ASEAN solidarity needed to tackle COVID-19, says His Majesty

His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam highlighted the need for ASEAN solidarity in facing the unprecedented challenges brought by COVID-19, in a titah delivered yesterday morning in a video conference for the Special ASEAN Summit on COVID-19.

“Complementing each other’s efforts, as well as sharing information, experiences and measures taken are important in strengthening ASEAN’s coordination, in order to control the spread of the pandemic in the region. Equally important is managing public information to avoid panic and counter false news,” said His Majesty, through a video link from Baitul Mesyuarah, Istana Nurul Iman.

On the socio-economic front, His Majesty touched on the measures being implemented in Brunei Darussalam, which include preparations for more resilience in facing the changing economic landscape post-COVID-19.

“During this difficult time, it is imperative for ASEAN to work together to keep economic activities alive and also learn from this crisis to be better prepared for future health emergencies. Enhanced cooperation across all Community Pillars is necessary to strengthen ASEAN’s resilience,” said the monarch.

To this end, His Majesty highlighted the urgency for accelerating intra-ASEAN trade in preparing the region for post-COVID-19 recovery.

His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam during the Special ASEAN Summit on COVID-19 video conference. PHOTO: INFOFOTO
His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam joins ASEAN leaders at the Special ASEAN Plus Three Summit video conference. PHOTO: INFOFOTO

The Special ASEAN Summit began with an opening speech from Prime Minister of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam Nguyen Xuan Phuc as the ASEAN Chair for 2020.

At this summit, leaders were presented a report from the Chairman of the ASEAN Coordinating Council on ASEAN efforts in handling the COVID-19 by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam Pham Binh Minh.

The leaders of ASEAN also approved several recommendations to address the COVID-19 pandemic, which include establishing the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund; developing harmonised guidelines for response to public health emergencies; enhancing communication and cooperation to address fake news; minimising the economic impact of COVID-19; continued social protection; and developing a post-pandemic recovery plan.

The video conference resumed in the afternoon, where the leaders of ASEAN and Plus Three countries – the People’s Republic of China, Japan and the Republic of Korea – met for the Special ASEAN Plus Three Summit.

At the Special ASEAN Plus Three Summit, His Majesty emphasised on the importance of close collaboration between ASEAN and the Plus Three countries in responding to this global health emergency.

His Majesty welcomed efforts and expertise provided by the Dialogue Partners, stating that “continued cooperation on response efforts will ensure a coordinated approach in containing the pandemic domestically, as well as preventing its spread in the region.”

His Majesty also underscored the need to address the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19, with a recommendation to focus on ensuring the uninterrupted flow of essential goods and services to safeguard people’s security and livelihoods.

Apart from supporting ASEAN integration, His Majesty called for ASEAN and the Plus Three countries to develop regional trade and investment opportunities towards enhancing collective resilience to future emergencies, therefore accelerating economic growth and recovery, post-COVID-19. The Special ASEAN Plus Three Summit began with the opening speech of Nguyen Xuan Phuc, as the Chair of the ASEAN Plus Three, which was followed by speeches from President of the Republic of Korea Moon Jae-in as Coodinator for the Plus Three countries; Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe; and Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China Li Keqiang.

During the Summit, leaders of the Plus Three countries shared information and their experiences, as well as initiatives in containing the spread of the disease, public awareness initiatives; and treatments for patients infected by COVID-19.

The Special Summits issued a Joint Declaration and Statement.