Thailand accepts ASEAN Chairmanship for 2019 , vows to ‘advance partnership for sustainability’

Marje Pelayo   •   November 15, 2018   •   4299


Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong formally hands over the ASEAN chairmanship to Thailand Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha during the closing ceremony of the 33rd Asean Summit on November 15, 2018.


SINGAPORE – The Chairmanship of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) was finally handed over by Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to Thailand Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha at the conclusion of the 33rd ASEAN Summit on Thursday (November 15).

In his closing remarks, the outgoing ASEAN Chair Prime Minister Lee thanked all ASEAN members and outside partners for the support towards Singapore’s vision of a resilient and innovative ASEAN.

He presented an infographic that reflects all the initiatives that ASEAN was able to established under Singapore’s leadership this year.

He called on all ASEAN members to maintain the spirit of unity and “continue to think regionally” despite individual and national interests.

“This is just the beginning of a new and exciting chapter for us. We are not and never will be done building and strengthening the ASEAN Community. We must continue to uphold the ASEAN friendship framework and engage our partners, keep our region open. We must be on the core of economic integration and pool our talents and resources to improve our people’s lives,” Prime Minister Lee said.

“Singapore has full confidence that Thailand as the incoming ASEAN chair will continue to take ASEAN forward and will uphold to continue working with the rest of the ASEAN family to fulfill our common goal – one vision, one identity, one community,” he added as he formally handed over the chairmanship to Thailand.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha in his acceptance speech vowed that: “Thailand will continue the good work on issues to which ASEAN has given priority in the past years.”

Specifically, PM Prayuth emphasized the ASEAN Smart Cities Network which aims at ensuring continuity and and sustainability in the ASEAN community.

He noted that since the establishment of ASEAN in 1967, it is commendable that the regional bloc has grown into becoming “a community and a region of peace and security” and has grown as the 6th largest economy in the world with roles recognized internationally.

He hopes that ASEAN will be able to grow to become the 4th largest economy in 2030.

The Thai prime minister acknowledges that there are a number of challenges ahead and so he encouraged all ASEAN member states to continue working in unity.

“All 10 countries must collaborate even more closely on the foundation of ASEAN unity on the principle of three M’s – mutual trust; mutual respect; and mutual benefit – to realize concrete deliverables and sustainability for ASEAN in all dimensions,” he said.

Before he ended his speech, the incoming Chair announced next year’s ASEAN theme which is “Advancing Partnership for Sustainability.”

In accordance with the regional grouping’s rotating chairmanship, Singapore will again have its turn as host of the ASEAN in year 2028. – Marje Pelayo

Duterte to attend ASEAN-South Korean Commemorative Summit for 2nd time

Maris Federez   •   November 22, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Roa Duterte will be visiting South Korea for the second time this weekend.

The chief executive will go to Busan, South Korea with other heads of states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states for the ASEAN-Republic of Korea Commemorative Summit from November 25 to 27.

This is in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the ASEAN-Korea Dialogue Relations which was founded in 1989.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Office of ASEAN Affairs Asec. Junever Mahilum-West said they expect two sessions to take place during the summit wherein the relations between ASEAN and the Republic of Korea will be discussed alongside other big issues that the region is facing, such as the tension in the Korean Peninsula.

“In Busan, two outcome documents are expected in the forthcoming ASEAN-ROK Summit and other side events. And these documents are the ASEAN-ROK Joint Vision Statement for Peace, Prosperity, and Partnership and the Co-Chairs’ Statement on the ASEAN-Republic of Korea Commemorative Summit and these two represent the strong partnership between the ASEAN and ROK,” said Mahilum-West said.

Aside from this, they expect to have a bilateral meeting between President Duterte and South Korean President Moon Jae-in in the sidelines of the commemorative summit wherein several agreements in the education, tourism, social security, and fishing are expected to get signed.

“We cannot divulge yet what will happen in the meeting. But we expect some agreements to be signed on certain areas of cooperation,” the official added.

