ASEAN has essentials of democratic process

HIS Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday said that Brunei believes that ASEAN as a whole embodies the essential elements of democratic participation and in this manner responds to the voices referred to in the theme of the fourth Bali Democracy Forum (BDF), "Enhancing Democratic Participation in a Changing World: Responding to Democratic Voices".

"We therefore fully support ASEAN's most important current project, which is building a region wide 'community'," said His Majesty.

Delivering his titah at the leaders' session of the fourth BDF at the Nusantara Room, Bali International Convention Centre, Nusa Dua, His Majesty said that Brunei sees this as an extension of the vision of ASEAN's founding fathers, in-line with the values cherished in Brunei.

Praising the chairmanship of Indonesia, His Majesty said that Indonesia has been a very active chairman of ASEAN and expressed his appreciation for its leadership of ASEAN.

"You (Indonesia) have constantly stressed that we are part of the modern world and that we need to respond positively to its challenges and demands. The people of Brunei Darussalam welcome this," said His Majesty.

The monarch said that for 27 years, ASEAN has been a gateway to the world for the people of Brunei, beyond Bruneian shores and frontiers.

"As a result we in no way feel isolated or anonymous," said His Majesty.

"Our association has helped us and our neighbours to share a regional purpose and an international identity," said His Majesty.

"The shared heritage, mutual respect, goodwill towards all and support for each other are the building blocks for a future community, that will form an ideal abode for our extended regional family, wherein our people can develop their skills, talents and confidence to face the future," said His Majesty.

"However, as our theme today suggests that Mr President, this abode, its future, its strength and the safety it offers, is being constantly tested. Time moves on relentlessly and our world is subject to constant change. Each new generation moves on adapting to the realities imposed by change," said His Majesty, adding that throughout 2011, the process of change had undergone a transformation.

"It is no longer a simplistic predictable process that takes decades or even years. It just happens, sometimes overnight," said His Majesty.

"It is the speed and power of this modern process of change that can shake the confidence of our people in their future," said His Majesty, adding that it is generated by immensely powerful dynamics that have come to be labelled with terms such as market forces, energy security, food security, natural disasters, climate change and health pandemics.

"At times our vision of a safe region may seem to be under siege by these forces . Our duties as leaders and governments is of course to protect it and all those who reside within," said His Majesty. The monarch said it is however very difficult to intervene effectively in "processes over which we, as individual countries, have very little control".

His Majesty highlighted that in the past year, there have been many different approaches in responding to calls for change around the world. "Some have been fiercely conservative, while others have been revolutionary, and others have been liberal."

"But, as we have all seen, the responses have often been as divisive as the problems," said His Majesty. As a result, the world turns to the participation as stated in the theme of the fourth BDF.

Towards this, His Majesty called upon countries to work together both within their individual countries and as partners in the regional association.

"We need to increase confidence in the future for each family and individual. We must nurture respect, goodwill and fairness for each family and individual. And in sheer practical terms, it means ensuring that there is housing, education, healthcare, employment, security in all its forms and life opportunities for all," said His Majesty.

His Majesty went on to say that it is only in this way that people can take part in the events unfolding around them with understanding and appreciation.

"The alternative to this is to witness all that has been achieved be razed by the speed and power of change and the result of this would lead to communities and people becoming anonymous members of global society," His Majesty said.

Should this happen, it would be a denial of the people's past, a surrender to the challenges of the present and a betrayal of their future, His Majesty added.

Earlier, the fourth BDF forum was inaugurated yesterday by Indonesian President Dato Laila Utama Dr Hj Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.