42nd ASEAN Summit Officially Kicks Off at Labuan Bajo
TEMPO.CO, Labuan Bajo - The 42nd ASEAN Summit in Labuan Bajo, East Nusa Tenggara officially kicks off today on May 10, and will see President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo lead five sessions that discuss a variety of topics under this year’s chairmanship dubbed ‘ASEAN Matters: Epicentrum of Growth.’
The President will welcome leaders of Southeast Asian countries from Malaysian PM Anwar Ibrahim to Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
Meetings will be presented in a number of formats ranging from a plenary format and interface meetings, one each with parliament, youth, business, and also a high-level task force.
Today's summit will be closed with a joint dinner, according to Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi. The ASEAN Summit will generally discuss a number of issues such as regional economic growth, institutional strengthening, and efforts to overcome internal crises such as in Myanmar.
Timor Leste Prime Minister Taur Matan Ruak will attend the ASEAN Summit as an observer, following the country's membership which is still being processed by the bloc and there will be no representation from Thailand, as Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-Cha is contesting the country's general election on May 14.
Myanmar’s leaders will also be absent due to the country’s takeover by its military junta. However, discussions about this will overshadow discussions at the ASEAN Summit. Just days before the summit began, gunfire broke out as a group of ASEAN humanitarian aid agencies (AHA-Center) passed through Hseng township in northern Myanmar's Shan State on May 7.
President Jokowi, during a press conference on Monday, regretted the incident against the convoy carrying Indonesian and Singaporean diplomats. So far no organization has claimed responsibility for the incident.
Civilians have openly blamed the military junta for the incident while countries such as Indonesia and Singapore strongly urged to put an end to the violence that has constantly emerged in the country. Malaysia’s Anwar Ibrahim had also called for ASEAN to act more stringent in solving the Myanmar crisis.
In an exclusive interview with Tempo ahead of the ASEAN Summit, Anwar asserted the organization’s need to change its approach to helping solve the crisis. “This issue has dragged on so long. Negotiations, constructive engagements. But none helped. There must be a new methodology to help calm the situation,” he said.
DANIEL A. FAJRI
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