The Consulates General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Los Angeles came together on Monday, November 20 in commemoration of the 50th Founding Anniversary of ASEAN at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.
The celebration came nearly a week after the commencement of the 31st ASEAN Summit and related summits held in Manila, Philippines under the chairmanship of the Philippines and President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.
Representing their respective countries were the Consulates General and Consuls of Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Thailand.
“It gives me great pleasure to join my fellow ASEAN colleagues to be part of ASEAN’s 50th Anniversary celebration in Los Angeles,” said Consulate General of Indonesia, Simon D.I. Soekarno.
“Together we celebrate ASEAN’s 50th-year journey from its humble beginning as an organization focused on creating stability in the region until it became the global force that it is today,” he added.
ASEAN was founded on August 8, 1967 by its five hailed founding fathers — Foreign Ministers Adam Malik of Indonesia, Narciso R. Ramos of the Philippines, Tun Abdul Razak of Malaysia, S. Rajaratnam of Singapore, and Thanat Khoman of Thailand — to advocate for peace, unity, stability, security, and prosperity through regional cooperation.
The five nations were then joined by Brunei Darussalam (1984), Vietnam (1995), Myanmar (1997), Laos (1997), and Cambodia (1999), making it the ten-member intergovernmental organization it is today.
Together, the ten-nation bloc covers a total land area of over 1,700,000 square miles, and holds an estimated population of over 646 million people. A majority of its population comes from Indonesia at 261.1 million as of 2016, followed by the Philippines at 103.3 million as of 2016.
“ASEAN’s list of achievements and contributions to the world are many,” said Philippine Consulate General Adelio Angelito S. Cruz.
“Despite our diversity, we manage to rise above the barriers of culture, religion, and traditions to cultivate a region of peace, prosperity, and geopolitical stability among our members,” he added.
Cruz joined the other Consulates General and Consuls in emphasizing ASEAN as one of the world’s strongest economic powerhouses.
“Since it’s formation, ASEAN has seen an underdeveloped region blossom into one of the most active and resolute drivers of today’s global economy,” said Cruz.
“Today’s ASEAN is recognized as one of the world’s most successful region of organizations,” he added.
Currently, ASEAN boasts one of the world’s largest economies, and is a preferred destination for both investors and multinational companies. With a combined GDP of $2.4 trillion, ASEAN as a whole has the sixth largest economy in the world, and the third largest in Asia.
With over 646,000,000 people (larger than North America or the European Union), ASEAN countries combined hold the world’s third largest market and third largest labor force, following China and India.
According to the World Economic Forum, 12.3 percent of the ASEAN GDP comes from the travel and tourism industry — that’s ten percent of the global GDP.
“These accomplishments are the fruits of ASEAN’s hard labor in pushing economic cooperation initiatives for all, as well as the region’s expansion to the global markets,” said Cruz.
Philippine ASEAN chairmanship
The 31st ASEAN Summit held in Manila took place on November 13 and 14, under the chairmanship of the Philippines. The country previously held the chair in 2006, 1999, and 1987.
Attendees of the ASEAN summit and related summits included ASEAN leaders like Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei and Indonesian President Joko Widodo, and dialogue partners such as Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and U.S. President Donald Trump.
“The Philippines was one of the founding fathers of ASEAN and it was an honor for our country to host this year’s summit meeting for its 50th year,” said Cruz.
The theme of the Philippines’ chairmanship for 2017 was titled “Partnering for change, engaging the world”.
The Philippine’s six thematic priorities were to create a people-oriented and people-centered ASEAN, maintain a peaceful and stable region, cooperate in maritime security, advance inclusive and innovate-led growth, promote ASEAN resiliency, and promote ASEAN as a model of regionalism and as a global player.
“We fully support the thematic priorities of ASEAN adopted by the Philippines during its chairmanship in 2017,” said Consulate General of Myanmar, Aung Soe Win, commending the Philippines’ chairmanship in 2017.
One of the most significant outcomes from the recent 31st ASEAN Summit was the signing of the “ASEAN Consensus on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers” on Tuesday, November 14 — a follow up document to the “ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers” adopted in January 2007 in Cebu.
The consensus was acknowledged as progress towards better protection of migrant workers through provisions such as prohibiting the confiscation of passports, or prohibiting the exploitation of workers through excessive recruitment or placement fees.
Other commitments from the summit were: the ASEAN Declaration to Prevent and Combat Cyber Crime, the ASEAN Declaration on Innovation, the ASEAN Action Agenda on Mainstreaming Women’s Empowerment (WEE) in ASEAN, the ASEAN Leaders’ Declaration on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR), the ASEAN Leaders’ Declaration on Disaster Health Management, the ASEAN Leaders’ Declaration on Fighting All Forms of Malnutrition, the ASEAN Declaration on The Adoption of The ASEAN Youth Development Index, and the ASEAN Declaration on Culture of Prevention for a Peaceful, Inclusive, Resilient, Healthy, and Harmonious Society.
“The Philippines concluded its chairmanship on November 14, 2017 at the ASEAN summit and formally turned over the 2018 ASEAN chairmanship to the Republic of Singapore,” said Cruz.
Officially taking over the rotating ASEAN chairmanship was Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong who said ‘resilience and innovation’ would be the focus of Singapore’s year-long chairmanship.
“The commitment of the Philippines to ASEAN will remain steadfast and resolute for the realization of ASEAN’s share of aspirations,” Cruz added. “The Philippines will remain committed to building a strong and resilient ASEAN community.”
The 50th Founding Anniversary celebration in Los Angeles concluded with the sharing of cultural foods from the different countries, and cultural dance presentations choreographed by Baghawan Ciptoning for Indonesia, Maruko Myint and company for Myanmar, and Kayamanan ng Lahi representing the Philippines. (Rae Ann Varona/AJPress)