News & Activities : The 52nd Anniversary of ASEAN in Ho Chi Minh City News

News & Activities : The 52nd Anniversary of ASEAN in Ho Chi Minh City

The 52nd Anniversary of ASEAN in Ho Chi Minh City

By Mr. Apirat Sugondhabirom, Consul-General of Thailand to Ho Chi Minh City

            The month of August is the birth-month of ASEAN – the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or the Hiệp hội các quốc gia Đông Nam ÁIt was in August of 1967 or 52 years ago that the ASEAN journey began, when the five Founding Fathers of ASEAN from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand came together for an informal discussion at Laem Thaen, Bang Saen Beach, in Chol Buri Province of Thailand. This in turn led to the signing of the Bangkok Declaration on 8 August, 1967, at Saranrom Palace in Bangkok, the seat of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand at that time, establishing Association, which since 2015 has become the ASEAN Community. The Bangkok Declaration underscored the Founding Fathers’ shared commitment to build a region of peace, security and prosperity in Southeast Asia, which still serve as a guiding beacon for us today.

On the 8th of August this year I myself was not in Ho Chi Minh City, as I was leading a delegation of Vietnamese youths from 11 Universities in the Northern, Central and Southern regions of Vietnam to visit five Thai cities (following the footsteps of Uncle Ho in Siam), and we ended our programme in Thailand by taking them to the Thai Foreign Ministry to see the celebration and exhibition on the ASEAN Day there. The Vietnamese youth delegates were lucky to have a chance to meet H.E. Mr. Nguyen Hai Bang, Ambassador of Vietnam to Bangkok, who was also invited to attend the ASEAN Day Ceremony at the Ministry.

Visit Na khon pha nom

 

Visit Uncle Ho’s house

 

Meanwhile in Hanoi, in the morning of the same day, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam held a solemn ASEAN Flag Hoisting Ceremony, presided over by H.E. Mr. Nguyen Quoc Dung, Deputy Foreign Minister of Vietnam and Head of the Vietnamese delegation to the ASEAN SOM (Senior Officials’ Meeting), and attended by Vietnamese dignitaries as well as Ambassadors and diplomats from all the embassies of ASEAN countries in Hanoi, including my own Ambassador, H.E. Mr. Tanee Sangrat. A less formal (but probably more fun) activity was also held on Sunday, 18 August, that was the “Expanded ASEAN & Partners Family Day” also hosted by the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry, which involved cycling around Hanoi, traditional games and modern sports, ASEAN’s Got Talent Programme, musical exchanges, and food.   

In Ho Chi Minh City, I was invited by the Vietnam-ASEAN Friendship Association, under the Ho Chi Minh City Union of Friendship Organizations (HUFO) to a ceremony to mark the 52nd anniversary of ASEAN on 19 August at the Hotel Majestic, the first five-starred hotel in the City under the Vietnamese ownership on the bank of Saigon River.

As Thailand is the current Chair of ASEAN for this year 2019, I was kindly invited to give a speech, and it was a great pleasure and honour for me to bring good wishes from Thailand, in both of our capacities as the current ASEAN Chair and also as the birthplace of ASEAN, to all our friends in Ho Chi Minh City. There was a speech by Madam Phan Thi Hong Xuan, Chairwoman of the Vietnam-ASEAN Friendship Association, an ASEAN fashion show by Vietnamese students, and the granting of scholarships to needy Vietnamese students.   

In my speech, I thanked the ASEAN-Vietnam Friendship Association for its important role in promoting the people-to-people relations. I also recalled that in the decades following ASEAN’s birth in 1967, the Association had grown from strength to strength, and on 28 July, 1995, twenty-four years ago, we welcomed the Socialist Republic of Vietnam into the ASEAN family. Since then, Vietnam has contributed much to our common success of ASEAN, including serving as the ASEAN Chair and hosting the ASEAN Summits in 1998 and 2010. It was also in Hanoi in 1998 that ASEAN leaders adopted the Hanoi Plan of Action (HPA) to implement the ASEAN Vision 2020, which was itself adopted earlier in 1997 in Kuala Lumpur, in order to realise “a concert of Southeast Asian nations which is outward looking; living in peace, stability and prosperity, bonded together in dynamic development and in a community of caring societies” (end of quote). Next year, in 2020, when it is time again for Vietnam to be ASEAN Chair and to host the ASEAN Summits and related meetings throughout the year, it will coincidentally be the opportunity for all of us to revisit the ASEAN Vision 2020 and its implementations under the Hanoi Plan of Action of 1998.

