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Parliaments Push Asean to Be Stronger

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The narrowing of the development gap among ASEAN member countries has been a notable issue of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) towards the advancement of ASEAN integration.

AIPA President, President of the Senate of Malaysia, Sa Vigneswaran delivered the notation of AIPA’s message yesterday at the preparatory meeting for the interface between ASEAN leaders and representatives of AIPA during the 28th and 29th ASEAN Summits.

In the message, AIPA pointed to ASEAN striving to be a highly integrated and cohesive regional economy under the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) that advances a single market agenda and a more seamless movement of skilled labour and business persons.

ASEAN member states are different in development levels, especially the development levels of the four newer members of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV), which remain far behind those of the older members.

AIPA noted the different level of economic development among ASEAN member countries, which remains a huge challenge to regional economic integration.

“In this regard, it is essential for us to continue our concerted efforts in narrowing this development gap and augmenting capacity and capability of ASEAN’s CLMV through various initiatives such as the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI) and the ASEAN Framework for Equitable Development,” it was noted in the message read by the AIPA president.

AIPA stressed that IAI’s activities have been aimed at addressing the development gap and accelerating the economic integration of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, expressing its hope that Laos’ chairmanship of ASEAN will adopt the framework, for which the recommended work plan was endorsed by CLMV economic ministers last month in Vientiane.

Issues in the message of AIPA to be submitted to ASEAN leaders also include the translation of ASEAN agreements into national legislations, counterterrorism, deepening the sense of ASEAN identity, along with addressing illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, as well as trafficking in wildlife and timber .

AIPA urges the full translation of ASEAN agreements into national legislations to ensure that the full implementation of these agreements will help attain the visions of the ASEAN Economic Community, noting that the regional association pledges to become a rule-based, people-oriented community by 2025. “To realise these goals, ratification of all ASEAN conventions and agreements needs to be expedited, which would be meaningless if they cannot be implemented across the region,” he said.

He said ASEAN countries should also study whether their domestic laws are aligned with the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and its three blueprints, while suggesting there may be a need for some laws to be either introduced, amended or replaced to compliment ASEAN Community building.

AIPA congratulated the 24th ASEAN Labour Ministers Meeting held in Vientiane on May 15 for endorsing the Vientiane Declaration on Transition from Informal Employment to Formal Employment towards Decent Work Promotion in ASEAN.

Technical and vocational education and training has been noted by AIPA as important in order to promote the development of skilled and trained labour in the region.

In her welcome remarks at the meeting, President of the Lao National Assembly, Ms Pany Yathortou noted that member parliaments of AIPA, which is a mechanism of parliamentary cooperation of ASEAN member states, and as the representatives of the people, the parliaments have a duty to support and encourage the implementation of various ASEAN initiatives as well as actively taking part in the discussion and consideration of ASEAN related issues.

Source: Vientiane Times