On Tuesday (November 19), President Duterte mentioned that the country will purchase military equipment from South Korea.  

“Itong Seoul is a vital partner natin. Alam mo kasi ang mga armas ngayon mahal, but we can always buy. Our jet planes, ‘yung FA-50 natin galing ano ‘yun. Now, we are buying Corvettes. How do you pronounce it? Corvette or corvey, or whatever. And buy the arms, I will look into the — para hindi ako mag-asa lang sa assessment,” the President said. (from the report of Rosalie Coz) /mbmf

Court strips rising Thai politician’s MP status over election law breach

Robie de Guzman   •   November 20, 2019

Thai supporters show they three-finger salute, as a symbol of protest, as they wait for the Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit to emerge from hearing at the Constitutional Court in Bangkok, Thailand, 20 November 2019. Thai Constitutional Court on 20 November 2019 decided on Thanathorn having lost his status as a member of Parliament on 23 May 2019, was guilty violating electoral laws by owning or hold shares in media companies while registering as a party-list candidate for the general election, an alleged violation of the Constitution and the House of Representatives Election. EPA-EFE/NARONG SANGNAK

Bangkok – Thailand’s Constitutional Court stripped a rising politician of his seat in parliament Wednesday after finding him guilty of breaching election laws by owning media company shares, a decision he considers politically motivated and based on assumptions.

Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, leader of Thailand’s Future Forward Party, was stripped of his position for holding shares in V-Luck Media Company when he was presented as a Member of Parliament candidate earlier this year, the court ruled in a seven to nine decision.

“There are grounds to believe that the accused (Thanathorn) was a shareholder of V-Luck Media Company, which was still in operation on Feb. 6, 2019, the day Future Forward Party submitted a list of MP candidates to the accuser (the Commission Election),” the verdict read.

Thanathorn – who disputes this version and insists he sold the shares in January – will still be allowed to lead his party and contest future elections.

“The arguments that the court used to decide on my case are based on assumptions. There is no scientific fact that can disprove the evidence we had previously presented,” he told the press following the verdict. “There are more facts which could be found in our documents, but the court did not see them as something important. They only gave priority to their own assumptions.”

The politician said he would continue working and that there was still lots to do, adding that he wasn’t worried about the party being dissolved over other cases pending against it.

Rights groups decried Wednesday’s decision, saying it demonstrated the country is unprepared for free and fair polls.

“Today’s ruling is another indication that despite the holding of elections this year, Thai authorities are not ready for an open and free democracy,” said Charles Santiago, Malaysian MP and chair of the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR).

Santiago further said Future Forward had been targeted by what are supposedly independent institutions and that the decision demonstrated the status quo’s fear of the newborn party, which came third in March’s general elections and established itself as a driving political force.

Thanathorn, 40, is one of the most vocal critics of the last military junta, which current Prime Minister Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha headed from 2014 to 2019. The ultra-monarchist general has cracked down harshly on any dissenting voice.

However, Prayuth was elected prime minister this year by a coalition of parties after elections criticized for their irregularities and lack of transparency.

Thanathorn has further fueled his argument that charges against him are politically motivated by saying that at least 32 parliament members of the ruling government party also allegedly had media shares but hadn’t been suspended.

Thailand has suffered 13 coups since the abolition of absolute monarchy in 1932 and the army has exerted great influence on the country’s politics, which in the last decade have been agitated by waves of anti-government demonstrations. EFE-EPA


Duterte to attend ASEAN-ROK summit in South Korea

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 11, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte will attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations-Republic of Korea (ASEAN-ROK) Commemorative Summit in South Korea from November 25 to 27.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo confirmed on Sunday (November 10) that the president will be attending the summit in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the dialogue partnership between the regional bloc and South Korea.

“He will push through with the trip,” Panelo said.

President Duterte and South Korean President Moon Jae-In are also expected to have a bilateral meeting to discuss trade and security issues.

The Philippines and South Korea have recently celebrated its 70th bilateral relations.—AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)


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