Statement by H.E. General Prayut Chan-o-cha (Ret.), Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand, at the 36th ASEAN Summit

Statement by H.E. General Prayut Chan-o-cha (Ret.), Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand, at the 36th ASEAN Summit

วันที่นำเข้าข้อมูล 26 Jun 2020

วันที่ปรับปรุงข้อมูล 18 Aug 2022

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- Unofficial Translation –

 

Statement by General Prayut Chan-o-cha,

Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand,

at the 36th ASEAN Summit

Friday, 26 June 2020 at 08.50-10.30 hrs.

* * * * *

 

Mr. Chairman,

Your Majesty,

Excellencies,

 

1.     I wish to thank the Prime Minister of Viet Nam for organizing the 36th ASEAN Summit today as well as commend and congratulate Viet Nam on the success of the Special ASEAN Summit and the ASEAN Plus Three Summit on COVID-19 last April, which helped to strengthen, make more effective and concrete, ASEAN’s cooperation in combating COVID-19.

 

2.     The COVID-19 situation in Thailand has steadily improved. We have been able to control its spread, and have had no local infections now for more than one month. The cases of infection that we have found have come from those who have returned from overseas and are currently in the Government’s state quarantine facilities. Since the 15th of June, therefore, the Government has begun an easing of measures related to economic activity and daily life, but is continuing to enforce hygiene and social-distancing measures as well as encourage the use of a tracking application called “Thai Chana” for businesses and customers – all in efforts to prevent a second wave of infections.

 

3.     As we adapt to the New Normal, we are also dealing with the increasing volatility in global geopolitics. We have seen confrontations between superpowers as well as the rise of nationalism and anti-globalisation, which is affecting international security and stability and challenging the multilateral system. ASEAN, therefore, should cooperate to counter these trends; strengthen regionalism and the spirit of giving and sharing at the global level; preserve ASEAN Centrality in the regional architecture; avoid being forced to take sides; serve as a link for the superpowers in their engagement with the region; and utilise the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific for the greatest benefit so that ASEAN can maintain peace and stability across land, air and sea and promote economic development in the region sustainably, in line with the aspirations of its Founding Fathers from more than 50 years ago.

 

4.     In this regard, I would like to propose three paths forward for ‘ASEAN in the post-COVID-19 era’, as follows:

 

5.     First, a ‘more Connected ASEAN’. We must urgently make ASEAN truly re-connected by accelerating implementation of the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity (MPAC) 2025 and promoting connectivity and green infrastructure development to create a seamless and sustainable ASEAN. Moreover, we should explore aligning the measures we are taking to ease restrictions and reduce obstacles to travel in order to help revive businesses and people-to-people connectivity -- perhaps by considering the possibility of developing a special arrangement between those ASEAN Member States that are ready to facilitate business travel within the limits of mutually agreed health measures.

 

6.     Second, a ‘Stronger ASEAN’, by ‘building strength from within’ through actively advancing economic integration and expediting the signing of RCEP within this year so that ASEAN can make a rapid economic recovery and boost its attractiveness as a single production base and market in the region. Additionally, looking at the next ten years, the digital economy will be key in increasing the value of ASEAN’s GDP by 1.3 trillion USD. Thus, we must promote investment in digital infrastructure as well as digital skills and knowledge development in parallel with promoting knowledge in science, technology, and innovation in order to seek out new economic opportunities and reduce the cost of doing business. ASEAN must also build on its rich biodiversity -- which is our strength -- by using technology and innovation to produce high value and environmentally-friendly goods and services, in line with the BCG (Bio-Circular-Green) Economy Model.

 

7.     Third, an ‘ASEAN with an Enhanced Immunity’. Together, we must seek to build long-term immunity in order to prepare ourselves for future volatilities and challenges. In this regard, I also wish to lend my support to the ASEAN Community Council of all three pillars in their efforts to develop a recovery plan, so that ASEAN can set out on the path of building greater immunity building on ASEAN’s collective successes, which include the creation of a caring and sharing community and the promotion of sustainability in all aspects. The said plan should include the issue of health security, especially promoting Universal Health Coverage, and the utilisation of the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund in the research and development of vaccines which, once available, should become ‘global public goods’ that everyone can equally access at an affordable price. Thailand will thus make a voluntary contribution of 100,000 USD to support this Fund as a symbol of ASEAN cooperation and solidarity. Furthermore, we should strengthen food security, in which ASEAN has a comparative advantage, and promote human security, particularly human capital development, life-long learning, and labour skills development in line with the rapid changes occurring in the world, as reflected in the ASEAN Declaration on Human Resource Development for the Changing World of Work.

 

8.     Another important issue to consider is our close cooperation in preventing and addressing human rights challenges and Business and Human Rights which Thailand has already undertaken, as well as human trafficking, terrorism, transnational crimes, cybersecurity, illegal migration, drug trafficking, and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing for peace and safety of the region and our peoples.

 

9.     For Thailand, we have applied the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy, which emphasises building strength on firm foundations as well as the principles of moderation, reasonableness, and self-immunity, to advance the sustainable development agenda. The said Philosophy can be one way of supporting ASEAN in its work to build back better. Here, Thailand stands ready to exchange experiences and best practices on this issue with ASEAN Member States through the ASEAN Centre for Sustainable Development Studies and Dialogue (ACSDSD).

 

10.  In addition, the COVID-19 crisis has clearly shown the importance of putting people at the centre of all that we do, and looking after every segment of society, especially vulnerable groups, which include migrant workers. I would therefore like to express my appreciation to my ASEAN friends for looking after and assisting Thai nationals in your countries as well as facilitating their repatriation. At the same time, the Thai Government has also assisted ASEAN Member States’ nationals impacted by the COVID-19 situation in Thailand. We have facilitated the repatriation of more than 18,000 nationals of Myanmar, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Viet Nam, and Singapore to their respective countries.

 

11.  Another issue I would like to discuss is that we should expedite the use of teleconferencing in order to eradicate obstacles and enhance our preparedness in all aspects to better resolve problems after the COVID-19 situation has alleviated so that we can act swiftly.

 

12.  In closing, I am pleased to adopt the “ASEAN Leaders’ Vision Statement on a Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN”. I also wish to reaffirm Thailand’s determination to intensify ASEAN’s cooperation and solidarity as well as engagement with external partners. This is so that ASEAN can respond to all future internal and external challenges in an effective manner and truly become a people-centred Community -- where everyone moves forward together, leaving no one behind -- and a Community of the future that is an important force in driving the global economy and society.