Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Video connects Asean states

Video connects Asean states

Video connects Asean states

090303_02.jpg
090303_02.jpg

Asean Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan spoke to groups in eight of 10 member states during the weekend summit.

Photo by:

SOVANN PHILONG 

Participants at the Phnom Penh video conference watch Surin Pitsuwan speak from Bangkok on Monday morning.

THE video conference had an informal air with the resolutely cheerful moderator joking with the Indonesian team about their batik shirts and maintaining a running commentary on which traffic jam the Asean secretary general was stuck in. But when Surin Pitsuwan did eventually arrive - some 45 minutes late - his speech was, participants concurred, worth waiting for.

Emphasising the shift in the regional body's attitude - from being a talking shop for regional leaders to a participatory, people-orientated organisation - Surin Pituwan spoke, via video link, to groups of students, journalists and civil society representatives in eight of the group's 10 member states - Brunei and Myanmar did not participate.

He hailed the "Herculean task" achieved by the drafters of the body's new charter, saying they had a difficult task to accommodate the bloc's "tremendous diversity".

"It [charter] is a good beginning," Surin Pitsuwan said, speaking Monday at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok.

"It includes the ideal of a human rights mechanism [which will function] independently and efficiently."   

The Asean charter, which emphasises the "protection and promotion" of human rights, has laid good foundations for a proposed human rights mechanism and could ensure the group's future human rights body is independent, accountable and effective.

However, whether this happens will depend on the readiness of member states and the pressure that people will put on their respective governments.

Local support for rights

Nay Vanda, head of the advocacy section of the rights group Adhoc who attended the Phnom Penh video conference, said in Cambodia there remain many human rights issues that require government action - and he singled out the need to pay more attention to the rights of the urban poor and land dispute victims.

Asean should do more to ... actually intervene and investigate.

"The most serious human rights issue in Cambodia now is land disputes," he said.
"Their rights are losing sway, their protests get less and less attention from the government, and many are arrested and detained [unfairly] in connection to land disputes," he said.

Nay Vanda said thatcompared  with other Asean countries, with the exception of Myanmar, Cambodia was lagging in terms of human rights.

"Asean should do more to ... actually intervene and investigate, not only say it will protect and promote," he said.

Surin Pitsuwan also discussed the bloc's response to the economic crisis, saying the body must put up a "united and brave front" in the face of a mounting global economic turmoil and resist sliding into protectionism.

MOST VIEWED

  • Kingdom’s domestic milk still cannot compete with imports

    Price competition and a lack of confidence by consumers are the main reasons the dairy market cannot compete with imports, said domestic milk producers. The large displays of imported fresh milk at the Kingdom’s supermarkets present a cumbersome obstacle for local producers, they said.

  • ‘Pesticide-laden cucumbers’ kill two, poison 150 in Banteay Meanchey

    At least two youths have died and 243 others are being treated for vomiting, diarrhoea, breathing difficulties, dizziness and muscle weakness after they ate cucumbers suspected to consist of pesticides. The incident happened on Saturday, said Banteay Meanchey provincial police chief Ath Khem. He told The

  • Three dead, 13 injured in collapse at Siem Reap pagoda

    At least three people were killed and more than 10 others injured on Monday after a dining hall under construction collapsed at Prasat Kokchak pagoda in Kokchak commune, Siem Reap province. Provincial police chief Tith Narong said Military Police, soldiers and local volunteers had successfully recovered 16

  • China Unicom enters Cambodia

    China Unicom, the country’s largest telecoms operator, has expanded into Cambodia to build optical telecommunication pathways in the Kingdom as part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The Hong Kong-listed company officially opened its China Unicom (Cambodia) subsidiary on Monday to become the

  • Forest Harmony’s $18M luxury villas break ground in Kampot

    Local and French joint-venture Forest Harmony has broken ground on its $18 million “second-home” Luxury Holiday Villas project in Kampot province. Century 21 Mekong CEO and local shareholder of the project Chrek Soknim told The Post that the project will comprise 90 villa units covering 18ha on a 97

  • PP-SHV Expressway on track for completion in early 2023

    The construction of the $1.9 billion Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway, which broke ground at the end of March, is on track to be completed by early 2023, Ministry of Public Works and Transport spokesman Vasim Sorya said on Monday. The 190km high-speed highway linking the capital to the