The ASEAN Secretariat’s (ASEC) premises once again burst with vibrant colours as it commemorated the 56th anniversary of ASEAN at its Jakarta headquarters today. President Joko Widodo of the Republic of Indonesia, accompanied by Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, graced the occasion, alongside ASEAN Secretary-General Dr. Kao Kim Hourn and Jakarta’s diplomatic community.
This year’s anniversary aligned with Indonesia’s 2023 ASEAN Chairmanship theme, “ASEAN Matters: Epicentrum of Growth.”
In his welcoming address, SG Dr. Kao Kim Hourn emphasized ASEAN’s strides over the years, noting, “Since its inception on 8 August 1967, ASEAN has traversed a remarkable journey and evolved into a full-fledged ASEAN Community, comprised of ten Member States, with Timor Leste set to join as our 11th member. In a region that is as diverse as Southeast Asia, the success of ASEAN would not have been possible without the strong determination and commitment by Member States to work together.”
“Under Indonesia’s Chairmanship of ASEAN this year and guided by the theme “ASEAN Matters: Epicentrum of Growth”, ASEAN has further strengthened cooperation to sustain its relevance in responding to regional and global challenges, and in maintaining economic development, and prosperity for the benefits to its populace,” explained Dr Kao.
President Joko Widodo, in his keynote speech, articulated, “56 years ago, ASEAN was formed with the determination to make Southeast Asia a peaceful, stable and prosperous region, and today I want us to reaffirm that spirit and determination.’’
“Undoubtedly, the complexities of the contemporary global dynamics present formidable trials; the global economy’s recuperation remains incomplete, and rivalries are intensifying. Yet, I am confident in ASEAN’s capabilities, as long as we stand united,” he emphasized.
The festivities reached their pinnacle with the ceremonial cutting of the nasi tumpeng, a traditional cone-shaped rice dish emblematic of festive occasions in Indonesia. The event concluded with a melodic performance by youthful angklung musicians from Sekolah Perkumpulan Mandiri Jakarta. The celebrations were live-streamed via ASEAN’s official website and social media platforms.
In the heart of the celebration, the Strategic Discussion unfolded centred around the theme: Toward the ASEAN Indo-Pacific Forum 2023, orchestrated by the Indonesian Ministry for Foreign Affairs. The lineup featured speakers such as M Arsjad Rasjid, Chair of the Indonesia Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Mahendra Siregar, Chair of the Indonesian Financial Service Authority; and Ajeng Parameswari, President of Digital Business at Visinema.
Earlier that day, President Widodo, accompanied by the ASEAN Secretary-General, Minister Marsudi, ASEAN ambassadors, and envoys from ASEAN’s official partners, boarded the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) from Bundaran HI station to partake in the 56th ASEAN anniversary celebration at ASEC. Prior to boarding, Jokowi was bestowed a special ASEAN MRT card designed exclusively for the ASEAN Day celebration.
Running in parallel with the jubilation were two distinct events: the Second ASEAN-Maybank Scholarship (AMS) ceremony, which acknowledged five ASEAN citizens with scholarships. This programme marks the first collaboration between the ASEAN Secretariat and an ASEAN-accredited entity.
The second event entailed the inauguration of the fourth annual ASEAN Online Sale Day (AOSD), the premier online shopping extravaganza in Southeast Asia. AOSD aggregates prime ASEAN products and services from across the region onto a unified e-commerce platform. The initiative aims to expedite the regional shift towards digital platforms and motivate consumers and businesses to embrace e-commerce, recognizing digital integration as a pivotal impetus for ASEAN’s economic advancement.
In Africa, the ASEAN Committee in Nairobi (ACN) organized a special flag-raising event on 8th August 2023 at the Philippine Embassy premises in Nairobi to celebrate ASEAN’s 56th founding anniversary. The ACN comprises four out of the ten ASEAN Member States with resident embassies in Nairobi: Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand.
During her speech, ACN Chair and Philippine Ambassador to Kenya, Marie Charlotte G. Tang, emphasized ASEAN’s role in promoting peace and stability in Southeast Asia, which has led to the region’s impressive growth. With the theme “ASEAN Matters: Epicentrum of Growth” for 2023, ASEAN aims to further establish itself as a hub of sustainable economic development.
Ambassador Tang also highlighted ACN’s initiatives to enhance ASEAN’s visibility in Kenya, including the annual ASEAN Festival, engaging with youth and the business community, such as the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI), and donating books to the University of Nairobi (UoN) Library. She expressed optimism about increased interactions between ASEAN, Kenya, and the East African Community (EAC) in the future.
Cabinet Secretary Alfred Mutua from the Kenyan Ministry for Foreign and Diaspora Affairs (MFDA) praised the strong cooperation between Kenya and ASEAN Member States, both bilaterally and multilaterally. He underscored the potential for further collaboration, given ASEAN’s involvement in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and Kenya’s participation in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
To highlight the improved connectivity between Kenya and ASEAN, Kenya Airways conducted a raffle for air tickets between Nairobi and Bangkok.
On Tuesday morning, a flag-raising ceremony commemorating the 56th establishment anniversary of the ASEAN took place at the premises of the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
On August 7, Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs also held a flag-hoisting ceremony and some other activities to mark the 56th founding anniversary of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
During his speech, Don Pramudwinai, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, reviewed the accomplishments that ASEAN has achieved in its 56-year journey. He underlined the improved stature, influence, and resonance of the ten-member alliance within both the region and the global arena.
Addressing the unparalleled challenges stemming from shifts in political and economic dynamics, along with unconventional obstacles, the official emphasized the necessity for ASEAN to redouble its efforts in solidifying its foundation. He stressed the urgency to expedite a swift, enduring, and all-encompassing recovery following the impact of COVID-19.
Furthermore, Don conveyed his conviction that ASEAN is poised to strive for unprecedented accomplishments, catering to the interests of its populace, while concurrently fostering peace, stability, collaboration, and progress within the region and on a global scale.