Myanmar Kicks Off ASEAN Day Celebrations

ASEAN DAYNay Pyi Taw – ASEAN must continue on its platform of peace, stability and prosperity for the region, as this has proven to be effective in bringing development to the region according to Myanmar President U Thein Sein.

“Looking back to the past 47 years, we see that unity and cooperation have been the main strength of ASEAN significant progress in bringing peace, stability and prosperity in the region. It is the uniqueness of ASEAN that unity has been built through its vast diversities,” said the President.

He was speaking at the celebration of the 47th ASEAN Day, which was held at the Myanmar International Convention Centre II (MICC 2) in Nay Pyi Taw. The day’s celebrations started with the ASEAN anthem. Myanmar had considered holding the festivities on August 8, but wet weather and a very tight schedule for the ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting and other related meetings, prompted the organisers to move the celebrations indoors, and two days earlier.

This is the first time that Myanmar is Chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN, since it joined the grouping on 23 July 1997.

“We see the Asia Pacific region as a strategic region of importance. The unity of ASEAN has become more prominent over the decades. ASEAN Community building is based on the achievement of unity,” said the President.

Touching on Myanmar’s theme of “Moving Forward in Unity to a Peaceful and Prosperous Community,” President Thein Sein added that “ASEAN stands at a critical juncture of Community Building. ASEAN is now transforming itself to become a comprehensively integrated regional organization, sharing same values and norms with the common goal of establishing a community, comprising the Political and Security Community, Economic Community and Socio-Cultural Community.”

“Nowadays, we see changes throughout the region. We see the increasing awareness of people on democracy and good governance. We see countries in the region becoming more interdependent. And we see the information and communication technologies becoming affordable to people. These changes made positive impacts on people’s daily lives. I am confident that ASEAN Community building process is capable of enhancing such improvements to make them sustainable,” the President stated.

Reflecting ASEAN’s commitment to its peoples, the celebrations also acknowledged the importance of the young people in building the ASEAN Community. Students from Middle Schools, High Schools and Universities wrote essays on what they knew, and thought about ASEAN, and the outstanding ones were awarded for their efforts.

Just moments earlier, young dancers from the Ministry of Culture presented a colourful dance called “We Are ASEAN” which creatively incorporated dance moves from the various ASEAN cultures.

Noting the significant timing of ASEAN’s 47th birthday, Myanmar Foreign Minister U Wunna Maung Lwin said “it is very encouraging that awareness and expectations of Myanmar people on ASEAN is growing every day. It is due to the fact that people from the public and private sectors are playing their respective roles to raise awareness of ASEAN in many ways.”

“Myanmar’s ASEAN Chairmanship falls at a crucial time. We undertake the chairmanship at the time when we are heading toward the timeline of establishing the ASEAN Community by the end of 2015. That entails a heavier responsibility. With its ambitious objectives, ASEAN is working hard to fulfill the interest of peoples in the region. The noble goals of ASEAN to establish Political and Security Community, Economic Community and Socio-Cultural Community are aimed at bringing sustainable well-being of the people in the region,” said the Minister who gave his speech after the President.

In a sign of solidarity with the Chair, the embassies of every Member State and the ASEAN Secretariat also contributed items for an ASEAN Exhibition.