As the host country of AIPA 41, the website wrote, Vietnam is playing a leadership role and contribute significantly to the success of the event, which is taking place from September 8-10.

The National Assembly of Vietnam on August 8 proposed hosting AIPA 41, with the theme “Parliamentary diplomacy for a cohesive and responsive ASEAN Community”, via video conference from September 8-10. The dialogue between ASEAN leaders and AIPA leaders was held online within the framework of the 36th ASEAN Summit in June.

The organisation of AIPA 41 and related activities is a highlight of the NA’s external affairs as it assumes its Presidency of AIPA for the third time, it said.

In March 2020, NA Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, as President of AIPA, sent a letter to heads of AIPA member parliaments and the AIPA Secretary-General calling on AIPA leaders to join hands with governments in the fight against COVID-19.
Since joining AIPA in 1995, the NA has made key contributions to the General Assembly.

In 2007, it proposed organising dialogues between ASEAN leaders and AIPA member legislatures, which are now held regularly within the framework of ASEAN Year and AIPA.

Vietnam also proposed that the AIPA Committee on Economic Matters issue a resolution on micro- and small-sized enterprise development - said to be a notable proposal from the country.

In 2020, as President of AIPA 41, Vietnam has actively organised a wide range of activities in different forms due to COVID-19.

Vietnam set two goals at AIPA 41, including proposing the establishment of a meeting of young parliamentarians of AIPA to uphold the role of parliamentarians and link AIPA’s activities with those of the International Parliamentary Union (IPU) in connection to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

According to Ngan, AIPA supports the implementation of ASEAN initiatives and continues to support the governments of ASEAN member countries in controlling the COVID-19 pandemic, improving ASEAN countries’ capacity to respond to emergencies, recovering post-pandemic economic activities, and maintaining stable development in the region.

She stressed that AIPA looks forward to more exchange and coordination with ASEAN at all levels. In the time to come, it will continue to strengthen cooperation with ASEAN to ensure transparency, openness, and a rules-based approach, thus highlighting its central role.

Role of AIPA parliaments in post-pandemic economic recovery discussed

An official of the Vietnamese National Assembly has suggested continuing to review and perfect the legal framework to promote trade facilitation to ensure uninterrupted circulation of goods and supply chains in the ASEAN region.

Nguyen Manh Tien, Vice Chairman of the NA’s Committee for Foreign Affairs and Head of the Vietnamese NA’s Delegation, made the suggestion at a virtual meeting of the Committee on Economic Matters of the 41st General Assembly of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA 41) on September 9. The meeting focused on the topic “The Role of Parliaments in Promoting ASEAN Cohesiveness and Economic Recovery post-COVID 19”.

Tien said over the past several months, ASEAN countries have taken their own measures to control the COVID-19 pandemic as well as respond to the economic impacts of the pandemic. However, the COVID-19 pandemic is not just a medical crisis, but a crisis for the growth when international trade and supply chains are disrupted.

Facing this situation, the Vietnamese delegation was deeply concerned about the great losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in ASEAN countries, he said, adding that the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have caused a great hindrance to the economies of ASEAN countries as well as their internal and external trade activities.

Therefore, the economic integration in promoting economic growth and recovery of ASEAN member countries and the good implementation of digital economic activities will be of profound importance, playing an important role in strengthening ASEAN economic integration as well as ASEAN’s readiness to respond to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In that spirit, Tien recommended the ASEAN community to unify to implement a series of breakthrough and feasible solutions, which are:

Firstly, promoting accelerated exchange of information relating to tourism and health and other necessary measures to control the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic; promoting the safety in travelling, applying safety standards and medical procedures to facilitate cross-border movement of ASEAN citizens, and adhering to international health and safety standards as well as commitments under relevant Agreements among ASEAN member countries;

Secondly, studying the concept of "travel bubble" between "green countries" as a preliminary initiative in the process of reopening the border, forming safe travel zones within ASEAN and proposing to issue reference guidelines to all ASEAN member countries without prejudice to commitments under the relevant agreements among ASEAN member countries;

Thirdly, continuing to review and perfect the legal framework to promote trade facilitation, to ensure uninterrupted circulation of goods and supply chains in the region; building open, sustainable and responsible investment policies in the region; ensuring food security and agricultural value chains; increasing the use of renewable energy; proceeding to build a circular economy;

Fourthly, speeding up the ratification of regional trade agreements and treaties; prioritising efforts to finalise negotiations and sign the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) by 2020; strengthening capacity, participation and strengthening parliamentary oversight of the implementation of trade and investment commitments within the regional and international frameworks, considering it as a key tool to promote broader economic linkages within the ASEAN Community and between ASEAN and other partners.

