Remarks by Mrs. Busaya Mathelin, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, at the International Conference on “Thailand’s ASEAN Chairmanship 2019”


Remarks by Mrs. Busaya Mathelin, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, at the International Conference on “Thailand’s ASEAN Chairmanship 2019”


Remarks by Mrs. Busaya Mathelin,

Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

International Conference on “Thailand’s ASEAN Chairmanship 2019”

Sunday, 2 December 2018, 17.30 hrs.

Banyan I, 10th Floor, Banyan Tree Hotel, Bangkok



Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good evening and a warm welcome to all of you to this international conference on Thailand’s ASEAN Chairmanship 2019. Indeed, the line-up of the speakers at this conference is very impressive. Congratulations to the organisers on this.

As you have seen the VDO clip just now, just a little over two weeks ago, the 33rd ASEAN Summit took place in Singapore. At the Handover Ceremony, the Prime Minister of Singapore passed on the gavel – symbol of the ASEAN Chairmanship – to the Prime Minister of Thailand. Thailand’s Chairmanship will officially begin on Tuesday the 1st of January 2019. It is a responsibility that comes only once every ten years. We proudly accept it and we are ready for it.

The theme of our Chairmanship is “Advancing Partnership for Sustainability”. It is meant to guide ASEAN’s work over the next year to bring us closer towards achieving the ultimate goal of building a people-centred Community which leaves no one behind and looks to the future.

There are three key words in our theme.  Allow me to address them one by one to show you why we think they are important to ASEAN’s work in the years ahead.

The first is “Advancing”. We live in fast-moving times. The Fourth Industrial Revolution has many positive aspects, but technology can be disruptive and cyber-crime is a real danger. So ASEAN must adapt, find creative solutions to such problems, and become more future-oriented. Indeed, the Association has already set itself the goal of becoming a “Digital ASEAN”. But we must first be able to harness advances in technology for the benefit of the people, including enhancing the region’s competitiveness, especially for MSMEs.

The second key word is “Partnership”.  We now have many challenges before us, for example, climate change, natural disasters, terrorism, migration; not to mention the rising tide of nationalism and trade protectionism. No one country can solve these problems; nor can ASEAN go it alone. So ASEAN needs to form partnerships, to work with its Dialogue and External Partners. For instance, ASEAN must help to shape the region’s Strategic New Equilibrium by strengthening the ASEAN-centred regional architecture and reinforcing a multilateral and rules-based trading system. We also need to promote connectivity in all dimensions including basic infrastructure, rules and regulations, people-to people connectivity, leading to a Seamless ASEAN.

This “Partnership”, however, does not concern governments alone, but it also must be formed at all levels, with all sectors of society working together to tackle the challenges of our times. Therefore, your inputs, whether from business, academia or the general public, will always be important for governments.

The third key word is “Sustainability”.  For regional peace, security and prosperity to endure, ASEAN’s policies and indeed its Community-building efforts need to be sustainable. That is why we need to enhance sustainable security, sustainable growth, and sustainable development to realise
a people-centred ASEAN Community that leaves no one behind. In other words, ASEAN needs to be a “Sustainable ASEAN in All Dimensions”. In fact, my Foreign Minister has referred to this as ASEAN’s quest for the “Sustainability of Things”, of and in all things.

“Sustainability” will also require institutions in place to ensure the continuity of policies and cooperation. That is why we will be establishing a number of ASEAN centres in Thailand next year, such as the ASEAN Centre for Sustainable Development Studies and Dialogue and the ASEAN Centre for Active Ageing and Innovation. We will also ensure that good initiatives of previous Chairs, such as
the ASEAN Smart Cities Network, will continue to be implemented.


Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I believe that this conference will help to advance our partnership for sustainability. This conference is very important and I wish to thank you in advance for the contributions that you will make here as policy-makers, experts, professionals, diplomats and the general public. I wish you a constructive, enlightening and fruitful dialogue. Thank you.