36th ASEAN Summit opens Friday; ASEAN leaders to attend historic summit online amid virus pandemic


(Eagle News) — ASEAN Leaders are set to convene at the 36th ASEAN Summit via teleconference Friday, June 26, to “discuss how to further strengthen cooperation on public health emergencies and put in place a robust post-pandemic recovery plan.”

The ASEAN Chair for this year is Prime Minister of Viet Nam, Nguyen Xuan Phuc, who will preside over the opening ceremony of the Summit. He will be joined by Leaders of other ASEAN Member States.

This is the third time that Viet Nam holds the ASEAN Chairmanship. It officially joined ASEAN in 1995 and held the ASEAN Chairmanship for the first time in 1998, and then again in 2010.

-Addressing COVID-19 challenges-

Starting tomorrow, with the Summit opening, ASEAN Leaders will take stock of ASEAN’s Community building efforts, including the challenges ahead amid the COVID-19pandemic during the summit. They will also adopt a number of key documents to improve the lives of the peoples of ASEAN post COVID-19.

The Summit is expected to reaffirm the need for a post-pandemic recovery plan which will involve collaboration among industries, private sector and other stakeholders, the ASEAN statement said.

“In spite of the COVID-19 pandemic, the convening of the 36th ASEAN Summit is a concrete demonstration of ASEAN’s solidarity and leadership manifested in concrete regional cooperation. Such solidarity is very much needed in responding to the pandemic,” said Dato Lim Jock Hoi, Secretary-General of ASEAN.

“We expect a greater collaborative effort in information and knowledge sharing not only in areas of medical development but also in domestic policies related to social and health security given the vast impact of COVID-19 on communities,” he added.

-Managing public health risks, reviving economies-

High on the Summit’s agenda is managing public health risks and reviving economies until an effective vaccine or treatment is found on COVID-19.

“Other highlights will be the Leaders’ interfaces with important stakeholders of the ASEAN Community such as the youth, the business group as well as parliamentarians who can contribute significantly to its community building efforts,” the ASEAN release said.

ASEAN was founded in Bangkok, Thailand on August 8, 1967 when the five founding members – Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand – signed the ASEAN Declaration. Since then, ASEAN has expanded and enlarged its membership with the inclusion of Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Viet Nam.

The ASEAN Summit is ASEAN’s highest policy-making body.

This will be the first time the ASEAN Summit would be held online as the COVID-19 pandemic forced the world into a “new normal” as scientists raced to find a vaccine.

COVID-19 infections have reached more than 9.4 million worldwide, according to the latest data from the Johns Hopkins University.

Among ASEAN member nations, Indonesia has the most confirmed COVID-19 cases with 49,009 infections as of Thursday, June 25. It also has the most COVID-19 deaths at 2,573.

(Eagle News Service)