Across Southeast Asia, the digital landscape has become a contested arena, as governments and private companies seek to both drive economic growth and protect and control data flows. This fragmented regional environment tends to widen the digital divide, as only large tech companies have the resources to be effective privatesector players. Meanwhile, micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), the drivers of most economies in the region, are left without the skills needed to reap the dividends of the digital economy. Governments and private companies have embraced skills training and digitisation to boost growth and recover from the economic damage of COVID-19, but there is a difference between recognising the importance of including underserved populations and effectively reaching those groups with resources they can use.
In a worldwide race towards digital economy transition, ASEAN is set to pull ahead of the throng.
After experiencing the ravages of a global pandemic, ASEAN Member States are now sharing knowledge to mitigate similar catastrophic events in the future. They are also realising that everyone needs to be protected and as such, are now embracing universal health care as a shared key capability consistent with the Sustainable Development Goals of 2030. We propose a simple and easy to remember strategy to build digital health capability within and between countries in the ASEAN. Gleaned from over ten years of learning as peers at the Asia eHealth Information Network (AeHIN), the Mind the GAPS, Fill the GAPS framework aims to bring stakeholders inside and outside of the health sector to work together in building their digital health capabilities towards the vision of health for all.
Since the establishment of ASEAN in 1967, education has been one of the key areas for collaboration. However, the focus on education collaboration in ASEAN has shifted from cooperation to collaboration in relation to human resource development and eventually in support of the ASEAN Communitybuilding project.
ACCSM Chair Ajman Meludin shares ASEAN’s goals and plans for the civil service sector, following the increased demand for online public services as a result of the pandemic. He discusses the challenges of improving the digital infrastructure and building the capacity of civil servants to deliver digital services efficiently.
At the height of the COVID-19 outbreak, my homeland the Lao PDR, like many other nations, closed its schools. Over 1.7 million children in the Lao PDR suffered from learning loss during this period. In ASEAN, school closure resulted in an unprecedented and sudden disruption of education for around 152 million children and youth in 2020. The Lao PDR and all other ASEAN countries carried out online learning. We soon found out, however, that the requisite infrastructure for online education was far from sufficient.
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted supply chains and exposed longstanding structural issues in the container industry. Addressing these problems will be crucial to unlocking the growth and potential of the ASEAN region and advancing economic integration. As a response to record high container freight rates, shortage of empty containers and congestion at ports due to COVID-19-related disruptions, the ASEAN Secretariat (Transport Division) and Thailand, with support from the Australian Government through Partnerships for Infrastructure (P4I), initiated a practical study to promote container circulation in the ASEAN region. This initiative is a Priority Economic Deliverable for Cambodia’s ASEAN Chairmanship in 2022.
On 16 October 2022, the 28th ASEAN Transport Ministers (ATM) Meeting adopted the Implementation Framework on Enhancing Container Processing and Circulation in the ASEAN Member States, including its Action Plan, which is based on the empirical findings of the study and provides practical strategies and measures to assist the ASEAN Member States in enhancing container circulation. Implementing these agreed actions is expected to promote the resilience of regional container shipping, maritime transport logistics and multimodal transport, which in turn, would bolster intra-ASEAN and international trade flows in the region
When Secretary-General Dato Lim Jock Hoi took on the mantle of leadership in 2018, his goals for the ASEAN Secretariat were clear: to be proactive, provide better support to Member States, and move along the implementation of the ASEAN Community blueprints.
He ends his 5-year tenure with these goals fulfilled.
As part of the global community, ASEAN is also experiencing the mega trends of digitalisation and technological advancement. It is an irreversible process, albeit at different paces across Member States. Therefore, adaptation is not an option but a necessity across public and private spheres, including in the civil service. ASEAN Member States are in the midst of modernising their civil service, and the COVID-19 pandemic provided an impetus to accelerate it. Amidst lockdown and movement restrictions, as part of public health measures, the digitalisation of public services improved the accessibility and timeliness of responses to citizens’ needs.
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