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Nov 16, 2020 / 19:24

Vietnam hands over ASEAN baton to Brunei

The next year's chair will focus on accelerating the post-pandemic recovery.

Brunei Darussalam has taken the symbolic gavel for the ASEAN Chair in 2021 from Vietnam at the closing of the 37th ASEAN Summit and related summits in Hanoi on November 15.

 Brunei’s ambassador to Vietnam Pg Hj Sahari Pg Hj Salleh (left) accepted the chairmanship gavel on behalf of the Brunei government from Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc. Photo: Giang Huy

With the theme “We Care. We Prepare. We Prosper,” the bloc's next chair will continue to advance the regional recovery and community-building efforts.

Brunei’s Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah revealed the next year’s focus that reflects three priority areas the country plans to promote: (1) Caring for the people and each other’s well-being, (2) Preparing for future opportunities and challenges, and (3) Prospering together as a unified region.

“Although ASEAN is a prosperous region with a growing economy and improved connectivity, the region has faced financial crises, energy shortages, natural disasters and climate change,” The Scoop quoted the sultan as saying.

“The severe challenges to global activities brought about by the [coronavirus] has also shown us that ASEAN must continue to strengthen ASEAN solidarity and centrality to overcome them,” the sultan said, adding that in today’s polarized world, ASEAN must continue to advance together.

The sultan emphasized that ASEAN was formed over fifty years ago with a vision for a better and more peaceful future based on the shared understanding that ASEAN as a whole, is greater than the sum of its parts.

“Integration, unity and solidarity, have and must continue to be, the foundation of ASEAN’s relations in advancing together,” he noted.

The Brunei government has yet to announce how ASEAN-related meetings will take place in 2021, whether they will continue to be held virtually or in-person at some point during the year.

Brunei last held the ASEAN chairmanship in 2013.

According to Article 31 in the ASEAN Charter, the Chairmanship of ASEAN shall rotate annually, based on the alphabetical order of the English names of member states.

A member state assuming the Chairmanship shall chair the ASEAN Summit and related summits, the ASEAN Coordinating Council, the three ASEAN Community Councils, relevant ASEAN Sectoral Ministerial Bodies and senior officials, and the Committee of Permanent Representatives.

The hosting country shall chair high-ranking and ministerial meetings, promoting the bloc’s interests and prosperity, recommending initiatives and new plans, and ensuring timely response to emergencies for the sake of the bloc.