Forward-thinking necessary in tackling pandemic fallouts: LegCo Speaker

Aziz Idris

The global impact of the pandemic on health, education and the economy has fundamentally changed daily lives. Despite this, it is essential for all to maintain a forward-looking approach and carefully adapt to ensure the continuity of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA), said Speaker of the Legislative Council (LegCo) Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Lela Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Abdul Rahman bin Dato Setia Haji Mohamed Taib.

He made these comments during the 41st General Assembly of the AIPA (AIPA 41) yesterday via teleconference under the theme ‘Parliamentary Diplomacy for a Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN Community’.

LegCo members, led by the Speaker, joined the online meeting hosted by the National Assembly (NA) of Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

The Brunei delegation also conveyed a titah in a message from 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.

The LegCo Speaker highlighted the relevance of this year’s theme in the current context as the world is facing unprecedented challenges in adapting to the new norm.

“Indeed, the theme further emphasises the role of national Parliaments of ASEAN as the voice of the people and the need to stand in solidarity and to respond swiftly to pressing issues, in accordance with the international laws,” he said.

ABOVE & BELOW: Speaker of the Legislative Council Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Lela Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Abdul Rahman bin Dato Setia Haji Mohamed Taib (pic right) and other members of the Legislative Council at the teleconference meeting. PHOTOS: AZIZ IDRIS

“By upholding the true ASEAN spirit of ‘Unity in Diversity’, I believe that AIPA will be able to assist ASEAN in overcoming the challenges ahead and respond adeptly to the impending future,” he added.

Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Lela Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Abdul Rahman urged AIPA Member Parliaments to continue fostering cooperation among relevant stakeholders by encouraging timely exchanges of lessons learned in relation to mitigating COVID-19 effects.

Furthermore, he said, it is important for parliamentarians to acknowledge post-pandemic challenges, which are imminent, and devising pre-emptive measures to safeguard the interests of the people, especially the most vulnerable members of the ASEAN nations.

Earlier, Chairwoman of the Vietnamese NA Nguyen Thi Kim Ngân delivered her opening address at the ceremony in Hanoi. She said the COVID-19 pandemic has had a severe impact on political, economical and social activities of every country.

The Vietnamese NA leader, who is also AIPA 41 President, urged Member Parliaments to stand with governments in seeking ways to push back COVID-19, recover and develop the economy, stabilise local livelihoods and promote ASEAN cooperation during and post-pandemic.

Meanwhile, sending a welcoming message through video, President of Vietnam Nguyen Phú Trong said legislators and parliamentarians are very important representatives of the public in office, as they are the bridge that reflects the voice and wishes of the people. They play an important role in communicating the values and benefits of an ASEAN community.

“Over the past 43 years, AIPA has leveraged its role and has joined with ASEAN. Now more than ever, it is time for AIPA to continue its efforts to contribute to ASEAN centrality in the evolving regional architecture, promote multilateralism, connectivity, international cooperation, absolute respect for the rule-of-law for peace, stability and prosperity in the region and the world.”

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuân Phúc spoke highly of the AIPA’s role as a significant organisation of legislative bodies in ASEAN. For decades, AIPA parliamentary cooperation has played an important role in coordinating with ASEAN member states in maintaining and consolidating regional peace, security, stability, cooperation and development, as well as enhancing people-to-people connectivity.

He stressed the effectiveness of the ASEAN Leaders’ Interface with AIPA representatives during the virtual 36th ASEAN Summit and the need to uphold the dialogue mechanism, adding that the dialogue has helped governments implement policies to improve the livelihood and well-being of the people.

During the three-day assembly, a meeting of the Women Parliamentarians of AIPA (WAIPA), AIPA Young Parliamentarians and meetings of the Political, Economic, Social Affairs and Organisation Committees will be held.

The AIPA is a regional parliamentary organisation formed on September 2, 1977. It was first known as the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Organisation (AIPO) formed by the leaders of the parliamentary delegations of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand attending the 3rd ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Conference in Manila, the Philippines. In 2009, Brunei became a member.

At the 27th AIPO General Assembly in Cebu city, the Philippines in 2006, there was a consensus to transform the organisation into a more effective and closely integrated institution and the organisation was renamed AIPA.