Asean Summit 1998

 

Asean Summit 2010

For Thailand, in the past 7 months as ASEAN Chair under the theme of “Advancing Partnership for Sustainability”, our close cooperation has produced a number of concrete outcomes to achieve sustainability in all dimensions. At the 34th Summit in Bangkok in June (of which Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc also attended) the ASEAN Leaders adopted the Leaders’ Vision Statement on “Partnership for Sustainability” and pushed forward cooperation directly benefiting people, such as the launching of the Satellite Warehouse under the Disaster Logistic System, the upgrading of ASEAN Center of Military Medicine and the adoption of Bangkok Declaration on Combating Marine Debris in the ASEAN Region, to name but a few.

 

 

 

Looking forward, Thailand realises that ASEAN cannot accomplish all of its goals alone. This is why Thailand as Chair has been reaching out to our ASEAN friends, Dialogue Partners and also countries and parties outside the region, including the G20 and the United Nations, to work together to overcome the global challenges facing us today, ranging from climate change, technological disruption, global geo-political and economic shifts, to natural disasters. This is why we need to strengthen more ASEAN-led mechanisms, enhance even more seamless connectivity through the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025, supporting the conclusion of RCEP and promote regional security so that ASEAN could be more resilient to external shock economically, politically and environmentally. No country can go alone. Only by advancing our partnership together, can we move the ASEAN Community towards a future of stability, sustainability and peace.

Among the various areas of cooperation that we have been working together at ASEAN for our peoples, I cited two in particular. First, our common attention for our common future, which is in the hands of the youths of ASEAN, in particular for their education. One of the most important works at the heart of the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC), is in the area of Education, Youth and Sports. (Therefore, I was glad that we had the leaders of the HCMC Youth Union among us at the event.)  Guided by the spirit of Leaving No One Behind in our development endeavours, the Royal Thai Consulate-General in Ho Chi Minh City was pleased to participate in response to the initiative of the Vietnam-ASEAN Friendship Association of Ho Chi Minh City to give scholarships to poor students from Go Vap and Binh Thanh Districts. On that day, 45 scholarships of 1 million Dong each were given away.

Secondly, the area of ASEAN Smart Cities Network (ASCN), initiated by Singapore during its ASEAN Chairmanship in 2018. Under Singapore’s leadership, ASEAN agreed to set up the ASCN, comprising 26 pilot cities in ASEAN - including, of course, Ho Chi Minh City here. Two other smart cities in Vietnam which are also members of the ASCN are Hanoi and Danang. For our part, this year Thailand has already continued the work and hosted the ASCN Roundtable Meeting and Conference on Smart and Sustainable Cities in June, with representatives from Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and Danang attending. More recently, we also hosted the ASCN Annual Conference and Exhibition on 22-24 August, again with representatives of Ho Chi Minh City (and Hanoi and Danang) participating, in Bangkok. Actually, in May this year I also had the honour and pleasure to represent Thailand at the International Conference “Ho Chi Minh City in the Network of Smart Cities in ASEAN” organized by the Vietnam-ASEAN Friendship Association, in collaboration with the University of Social Sciences and Humanities (USSH) Ho Chi Minh City, and other hosts and sponsors, which shows that there is a keen interest in this city, in this issue of our era.  

On a personal note, I said that on my own arrival in Ho Chi Minh City to assume my position here in February, I was impressed and heartened to be welcomed by a monument inspired by a giant ASEAN logo in the Công Viên Hoàng Văn Thụ Park, near the Tan Son Nhat International Airport – that is probably one of the biggest ASEAN logos that I have seen in my life. Later on, it was again heartwarming for me to come across the row of flagpoles in Bach Dang Quay on the bank of Saigon River, proudly displaying the flags of ASEAN countries – including Thailand - and of ASEAN itself.

Next year Vietnam will assume the responsibility of the ASEAN Chairmanship. I look forward to working together with our Vietnamese friends and colleagues to welcome delegates (especially from Thailand) who will definitely come to Ho Chi Minh City and Danang in my consular jurisdiction for some of the ASEAN-related meetings during the year. I also reaffirmed that Thailand is committed to fully support Vietnam as the next ASEAN Chair, and to continue to push forward our common aspiration and partnership, to ensure that our peoples can truly benefit from the ASEAN Community.

            I believe it is most proper to conclude here with our Anthem, “The ASEAN Way”, the official anthem of our Association:

Raise our flag high, sky high

Embrace the pride in our heart,

ASEAN we are bonded as one

Looking out to the world.

For peace, our goal from the very start

And prosperity to last.

We dare to dream - we care to share.

Together for ASEAN.

We dare to dream - we care to share

For it’s the way of ASEAN.

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