The land of heroes
Our heroes
Our land
Cambodia Kingdom

Thursday, June 19, 2008

New ASEAN after Myanmar cyclone: Secretary-general

SINGAPORE -- A new Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) has emerged from its response to cyclone-hit Myanmar, showing the world that it can "take on the responsibility placed on it", Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan said here Wednesday.

"It just so happened that we are being baptized by the Cyclone Nargis. That is the test of our new ASEAN," he told a one-day ASEAN Leadership Forum on Wednesday morning.

Cyclone Nargis hit the Irrawaddy Delta of Myanmar and left more than 133,000 people dead or missing in early last month.

He told some 100 officials, business leaders and experts that foreign relief teams "have been given full support from the Myanmar government and reached the areas where they wanted to go."

The southeast Asian bloc, established in 1967, groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Meanwhile, Surin was optimistic about ratification of the ASEAN Charter, which was signed by member countries' leaders in Singapore summit last November.

He said the Charter could be approved by all members by the time of the Bangkok summit at the end of this year.

The Charter means to transform the 10-member bloc into a more rules-based community. Thailand, Myanmar, the Philippines and Indonesia have yet to approve it.
Read more!

'A new Asean'

Singapore - The Cyclone Nargis disaster in Burma showed the world that a revitalised Association of Southeast Asian Nations can "rise to the occasion," Asean Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan said on Wednesday.

According to Mr Surin a new Asean has emerged from its achievements. "We are being baptised by Cyclone Nargis," he told the 5th Asean Leadership Forum in Singapore.

It has been more than six weeks since the cyclone hit, leaving a trail of devastation followed by three weeks of international outrage as the military junta obstructed foreign aid and volunteers.

Recalling the frustration and anguish of the World Bank and many Western countries which sent ships and planes packed with relief supplies, Surin said he was repeatedly asked, "Can Asean do something?"

"With 2.4 million people teetering between survival and death," Asean became the mechanism for getting aid to the worst-hit areas such as the Irrawaddy Delta in the south, helping sort out objections to helicopters and sending in nearly 300,000 volunteers, Surin told government and business leaders in addition to civil society groups.

"The teams have been given full support and reached the areas where they wanted to go," Surin said. "That's a new Asean ready to take on responsibility."

Aid workers said thousands of survivors of the storm are yet vulnerable to sickness and many are without adequate food and supplies.

A meeting of Asean volunteers will be held July 24 to collect information from their experiences "for the future," Surin said. "We have achieved a certain degree of competence."

Amid the concerns of the international community, "We have made progress," he said.

Asean, which groups Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Brunei, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Burma, has long been labelled as ineffective by critics.

SUrin expressed confidence that the Asean Charter could be approved by all members by the time of the Bangkok summit at the end of the year. Thailand, Burma, the Philippines and Indonesia have yet to approve the document designed to unite the countries into an economic bloc, set democracy as a goal and create a human rights body.

Asean "must continue to work as a cohesive body and integrate quickly, so as to provide member countries with the ability to respond to external challenges with greater resilience and unity," said Lee Yi Shyan, Singapore's minister of state for trade and industry.

He cited rising oil prices, increased food costs, global warming and worsening pollution as some of the long-term challenges facing the region.

"In addition, we continue to face ongoing security threats in the form of terrorism and pandemic flu," Lee said. "If we are not prepared, we risk our countries becoming disoriented from the resulting shocks."

Read more!

Ambassador expects more S Korean investment to Cambodia

PHNOM PENH, June 19 (Xinhua) -- South Korean ambassador to Cambodia Shin Hyun-suk has said that he expected more investment from his country to the kingdom, local media reported Thursday.

"I am optimistic about further (South) Korean investment (to Cambodia)," Shin Hyun-suk told the Mekong Times in an interview.

In 2007, Cambodia became the 6th biggest host of South Korean investment after China, the U.S., China's Hong Kong region, Vietnam and Malaysia, he said.

"Recently, some South Korean investors who had invested in China and Vietnam have been moving into Cambodia. With this trend, South Korean investment in Cambodia has been diversified," he added.

Initially, South Korean investment was concentrated on the garment manufacturing sector, he said, adding that banking, agro-industry, manufacturing, real estate development and IT sectors are the dominating fields of South Korean investment in Cambodia now.

Beginning in the late 1990s, South Korean investors began to look at Cambodia as the country regained political and social stability, Shin Hyun-suk said.

In particular, South Korean investment in Cambodia has increased sharply since 2006, as Cambodia recorded high economic growth and achieved further political and social stability, he added.
Read more!