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S'pore urges Asean charter

S'pore urges Asean charter

SINGAPORE on Wednesday called for speedy ratification of an Asean charter, which requires the bloc to uphold ideals of democracy and human rights and to make legally binding commitments.

In a speech to Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) parliamentarians, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the charter is an important part of the process for Asean to establish a single market and manufacturing base by 2015.

"The charter has already been ratified by seven member countries and we look forward to its eventual and expeditious ratification by all members," Lee said in a speech to the Asean Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA).

Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore and Vietnam have ratified the document, which commits members to "strengthen democracy, enhance good governance and the rule of law, and to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms."

Three other Asean states -  Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand - have yet to ratify.

Asean's target is for all 10 members to ratify by the end of the year, when leaders hold their annual summit in Bangkok.

The charter aims to give Asean a legal framework and sets out principles and rules for members while transforming the 41-year-old bloc into a legal entity that will give it greater international clout.

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