12 November 2020

His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar 'Ali Saifuddien Sa'adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, this morning joined ASEAN Leaders for the 37th ASEAN Summit - which carries the theme, "Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN" - held virtually via video conference from Baitul Mesyuarah, Istana Nurul Iman.


At the Plenary Session of the 37th ASEAN Summit, His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam in a titah emphasised that ASEAN's recovery would require a strategic and holistic approach, to rebuild a resilient and sustainable ASEAN Community.

In this regard, His Majesty highlighted that ASEAN needs to urgently support the regional recovery by:

First, to prioritise the peoples' well-being and livelihoods including by enhancing regional safety nets and addressing social issues such as unemployment and mental health;

Second, to improve ASEAN's preparedness by building resilience through enhancing regional capacity to detect and respond to emerging challenges; and

Third, to keep regional economies open and ready for businesses, so ASEAN can rapidly recover and prosper.

His Majesty looked forward to the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement which will signify ASEAN's firm commitment towards an open, inclusive and rules-based multilateral trading system. In addition, building up bilateral and regional travel arrangements is encouraged so professionals can move safely and without risk to health and lives.

At the same time, His Majesty emphasised that ASEAN needs to work with partners to collectively overcome future challenges and ensure an ASEAN Community that can provide more opportunities to its people.

In ending the titah, His Majesty assured that as ASEAN Chair in 2021, Brunei Darussalam will work with all ASEAN Member States and partners towards a caring, prepared and prosperous region.

At the Summit, the leaders were presented with reports by Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization on the COVID-19 pandemic situation and global response; followed by a progress report on ASEAN by His Excellency Dato Paduka Lim Jock Hoi, Secretary-General of ASEAN which included achievements throughout the year under the three Community Pillars, more action to push transformation and bolster recovery including higher productivity and strengthening human capital. Afterwards, His Excellency Phạm Bình Minh, the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam, as Chair of the ASEAN Coordinating Council (ACC) also delivered a progress report on ASEAN including promotion of ASEAN Identity, and sub-regional development.

At the end of the Summit, the ASEAN Leaders adopted the ASEAN Leaders' Statement of the 37th ASEAN Summit; Ha Noi Declaration on the ASEAN Community's Post-2025 Vision; ACC's Report on ASEAN 2020's Deliverables and COVID-19 Response Initiatives; ASEAN Strategic Framework for Public Health Emergencies; ASEAN Declaration on an ASEAN Travel Corridor Arrangement; Ha Noi Decalaration on the Adoption of the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI) Work Plan IV (2021-2025); ASEAN Declaration on Digital Tourism; Narrative of ASEAN Identity; and Ha Noi Declaration on Strengthening Social Work Towards Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN Community. This was followed with the launching of the Mid-term Reviews of the ASEAN Community Blueprints 2025, ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework and the ASEAN Regional Reserve of Medical Supplies.


The Plenary Session was preceded by the Opening Ceremony of the 37th ASEAN Summit and Related Summits early this morning to welcome the ASEAN Heads of State and Government which featured cultural performances and the ASEAN theme song, "The ASEAN Way". This was followed with opening statements from His Excellency Nguyen Phu Trong, General Secretary of the Communist Party of Viet Nam and President of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam; and His Excellency Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Prime Minister of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam as the ASEAN Chairman for 2020, which focused on effective responses to emerging challenges towards regional economic growth and recovery, forming a suitable position for a post COVID-19 world, as well as enhancing ASEAN's global role.

At the Ceremony, a video on ASEAN's progress in 2020 was presented, and the ASEAN Prize 2020 was awarded to the ASEAN Studies Centre (ASC) of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) - Yusof Ishak Institute of the Republic of Singapore. The ASEAN Prize honours the outstanding achievements of individuals or organisations who foster the ASEAN identity, promote the ASEAN spirit, champion the ASEAN way and have significantly contributed towards ASEAN community building efforts.

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The Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN was founded on 8 August 1967 in Bangkok by the five original Member Countries; Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. Brunei Darussalam joined ASEAN on 7 January 1984