Fifthly, enhancing the development of digital infrastructure, digital connectivity, digital data security, digital knowledge and skills connecting ASEAN member countries to develop the digital economy; sharing information and experiences to handle challenges facing e-commerce platforms; taking advantage of the opportunities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution to overcome the disadvantages of economic lockdown and social distancing in the COVID-19 pandemic and remaining competitiveness in the digital economy era.

Sixthly, building regional connectivity infrastructure, enhancing transport connectivity and the need to strengthen cooperation in the Mekong sub-region and other ASEAN subregions, especially on environmental protection, smart agriculture development and sustainable management of transboundary natural resources to ensure food, water and energy security in the subregions during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the meeting, delegates spoke highly of the Vietnamese National Assembly’s efforts to hold the 41st General Assembly of AIPA via a teleconference as the COVID-19 pandemic is raging in the region and the world.

They discussed measures to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 while fine-tuning legal frameworks to promote economic recovery when the pandemic is put under control.

The participants affirmed the importance of economic connectivity, including maintaining supply chains, in promoting ASEAN member nations’ economic growth and comprehensive recovery.

They also called for cooperation among AIPA member parliaments in building new legal frameworks to institutionalise national preparedness and response mechanisms against COVID-19 and future pandemics.

A Resolution on the Role of Parliaments in Promoting ASEAN Cohesiveness and Economic Recovery Post-COVID-19 was approved at the end of the meeting.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) now comprises 10 members, namely Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam./.

Malaysian House Speaker affirms support for efforts towards greater ASEAN

Azhar Azizan Harun, Speaker of the House of Representatives of Malaysia, on September 8 affirmed the Malaysian Parliament’s undivided support of the remarkable efforts by AIPA members towards the realisation and collaboration of a greater ASEAN.

In his remarks at the first plenary session of the 41st General Assembly of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA-41), held in the form of video conference, the Speaker said the invisible enemy of COVID-19 threatens to harm the prospect and development of each ASEAN member state.

“If there was ever a moment necessary for solidarity, cooperation, support and commonality, this is ASEAN’s moment to showcase its commitment towards a region of greater tomorrows,” he stressed.

The Malaysian Parliament always support closer relations among AIPA members, the Speaker said.

The same day, Malaysia’s news agency Bernama ran an article highlighting efforts by the Vietnamese National Assembly in its capacity as AIPA Chair 2020.

The article quoted Vietnamese NA Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan as saying that the Vietnamese legislature will make all-out efforts to successfully organise AIPA-41 as well as other ativities within the AIPA Year 2020.

The success of AIPA-41 and the AIPA Year 2020 will contribute to promoting the relationship between AIPA and ASEAN, enhancing coordination between legislative and executive channels, and accellerating the building of the ASEAN Community, for peace, stability, safety, prosperity and happiness, Ngan said.

Earlier, AIPA-41 also made headlines of Malaysia’s Barita Harian and The Star newspapers. The event, the first General Assembly of AIPA held in the form of video conference, is taking place from September 8 -10 under the chair of Vietnam, with the theme of “Parliamentary Diplomacy for Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN Community.”

Philippine House Speaker highlights AIPA-ASEAN unity

Philippine House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano has stressed that unity and neighbourly cooperation are the flagship and main objectives of AIPA and ASEAN.

He made the remarks while addressing the first plenary session of the ongoing 41st General Assembly of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA-41), which, he said, is among the most memorable of General Assemblies since the birth of AIPA in Manila on September 2, 1977.

AIPA 41 is historic not only for the reason of its virtual setting, but because it is held amidst extraordinarily challenging circumstances brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.

He congratulated the National Assembly of Vietnam and its AIPA National Secretariat for surmounting the current difficulties caused by the pandemic to conduct the meeting.

Alan Peter said this is an opportunity for AIPA parliaments to share experiences, learnings, difficulties, innovative measures and best practices, making them better equipped in battling against COVID-19.

Through the years, AIPA member parliaments have realised the culture of unity and cooperation by passing legislative measures consistent with the thrusts and programmes of each AIPA member parliament’s government, according to the Speaker.

During this precarious time, the executive and legislative branches of governments act in unison to stop the COVID-19 pandemic, caring for those afflicted, assisting the hungry and the jobless, and jumpstarting economies which ground to a halt due to various community quarantine measures.

He said AIPA shall continue to support ASEAN in its recovery framework to bring the region back to its feet after this COVID-19 setback.

In a post-pandemic landscape, he continued, AIPA should have a more active role in accelerating regional economic recovery through legislation and oversight, saying AIPA-41 is the perfect opportunity to recalibrate policy directions towards a more a responsive ASEAN and AIPA, to help ASEAN member states overcome the challenges from this and other crises or pandemics in the future.

