World Bulletin / News Desk
The presidents of Myanmar and the Philippines have called for "people-to-people connectivity" as among the crucial developments for the launch of a Southeast Asian economic community slated for the end of the year.
The vision of a people-centric ASEAN had been proposed by Malaysia, with Prime Minister Najib Razak emphasizing it in his ASEAN 2015 chairmanship acceptance speech last year.
Myanmar President Thein Sein said at the 26th ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday that a people-centered body can only be built on the realization of all three aspects of connectivity -- physical, institutional and people-to-people.
"It is our responsibility to advance for an inclusive and participatory community with reputable livelihood of our people," he told the leadership forum.
"At the same time, the role of private sector, civil societies, academia and the media is also very important, that will add value to the governments' efforts in ensuring people with the ASEAN sense of belonging."
The Philippines’ Trade and Industry Ministry secretary Gregory Domingo read a speech by President Benigno Aquino III urging leaders to engage all segments of society toward realizing the aspiration of an inclusive ASEAN community.
"As we look back on all we have accomplished together, we are reminded that we cannot be content, as there is still much more to do for all our peoples," Aquino said.
"As we have seen in the Philippines, the quest for development is one that necessitates the participation and empowerment of the entire citizenry."
Stressing the need to engage in dialogue with civil society to enable active participation, he added, "we as leaders should also listen to the voices of our people."
The ASEAN Economic Community seeks to join the bloc’s ten member states in regional economic integration in 2015 to establish a region with free movement of goods, services, investment, skilled labor, and freer flow of capital.
During the summit in Kuala Lumpur and Langkawi, leaders are expected to agree on prioritizing the development of small and medium enterprises, and on facilitating the mobility of businesspeople and skilled labor.
Malaysia assumed the ASEAN chairmanship from Myanmar in January.
The 10 ASEAN member states are: Malaysia, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.Last Mod: 26 Nisan 2015, 17:08