty said Asean must continue with commitments made last year, in the areas of youth, health, women and children, disaster management and social protection, even after 2015.

Additionally, Asean should enhance awareness on the efforts and continue to encourage active participation and support. This was in mind, when the proposal was made to have consular assistance arrangements for its nationals in third countries. This would allow people to travel with the assurance that assistance can be provided, especially in countries where they have no representation.

This added meaning to the raising of the Asean flag alongside the national flags in the missions abroad.

His Majesty then said as Asean is faced with an increasingly complex geopolitical situation, there is a need to go beyond strengthening the internal institutions, especially the Asean Secretariat.

Therefore, the ability of the Asean Secretariat to support the work is vital and Asean leaders should look into ensuring that the secretariat is provided with necessary resources.

His Majesty also looked forward to the recommendations of the High Level Task Force and hoped to see concrete actions taken as soon as possible.

At the end of the titah, His Majesty was confident that there was much achievement and progress for Asean this year under the able leadership of the President of Myanmar.

His Majesty later attended the Retreat Session, which was held at the Pearl Hall, Myanmar International Convention Centre.

In the afternoon, His Majesty attended a luncheon hosted by the President of Myanmar, with other Asean Leaders.

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 Ministerís Office; Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Dewa Dato Seri Setia Lim Jock Seng, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade II; and Pehin Datu Singamanteri Colonel (Rtd) Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Awang Haji Mohammad Yasmin bin Haji Umar, Minister of Energy at the Prime Ministerís Office. - Borneo Bulletin (12 May 2014)