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Pattaya Daily News

23 October 2009 :: 13:10:48 pm 31628

15th Asean Summit Officially Opens; Five Countries Bar Civil Society Role

HUA HIN, Oct 23 (TNA) Despite the rhetoric of change regarding human rights concerns in the run-up to this weekend's ASEAN summit, political realism showed its dominance over idealism and the leaders of five Southeast Asian nations refused to meet with civil society representatives, whether at the event or elsewhere.
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Sinking the much-vaunted ASEAN Inter-Governmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) even before it was officially announced, the leaders of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Singapore refused to meet five of the 10 democratically-chosen rights activists from rare face-to-face talks at the ASEAN summit, according to the ASEAN People?s Forum, a civil society rights group.

Speaking for the forum, which conducted the civil society nomination process, Debbie Stoddard called it ironic that even while ASEAN’s governments say they are committed to the new people oriented approach , the decision to bar the freely chosen delegates “radically undermines” what the ASEAN agenda.

Amid tight security the three-day Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and related summits on Friday officially kicked off in the twin seaside resorts of Cha-am and Hua Hin, southwest of Bangkok with a plan to launch an intergovernmental human rights commission and consider how to achieve economic integration by 2015.

In his inaugural address at the opening ceremony of the regional summit under the theme ?Enhancing Connectivity, Empowering Peoples, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, this year’s ASEAN chairman urged the 10-nation bloc to begin thinking with a fresh approach, saying that the body “no longer has the luxury of time” and that its structures should adapted for prompt decision-making and effective follow-through.

He said he strongly supported the role of the secretary-general in bringing pressing issues to the attention of ASEAN’s leaders for immediate action.

Mr Abhisit emphasised that being connected is at the heart of ASEAN’s role and that it will contribute more tangibly and effectively to sustainable growth and the prosperity of a vibrant East Asia.

The opening of the ASEAN Summit was attended by leaders of ASEAN and other Asia-Pacific region nations, including China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand.

However, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo were unable to be present at the ceremony as they have other special duties in their countries. However, they will arrive at the summit venues Friday evening.

ASEAN’s members are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Topping the agenda are the announcement establishing an ASEAN Inter-Governmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), adoption of a declaration on climate change to reaffirm ASEAN’s position in the negotiation under the UN Frameworks Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as well as the adoption of a declaration on cooperation in education to achieve an ASEAN Community. (TNA)

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : Internet   Category : Thailand News

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