|Parliamentary co-operation to mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic dominated discussions at the first plenary session of AIPA 41's General Assembly. —VNA/VNS Photo
HÀ NỘI — The member countries of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) need to work together and give priority to developing COVID-19 vaccines and ensuring people’s right to access the vaccines in response to the adverse impacts of the pandemic, said vice chairwoman of the Vietnamese National Assembly Tòng Thị Phóng.
She was speaking at the plenary session of the 41st General Assembly of AIPA on Tuesday.
Parliamentary co-operation to mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic dominated discussions at the first plenary session which was chaired by Vietnamese National Assembly chairwoman Nguyễn Thị Kim Ngân.
Leaders of ASEAN parliaments agreed it was important for parliamentarians to acknowledge post-pandemic challenges, and devise pre-emptive measures to safeguard the interests of people, especially the most vulnerable members of ASEAN nations.
Delivering a speech representing the Vietnamese parliamentary delegation at the plenary session, vice chairwoman Phóng said the Vietnamese NA attached great importance to ASEAN co-operation in containing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as in the disease’s treatment and post-pandemic recovery.
Phóng called on AIPA member parliaments to promote the implementation of initiatives to build a self-reliant ASEAN economic community, support ASEAN to effectively control the pandemic alongside economic recovery.
“The parliaments should promote the ratification of regional economic agreements, especially the signing of the comprehensive economic partnership agreement in 2020 and expand relations with partners outside ASEAN,” she said.
Chuan Leekpai, president of the National Assembly of Thailand, noted that when ASEAN is confronted with difficulties resulting from geopolitical and strategic uncertainty, the decline in regional co-ordination at this time could possibly adversely affect its centrality, which has been a crucial basis for its role in regional and global affairs.
He called on AIPA parliaments to pool knowledge and experiences including knowledge on a new and unexpected way of life under the current and post-COVID-19 situation.
“Members of parliaments in different countries can directly communicate with one another and help parliaments to function more smoothly and effectively.
“ASEAN must not loosen solidarity in the face of any looming threat. If parliament is strong, the executive will be strong. If AIPA is strengthened, ASEAN will likewise be empowered.”
Puan Maharani, Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Republic of Indonesia, suggested ASEAN parliaments optimise their role by performing legislative duties related to combating COVID-19 and its socio-economic impact, such as laws related to fiscal stimulus or strengthening social safety nets.
“Parliament should also improve oversight to ensure that those laws are implemented, and their benefits would be felt by the people,” she said.
“The Indonesian House is of the view that peace, security and stability has always been an important factor in the development and growth of our region. Therefore, it is crucial that we keep Southeast Asia a peaceful, friendly and harmonious region, in order to enhance co-operation to curb the spread of COVID-19 and address its adverse impact.”
Pehin Dato Abdul Rahman, Speaker of Legislative Council of Brunei Darussalam, pledged Brunei’s continuous support for the endeavours and efforts by fellow AIPA member parliaments to address global and regional challenges through partnerships and diplomacy towards achieving common goals for the benefit of ASEAN peoples.
Sharing COVID-19 response measures taken by the Philippines, Alan Peter S. Cayetano, Speaker of the Philippine House of Representatives, said with the House of the People working straight for 17 hours, the Philippines passed key legislation in March 2020 mandating a whole-of-government approach to counter the pandemic. The Philippine House of Representatives also created the Defeat COVID-19 Committee on the same day the Bayanihan Law was passed.
The Philippines’ legislative units also amended labour laws to adapt to alternative work arrangements and updated regulations to optimise the digital economy.
Pany Yathotou, president of the National Assembly of Laos, took the occasion to express her appreciation for ASEAN member states, ASEAN’s dialogue partners, friendly countries and international organisations for their technical and financial support and assistance, including through the exchange of information and provision of medical supplies as well as medical experts in efforts to fight COVID-19 and to recover Laos' economy.— VNS