PNOM Penh, Cambodia-An official of the ASEAN has underscored the need to carefully craft the ASEAN post-2025 vision in light of the “rapidly changing and increasingly geostrategic landscape, worsened with the unprecedented crisis like the COVID-19.”
“It shall be outward-and forward-looking that sets out the future direction for the development and aspirations of ASEAN towards a peaceful, stable, prosperous, integrated, and sustainable community,” said ASEAN official Sim Vireak during the Economic Research Institute for 11th ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) Editors’ Roundtable: “ASEAN and the Disruptive World” being held here.
Vireak said the ASEAN was working closely together in developing the Core Elements of the ASEAN Community’s Post-2025 Vision.
Conceding that the compounding pressure has influenced their thoughts towards negativism, some even called it “the end of ASEAN”, Vireak noted that the group should be mindful of the established principles of its founding fathers.
“We are not re- inventing the wheel by putting ASEAN back to square one, but we should be pragmatic, future-oriented, outward- looking and open-minded. We should not shut ourselves from our own people, creating core group with seasonal geopolitical agenda of the day,” Vireak said.
When facing issues of regional concerns, he gave assurance that the ASEAN does not turn its back on their own people. He related that ASEAN has mediated Cambodia’s affairs even when Cambodia was not a member of the grouping.
He noted the ASEAN founding fathers did not design ASEAN to hit the geopolitical agenda of the day, to side with specific superpower, or to create an alliance for confrontation.
“We are not imagining the recreation of another Southeast Asia TreatyOrganization (SEATO),” he guaranteed.
On the socio-economic aspects, he emphasized that the COVID-19 pandemic has set back their gains in Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 2030.
Vireak cited the need to consider how the ASEAN can recover speed of delivery of their commitments to the SDGs, by envisioning various updated action plans.
“We need to make sure that our actions really provide tangible benefit for our people,” he said.
He refuted claims that the ASEAN was a mere talk-shop, saying there were works achievement that the ASEAN should be proud of.
He said the ASEAN people can enjoy the tangible benefits from the work and process of ASEAN.
“When the whole world was faced with disruptive COVID-19 pandemic, how many regions in the world came up with coordinated strategies and action lines? Not many,” Vireak noted.
He said there were discussions that helped contributed in shaping a common position and direction for coordinated efforts.
When faced with internal procedures on issues that are unprecedented in nature, they rely on consultations to find acceptable solutions to move the issues forward. “We don’t change principles each time we face internal problems,” he said.