The Foreign Service Institute (FSI), the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), and the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA), with the support of Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF) and ASEAN Foundation (AF), co-organized the High Level Forum on ASEAN@50 with the theme “Looking Back and Charting the Future” on 19 October 2017 at the Conrad Manila, Pasay City, Philippines.
The speakers included former Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Thailand’s former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, former ASEAN Secretaries-General, as well as senior government officials from ASEAN member-states. The Forum facilitated the exchange of perspectives and insights of key people who have been involved in the creation and evolution of ASEAN, drawing fundamental lessons in shaping the future of ASEAN.
The highlight of the one-day Forum was the keynote address of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, where he declared ASEAN one of the most successful regional organizations in the world with a steadily evolving capability to respond to emerging challenges. President Duterte encouraged stakeholders to cultivate a sense of ownership of ASEAN – for the people to own ASEAN’s story as theirs and to see its future as their own.
“I therefore call on our fellow ASEAN leaders to empower our peoples by making them understand the importance of ASEAN in their lives, [how] its past gains have directly contributed to their well-being, and how the realization of its goals will make their lives better,” Pres. Duterte said.
The morning panel discussion revolved around the theme of the Philippines’ ASEAN Chairmanship, “ASEAN: Partnering for Change, Engaging the World.” Former senior government officials, experts, and a youth representative shared their experiences and outlook for ASEAN. The resource persons were Hon. Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Dewa Dato Seri Setia Lim Jock Seng, Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Second Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Brunei Darussalam; Amb. Delia Domingo Albert, former Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Philippines; Prof. Dr Mely Caballero-Anthony of the Rajaratnam School of International Studies, NTU, Singapore; Amb. Le Cong Phung, former First Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam; Prof Dr Mari Elka Pangestu, former Minister of Trade and Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy, Indonesia; and Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand and former ASEAN Secretary-General. Atty. Michael Toledo, Director of Media Bureau of the MVP Group of Companies was the moderator.
In the afternoon’s Conversation with ASEAN Leaders, former Pres. Macapagal-Arroyo and former Prime Minister Vejjajiva recounted their role in the evolution of ASEAN during their terms of office, and presented their views on the challenges facing the organization as it looks forward to another fruitful 50 years.
During the Forum, ERIA launched the five-volume commemorative publication “ASEAN at 50: Retrospectives and Perspectives on the Making, Substance, and Future of ASEAN.” The publication presents the different viewpoints and experiences of former ASEAN leaders and officials, voices from the ASEAN peoples, and the insights and reflections of eminent persons and experts on the evolution, substance and future of ASEAN.