Good governance, solidarity vital for Asean to face Covid-19 challenges

KUALA LUMPUR, Good governance and stronger solidarity among member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) will be vital to responding to challenges brought on by the COVID 19 pandemic, say several leading public figures in the region.

Suos Yara, a member of the National Assembly of Cambodia, said his country was promoting multilateralism and aimed to forge alliances with other nations to pursue the common goal of combating the virus.

It would be of utmost importance to build on solidarity and work together with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and make the vaccination accessible to all, he said.

Suos was among the panellists from Asean who spoke during the recent inaugural Universal Peace Federation (UPF) Southeast Asia Peace Talks Webinar on COVID-19, and shared their insights on the challenges their respective governments were facing in dealing with the global pandemic.

The webinar was themed “Challenges in Governance in Our Time of a Global Pandemic: Southeast Asian Perspective”.

“If we present ourselves together in solidarity, ASEAN can be united together in this time of crisis…to uphold the principle of centrality and solidarity, ” Suos said.

Former Thailand’s Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Dr Monthip Sriratana shared her insights on how the global pandemic had helped to identify “where we can strengthen our governance for the benefit of all Thais”.

“We need to get serious about building strong social safety nets of the most vulnerable in our society.

“Strong social protection programme is a must if we are to successfully resist future outbreaks of COVID-19 and other natural disasters, including the immediate and long-term effects of climate change,” she said at the webinar.

With seven speakers from Southeast Asian nations – Thailand, Philippines, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Myanmar – the webinar drew 584 registered participants from 25 nations across the Asia Pacific and other parts of the world.

Commenting further, Dr Monthip stressed on the need to stop illegal wildlife trade and strengthen the education system to ensure the populace could be resilient to perturbations such as COVID-19.

“Most importantly we should aim at the implementation of the United Nations (UN) Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” said the former Thai Member of Parliament.

Meanwhile, Mayor of Lingayen under the province of Pangasinan in the Philippines, Leopoldo Bataoil, shared success stories on how the Philippine government and its local government units are dealing with the virus so far.

He said with the enactment of Republic Act No.11469 or The Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, the Executive Branch of the government was able to have the power to implement temporary measures to respond to the crisis brought about by COVID 19.

“This includes adopting and implementing measures based on WHO guidelines and best practices to prevent or suppress further transmission and spread of the virus,” he said.