Brunei Darussalam will take over the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asia Nations) chairmanship in 2021 after Vietnam gave over the symbolical gavel at the end of the 37th ASEAN Summit in Hanoi on Sunday. Since the pandemic COVID-19 forced this year’s annual meeting to go online, Brunei’s ambassador to Vietnam, Pg Hj Sahari Pg Hj Salleh, accepted the symbolical gavel as the person of Brunei Darussalam government. Brunei last held the ASEAN chairmanship in 2013.
His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, speaking from Bandar Seri Begawan, mentioned that Vietnam had unified ASEAN as the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. His Majesty added that Brunei would continue and advance the recovery to be better for ASEAN.
“Although ASEAN is a prosperous region with a growing economy and improved connectivity, the region has faced financial crises, energy shortages, natural disasters, and climate change,” he said, “The severe challenges to global activities brought about by the [coronavirus] has also shown us that ASEAN must continue to strengthen ASEAN solidarity and centrality to overcome them.”
His Majesty uncovered the theme of Brunei’s 2021 chairmanship over ASEAN with “We Care, We Prepare, We Prosper,” which reflects the three points of priorities:
- Caring for the people and each other’s well-being
- Preparing for future opportunities and challenges
- Prospering together as a unified region
“ASEAN has formed over fifty years ago with a vision for a better and more peaceful future based on the shared understanding that ASEAN, as a whole, is greater than the sum of its parts. Integration, unity, and solidarity have and must continue to be the foundation of ASEAN’s relations in advancing together.” the monarch continued.
The country leaders of ASEAN signed a declaration on Thursday (12/11), which stated an establishment of a travel corridor in 2021. This declaration may exempt travelers from COVID-19 restrictions. But the possibility of regional travels in the next year remains uncertain, judging from the different stages of casualties in ASEAN member countries.
Brunei has not recorded any new Covid-19 cases since October 14 but remains shut to non-essential travelers. Since the government started to assert social distancing protocol in June, the country has now begun to recover to pre-Covid normality, although large gatherings are still not allowed.
Source : scoop