ASEAN has overcome many challenges through close cooperation while putting people first in the regional perspective, and therefore such cooperation must continue during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This was said by 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 in a titah when he joined other ASEAN leaders for the 36th ASEAN Summit, carrying the theme, ‘Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN,’ via video conference from Baitul Mesyuarah, Istana Nurul Iman yesterday.
His Majesty stressed that ASEAN’s recovery plan should prioritise initiatives that would help ASEAN quickly overcome the impact of COVID-19, such as through the easing of restrictions between countries by developing a region-wide modality that can be initiated bilaterally to build up national confidence as well as multilateral confidence within ASEAN. This would enable the resumption of regional economic activities, beginning with the movement of professionals, to ensure that essential services can continue; ensure that the movement of goods remains open and supply chains connected; and deepen economic integration to increase intra-ASEAN trade and investment.
Due to the current geopolitical uncertainty, ASEAN must foster strong and diverse partnerships to advance its achievements as a community, which include engaging partners strategically; maintaining ASEAN centrality; and building trust and confidence towards the region.
Earlier at the Plenary Session, Prime Minister of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam Nguyen Xuan Phuc as the ASEAN Chairman for 2020 in his remarks said the summit showed a strong commitment towards accomplishing ASEAN integration despite COVID-19. The ASEAN Chairman lauded ASEAN’s resolve in shouldering the responsibility to fight the pandemic, thereby demonstrating the resilience of the ASEAN community.
In addition, the chairman emphasised the need to uphold centrality, promote the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC), establish the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea and commit to international law including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
At the summit, the leaders were presented with development reports on ASEAN from the Secretary-General of ASEAN; as well as a report from the Chairman of the ASEAN Coordinating Council on ASEAN’s collective response against COVID-19 by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
At the end of the Summit, the ASEAN leaders adopted the ASEAN Chairman’s Statement of the 36th ASEAN Summit; the ASEAN Leaders’ Vision Statement on a ‘Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN’; and the ASEAN Declaration on Human Resources Development for the Changing World of Work.
The video conference was preceded by the opening ceremony of the 36th ASEAN Summit in honour of the ASEAN heads of state and government which featured cultural performances and the ASEAN theme song, The ASEAN Way. This was followed by the opening statement from the Prime Minister of Vietnam and Chairman of ASEAN, and a video presentation