Dr Kao Kim Hourn officially took office as the 15th Secretary-General of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) yesterday.
In a ceremony marking the transfer of office of the Secretary-General of ASEAN, Dr Kao from Cambodia received the baton of leadership from his predecessor Dato Paduka Lim Jock Hoi from Brunei Darussalam, the ASEAN Secretariat said.
Dr Kao will serve from 2023 to 2027. Minister for Foreign Affairs of Indonesia Retno Marsudi presided over the ceremony, witnessed by the Committee of Permanent Representatives to ASEAN, representatives of ASEAN Entities, and the diplomatic community in Jakarta.
Dr Kao, in his inaugural speech as Secretary-General, said, “It is important that ASEAN continues to give key priorities to what I consider as the Six P’s: peace, prosperity, planet, people, partnerships, and potentials.”
He added, “ASEAN has always been at its very best when it works together collectively in the spirit of unity and solidarity, whether that be among its member states or with its external partners. I am confident that if we stand united, act collectively and positively, and look after one another in the true spirit of amity and cooperation, there is nothing that ASEAN cannot achieve.”
Besides the member states and formal partners of ASEAN, Dato Paduka Lim Jock Hoi expressed his gratitude to the ASEAN Secretariat staff in his speech.
“At the ASEAN Secretariat, we were not spared from the challenges in having to transition to a work-from-home arrangement. Despite this, our staff were able to service thousands of virtual meetings in ensuring that the work of ASEAN continues. I applaud their resilience and tenacity, which was further demonstrated when the ASEAN Secretariat physically hosted its first ever ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting in April 2021,” he said.
Emphasising the historical significance of the ceremony, Retno said, “There is no other choice, but to ensure ASEAN remains relevant to address critical regional and global issues. To this end, a stronger ASEAN Secretariat and enhancing the role of Secretary-General becomes pivotal.”
Retno presented Dato Paduka Lim Jock Hoi and Dr Kao with tokens of commemoration to conclude the handover.
Dr Kao is the first Cambodian to serve as Secretary-General of ASEAN. He was appointed by the leaders of ASEAN at the 41st ASEAN Summit in November 2022.
According to the ASEAN Charter, the Secretary-General of ASEAN serves a non-renewable term of office of five years and selected among nationals of the member states based on alphabetical rotation with consideration for integrity and capability.