ASEAN marks 53rd anniversary with online celebration

Danial Norjidi

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Secretariat marked ASEAN’s 53rd anniversary in virtual recently.

According to a statement, “Against the backdrop of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the ASEAN Secretariat moved the celebrations online, inviting people worldwide to join in the commemoration from the comfort of their own homes.”

The theme for this year’s anniversary focusses on ASEAN’s cohesive journey to resilience. The online celebration was broadcast on ASEAN’s website and social media platforms. The ASEAN Secretariat is hosted in Jakarta, while Vietnam is the Chair for ASEAN in 2020.

Secretary-General of ASEAN Dato Paduka Lim Jock Hoi opened the online ceremony with welcoming remarks. “Under Vietnam’s strong and able Chairmanship, ASEAN stays focussed on undertaking important milestone exercises, as the region demonstrates commitment in its integration journey,” he said.

The Secretary-General added that the region is gradually adapting to the “new normal”. He underlined the significance for ASEAN to develop a robust, holistic and pragmatic post-pandemic recovery framework to mitigate socio-economic effects, while continuing to advance regional economic integration.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi rallied for all ASEAN member states to continue to work together in fighting the pandemic.

“ASEAN must always cooperate to maintain our regional peace and stability, and not to be dragged into the storm of geopolitical tension or being forced to choose sides,” she said.

“Therefore, the region must stay ahead of the curve to maintain our centrality, maintain our relevance and be at the driving seat in turning rivalry into cooperation, distrust into strategic trust.”

Vietnam’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh said, “Vietnam will continue to work closely with our neighbours and friends to build a strong and united ASEAN, one that is indispensable for peace and prosperity within the region and beyond, in line with ASEAN’s principles and value of ‘Think Community, Act Community’.”

The online celebration also featured congratulatory wishes from ASEAN citizens, ASEAN’s external partners and musical performances by the region’s youth groups.