Alan Peter lauded the adoption of the Hanoi Plan of Action on Strengthening ASEAN Economic Cooperation and Supply Chain Connectivity in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic, during the ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting on June 40.

The Speaker expressed his hope that through the Action Plan, the countries will counter the impact of the pandemic by promoting ASEAN markets for essential goods and deepen economic cooperation among ASEAN member states.

He held that challenges caused by COVID-19 bring about opportunities to adapt and readjust for a more inclusive, resilient and sustainable recovery and growth for ASEAN.

Despite the current difficult circumstances, the future that awaits the region remains bright and prosperous, full of potentials, he believed.

“However, we need to think more of We than I, more than nation but a Community and a Region.”

“We are family and we our brother’s and sister’s keepers. We may be suffering together now because of COVID-19, but through love, unity, cooperation, perseverance, courage, and resourcefulness, we shall rise together,” he said.

AIPA members support parliamentary diplomacy, cooperation

Heads of member legislatures of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) voiced their support for stronger parliamentary diplomacy and cooperation, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, at the first plenary session of the 41st AIPA General Assembly on September 8.

The virtual event, hosted by Vietnam, was attended by leaders of the 10 AIPA member parliaments, parliamentary leaders of country observers of AIPA, the AIPA Secretary-General and Secretariat, the Secretary-General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the ASEAN Secretary-General, along with representatives of the UN Secretary-General and guest parliaments of the host country.

Addressing the first plenary session, Speaker of the Legislative Council of Brunei Pehin Abdul Rahman Taib said the theme of AIPA 41 this year, “Parliamentary Diplomacy for Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN Community”, is relevant in the current context as the region faces unprecedented challenges in adapting to the new norm.

“The theme further emphasises the role of national parliaments of ASEAN as the voice of the people and the need to stand in solidarity and to respond swiftly to pressing issues, in accordance with the international laws,” he noted.

Speaker of the House of Representatives of Indonesia Puan Maharani held that the theme of this year’s General Assembly marks the increasingly important role of the parliament, especially in this time of COVID-19 pandemic, which is impacting so many lives and limiting economic activities, causing the region to be in the verge of recession.

She said in this situation, “as parliament we need to encourage ASEAN Member States government to deliver adequate policy to curb the spread of COVID-19, reduce greater economic impact and ensuring social welfare.”

Meanwhile, Chairwoman of the Lao National Assembly Pany Yathotou expressed high valuation of and support for the theme of AIPA 41, which contributes further to implementing the commitment of the 36th ASEAN Summit and reaffirming the importance of close cooperation and partnership among ASEAN member states, and between ASEAN and its dialogue partners with a view to responding to the emerging challenges in the region.

Yathotou showed her confidence that fellow AIPA members will continue to fulfill their role through parliamentary diplomacy with a view to encouraging the governments of ASEAN member states to implement measures and translate commitment of the ASEAN leaders as well as the heads of AIPA towards tangible results.

President of the Thai National Assembly Chuan Leekpai noted at the regional level, it is preferable for AIPA to exchange knowledge and experiences among member parliaments, including knowledge on a new and unexpected way of life under the current and post-COVID-19 situation. Member parliaments in different countries can directly communicate with one another and help parliaments to function more smoothly and effectively.

He added the ASEAN Community building can be essentially strengthened through the harmonisation of laws of the member states. For ASEAN to truly attain a regional community, it is urged to create common legal standards across the region. Each parliament can still maintain its responsibility for the enactment of laws to regulate affairs within its own jurisdiction. Harmonisation is nevertheless essential to ensure that the same or similar rules and regulations are moving in the same direction, most notably trade, investment, and movement of professionals, making the region, not only friendly, but also legally friendly.

Regarding the COVID-19 fight, President of Cambodia’s National Assembly Heng Samrin called for deeper regional integration while the region is struggling to recover from this crisis.

Speaker of the Indonesian House of Representatives Puan Maharani underscored the need to optimise the role as parliaments by performing legislative duty related to the effort of combating COVID-19 and its socio-economic impact, such as laws related to fiscal stimulus or strengthening social safety net. Parliament should also improve oversight to ensure that those laws would be implemented, and their benefits would be felt by the people.

To advance as a cohesive and responsive ASEAN Community, it is necessary to enhance the capacity to respond effectively to emerging regional challenges, including in the context of human security.

She voiced her belief that regional countries as one ASEAN Community will overcome this difficult time and working together in addressing other regional challenges.

Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Malaysian Parliament Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun highlighted that facing COVID-19, it is needed to enhance solidarity and cooperation.

