Sultan urges equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines

With its vast population size and GDP, the East Asia Summit (EAS) has great potential to push for a wide-scale recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, said 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 15th East Asia Summit.

His Majesty encouraged EAS participating countries to work closely to ensure equitable access to safe and affordable COVID-19 vaccines and treatments.

The pandemic has also intensified people’s dependence on technology for essential services, leading to a rise in online challenges such as cybercrimes and the use of social media platforms to promote violent extremism and disinformation. As such, His Majesty urged greater cooperation and capacity building initiatives towards ensuring that the people can safely operate online.

His Majesty in his titah stated that the 15th anniversary of the EAS is an occasion for participating countries to reaffirm their commitment to the EAS. His Majesty reiterated Brunei Darussalam’s commitment to the principles of peace, stability and prosperity, and encouraged the use of the EAS platform for positive actions and shared benefits.

Prime Minister of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam Nguyen Xuân Phúc as the ASEAN Chairman for 2020 in his opening remarks at the summit highlighted that the EAS should uphold international law and undertake a rules-based approach to international issues to sustain security and development in the region. Peace and stability are needed to respond to unprecedented challenges resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak. Active collaboration and discussions are therefore paramount in advancing the EAS to rebound from the COVID-19 impact.

The Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) and the President of the World Bank Group also briefed the meeting on global efforts in addressing COVID-19 pandemic and promoting comprehensive recovery. The Secretary-General of ASEAN also reported on the progress of the EAS cooperation in which the EAS were urged to further strengthen regional economic collaboration to mitigate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as to address global health issues.

At the summit, the East Asia leaders agreed to pursue dialogue and mutually close collaboration including ensuring access to vaccines and supplies to combat COVID-19, strengthening regional health resilience and stability, and further developing integration projects to aid economic recovery.

At the end of the summit, the Hanoi Declaration on the 15th anniversary of the East Asia Summit; East Asia Summit Leaders’ Statement on Maritime Sustainability; the East Asia Summit Leaders’ Statement on Cooperation to Promote Steady Growth of Regional Economy; the East Asia Summit Leaders’ Statement on Strengthening Collective Capacity in Epidemics Prevention and Response; the East Asia Summit Leaders’ Statement on Women, Peace and Security; the Non-Paper on Enhancing the Coordinating Role of the EAS Chair; and Asia Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance (APLMA) Leaders’ Malaria Elimination Roadmap: A Five-Year Review of Progress (2015–2019) were also adopted.

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 15th East Asia Summit. PHOTO: INFOFOTO