Samdech Akka Moha Thomak Pothisal Chea Sim, President of Senate,
Samdech Akka Moha Ponhea Chakrei Heng Samrin, President of the National Assembly,
Excellency, Ladies, Head of Delegate and Observed Countries,
H.E. Antonio Cuenco, Permanent Secretary General of AIPA,
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Distinguished National and International Guests!
Today, it is my great pleasure and honor to participate in the 32th ASEAN Inter Parliamentary Assembly Summit, in which the National Assembly has the privilege to host such an important Summit. On behalf of the Royal Government and Cambodian people, I would like to express my very warm welcome to Excellencies, Ladies, Gentlemen, head and member of delegate, special observers and all distinguished gests to come to Phnom Penh to participate in this 32th ASEAN Inter Parliamentary Assembly Summit.
Taking this opportunity, I would like to share with your Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen a number of views in relation to the achievements made by ASEAN, along with the important efforts and role played by the Inter Parliamentary Assembly, in continuously supporting its activities and mission to enable ASEAN to overcome all challenges in realizing the ASEAN community by 2015. Indeed, ASEAN has become a real mature association in the region and the globe over the past 44 years. Currently, ASEAN is moving on its right track, reflecting in its active role in political, economic and social dialogue and cooperation with other key stakeholders.
In addition, through its determination and along with the government’s efforts as well as those efforts of the people and relevant partners, ASEAN has in the recent years made many great achievements in the economic, social and cultural sectors. However, in the world that is characterized by dynamic changes, I am of the view that ASEAN still face numerous domestic and external challenges that we need to jointly address toward achieving the establishment of “ASEAN Community” by 2015 and beyond. Indeed, ASEAN leaders have been working actively to cope with these issues. Among those achievements, we had adopted the ASEAN Charter as well as Roadmap and ASEAN Community Blueprint comprising of 3 key pillars including “ASEAN Political-Security Community, ASEAN Economic Community, and ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community” with the objective to narrow development gap among ASEAN member states.
Taking this opportunity, I would like to highlight a number of key achievements made by ASEAN so far from implementing ASEAN Charter and the Roadmap for ASEAN Community 2015 and other challenges that ASEAN need to address in establishing the ASEAN Community and connecting ASEAN to global community.
Indeed, ASEAN Charter was formulated with smooth structural operation, new organization of ASEAN as well as effective necessary legal documents to create legal foundation and institutional framework for establishment of ASEAN Community and deeper regional integration. Despite these, ASEAN must have full legal and institutional framework that is in conformity to ASEAN Charter, including creating institutional mechanism for conflict resolution, increasing ASEAN institutional operation efficiency, strengthening coordination between operating agencies and bolstering resource mobilization to promote implementation of initiatives. In this spirit, I think that ASEAN not only reach higher stage in due course of community building, but also is capable of transforming itself into full-fledged legal-based institution.
At the same time, with respect to forming ASEAN Political-Security Community we have made much remarkable progress. Key dialogues and frameworks for cooperation have been set up and organized regularly at all levels. These are factors that are to strengthen mutual understanding and trust among member states. Particularly, Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC), The Southeast Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (SEANWFZ), The Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC),and the ASEAN Convention on Counter Terrorism a have become key instruments for ensuring regional security.
At the same time, process of formation of Asean Economic Association is in a good progress. We have established Asean Free Trade Area to serve for the exchange of goods, services, investments in coincidence with implementation of “Single Window Service” and trade facilitation. It is worth noting that ASEAN is currently dwelled by more than 600 million people, generating USD 1700 billion of GDP, with strong economic growth, political stability, growing numbers of middle-income class and endowed with natural resources. Indeed, these qualifications do not only reflect the potential of domestic growth of ASEAN, but also reflects ASEANs economic attractiveness toward other external partners as well. Nevertheless, the reduction in development gap between ASEAN member countries remains challenge to ensure competitiveness, attractiveness and achieving of regional integration. In the sense, I contend that Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity is one of the most comprehensive plans which were formulated to create ASEAN Economic Community.
