ASEAN role in promoting democracy lauded

BALI—The Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam said more needs to be done to promote effective political cooperation in the region as Association of Southeast Asean Nations (Asean) approaches its 2015 target to realize the Asean Community.

He was attending the opening session of the Bali Democracy Forum VI at the Bali Nusa Dua Convention Centre, Indonesia, when he delivered the speech.

He said Asean through its community-building efforts has provided a strong basis for a sound people-oriented association in which the interests and concerns of the public are of prime importance.

“By working closely together with the people and on their behalf, all in Asean will be giving true meaning to the opening words of the preamble of the Asean Charter—‘We, the peoples of the member states of the Asean,’” he said.

In keeping with the theme of this year’s forum, he shared his own observations on what Asean is doing to promote democracy as part of its community-building efforts.

He said the Asean Concord Two Declaration (Bali Concord II), which was adopted here in Bali 10 years ago, witnessed a commitment by the regional association to transform itself into an Asean Community initially by 2020, and later brought forward to 2015.

In strengthening and accelerating this community vision, Asean leaders agreed to the Asean Charter in 2007, and subsequently a road map for an Asean Community. This has laid down the basis for the region to realize an Asean Community and address the 21st century challenges faced by their countries and peoples.

He further said the organization is pursuing a number of objectives, ranging from alleviating poverty and narrowing development gaps; strengthening democratic values, especially good governance and the rule of law; promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms to respecting the independence, sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity and national identities of all the member-states.

“It is clear that Asean is constantly attending to these values so as to achieve the envisaged ‘Community’ through a sustained and balanced manner, especially in the political, economic and sociocultural areas,” he noted.

He added that the association’s work also takes place in a setting characterized by dialogue, consensus and cooperation; an environment which is in itself democratic and a hallmark of Asean’s progress over the last 40 years.

“I appreciate that the member- states are mindful of the regional diversity in its various dimensions, but at the same time seek to work closely together in realizing a commonly held objective which is community building,” he said.

This year Brunei has dedicated itself to ensuring that Asean’s work is directed toward the interests and welfare of the people in the region, he said.

All of these are directed toward a fundamental objective—peace, stability and development.

Prior to the event and upon arrival at the venue, the Sultan was greeted by President of the Republic of Indonesia H Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

The morning’s opening session began with a report by Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs R M Marty M Natalegawa. This was followed by an opening statement by the Indonesian president.

He then joined other leaders and heads of delegates for a group photo. In the afternoon, he joined other leaders and heads of delegates for a luncheon hosted by Yudhoyono.