Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha made the assurance as he accepted the gavel symbolizing the ASEAN chairmanship from Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
In his acceptance speech, the Thai leader revealed that the theme for the Kingdom’s chairmanship in 2019 is “Advancing Partnership for Sustainability.”
Prayut also noted that since the establishment of ASEAN in 1967 in Bangkok, it is commendable that the regional bloc has become a community and a region of peace and security. He also lauded how ASEAN has grown as the 6th largest economy in the world with roles recognized internationally.
While the Thai Prime Minister acknowledged there are still challenges ahead, he encouraged all 10 ASEAN member-states to work together to promote sustainable association.
“All 10 countries must collaborate even more closely on the foundation of ASEAN unity on the principle of three Ms – mutual trust; mutual respect; and mutual benefit – to realize concrete deliverables and sustainability for ASEAN in all dimensions,” Prayut said in his native tongue.
According to Prayut, during his stint as ASEAN chair, Bangkok will maintain “stability, development, economic growth and connectivity” as key priorities of the organization.
He also mentioned a series of challenges ASEAN is facing such as inequalities among member-countries, the technological gap or transformations of the region.
The Thai chairmanship of ASEAN will start on the first day of 2019 which will cover about 200 meetings, including the two major summits, namely the 34th and 35th ASEAN Summit and related summits.
However, online news site Nikkei Asian Review reported that Bangkok will be breaking the norm and will hold the first ASEAN Summit next year in June instead of April. Nikkei reported that this period aims give the junta time to hold widely expected general elections before the summit.