Obviously, to meet these goals ASEAN needs to cooperate with all partners such as Asean+1, Asean+3 and other partners to support the implementation of Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity in terms of both hard and soft infrastructure, in particular the connection of road, railway, airway and waterway. In this spirit, I would like to take this opportunity to emphasize that the Royal Government of Cambodia gave high priority to transport infrastructure in order to promote internal integration and connectivity to neighboring countries in the region.
The new development of global economy poses additional challenges on ASEAN. For the medium term, ASEAN must pay high attention to boosting domestic economic growth through diversification of growth base, expanding regional cooperation and acceleration of regional integration to sustain economic growth in the context of post-global-financial-crisis. These policy measures require us to double our effort to urgently achieve of adopted plans of actions and other initiatives. These require us to prioritize, facilitate and classify our work flow in order to avoid overlapping of efforts and utilizing of resources for the implementation of programs and various initiatives under the inter sub-regional, regional and a wider ASEAN Framework such as the East Asian Cooperation Framework.
In addition, regarding to the establishment of the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) we have achieved many remarkable progresses as well, but recent changes in the world’s situation have put pressure on us to continue working hard to address a number of key challenges. Some of them are regional issues; and others are global issues but they have strongly impacted our region as a whole in terms of human resource development, disasters management, and climate change and so on. Truly, ASEAN has clearly foreseen all these challenges, and has actively imposed measures aimed to promote internal cooperation within ASEAN as well as the cooperation between ASEAN with its relevant partners in order to ensure effective solutions to the problems.
We all have acknowledged that all these great achievements made by ASEAN so far could not be separated from the active support of the parliaments of the ASEAN member states. Indeed, if there were no close cooperation and supports from the representing parliaments of each ASEAN member, the ASEAN members’ governments would not have been able to timely and effectively respond to recent challenges with quality outcomes. In addition, the success of coming out of the 1997-1998 Asian Financial Crisis and, particularly the 2008-2009 global financial crisis were stemmed from the firm support of the parliaments of the ASEAN member states. In parallel, the timely support for the stimulus package policy not only made the ASEAN economy recover quickly but also enabled it to achieve high growth as well. In addition, the Cambodia’s economy, after falling to nearly a zero growth rate in 2009, has recovered with 6% growth in 2010 and about 7% in 2011 based on a cautious forecast. This recovery will help Cambodia to reduce poverty its rate by around 1% per annum.
In this spirit, in order to achieve the implementation of action plans and other initiatives that we have adopted so far, particularly to timely respond to the challenges and establish a real ASEAN Community, ASEAN is in great needs for continued supports of the ASEAN members’ parliaments. Indeed, within the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary framework, the Royal Government of Cambodia believes that the 32nd ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) will provide great contribution to promote the ASEAN integration especially the reduction in the development gaps within ASEAN, which is the strong wish of many new member states including Cambodia. In this view, the collective effort to reduce the development gaps is a necessary and indispensable factor to ensure the competition and protection of ASEAN CENTRALITY role toward the establishment of the ASEAN COMMUNITY by 2015.
At the same time, in order to promote the reputation and the role of ASEAN as a strong regional organization with collective strategy and consistent and compromised position, ASEAN necessarily needs to get involved in addressing key global challenges such as global economic crisis, climate change, natural disaster management, prevention of contagious diseases as well as the fight against cross borders crime and terrorism and so on.
On behalf of the Royal Government and Cambodian people, I believe that this Inter-Parliamentary Assembly will provide further support for ASEAN in reducing the development gaps in the region and the effort of member state in reducing poverty. In order to achieve this work, I believe and understand that we inevitably need to further continue the reforms. We all know that reforms could not be achieved overnight or finished with one giant step. Reforms need to be carried out consistently and continuously. Cambodia will continue adhering to its firm principles in order to strengthen and expand its efforts more vigorously aimed to make reforms more in-depth and comprehensive through the improvement in the state of law, provision of new opportunities and hope for all Cambodian people in the future.
Finally, I would like to wish the 32nd ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) success and fruitful results, which will make important contribution to the promotion for progress, prosperity, and happiness of the people of member states of our ASEAN region. I would like to wish Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen who are the delegates and observers of friend countries good health, success in your tasks, safety, happiness, unforgettable and good experiences during your stay in the Kingdom of Cambodia, the great land of Angkor. I also wish you all the four gems of Buddhist blessing: Longevity, Nobility, Health and Strength.