Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, and Lao PDR have joined Singapore in ratifying the ASEAN Charter.

Brunei Darussalam deposited its instrument of ratification on 15 February 2008; Malaysia and Lao PDR’s followed suit this afternoon, 20 February 2008.

In a simple ceremony in Singapore on the sidelines of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Retreat, Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, Secretary-General of ASEAN, handed over to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Brunei Darussalam, H.R.H. Mohamed Bolkiah, a copy of letter of acknowledgement for the deposit of Brunei Darussalam’s instrument of ratification.

H.E. Tan Sri Rastam Mohd. Isa, Secretary-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia, representing the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia, deposited Malaysia’s instrument of ratification with Dr. Surin at the ceremony in Singapore this afternoon.

Similarly, H.E. Dr. Thongloun Sisoulith, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Lao PDR, also deposited the instrument of ratification with Dr. Surin.

H.E. George Yeo, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Chairman of the 41st ASEAN Standing Committee, said that the ceremony was simple but very important and meaningful.

Singapore was the first to ratify and deposit its instrument of ratification. Its deposit of the instrument was done on 7 January 2008, at the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta, immediately after Dr. Surin officially assumed the post of the Secretary-General of ASEAN.

Dr. Surin said at the ceremony in Singapore this afternoon that he was “the happiest man” in the ceremony, because his job would be dependent on the support of all ASEAN Member States for the ASEAN Charter. He is hopeful that the momentum for the ratification of the ASEAN Charter will increase and other 6 ASEAN Member States will soon be able to ratify it. The Charter shall enter into force on the 30th day after the date of deposit of the 10th instrument of ratification.

ASEAN Leaders signed the ASEAN Charter during their 13th ASEAN Summit in Singapore on 20 November 2007. They expressed hope to see the Charter’s entry into force by the time they meet at the 14th ASEAN Summit in Bangkok later in 2008, so that they can celebrate the ASEAN Charter at the Saranrom Palace, where the ASEAN Declaration was signed by the five founding fathers of ASEAN on 8 August 1967