Attending the celebration of the ASEAN 48th anniversary

Jakarta. Economic growth in ASEAN has been quite dynamic despite disparity in the economic development within or among countries in the region. Thus, ASEAN should accelerate economic integration in the area with a focus on land and maritime development. Vice President Jusuf Kalla stated this in his speech delivered at the celebration of the 48th ASEAN Day at the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta, today.

Institutionally, Mr Kalla said, ASEAN is still weak with limited resources and capacity. He hoped the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) that will be launched at the end of this year would be a good moment for ASEAN to move to the next step of its development into a mature regional organization. “This is to make ASEAN reliable to manage issues within ASEAN and to enforce its role in building the region’s architecture,” he said.

To promote this, he added, Indonesia is committed to realize ASEAN that is people driven, people centered and people oriented. Indonesia, Mr Kalla said, is also committed to make Jakarta ASEAN’s diplomatic heart proven by absorbing the unused building complex next door into ASEAN’s operations.

Vice President also acknowledged that ASEAN has achieved many good things. “The world has recognized the existence of ASEAN and more countries are beginning to engage more intensely with the union,” he said.

However, he added, ASEAN was still a “work in progress” due to the economic imbalances and unresolved disputes apparent among the member states.

He then reminded of territorial dispute on South China Sea which could be a serious threat to the region and could pull the union in “different directions” unless handled carefully.

“To resolve such a conflict, we should put forward peace and dialogue. ASEAN should firmly promote a binding regional code of ethics which prevents the use of power to work it out,” he said.

Previously, ASEAN Secretary-General Le Luong Minh reported the success of ASEAN. With 5 member states at the beginning and now developing into 10 member states, Mr Minh said, ASEAN now has 625 million populations in total with total GDP USD 2.5 trillion, which is the third largest economy in Asia and seventh in the world.

In addition, he continued, six years after the impelementation of the Community Roadmap from 2008 to 2014, intra-ASEAN trade had increased by 33 percent or equal to USD 610 billion.

“I believe ASEAN would bring more opportunities and advantages to all ASEAN citizens,” he said.

Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) was established in Bangkok, Thailand on 8 August 1967 by five founding states, which are Indonesia, Malaysia, Phillippine, Singapore and Thailand. As time passed by, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam joined the union. Today’s celebration is a formal ceremony of the 48th ASEAN anniversary following series of festive events held before.

Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi, Communication and Information Minister Rudiantara, Agrarian and Spatial Planning Minister Ferry Musyidan Baldan and Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama and some ambassadors of neighboring countries also attended the event.