The effects of the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic continued to prompt ASEAN to adapt to the situation and adopt new norms with a strong determination to be more cohesive in its responses.
This was highlighted by Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Awang Haji Aminuddin Ihsan bin Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin at the 23rd ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) Council Meeting held via video conference yesterday.
The 23rd ASCC Council Meeting was chaired by Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam Dao Ngoc Dung, and participated by ASCC Council Ministers and their representatives, as well as the Secretary-General of ASEAN.
ASCC Council Ministers agreed to forge ahead ASEAN efforts to address the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic and identify opportunities for the revitalisation of the ASEAN region post-pandemic.
The ministers were encouraged by the active contributions of ASCC sectoral bodies to the regional coordinated response to COVID-19. Concerted intersectoral initiatives enabled the potential development of a post-pandemic recovery plan that aims to restore the employment and livelihoods of workers and foster the social and economic recovery of vulnerable groups.
Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Awang Haji Aminuddin Ihsan underscored the crucial inter-connectedness of the work of ASCC alongside the other pillars, emphasised by the ASEAN Leaders in the Declaration of the Special ASEAN Summit on COVID-19 in April, to overcome the pandemic, prepare ASEAN and embrace the new normal.
He shared his views on some of ASCC’s recovery efforts including preparedness of the current and future labour market by maximising the use of the 4th Industrial Revolution platforms in key areas such as health, education, as well as information to make ASEAN more innovation-driven to respond effectively. This is in line with lifelong learning initiatives, especially in terms of upskilling and reskilling the people.
Second, to ensure that the social protection system is adaptive to changes and no one is left behind by reaching, protecting and caring the people, especially those most vulnerable, including the prioritisation of their mental health. Acceleration in the use of technology is also important through which Brunei Darussalam has now extended to its health and social welfare protection through the BruHealth app and the launch of the National Welfare System in July.
Third, to equip the youth, particularly in harnessing and channelling their innovative ideas by continuously making platforms available for them and lastly, establishing appropriate platforms and strengthening cooperation towards minimising the harmful effects of misinformation and fake news, and to work towards timely sharing of information.
The minister welcomed the timely Mid-Term Review of the ASCC Blueprint 2025 as well as the drafting of new Work Plans under ASCC sectoral bodies, as these provide the opportunity to carry out check and balances in realising a vision of a community that is sustainable, resilient, dynamic and inclusive.
The ASCC Council Ministers endorsed the ASEAN Declaration on Human Resources Development for the Changing World of Work and recommended it for adoption by ASEAN Leaders at the 36th ASEAN Summit. With the adoption of the Declaration, it reaffirms ASEAN’s commitment to strengthen ASEAN cooperation on labour, education and business sectors, to promote new skills for the future, as well as advance inclusive education and employment. The meeting noted with appreciation the establishment of the ASEAN TVET Council, and regional initiatives for the promotion of public health, social work, marine environment cooperation, and the empowerment of women.
Accompanying the minister were Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS) Pengiran Haji Mohd Hasnan bin Pengiran Haji Ali Hassan and senior officials of the MCYS.