Cambodia Assumes ASEAN Chairmanship

Prime Minister Hun Sen holds ASEAN chairmanship hammer after Brunei concludes its chairmanship role on October 28. Photo from Facebook

Hun Sen sets out with ambitious pledges for region

PHNOM PENH--Prime Minister Hun Sen pledged further progress building the regional community as he formally took over the ASEAN chairmanship from Brunei on Thursday.

During the ceremony, held virtually, outgoing chair Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah highlighted ASEAN accomplishments under his country’s leadership.

He said that despite being hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic, the region has been working hand in hand to ensure the wellbeing of the people while trying to deal with the pandemic impact, making regional recovery its priority.   

“I would like to hand over the chairmanship gavel to Samdech Hun Sen and wish Cambodia a success in its role,” Hassanal Bolkiah said. 

In response, Hun Sen praised Brunei and the Sultan for his outstanding leadership and his achievements in the role.

The Prime Minister said the theme under Cambodia’s chairmanship in 2022 will be “ASEAN A.C.T.: Addressing Challenges Together.”

Pledge to expedite building inclusive and equitable ASEAN community

Hun Sen said Cambodia is determined to achieve more positive results for the region, and especially accelerate so-called community-building with equity, strength and inclusivity.

Speaking of the ASEAN political-security pillar, he said Cambodia aspires to continue focusing on strengthening relations through existing regional mechanisms and external cooperation based on principles in the ASEAN Charter, the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation and the ASEAN Indo Pacific Outlook.

“ASEAN must be strong and resilient to withstand mounting influence and pressure from rising geopolitical competition as well as transnational crimes, terrorism, climate change and pandemics,” Hun Sen said. This was in addition to ensuring peace and security.  

On the economic pillar, he said Cambodia will push forward effective implementation of existing measures on reaping benefits from free trade agreements to enable speedy economic recoveries in new normal, ensuring that ASEAN remains an attractive trade and investment hub.  

“It can be done through promoting physical and digital connectivity the region as well as promoting capacity-building of small and medium enterprises and youth and women entrepreneurship,” he said.

On the socio-cultural pillar, Hun Sen said the country will work on strengthening the capacity of human resources in response to the needs of regional integration. This includes bolstering people-to-people connectivity as well as boosting active participation of women and youth in building peace, prosperity and inclusive regional social protection systems.

“As the chair of ASEAN, Cambodia aims to encourage people-to-people ties to enhance the regional unity and one ASEAN identity,” he said, pointing out Cambodia will also work on setting out a plan for a vision of ASEAN beyond 2025.  

He said  ASEAN meetings next year will be held in a physical format in Cambodia.

This is the third time Cambodia has held the rotating chairmanship of the regional group. The first time was in 2002 and the second in 2012. The country is also set to deal with a wide range of issues from COVID-19, the Myanmar crisis as well as increasing competition among major powers. 

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