“On behalf of the Parliament of Malaysia, we are ready to provide our undivided support of the remarkable efforts by our fellow AIPA members towards the realisation and collaboration of a greater ASEAN. I look forward to strengthening the relationships of our institutions,” he added.

Thai top legislator believes in success of AIPA-41 under host of Vietnam

Chuan Leekpai, President of the National Assembly of Thailand, has expressed his firm belief that the ongoing 41st General Assembly of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA-41) will be the most successful under the host of Vietnam.

In an interview granted to the Vietnam News Agency (VNA)’s reporters in Bangkok, Chuan Leekpai extended his deepest appreciation to Chairwoman of the Vietnamese National Assembly Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan for the success in her tenure as the AIPA Chair.

“Ngan has shown her tireless efforts, wise counsel and perseverance,” he said, stressing that in the past year, the achievement of all AIPA activities would not have been possible without the Vietnamese top legislator at the helm.

To illustrate, he said, the COVID-19 pandemic has posed the global health security threat to humanity throughout the region. In the most difficult moment, the Vietnamese legislature has made every effort not only to deal with the spread of COVID-19 but also to hold three significant AIPA conferences.

Highlighting the great success of these meetings in times of the global health crisis, Chuan Leekpai said all the success of AIPA would not have been possible without excellent management by the AIPA staff of the Vietnamese NA.

He suggested AIPA-41 focus its agenda on how to promote parliamentary diplomacy among the countries in the region as a complementary tool to move the community forward to achieve sustainable development in all areas, in line with the event’s theme of “Parliamentary Diplomacy for a Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN Community”.

According to the Thai legislator, AIPA has demonstrated its role as a key parliamentary organisation for the deliberation of regional issues, which illustrates vividly the power of parliamentary diplomacy in ASEAN. This goes in line with the global trend of international parliamentary diplomacy by the Inter-Parliamentary Union, he said.

He stressed it is necessary to reaffirm the role and the support of ASEAN parliaments in the ASEAN community building process and also emphasize the significance of parliamentary diplomacy for peace, security and stability amidst rapid and complex developments in regional and global situations to reinforce ASEAN’s centrality in regional and world affairs.

Chuan Leekpai said he believes that all AIPA members are willing to exchange experience or best practices with the floor in order to strengthen the connectivity as well as mutual understanding within the region.

Asked about Thailand’s message to the meeting, he said Thailand would like to exchange ideas with AIPA colleagues on how to tackle the difficulties during the pandemic.

According to the Thai top legislator, members of parliaments should stay connected to the people in order to get to know what they want and find the way to respond to those matters properly.

He said within the region, a closer inter-parliamentary cooperation is necessary; exchanging new-normal knowledge or best practices to cope with any difficulties in the period of pandemic should be promoted.

ASEAN unity could be essentially strengthened through the harmonisation of laws of the member states, he said.

AIPA crucial in building people-centred ASEAN Community: ASEAN Deputy Secretary General

The ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA)’s function is crucial in concerted efforts to build a people-oriented, people-centred ASEAN Community, said Kung Phoak, Deputy Secretary General of ASEAN.

Speaking at the first plenary session of the 41st General Assembly of AIPA that is being held online from September 8-10, Phoak said AIPA parliamentarians are well-placed to reach out to the peoples of ASEAN and act as intermediaries between them and the policymakers.

AIPA, as the region’s lead parliamentary organisation, is well-posed in enhancing the ASEAN’s integration process, he continued.

AIPA plays a critical role in transposing regional commitments to national laws. Similarly, AIPA is pivotal in expediting ratifications of signed ASEAN agreements, aligning domestic laws and regulations with regional priorities while monitoring the implementation of these laws.

This year 2020 was supposed to be an exciting year for ASEAN. While COVID-19 has substantially slowed-down some of activities and events, ASEAN – under Vietnam’s able Chairmanship – has stayed focused in endeavoring our community building process and regional integration journey, according to the Deputy Secretary General.

“Looking back, two learning points are evident. Firstly, COVID-19 has irreversibly transformed the world, and the road to recovery will be a long and consequential journey. Secondly, in an interconnected world, a global crisis requires international cooperation, and no single country can wrestle any crisis alone. Hence, tackling the pandemic demands solidarity and actions across the international community,” he said.

In the same context, he went on, ASEAN will and must continue to remain united in the resolve to make policy and law-making work for the benefit of peoples. ASEAN has to keep markets open, ensure the normal flows of trade and supply chain connectivity, particularly for essential products. Such a demonstration of regional commitment is critical, in light of the pressure to turn inward.

