Your Royal Highnesses,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
May I begin by expressing our deep appreciation and thanks to His Em Excellency Dato’ Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, Prime Minister of Malaysia for a most inspiring opening address this morning. We have benefited tremendously from the profound insight and wisdom with which he has outlined his vision for ASEAN’s future. These wise words of inspiration will certainly guide our thoughts and deliberations over the next few days as well as in our work in the years to follow.
On behalf of the Myanmar Delegation, may I join our ASEAN colleagues in extending our warm congratulations to you, Mr. Chairman, and also to His Excellency Mr. Domingo L. Siazon Jr., our newly elected Vice- Chairman . The significant achievements ASEAN has made during your Chairmanship of the 30th ASEAN Standing Committee are illustrative of your dedicated leadership. I wish to extend Myammar’s most sincere thanks for the kind cooperation and understanding from you and our ASEAN colleagues throughout this year which has witnessed Myanmar’s entry into the Association. I wish also to thank the Government and people of Malaysia for the warm and generous hospitality they have extended to us.
Yesterday’s important event, in which we all participated, will be remembered as the day when Southeast Asian nations once again illustrated the aspiration to work together for the future of all our peoples. In this day and age, nations of the world are realising more and more the importance of regional resilience and integrity. In the face of the constant challenges presented by changes in the world’s geopolitical situation, we in Southeast Asia have proved ourselves worthy of any challenge. We have proved ourselves masters of our own destiny — our shared destiny — as we now prepare to chart our course for the 21 st century. I have every Confident that through Our inter-related, interdependent contribution, we will achieve our individual goals for harmonious development, and these will blend with the collective effort for progress and stability at the regional level.
We now stand at the brink of a new century, one that holds new opportunities and promises a bright future for all in the region. At this juncture in time, I am reminded of the decision reached by our leaders at the 5th ASEAN Summit in Bangkok and reaffirmed at the Informal Summit in Jakarta The leaders of Southeast Asia decided on three broad objectives for new era of ASEAN cooperation:
- to include all ten countries of Southeast Asia within the Association;
- to achieve greater economic integration in ASEAN; and to elevate functional cooperation to a higher plane.
I note with both pride and pleasure that we have made significant progress in our pursuit of these objectives. Now we are one step closer to the realisation of ASEAN-10. The successful implementation of ARATA through the CEPT Scheme is preparing ASEAN for greater economic integration by the early years of the 21st century. A deeper awareness of each other’s history and the enhancement of the cultural links have brought about closer collaboration and coordination in all matters functional. We recognise that this now beginning for the Association will bring with it more hard work and a devoted adaptation process in order to sustain ASEAN’s unity and strength for our successive generations. I am optimistic that the inherent spirit of understanding and cooperation in all nations of Southeast Asia will see us through any kind of challenge – internal and external — that this new era will inevitably bring. In this spirit, the theme of ASEAN’s 3Oth Anniversary — One ASEAN into the 21st century — is most apt and expresssive of the firm foundation we have laid to work together for our common regional interest of peace, stability and prosperity in Southeast Asia.
1997 has turned out to be an eventful year for many of us in Asia. in the larger Asia-Pacific framework, we have witnessed the return of Hong kong to Chinese sovereignty. Now the legacy of colonialism in Asia is truly a thing of the past, and we look forward to a bright future, where ASEAN continues positive and substantial relations with the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China.
At the regional level, we have enlarged the ASEAN family, thus strengthening the constructive nature of cooperation and experience-sharing among the nations of Southeast Asia. I cannot stress enough that regional stability is the, combined result of individual achievement of national stability by the countries in the region. Only with harmonious development of the political, economic and social spheres in each country can we aspire for a harmonious achievement of regional progress and security. I am confident that the ASEAN Way is the best mechanism for our common endeavour.
In the maintenance of peace and stability in the region, ASEAN’s track record stands as a shining example for all. The increased level of political and security cooperation among member states indicates the significant progress achieved in the implementation of the “Programme of Action on ZOPFAN”. Now that our family is larger, we will have to continue our close cooperation among ourselves as well as with our fellow participants in the ASEAN Regional Forum for a deeper enhancement of confidence-building in oar region and beyond.
I am happy to note that the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone (SEANWFZ) Treaty has entered into force on 27th March 1997. The Treaty stands as testimony of Southeast Asia!s commitment to contribute in a positive manner towards nuclear non-proliferation. We must continue to ensure that the implementation of the Treaty is carried out accordingly, and to expand the circle of consensus for security in the region.
In the economic field, ASEAN has progressively gone from one positive achievement to another. The speed of implementation in the CEPT Scheme for AFTA seems to indicate an even Speeder realisation of the deadline for realising an ASEAN free Trade Area. The progress in customs harmonisation, the intensification of cooperation in ASEAN investment, as well as the progress achieved in all other areas of economic, cooperation point to a speedy and successful realisation of greater economic integration. The economic integration of ASEAN’s newer members will also be facilitated through the framework of ASEAN-Mekong Basin Development Cooperation.
We have reached nearer to the goal of elevating functional cooperation to a higher plane by the formulation of ASEAN’s Vision 2020 for a Partnership in Dynamic Development. I am confident that our commitment and dedication will bring about the shared prosperity for all the peoples of ASEAN, as we intensify our cooperation even further in the functional field. Centuries of Asian values, tradition and culture, combined with the Asian spirit of determination will ensure the creation of an ASEAN community that slides a common identity, as well as being socially cohesive, technologically competitive, and environmentally conscious.
We in Myanmar are aware now more than ever of the importance of shared objectives and combined efforts for a situation where all can enjoy the happy end result. ASEAN’s vision of Southeast Asia stands as the best illustration of this important truth. As a responsible member of the Association, Myanmar understands the responsibility we have to shoulder as a part of the family, part of the team. We appreciate the fact that our mutual cooperation and joint endeavours will bring about prosperity for all in the ASEAN family. We are proud to be part of this family, proud to be able to participate and contribute our effort.
The same principle that applies for the region also holds true for each individual member. Most of us in the region of Southeast Asia are nations who all possess a chequered past of colonial legacies, with similar experiences in our nation-buiding endeavours, with deep cultural and historical links that have been forged far back in time. That is the reason why harmony is central to all of us, and stressed by all of us.
Only with harmony in political development, social cohesiveness and economic growth will our national goal of a peaceful, prosperous, modem and developed Myanmar be realised. The realisation of this goal is important for ASEAN’s shared objective of regional peace and prosperity. I wish to assure you, Mr. Chairman, and all my colleagues present, that Myanmar will strive her best to maintain the harmony of development at both the national and regional levels.
May I conclude, Mr. Chairman by reiterating Myanmar’s commitment to abide by and respect fully the principles and objectives of the Association. We sincerely believe that ASEAN, and Myanmar, as a responsible member of ASEAN, represent a sustainable and harmonious approach towards achieving the peace, stability and well-being of the region. On our part, we look forward to increased participation and enhanced contribution to this pi process.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.