H.E. Le Luong Minh, a former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Viet Nam, assumed the post of Secretary-General of the ASEAN today in a Ceremony for the Transfer of Office at the ASEAN Secretariat, Jakarta.

“When I first walked into the ASEAN Secretariat building last September during my informal visit, I was at first sight struck by a feeling of togetherness. I saw in the lobby not only the flags of the ten ASEAN Member States, but also those of ASEAN’s partners. It is this feeling of togetherness that has made ASEAN a proud and strong organization—strong in itself and in its will for cooperation. It is the same feeling of togetherness I am experiencing here today and I thank you all for honoring this handover ceremony with your valuable presence,” Mr Minh said in his first speech as the new Secretary-General of ASEAN.

“Despite the many challenges, I fully believe that ASEAN will emerge triumphant. The ASEAN Secretariat will continue to play active roles in supporting and coordinating with Member States to help facilitate and drive the establishment of the ASEAN Community. There is room to improve policy implementation across the political-security, economic, and socio-cultural pillars, streamline the performance of our institutions, further prioritise issues with a view to improving national and regional coordination. The work of the Secretariat will be geared in this direction,” he further added.

The five-year tenure of Mr Minh will be from 1 January 2013 to 31 December 2017. His appointment was formally endorsed by the ASEAN Leaders at the 21st ASEAN Summit in Cambodia in November 2012. “The next five years will be an exciting and critical one. I and we in the secretariat are prepared to work closely with ASEAN Member States to ensure that we are able to deliver our major commitments and objectives. As I am joining your journey, I look forward to enjoying more than your physical company,” Mr Minh closed his speech.

The ceremony was witnessed by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, H.E. Dr R.M. Marty M. Natalegawa; and the outgoing Secretary-General of the ASEAN, H.E. Dr Surin Pitsuwan. Also witnessing the Ceremony were representatives from the Diplomatic Corps, international organisations, academics, business community as well as media.

“Let me officially close my tenure by welcoming Secretary-General Le Luong Minh to the Secretariat and to wish him the very best in this challenging times, perhaps far more challenging than what I faced as the great powers take greater interest in our region. I also call upon all of you the CPR, the Dialogue Partners, and ASEC to support SG Minh to raise ASEAN to achieve even greater heights and to make it better known among our own people,” Dr Surin Pitsuwan, ASEAN Secretary-General for 2008-2012, said in his speech.

He separately recognised his Deputies Secretary-General. “My job would not have been possible without the full support of my senior colleagues, from all the DSGs, past and present, down to the local supporting staff. I am most grateful for the guidance and advice and the share of responsibility that my DSGs have accorded me in all the sectoral activities under their purview. I could not have asked for a better team.”

Dr Surin further appreciated the role of the media. “The high regional and international profile that ASEAN has achieved in the last few years has been made possible only with the full support and cooperation of the ASEAN national and the international media present here in Jakarta and all around the region. Your enthusiasm and excitement for ASEAN have made my job much easier. And I hope you all will continue to sustain and propel the momentum of ASEAN forward into the future. Thank you for your cooperation.”

From 2004 to 2011, Mr Minh was Viet Nam’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations. He was Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary from January 2004 to August 2007; Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs, concurrently Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary from August 2007 to December 2008; Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, concurrently Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary (December 2008 – June 2011).

Mr Minh had a long career in Viet Nam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which began in 1975. In 1995, he was appointed as Ambassador – Permanent Representative to the United Nations Office and Other International Organisations in Geneva. Two years later, he served as Ambassador – Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations.

For the complete transcription of Mr Minh’s speech, please click here.
For the complete bio of Mr Minh, please click here.
For the photos of Ceremony for the Transfer of Office of the Secretary-General of ASEAN, please click here.

For Dr Surin’s talking points, please click here.