Since March 2020, ASEAN has been taking prompt and decisive actions to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic. The successful convening of the 36th ASEAN online Summit in June 2020 was a clear illustration of ASEAN’s solidarity manifested in concrete regional cooperation.

 

It has, among others, affirmed the need for a regional recovery plan post-COVID-19, that involves collaboration among public agencies, businesses and other stakeholders.

At the last Interface between ASEAN Leaders and AIPA during the 36th ASEAN online Summit, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, as ASEAN Chair, affirmed the compelling need for ASEAN member states to stay united, and to turn challenges into opportunities for sustainable development, Phoak recalled.

PM Phuc urged both ASEAN and AIPA to work together to facilitate the post-COVID 19 recovery, including implementing timely policies and measures to mitigate adverse impacts of the crisis and to rebuild lives, he said.

Role of young parliamentarians highlighted within AIPA 41’s framework

The Unofficial Meeting of Young Parliamentarians of ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) was held on September 8 within the framework of the virtual 41st AIPA General Assembly (AIPA-41) from September 8 to 10.

Addressing the event, Permanent Vice Chairwoman of the National Assembly (NA) of Vietnam Tong Thi Phong highlighted the important role of young parliamentarians in conveying desires and ideas of young voters in contributing to AIPA and its member parliaments.

She said young parliamentarians of AIPA are an important factor to connect youngsters and promote their participation in building the ASEAN Community and realising goals of the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 through the ASEAN Work Plan on Youth for 2016-2020 and the following years.

Phong voiced her expectation that the meeting of young parliamentarians of AIPA would be organized on an annual basis within the framework of AIPA General Assembly, saying that the annual meeting would create a forum for young parliaments of AIPA to share experience in doing parliamentary works, contributing to building and developing the ASEAN Community.

Chairman of the Group of Young Deputies in the Vietnamese NA Le Quoc Phong said young people are an important resource for socio-economic development of ASEAN member countries as well as for the continual growth of ASEAN Community. He hailed the increasingly active participation of young parliamentarians in AIPA in general and its member parliaments in particular.

During the event, participants exchanged experiences in promoting the participation of young parliamentarians to building the ASEAN Community in the context of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the COVID-19 pandemic’s impacts on all spheres of socio-economic life in ASEAN member countries.

Young parliamentarians taking part in the meeting approved a draft Resolution on participation of young AIPA parliamentarians in building the ASEAN Community. The final resolution is expected to be approved by AIPA 41 by September 10.

This is the first time ever such a meeting of young parliamentarians of AIPA has been organised. The idea of organising such meeting was initiated by Vietnamese NA Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan when she assumed the role of AIPA 41 Chair. It had been reiterated in the ASEAN Leaders' Interface with Representatives of AIPA and the ASEAN Leaders’ Interface with Representatives of ASEAN Youth within the 36th ASEAN Summit. 

AIPA 41: Cambodia calls for deeper integration to tackle COVID-19 impact

President of Cambodia’s National Assembly Heng Samrin highlighted regional and international cooperation and solidarity for common interests and benefits amid challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic at the virtual 41st General Assembly of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA-41) on September 8.

Stressing that the pandemic has been actively controlled in ASEAN in a timely manner, the chief legislator said: “While our region is struggling to recover from this crisis, we need to further deepen our regional integration to facilitate the flow of goods, services and people. So far ASEAN has managed to maintain its supply chain of goods in response to the essential needs during this critical period.”

He also took the occasion to share Cambodia’s development strategy based on its comparative and competitive advantages, saying that the Cambodian Government is introducing a more people-centered development strategy by prioritising and focusing on agriculture and agro-industry, digital transformation, and domestic tourism.

“The Cambodian Parliament upholds the continuous efforts of ASEAN, focusing on maintaining and promoting peace, security and stability in the region, as well as the peaceful settlement of disputes based on the principles of international law and diplomacy and avoiding the use of force,” he stated.

Heng Samrin noted the Cambodian Parliament backs young AIPA parliamentarians’ participation in all AIPA meetings and those with ASEAN youth. “Young people play significant roles in both national development and in building the ASEAN Community to maintain its prosperous momentum,” he said.

The AIPA 41, themed “Parliamentary Diplomacy for a Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN Community”, runs from September 8 to 10.

This is the third time Vietnam has undertaken the role of AIPA Chair and hosted the General Assembly of AIPA. This event, held online for the first time, affirms the Vietnamese National Assembly’s flexibility, responsibility and determination to successfully assume the role of AIPA Chair this year.

ASEAN must not loosen up solidarity in facing any threat: Thai NA President

ASEAN must not loosen up its solidarity in facing any kind of threat, President of the Thai National Assembly Chuan Leekpai remarked at the first plenary session of the 41st General Assembly of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA-41) on September 8.

