Asean leaders review regional progress at 24th Asean Summit

Asean leaders review regional progress at 24th Asean Summit
Myanmar International Convention Center where the Asean Summit was held

SINGAPORE - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong attended the 24th ASEAN Summit in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar from May 10 to 11, 2014. The meeting was chaired by His Excellency U Thein Sein, President of Myanmar, and was attended by the Heads of State/Government of ASEAN Member States, the caretaker Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand and the ASEAN Secretary-General.

The ASEAN Leaders reviewed the progress made in establishing an ASEAN Community by 2015 since they last met in October 2013 and called for acceleration of efforts to implement the Blueprints of the three Community Pillars. They took note of the report of the High-level Task Force on the Strengthening of the ASEAN Secretariat and Reviewing the ASEAN Organs (HLTF) and welcomed progress in developing ASEAN's Post-2015 Vision.

The Leaders exchanged views on regional and international developments, and discussed ways to sustain ASEAN's centrality in the evolving regional architecture. The Leaders also met with the representatives of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) and Youth. The Nay Pyi Taw Declaration on the Realisation of the ASEAN Community by 2015 was adopted by the Leaders at the end of the Summit.

The Leaders congratulated Myanmar on its inaugural Chairmanship under the leadership of President Thein Sein and aptly themed "Moving Forward in Unity to a Peaceful and Prosperous Community". They pledged their firm support for Myanmar's Chairmanship for the rest of 2014.

spanaech@sph.com.sg

South China Sea tension likely to dominate ASEAN Summit
By Eleven Myanmar

Nay Pyi Taw-Myanmar is on May 10 to host the 24th ASEAN Summit at the capital's International Convention Centre and territorial dispute in South China Sea is expected to dominate the regional meeting.

The Summit will comprise three sections-opening, plenary and retreat. Among the today's events, ASEAN Foreign Ministerial Meeting is likely to be the highlight. There will also be ASEAN Political-Security Community Meeting. In the evening, Wunna Maung Lwin, Myanmar Foreign Minister will hold a press conference.

The opening ceremony for the Summit will take place on May 11. On the same day there will be the meeting of ASEAN leaders and the closing ceremony is scheduled for the evening. After the closing ceremony, President Thein Sein will hold a press conference lasting half an hour.

At the Summit sidelines, there will be the separate meetings among leaders of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines as well as those from Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.

President Thein Sein will make an opening speech for the two-day Summit. The ASEAN Secretary-General will present his annual report at the plenary session. At the retreat session, regional and international issues will be discussed.

In response to the question from The Daily Eleven, Aung Htoo, the deputy director-general of ASEAN Affairs Department, said that he did not know what would happen at the Summit, but South China Sea tension between Vietnam and China might be a hot topic.

At present, tension over South China Sea is rising between Vietnam and China. In recent days, near Paracels Island, Chinese oil-rig vessels were seen within the 200-nautical mile special economic zone of Vietnam. In response, Vietnam sent its naval patrol to the dispute area, fuelling the tension. Similarly, Chinese naval vessels positioned at Second Thomas Shoal claimed by the Philippines. China's military vessels sailing into the territorial water of the Philippines spawned tension between the two countries.

Regarding the dispute over the South China Sea, China is pursuing a strategy designed for bilateral negotiations in lieu of multilateral approach. The main countries involved in the territory dispute with China are the Philippines and Vietnam.

Apart from the South China Sea, the Summit will focus on political situation in the Philippines, Ukraine's affairs and Korean Peninsula.

Racial and religious conflicts and Rohingya in Myanmar and political instability in Thailand will not be on the Summit's agendas.

"Many issues have to be discussed, but the fundamental policy is that one country must not interfere in the internal affairs of another. Internal affairs of member countries are not usually discussed at the Summit," said Aung Htoo, adding that the deputy prime minister of Thailand would attend the summit.

The leaders of ASEAN will meet the delegates from community-based organisations, youth delegates and parliamentarians.

The designation of President Thein Sein to attend G-20 Summit as the ASEAN chairman will be one of the Summit the agendas. The G-20 leaders will meet in November in Sydney.

Myanmar's ASEAN chairmanship will last four more months. For the remaining time, the focus will b to complete 18 per cent of tasks to establish the ASEAN Community.

ASEAN's goal is not only to establish a community with political unity, economic cooperation and social accountability but also to become a disciplined organisation.

ASEAN chairmanship was transferred to Myanmar during the last 23rd ASEAN Summit held in Brunei. Since then President Thein Sein pledged to deal with the development gap, climate change, food and energy securities and human rights. The motto of the ASEAN is "Moving Forward in Unity to a Peaceful and Prosperous Community".

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