BANGKOK, June 23 (Bernama) – Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad Sunday attended the opening of the 34th ASEAN Summit where the ASEAN chairman, Thailand Prime Minister Gen Prayuth Chan o-cha, laid out his vision for the 10-nation regional grouping.
In his opening statement, carrying the theme ‘Advancing Partnership for Sustainability’, Prayuth said the kingdom would take forward the good work and initiatives of the previous chairs in the endeavour “to realise the dreams that we all have set out and to ensure that the peoples of ASEAN, present and future, can deal with the challenges that come and truly benefit from ASEAN”.
He said Thailand’s chairmanship reflects ASEAN’s dream of creating a people-centred ASEAN Community that leaves no one behind and ensures that the people live in a region of sustainable peace, stability and prosperity.
He also said that the ASEAN member countries should take advantage of the Fourth Industrial Revolution to enhance their competitiveness and build immunity to the negative effects of disruptive technologies so as to advance towards a “Digital and Green ASEAN”.
Prayuth called on the member countries to strengthen partnership through deepening cooperation both within ASEAN and with its external partners so as to reinforce ASEAN centrality in the region and enhance ASEAN’s role in addressing important regional and global issues.
He urged all member countries to promote connectivity in all dimensions, from digital infrastructure, rules and regulations to people-to-people links to build a “Seamless ASEAN”.
“We aspire to be a “Sustainable ASEAN” in all dimensions, from security to the economy, the environment and human security. From now on, the “Sustainability of Things”, or SOT, concept should inform every decision ASEAN takes and should become the ASEAN DNA to pass on to future generations.
“A sustainable ASEAN Community will help increase ASEAN’s strategic value-added in the long run and will serve as a protective shield for our peoples in the face of regional and global changes and uncertainties,” he said.
One of the highlights of the summit was the traditional ASEAN handshake of the leaders. The focus of the local and international media was, understandably, on Dr Mahathir, who was standing at far left, and Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was standing next to him, as the two leaders are not on the same page on the Rohingya crisis.
Earlier, all the ASEAN leaders launched the Satellite Warehouse in Chainat Province, Thailand, under the Disaster Emergency Logistics System for ASEAN (DELSA).
Thailand said the satellite warehouse will enable ASEAN and the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management (AHA Centre) in Indonesia to more effectively pursue rapid mobilisation and distribution of relief items to disaster-affected ASEAN member states in mainland Southeast Asia.
The ASEAN Secretariat said in a statement that the satellite warehouse will further strengthen ASEAN’s collective response to natural disasters under the “One ASEAN, One Response” spirit across ASEAN, following networking with the regional warehouse in Malaysia and the satellite warehouse in the Philippines.
“The satellite warehouse under the DELSA is another deliverable in support of the ASEAN chairmanship theme of “Advancing Partnership for Sustainability,” it said.
Later, Dr Mahathir is scheduled to attend the 13th Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) Summit and the 12th Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle (IMT-GT) Summit.
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