THE 37th General Assembly of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) was opened with the opening speech by State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi at Myanmar International Convention Centre-1 in Nay Pyi Taw yesterday. (The full speech of the State Counsellor is covered separately on page-3)
In her speech, State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said that her government is focusing on national reconciliation and harmony while striving for sustainable economic development.
“Today marks exactly six months in office. I would like to take this opportunity to very briefly outline some of our main areas at work,” Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said.
She said the first priority of her new government is to “bring about the national reconciliation and harmony” between all parts of the society, further explaining that it is taking steps “towards establishing a genuine federal democratic union.”
She added that her administration is aiming to bring an end to decades of conflict, which had blighted the country since independence in 1948, by building on the work of the previous government, despite being aware of the “complexity of the challenges that lie ahead”.
She said “through political negotiations held in the spirit of cooperation and compromise” she believes Myanmar can finally realize a peaceful, secure and prosperous future, which is “the collective aspiration” of the people, despite having many diverse ethnic groups and a legacy of decades of mistrust.
On the economy, the State Counsellor said her government is “striving to bring about sustainable economic development for the benefit of all people in Myanmar.”
“For reasons of history our country has never realized its economic potential. Today, (thanks to) to the hard work of our government and people, and support and collaboration of our friends in this region, we have an unprecedented opportunity to build a better future,” she said.
“We have launched an economic policy that aims to support national reconciliation, alleviate poverty, develop much-needed infrastructure, encourage responsible foreign investment and job creation,” Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said.
“The economic development of Myanmar will, I believe, support the growing prosperity as a whole and contribute to the future success of the ASEAN community,” she added.
Regarding the situation in Rakhine State, the State Counsellor said that the government is striving to bring harmony to the different communities there.
“The situation in Rakhine is complex and it is the subject of close attention and concern outside our borders in the ASEAN region and beyond. Since forming the new government we have taken new measures to begin to address these challenges,” she said, adding that her government is working to build understanding, trust, and harmony between communities, while standing firm against prejudice, intolerance and extremism.
After the address, the state counsellor banged a gong to mark the opening of the assembly.Pyidaungsu Hluttaw Speaker Mahn Win Khaing Than, who chairs the 37th AIPA, said he felt a glow of pride on behalf of the representatives as the country hosted the regional event for the very first time.
The Pyidaungsu Hluttaw was recognised as a full-fledged member to the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly at the 32nd AIPA hosted by Cambodia in 2011.
Speaker Mahn Win Khaing Than pledged that the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, despite its capacity as the most recent member, would make strenuous efforts to secure the success of the assembly.
The regional countries still fail to protect the rights of migrant workers at a time when one country is in a position of relying on the other in terms of labour and import, with the speaker stressing that the peoples of the ASEAN countries are faced with pressing challenges that need addressing without delay.
He also linked human trafficking and gender discrimination to the challenges of migrant workers, describing the protection of the environment and the management of natural resources for development as additional challenges.
According to him, the 37th ASEAN Assembly would adopt necessary regulations to tackle these problems through the adoption of necessary regulations.
The success of the assembly would represent our commitment to democracy, thereby enabling the world to witness the friendship and solidarity among the ASEAN countries, he added.
The state counsellor posed for group photos together with the leaders of the delegates to the assembly and officials from AIPA’s international partners.
At the plenary session, speakers of the ASEAN parliaments, the ASEAN’s deputy secretary-general and the secretary-general of the Inter-Parliamentary Union discussed matters related to statements.
The ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly first met in Jakarta, Indonesia, on 8-11 January 1975. Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore signed the AIPO Statutes at the third meeting in the Philippines in 1977. According to the statutes, the venue of the assembly is annually rotated among the member countries in alphabetical order.
Myanmar attended the 27th ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly as an observer but joined the 32nd event as a full-fledged member on 20 September 2011.
This year’s theme is “Vibrant AIPA for a Progressive ASEAN Community”.
GNLM with Myanmar News Agency