Opening Remarks by Samdech Techo HUN SEN of the 28th ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Council Meeting

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CNV:

  • Excellencies Ministers of ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community;
  • Excellency Secretary-General of ASEAN;
  • Excellencies, Ladies, Gentlemen, Distinguished Guests!

Today, I am truly pleased to preside over the opening of the 28th ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Council (ASCC) Meeting. On behalf of the Royal Government and people of Cambodia, I would like to warmly welcome Excellencies, Ladies, Gentlemen, and all Distinguished Guests, who are joining the meeting here. This physical gathering of ASCC is very important for us to assess the progress and determine challenges, opportunities, and relevant tasks to recover and accelerate the ASEAN socio cultural development cooperation in the post COVID-19 crisis.

In fact, ASEAN is a multi-cultural community which requires us to work together in diversity to broaden understanding amongst our people, especially ASEAN youths to promote resiliency and mutual understanding, in line with ASEAN core spirit: “One Vision, One Identity and One Community”. To achieve this goal, as the ASEAN Chair in 2022, Cambodia has set the theme “ASEAN A.C.T: Addressing Challenges Together”.

Based on collective efforts in implementing the Blueprint 2025 of ASCC, I am truly proud of the noticeable progress that we have achieved including the promotion of social protection for immigrant workers, social safety and well-being, and the promotion of women’s entrepreneurship, innovative and cultural industries, etc. These achievements are stemming from our adherence to the spirit of promoting multilateralism, non-interference in domestic affairs, consensus, enhancing dialogues, mutual understanding and implementing the principle of “Unity in Diversity”.

At the same time, with our collective endeavors, the success in managing the spread of COVID-19 pandemic has given us the opportunity to fully resume economic and social activities, and to accelerate the implementation of strategies for social and economic recovery. On this basis, cooperation within the framework of the ASCC has an even more important role in promoting the spirit and joint efforts to further promote economic development, strengthen regional security and political stability as well as enhance ASEAN solidarity by focusing on four priorities: (i). enhance ASEAN values, awareness, and identity, (ii). promote human resource development and women empowerment, (iii). enhance health, well-being, and social protection and (iv). strengthen ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community’s institutional capacity and effectiveness.

  • Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen!

The COVID-19 crisis has disrupted the development as a whole and left scarring effects to both economic and social sectors. In addition, we have been facing regional and global challenges that are increasingly more and more uncertain and complex, which are creating both direct and indirect negative implications and problems on the development, especially society, culture, security, and people’s well-being in the ASEAN region.

To recover our regional socio-economic development with resiliency and sustainability, ASEAN needs to strengthen cooperation and pay more attention to the protection and development of human capital through: (i). digitalization by giving priority to promoting wider adoption of digital technology, (ii). development of public health and social protection system to be ready to respond to crises, and (iii). strengthening education sector and skills development.

Besides, the experiences from COVID-19 have clearly showed the necessity to strengthen the regional social safety net, which will make a significant contribution to promoting equitable and inclusive regional socio economic development. In this regard, I hope that all ASEAN members will adopt the “ASEAN Declaration on Portability of Social Security Benefits for Migrant Workers in ASEAN”.

Moreover, continuing to provide more care on job security and safety as well as income stability for women who are engaging in economic activities are also important task. Therefore, we must further support and promote the implementation of the initiatives set out in the “ASEAN Declaration on Building More Sustainable, Inclusive and Resilient Future: Unlocking Women’s Entrepreneurship in ASEAN”.

Recognizing the importance of advancing education system reform, skills training, and recovery of learning loss in the past, Cambodia has initiated the preparation of the guidelines for “Reopen, Recover and Resilience in Education: Guidelines for ASEAN Countries” to ensure that all children and adults receive quality and safe education. Meanwhile, COVID-19 has already one-step ahead transformed traditional education into a digital form of education. In the context of the rapid evolution of digital technology, ASEAN should make greater efforts in promoting the digital transformation of the education system. In this regard, I am optimistic that ASEAN leaders will join me to adopt the “Declaration on Digital Transformation of Education System throughout ASEAN” in the upcoming 40th and 41st ASEAN Summits this November.

The development of innovative and cultural economy is also a strategy with potential in promoting ASEAN economic recovery, especially supporting tourism sector that was severely affected by the COVID-19, promoting the development of small and medium enterprises, promoting entrepreneurship, start-up and digitalization to support inclusive and sustainable development of the ASEAN community and to enhance the values of the ASEAN Community. I would like to encourage the effective implementation of “Siem Reap Declaration on Promoting a Creative and Adaptative ASEAN Community to Support the Cultural and Creative Economy.”

Furthermore, continuing to strengthen people-to-people ties is also an important priority that will help raise awareness of ASEAN values and identities amongst youths, as well as strengthen the role of youth in building ASEAN Community responsibly. Youths are also playing an important role in adopting new technologies in the context of Industry 4.0, which will be a driving force in the socio-economic development in the region. To promote deeper and broader engagement in the development of our region, Cambodia recently hosted the 1st ASEAN Youth Dialogue in Siem Reap, Cambodia, to provide a platform for ASEAN youths to exchange views with policymakers and other key partners. Along with that, Cambodia has also initiated the preparation of the “ASEAN Leaders’ Statement on the ASEAN Youth 2022”. As Cambodia will host the upcoming 2023 SEA Games in Phnom Penh, I would like to encourage all ASEAN citizens to participate in this important sporting event.

  • Excellencies, Ladies, and Gentlemen!

Sustainable and inclusive socio-economic development could not be separated from the consideration of addressing the threats and impacts of climate change in a proactive manner. In fact, in September, Typhoon Noru caused damages to the region’s economy and claimed many lives. In this regard, I would like to reiterate the proposal to establish an “Initiative for the Establishment of the ASEAN Green Deal” which will make significant contribution in directing ASEAN towards a sustainable and highly competitive future.

Finally, I wish the 28th ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Council Meeting success and wish you, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen good health and success in all endeavors, especially a conformable and pleasant stay in Cambodia.

I now would like to officially announce the Opening of the 28th ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Council Meeting.

Thank You!