Stand united amid challenging times

Aziz Idris

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, in a titah, said that COVID-19 has undoubtedly changed the way in which governments and national parliaments respond to ever-changing norms and unprecedented challenges, as its indefinite nature calls for urgent actions to protect the interests of the people while emphasising the importance of remaining united and integrated within the ASEAN community.

His Majesty delivered the titah in a message which was conveyed at the opening ceremony of the General Assembly of the 41st ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA 41) yesterday.

In the titah presented by the Legislative Council (LegCo), His Majesty said, “I am pleased to note that the agenda for the 41st AIPA General Assembly this year will highlight COVID-19 response and recovery efforts in relation to the economy, social security, peace and stability in the region.

“In the past, ASEAN and AIPA have seen great progress and proved their resilience in overcoming challenges. However, it is essential for ASEAN and AIPA to recognise the emerging challenges and opportunities brought about by COVID-19, and step up efforts for us to quickly adapt to our new normal.

“The support and platform afforded by AIPA is crucial in that the economic, social and international foundations of ASEAN remain fortified and ever-present in our current reality.”

Touching on this year’s theme, ‘Parliamentary Diplomacy for a Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN Community’ for AIPA 41, His Majesty said, “(It is) in tandem with ASEAN’s vision to call for a cohesive and responsive ASEAN.

“It brings attention to the need to strengthen regional solidarity in responding effectively to challenges, as stipulated in both the ASEAN Charter as well as the ASEAN Community
Vision 2025.

“In addition, parliamentary diplomacy enhances AIPA’s role in supporting ASEAN through increasing mutual understanding between countries and better representation of the people.”

His Majesty also expressed confidence that AIPA, along with its existing strategic partners, has an important role in formulating and executing effective strategies to foster an outward-looking ASEAN Community that can respond collectively and constructively to issues of common concern.

“Together, we can create a more sustainable and resilient ASEAN with improved capacity to embrace positive transformation. Brunei Darussalam shall continue to support the work of AIPA towards this end,” said the monarch.

In concluding the message, His Majesty said, “I strongly believe that moving forward, AIPA will be able to help ASEAN endure these challenging times and emerge as a more resilient community.”