ASEAN MPs promise improved links
Viet Nam National Assembly Chairman and 31st ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly President Nguyen Phu Trong makes a speech at the closing ceremony. — VNA/VNS Photo Tri Dung
HA NOI — Parliamentarians from the Association of South-East Asian Nations yesterday showed their strong commitment to build an ASEAN Community and lift the region to a higher stage by adopting 22 resolutions to strengthen co-operation on many fronts.
Speaking at the closing ceremony of the 31st ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) yesterday, Viet Nam National Assembly Chairman Nguyen Phu Trong said the meeting had successfully completed its work during the last five days of sessions in Ha Noi with the adoption of resolutions on issues related to security, politics, economic co-operation and culture and society.
The adopted resolutions also cover activities of women parliamentarians and organisational matters at the regional legislative body.
The event, which Viet Nam hosted for the first time as the Chair of ASEAN and President of AIPA, saw the strong commitment of all member parliaments, which all agreed that solidarity was the foundation for shared sustainable development and a key element in successfully building the ASEAN Community.
"With the goal of realising the regional community by 2015, the General Assembly agreed that AIPA should continue enhancing the effectiveness of its activities to contribute substantially to the development of the ASEAN Community," said the NA Chairman. Trong urged AIPA to continue studying the necessary amendments and supplements to AIPA Statutes and changes in the activities of the AIPA Caucus.
He also urged enhanced harmonisation of laws in some areas, and improvement of the oversight mechanism for more effective implementation of AIPA resolutions.
The region is carrying out its plan to build an ASEAN Community by 2015.
AIPA remains the only regional forum for ASEAN parliamentarians, where policy planners and lawmakers make use of the opportunity to renew ties and exchange ideas and best practices.
The role and position of AIPA was enhanced and the collaboration of ASEAN and AIPA – the executive and legislative channels – strengthened at AIPA-31.
The General Assembly in Ha Noi recommended the official meeting among leaders of AIPA and ASEAN be institutionalised as an annual activity.
More than 370 parliamentarians discussed in details and contributed their helpful ideas to improve the region's co-operation and connectivity and overcome the challenges it is facing on the way to becoming a community.
The greater participation of the people in all efforts to accelerate the ASEAN Community building process was emphasised during the meetings with participants showing their support and concern about the issue.
Role of women
The role of women was highlighted during AIPA-31 with the meeting's appreciation of women's roles as the central agents of change.
"The General Assembly appreciated the role of women in the socio-political life of each country and in the region," said Trong. "We recommended measures on enhancing social welfare and advancement of women and children during the current period."
Under Viet Nam's leadership this year, the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children was launched in April.
The General Assembly in Ha Noi urged member parliaments to organise seminars and activities for women parliamentarians to better perform their roles and to adopt laws on gender equality. The meeting urged the ASEAN member countries and AIPA parliaments to mainstream gender considerations in all activities and to establish or strengthen the Women Parliamentarians Caucus. It proposed to create a forum for women members of parliament to exchange views, experiences and best practices on the roles of women in economic recovery during the post-financial crisis.
"ASEAN and AIPA member countries should increase women representation in parliaments and develop women's skills and knowledge in politics," said Vice Chairwoman of Viet Nam's National Assembly Tong Thi Phong during the closing ceremony yesterday.
Maintaining stability and security and democratisation in the region is among the key factors in building the ASEAN Community. AIPA-31 has underlined the importance of strengthening ASEAN integration under the theme "Solidarity for Sustainable Development of the ASEAN Community".
Member countries showed their pleasure at the recent developments and progress made in the implementation of the roadmap for national reconciliation and democracy.
Myanmar committed to complete the roadmap to democracy during the meeting in Ha Noi. The country has vowed to fully integrate into ASEAN and the regional Community building process.
Myanmar has completed four steps in the seven-step roadmap that was made for systematic transition towards democratisation in 2003.
"Thailand joins ASEAN in underscoring the importance of national reconciliation in Myanmar and the holding of a general election which shall contribute to Myanmar's stability and development and enhance the well-being of the people of Myanmar," said Second Vice-President of the Senate of Thailand Tassana Boontong.
India was yesterday accredited as an observer in the future AIPA General Assembly. It had been an active dialogue partner of ASEAN since 1992.
India was invited by the host National Assembly to take part in AIPA-31 as a guest, said Trong.
AIPA hoped the participation of India, with its important status in the regional and international community and as a G-20 member, would help promote the region's status and co-operation.
Separate dialogues were held between ASEAN members and their observers, including Australia, Canada, China, the European Parliament, Japan, South Korea and Russia.
The conclusion of AIPA-31 also marked the transfer of Viet Nam's AIPA Presidency. AIPA-32 will be held next September in Sihanouk Ville, Cambodia. Indonesia and Brunei both showed their interest in hosting the 34th General Assembly in 2013, on which a decision will be made in Cambodia next year. — VNS