Parliamentary Diplomacy for a Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN

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Parliamentary Diplomacy for a Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN
LEE YOONG YOONG
DIRECTOR, COMMUNITY AFFAIRS DIRECTORATE, COMMUNITY AND CORPORATE AFFAIRS DEPARTMENT
DESTYA PAHNAEL
OFFICER, COMMUNITY RELATIONS DIVISION, COMMUNITY AND CORPORATE AFFAIRS DEPARTMENT
28 Sep 2020
ASEAN Identity and Community Building, Climate Change, Environment, Youth

ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA), established in 1973 and currently one of ASEAN’s oldest entities, plays a key role in the ASEAN Community building process.  AIPA’s objectives are to build closer cooperation among the 10 national legislatures and their members of parliament, and capitalise on the greater participation of ASEAN peoples, via inter-parliamentary cooperation, to contribute to the attainment of the regional goals and aspirations.

Just like the Jakarta-based ASEAN Secretariat, whose mandate is to render technical and executive support to the ASEAN Member States in achieving better efficiency and coordination of the various activities and projects, AIPA, too, has a small secretariat team in Jakarta.  It has presently about 20 staff, headed by the AIPA Secretary-General.

 

AIPA convened its annual General Assembly—its highest decision-making mechanism—in Ha Noi, Viet Nam on 8-10 September 2020. Chaired by Madame Nguyễn Thị Kim Ngân, President of National Assembly of Socialist Republic of Viet Nam, the General Assembly ran on the theme “Parliamentary Diplomacy for a Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN.” 

 

In addition to  the participation of ASEAN Member Parliaments, the online assembly was joined by Observer-Parliaments from Australia, Canada, China, European Union, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, and Timor-Leste, among others.  The ASEAN Secretariat, headed by the Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community, Kung Phoak, was also in attendance.

 

Speaking during the plenary session, DSG Kung highlighted the strategic role of members of parliament in assisting their governments and helping their people pull through the COVID-19 pandemic.  He remarked that AIPA, through members of parliaments, is well-positioned to reach out to the ASEAN citizens, and can serve as their intermediary to policymakers.  This forms part of ASEAN’s efforts to lay the foundations for an inclusive as well as a people-oriented and people-centred ASEAN Community.  At the General Assembly, DSG Kung also delivered a presentation before a separately-convened AIPA committee meeting on how AIPA can work with the ASEAN governments towards achieving a post-COVID-19 recovery framework.

 

Though COVID-19 dominated the discussions, it was not the sole agenda of the assembly.  For the first time, AIPA held a special inaugural 60-minute session for the young parliamentarians to have a vibrant exchange of ideas on ASEAN Community building.  DSG Kung, as an invited keynote speaker, reinforced the notion that young members of parliament can indeed bridge inter-generational gaps in policy formulation processes as they internalise the ASEAN Leaders’ vision of regional integration.

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