Strong ASEAN coordination needed: Minister

James Kon

The COVID-19 pandemic calls upon the need for even stronger inter-pillar and cross-sectoral coordination among ASEAN together with its stakeholders and partners, Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Aminuddin Ihsan bin Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin said.

This was also endorsed by ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) Council ministers at the 24th ASCC Council Meeting held via video conference recently.

The ASCC Council ministers affirmed commitment for ASEAN member states to move forward together in mitigating the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and towards post-pandemic recovery efforts, according to the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS).

ASCC Council ministers noted that the sustained interventions and mechanisms of ASCC sectoral bodies in addressing COVID-19 through enhanced cooperation within ASEAN and with other sectoral partners; and further encouraged the operationalisation of ASEAN key initiatives such as ASEAN Strategic Framework for Public Health Emergencies and ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework (ACRF) and its Implementation Plan.

Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Aminuddin Ihsan highlighted that under the soon-to-be adopted ASEAN ACRF, the important document will shape ASEAN’s priorities in the coming years.

Strategies to broaden social protection and social welfare as proposed in the ACRF can be extended by looking into more innovations through a whole-of-ASEAN-Community approach, particularly to reduce vulnerabilities of at-risk populations, while taking into consideration its long-term sustainability.

The minister also noted that the mid-term review (MTR) of the ASCC Blueprint 2025 has been invaluable to assess ASCC’s progress nationally and regionally towards the implementation of the ASCC Blueprint 2025, and looked forward for the ASCC senior officials to take appropriate action on the recommendations, while sharing insights to allow ASCC to make informed decisions.

Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Aminuddin Ihsan bin Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin during the virtual meeting. PHOTO: MCYS

On ASEAN’s past declarations and statements, Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Aminuddin Ihsan said, “It is vital that ASEAN reaffirms these commitments by providing equitable opportunities, participation and effective engagement of its people, especially the youth, in the development and implementation of ASEAN work.

“In this regard, discussions to have appropriate mechanisms such as crowdfunding during disasters, would allow the people and partners of ASEAN to contribute to the ASEAN Disaster Management and Emergency Relief Fund.

“This will make ASEAN relevant in the livelihood of its people, as well as complement the ASCC proposed establishment of ASEAN aid.”

Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Aminuddin Ihsan also outlined priorities for Brunei Darussalam in 2021, where focus will be given to continue efforts of past years; for ASEAN to continuously forge ahead with its partners, in the spirit of a caring and sharing community that engages and benefits the people; and a community that is prepared, inclusive and sustainable in its actions.

Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Aminuddin Ihsan looked forward to the continued support and contribution of ASEAN member states to achieve and realise a sustainable and resilient ASEAN.

The ASCC ministers also adopted the report of the 24th ASCC to be submitted to the 37th ASEAN Summit, and endorsed in principle, the ASCC outcome documents for consideration of ASEAN leaders at the 37th ASEAN Summit.

The ASCC ministers commended ASCC sectoral bodies for the active role and significant contributions in promoting the improvement in the quality of life of ASEAN peoples and strengthening social safeguards and resilience through regional cooperation.

They include progress in the implementation of the ASEAN Enabling Masterplan 2025: Mainstreaming the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the ASEAN Culture of Prevention (CoP) Declaration for a Peaceful, Inclusive, Resilient, Healthy and Harmonious Society; as well as the achievements of the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) in addressing violence against women and children, promoting child protection and spearheading regional efforts in gender mainstreaming and women, peace and security agenda.

Brunei Darussalam through the MCYS as the National Secretariat for ASCC will take up the chairmanship of the ASCC Pillar next year.

Permanent Secretary (Community and Culture) at the MCYS Hajah Nor Ashikin binti Haji Johari and senior officials of the MCYS accompanied the minister.

Socialist Republic of Vietnam Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Dao Ngoc Dung chaired the 24th ASCC Council Meeting.

ASCC Council ministers, representatives and the ASEAN Secretary General also participated.