The top Thai legislator said ASEAN is facing an unprecedented health crisis – the COVID-19 pandemic – which has created several new and most difficult challenges many countries in the region are experiencing. Apart from the enormous pressure on the medical infrastructure and public health, it is disrupting lives, societies, and economies, he noted.

He voiced his concern that the regional countries are mainly focusing on immediate internal needs – inevitably with external relations being less urgent.

“The decline in regional coordination at this time, when ASEAN is being confronted with difficulties resulting from geopolitical and strategic uncertainty, could possibly adversely affect its centrality, which has been a crucial basis for its role in regional as well as world affairs.”

Leekpai proposed three points that the AIPA member parliaments can work closely together during this difficult time to achieve common objects.

First, he suggested the parliaments reaffirm their direct connection with the people. Embodying ASEAN’s vision for a people-centered community, members of parliament must always stay close to and represent the interests of people, particularly the most vulnerable.

Without seeking to understand the real problems of the people, each parliament will not be able to effectively fulfill their mandate to oversee and provide insights for the executive branch.

Second, at the regional level, it is preferable for AIPA to exchange knowledge and experiences among members of parliament, he continued, including knowledge on a new and unexpected way of life under the current and post-pandemic situation, can be shared.

Members of parliaments in different countries can directly communicate with one another and help parliaments to function more smoothly and effectively.

Finally, the top Thai lawmaker urged ASEAN community building to be strengthened through the harmonisation of laws of the member states. For ASEAN to truly attain a regional community, it is asked to create common legal standards across the region, he said.

He further noted that each parliament can still maintain its responsibility for the enactment of laws to regulate affairs within its own jurisdiction. Harmonisation is nevertheless essential to ensure that the same or similar rules and regulations are moving in the same direction, most notably trade, investment, and movement of professionals, making our region, not only friendly, but also legally friendly.

“If the parliament is strong, the executive will be strong,” he said. “If inter-parliamentary coordination is strengthened, this would surely amount to an invigorated ASEAN.”

“We must revitalise ASEAN to maintain and sustain unity and centrality, which is truly our aim and aspiration, and to uphold our source of pride through which we have existed together for more than half a century.”

Female parliamentarians play important role in securing jobs, income for women workers

A draft Resolution on “The Role Of Women Parliamentarians In Securing Jobs and Income for Women Workers” was adopted on September 8 in the virtual Meeting of Women Parliamentarians of AIPA (WAIPA) within the framework of the 41st General Assembly of ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA-41).

The draft Resolution is expected to be submitted for approval at the AIPA-41 on September 10.

Addressing the meeting, Permanent Vice Chairwoman of the National Assembly of Vietnam Tong Thi Phong mentioned severe impacts by the COVID-19 pandemic on female workers. “Closing the gender gap in employment should be a top priority if we want to achieve gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls by 2030,” she said.

Delivering a speech at the meeting, Chairwoman of the National Assembly Committee for Social Affairs Nguyen Thuy Anh, who presided over the meeting, recalled actions by Vietnamese parliamentarians in response to COVID-19, including their participation in reviewing and approving bailout package for those affected by the pandemic, encouraging voters and people to adhere to recommendations against the pandemic, while conveying voters’ needs and demands during the pandemic to authorised agencies for settlement.

Other activities included monitoring the implementation of policies against the pandemic and post-pandemic supporting policies; integrating relevant matters; supervising works of the National Assembly; as well as adjusting working plans and programmes to cooperate with the Government to issue necessary decisions in fighting the pandemic.

She also made recommendations to securing jobs and income for women workers. First, she mentioned enhancement parliamentary activities, monitoring of state budget, representing women and assisting in building capacity of women in response to the pandemic, as well as promoting women’s leadership in emergency situations.

Second, she proposed the enhancement of parliamentary cooperation for a responsive and cohesive ASEAN Community while devising supporting measures for women workers and disadvantaged people amid the pandemic.

Thuy Anh also suggested more exchanges made to share experiences on establishing and improving working policies for women and more learning and working opportunities open for women.

Participants at the event discussed impacts by COVID-19 on female labourers and measures adopted by their parliaments in addressing challenges facing women during the outbreak as well as policies and actions to promote gender equality in their countries.

AIPA-41: Indonesia calls for keeping peaceful, friendly, harmonious ASEAN

Speaker of the House of Representatives of Indonesia Puan Maharani has affirmed that peace, security and stability has always been an important factor in the development and growth of the region.

Addressing the first plenary session of the 41st General Assembly of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA-41) that opened online on September 8, Maharani said it is crucial that Southeast Asia is kept to be peaceful, friendly and harmonious, in order to enhance cooperation to curb the spread of COVID-19 and address its adverse impact.

