His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzadin Waddaulah, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam in a titah underscored the importance for ASEAN to continue strengthening its unity and centrality as regional stability is vital for the greater peace and prosperity of the people of ASEAN. 

Last week, with the sultanate holding the Chairmanship of ASEAN this year, the monarch chaired the ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting which was held at the Bali Room, ASEAN Secretariat Building in Jakarta, Indonesia. 

Image: Infofoto

During the meeting, His Majesty acknowledged that this is an important time for the region as ASEAN is looking to advance its community building, recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as address pressing issues of common interest to all ASEAN member states.

When facing future uncertainties, His Majesty emphasised the importance for ASEAN to continue strengthening its unity and centrality through efforts that are people-centred with focus being put on the youth in order to instill a continued sense of belonging to the ASEAN Community. 

“We recognised that the strength of the ASEAN Community lies in putting people at its centre and fulfilling their desire to live in a region of lasting peace, security and stability, sustained economic growth, shared prosperity and social progress,” read the Chairman’s Statement which was issued after the meeting. 

The monarch then stated how ASEAN member states have been following the developments in Myanmar, and at the same time have continued to respect the purposes and principles enshrined in the ASEAN Charter. 

With that His Majesty recognised that regional stability is vital for the greater peace and prosperity of the people in ASEAN and in this regard he noted the outcomes of the Informal ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting which was held recently. 

The outcomes called for all parties to refrain from further violence and to seek a peaceful solution in Myanmar as well as to continue efforts in the Rakhine state. 

“We also underscored the importance of Myanmar’s continued efforts in addressing the situation in the Rakhine State, including commencing the repatriation process, in a voluntary, safe and dignified manner in accordance with its bilateral agreements in Bangladesh,” the ASEAN Leaders expressed in the Chairman’s Statement.

In relation to this, ASEAN member states expressed readiness to assist Myanmar through ASEAN mechanisms with the good offices of the Chairman of ASEAN and the Secretary-General to mediate between all parties concerned, based on ASEAN’s long history with past experiences to draw upon on how to help Myanmar. 

The ASEAN Leaders in the Chairman’s Statement, continued to acknowledge the bloc’s positive and constructive role in facilitating “a peaceful solution in the interest of the people of Myanmar and their livelihoods”, while also heeding the calls for the release of all political prisoners including foreigners. 

With this the ASEAN Leaders agreed to reach a “Five-Point Concensus” on the situation in Myanmar which are as follows; 

• First, there shall be immediate cessation of violence in Myanmar and all parties shall exercise utmost restraint. 

• Second, constructive dialogue among all parties concerned shall commence seeking a peaceful solution in the interests of the people. 

• Third, a special envoy of the ASEAN Chair shall facilitate mediation of the dialogue process, with the assistance of the Secretary-General of ASEAN. 

• Fourth, ASEAN shall provide humanitarian assistance through the AHA Centre. 

•  Fifth, the special envoy and delegation shall visit Myanmar to meet with all parties concerned. 

At the meeting, His Majesty also expressed appreciation for the support of ASEAN member states for Brunei Darussalam’s Chairmanship of ASEAN this year, under the theme “We Care, We Prepare, We Prosper”. 

In addition, the monarch also extended his support for the procure ment of vaccines for the peoples of ASEAN through the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund. 

Addressing external relations, His Majesty underscored how ASEAN should continue to take a proactive approach and be seen as leading the process, which includes holding the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meetings with China and the United States. 

His Majesty then also welcomed the ASEAN Secretariat’s recommendation to accept the United Kingdom’s application to become a Dialogue Partner of ASEAN, and proposed to facilitate the United Kingdom in becoming a dialogue partner at the 54th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM). 

At the end of his titah, His Majesty hoped to continue in this spirit of close cooperation and coordination as ASEAN member states to work to overcome challenges as a family in ASEAN. 

Accompanying His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam was His Royal Highness Prince ‘Abdul Mateen. 

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam was greeted on arrival at the ASEAN Secretariat Building by His Excellency Dato Paduka Lim Jock Hoi, the Secretary-General of ASEAN.

This article was first published on 1 May, 2021 in our Weekly E-Paper issue 139



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