JAKARTA, 8 August 2020 – ASEAN marks its 53rd anniversary today. Against the backdrop of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the ASEAN Secretariat (ASEC) moved the celebrations online, inviting people worldwide to join in the commemoration from the comfort of their own homes.  The theme for this year’s anniversary focuses on ASEAN’s cohesive journey to resilience.

The Secretary-General of ASEAN, Dato Lim Jock Hoi, opened the online ceremony with his welcome remarks, followed by speeches from the Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, and Viet Nam’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh. ASEC is hosted in Jakarta by the Indonesian Government, while Viet Nam is the Chair for ASEAN in 2020.

“‘Under Viet Nam’s strong and able Chairmanship, ASEAN stays focused in undertaking important milestone exercises, as the region demonstrates commitment in its integration journey,’’ stated Dato Lim Jock Hoi.  Noting that the region is gradually adopting to the ‘’new normal,’’ Dato Lim underpinned the significance for ASEAN to develop a robust, holistic and pragmatic post-pandemic recovery framework to mitigate socio-economic effects, while continuing to advance regional economic integration.

In her remarks, Minister Marsudi rallied for all ASEAN Member States to continue to work together in fighting the pandemic. She said, “ASEAN must always cooperate to maintain our regional peace and stability, and not to be dragged into the storm of geopolitical tension or being forced to choose sides. Therefore, the region must stay ahead of the curve to maintain our centrality, maintain our relevance and be at the driving seat in turning rivalry into cooperation, distrust into strategic trust.”

Echoing similar perspectives, Minister Minh remarked that, “Viet Nam will continue to work closely with our neighbours and friends to build a strong and united ASEAN, one that is indispensable for peace and prosperity within the region and beyond, in line with ASEAN’s principles and value of ‘Think Community, Act Community’”.

The online celebration was broadcasted on ASEAN’s website and social media platforms. Along with the official speeches, the online celebration featured congratulatory wishes from ASEAN citizens, ASEAN’s external partners and special musical performances by the region’s youth and a Thai-based social enterprise, C asean Consonant, respectively.

Separately, to commemorate the 53rd ASEAN Day, ASEAN Secretariat, in collaboration with ASEAN Member States, is hosting an ASEAN Online Sale Day” (http://aseanonlinesaleday.com/) to connect 150 e-marketplace companies to regional consumers. This event is part of ASEAN efforts to rebuild consumer confidence, leveraging on digital technologies, towards a more robust recovery.