She added that AIPA needs to prioritise on peaceful settlement, avoid tension, exercise self-restraint and encourage confidence building measures between ASEAN member states, while emphasising on ASEAN centrality.

According to her, AIPA member parliaments should also encourage ASEAN nations to uphold the United Nation Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982 as reference in determining maritime entitlements, sovereign rights and legitimate interests over maritime zones.

In her opinion, a Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC) should also be fostered as the mutually agreeable platform for dialogue and consultation between ASEAN and China on the East Sea. Such good process can be reflected on the ground, she hoped.

The Speaker said the theme of this year’s General Assembly marks the increasingly important role of the parliaments especially in this time of COVID-19 pandemic, which is impacting so many lives and limiting economic activities causing the region to be in the verge of recession.

To this situation, she called on parliaments to encourage governments of ASEAN member states to deliver adequate policy to curb the spread of COVID-19, reduce greater economic impact and ensuring social welfare.

She suggested parliaments optimise their role by performing legislative duty related to the effort of combating COVID-19 and its socio-economic impact, such as issuing laws related to fiscal stimulus or strengthening social safety net.

Parliaments should also improve oversight to ensure that those laws would be implemented, and their benefits would be felt by the people, she said.

To advance as a cohesive and responsive ASEAN Community, she highlighted a need to enhance capacity to respond effectively to emerging regional challenges, including in the context of human security.

“I believe that we as one ASEAN Community will overcome this difficult time and working together in addressing other regional challenges,” she stressed.

“With the spirit of ‘Gotong Royong’, a traditional Indonesian term of working collectively, we will be able to achieve one common goal to surpass this global COVID-19 pandemic”, she said.

Top legislator of Laos highly values theme of AIPA 41

President of the Lao National Assembly (NA) Pany Yathotou attended the virtual 41st General Assembly of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA 41), hosted by Vietnam, on September 8.

In her remarks at the first plenary session, she said the Lao NA highly values and supports the theme of AIPA 41, “Parliamentary Diplomacy for Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN Community”, which contributes further to implementing the commitment of the 36th ASEAN Summit and reaffirming the importance of close cooperation and partnership among ASEAN member states, and between ASEAN and its dialogue partners with a view to responding to the emerging challenges in the region.

In response to traditional and non-traditional challenges in the region and the world, AIPA, as the representative of the ASEAN people, has actively carried out its responsibility and played its role through parliamentary diplomacy in fostering close cooperation and partnership amongst fellow AIPA members, including through adopting numerous important resolutions of the AIPA General Assembly and contributing towards the realisation of a cohesive and responsive ASEAN Community, she noted.

These undertakings are aimed at strengthening socio-economic and political-security cooperation at the regional level on the basis of consensus-building, promoting public participation as well as the whole-of-society participation in the ASEAN Community building process, encouraging the harmonised and responsive legislations, and exchanging the best practices and experiences in fulfilling the roles and responsibilities amongst fellow AIPA member parliaments, particularly their role in ratifying treaties under the ASEAN cooperation framework with a view to ensuring the effective implementation of the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the three ASEAN Community Blueprints 2025 towards concrete results, the top legislator of Laos added.

According to her, the ASEAN region is facing many challenges in 2020, especially the COVID-19 outbreak and natural disasters, which have imposed adverse impact to the socio-economic development, stability and security in the region and the world as a whole.

Yathotou commended ASEAN for taking timely responsive measures and particularly Vietnam, as the Chair of ASEAN, for its successful convening of the 36th ASEAN Summit, the ASEAN Plus Three Summit on COVID-19 and the AIPA-ASEAN Leader’s Interface earlier this year, during which ASEAN and Plus Three leaders reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening cooperation in the fight against COVID-19.

Laos has translated the commitment outlined in the Declaration of the Special ASEAN Summit on COVID-19 and focused on surveillance, control and responsive measures against the outbreak, she said, noting that as a result of the concerted efforts, her country have 22 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 21 recoveries and no deaths.

At the same time, the Lao Government has also focused its efforts on addressing the COVID-19 economic impact by adopting economic, fiscal and monetary policies and measures aimed at facilitating economic recovery.

Yathotou expressed her confidence that fellow AIPA members will continue to fulfill their role through parliamentary diplomacy with a view to encouraging the governments of ASEAN member states to implement measures and translate commitment of the ASEAN leaders as well as the heads of AIPA towards tangible results.

She also took this opportunity to express her appreciation to ASEAN member states, the bloc’s dialogue partners, friendly countries and international organisations for the technical and financial support and assistance, including through an exchange of information and provision of medical supplies as well as dispatch of medical experts to Laos in its efforts to combat COVID-19 and to recover its economy.

Brunei praises Vietnam’s NA for making AIPA-41 possible

Speaker of the Legislative Council of Brunei Pehin Abdul Rahman Taib has appreciated the Vietnamese National Assembly’s dedication and steadfast commitment in making it possible to convene the 41st ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly’s General Assembly (AIPA-41) this year.

The virtual meeting is the first of its kind to be held in the history of the AIPA General Assembly due to COVID-19, he told the event’s first plenary session on September 8 morning.

The theme of the 41st AIPA General Assembly this year, “Parliamentary Diplomacy for Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN”, is relevant in the current context as the region faces unprecedented challenges in adapting to the new norm, he said. “The theme further emphasises the role of national parliaments of ASEAN as the voice of the people and the need to stand in solidarity and to respond swiftly to pressing issues, in accordance with the international laws.”

“The global impact of the pandemic on health, education and economy which fundamentally changed the way we lead our daily lives, saying despite these challenges, it is essential to maintain a forward-looking approach and carefully adapt to ensure the continuity of AIPA’s work,” he underscored.

He expressed his belief that by holding the true ASEAN spirit of “Unity in Diversity”, AIPA will be able to assist ASEAN to overcome the challenges ahead and respond adeptly to the impending future.

The top legislator of Brunei moved on to urge AIPA Member Parliaments to continue fostering cooperation among relevant stakeholders by encouraging timely exchanges of lessons learned in relation to mitigating the effects of COVID-19.

“It is important for parliamentarians to acknowledge post-pandemic challenges, which are imminent, and devising pre-emptive measures to safeguard the interests of our people, especially the most vulnerable members of our nations.”

He affirmed that the Legislative Council of Brunei will continue to support the endeavours and efforts by other AIPA Member Parliaments to address global and regional challenges through partnerships and diplomacy towards achieving common goals for the benefit of the people in the region.

He expected AIPA-41 discussions will further enhance its good cause for parliamentary diplomacy as ASEAN advances towards the goal for a cohesive, inclusive and resilient Community.

Former ASEAN chief: ASEAN-AIPA Dialogue at AIPA General Assembly should be formalised

Former Secretary-General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Ong Keng Yong shared his views of the 41st General Assembly of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA 41) as well as the role of host Vietnam in regional inter-parliamentary diplomacy.

According to the former ASEAN chief, this time’s general assembly could focus on enhancing AIPA’s structure to support ASEAN in its Community building process; and convincing their respective governments to strengthen the process of Community building and the ASEAN platforms already in place to implement the agenda of ASEAN.

Currently, AIPA and ASEAN only engage each other on informal platforms, he said.

He suggested the current Interface with ASEAN Leaders at the Summit should be held regularly; one or two practical proposals from AIPA could be tabled for an exchange of views with the ASEAN Leaders each time the Interface takes place.

Besides, he said, the ASEAN-AIPA Dialogue at the AIPA General Assembly should also be formalised and public awareness programmes can be instituted to outreach the citizens in the respective ASEAN member states.

Sharing his views about the role of inter-parliamentary diplomacy in strengthening ASEAN's cohesion and responsiveness to deal with regional and international challenges, Ong said unlike the European Union (EU), where the European Parliament is the legislative body that passes bills/laws, AIPA is not the legislative body of ASEAN.

As each ASEAN member state has its own process in passing international/regional commitments into national laws, the pace of ratification of regional agreements among ASEAN member states often varied.

The former ASEAN chief held that AIPA could bridge this gap by facilitating and pushing ratification/implementation of regional agreements in the legislative body of each ASEAN member state.

In the face of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the ASEAN Leaders have adopted Hanoi Plan of Action at their recent Summit, he said, adding AIPA may wish to use the forthcoming General Assembly to monitor and report on how each ASEAN member state has incorporated this Plan into their respective national laws; and to use the General Assembly for sharing best practices of ASEAN member states in handling COVID-19.

He spoke of the Vietnamese National Assembly’s initiatives introduced at this time’s event such as unofficial Meeting of Young Parliamentarians.

He said he believes this is useful and relevant in bringing ASEAN closer to ASEAN citizens, especially the younger generation.

Vietnam’s COVID-19 measures are useful learning experiences which the younger citizens of other ASEAN member states can discuss and adapt when possible, he affirmed.

The 41st General Assembly of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA-41) themed “Parliamentary diplomacy for a cohesive and responsive ASEAN Community” is taking place virtually from September 8-10.

ASEAN 2020,AIPA 41
ASEAN 2020,AIPA 41

VNA