ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community
We underlined the need to enhance education and to hone the skills and talents of our peoples as ASEAN moves towards closer integration, in order to ensure the region's competitiveness, and to reap the benefits of globalisation while minimising the social impacts. We underscored the importance of promoting greater understanding and friendship among our people through the building of stronger people-to-people linkages, especially our youths. We expressed appreciation for the setting up of the SGD 5 million Singapore-ASEAN Youth Fund, and also applauded the efforts of ASEAN member countries in promoting greater ASEAN awareness, through a series of commemorative activities to celebrate ASEAN's 40th Anniversary, suggestions such as the inclusion of ASEAN studies into our national curricula and Thailand’s proposal to establish ASEAN Friendship Associations. We designated ASEAN Day (8 August) as a Special Day.
Narrowing the Development Gap
We agreed that narrowing the development gap remains an important task which will ensure that the benefits of ASEAN's integration efforts are fully realised. We noted that our efforts to narrow the development gap, such as through the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI), should be aligned with the broader objectives of ASEAN's integration efforts. We thanked Singapore for its pledge of a third tranche of IAI contributions amounting to SGD 30 million from 2009-2011. We further noted Singapore's launching of an ASEAN eGovernment and Telecoms Fellowship programme next year, which will benefit mainly the newer ASEAN countries economies, and serve to augment their capabilities in two critical areas: e-Government and telecom regulation. We also expressed appreciation to Singapore's voluntary contribution of US$500,000 to the ASEAN Development Fund, which will provide financial resources to support the implementation of the Vientiane Action Programme.
Strengthening the ASEAN Secretariat
We recognised that with the increasing scope of ASEAN cooperation, the Secretariat's infrastructure and facilities should be upgraded to meet this additional workload. In this connection, we welcome Singapore's contribution of US$240,500 to the Secretariat to upgrade its Information Technology and archival and depository systems.
As ASEAN Chair, Singapore issued a statement to clarify ASEAN's role and stand. We reiterated that the Myanmar Government should continue to work with the UN in order to open up a meaningful dialogue with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy (NLD); make full use of the good offices of the UN Secretary-General and Professor Gambari in this process; lift restrictions on Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and release all political detainees; work towards a peaceful transition to democracy; and address the economic difficulties faced by the people of Myanmar. We emphasised that we will strive to prevent the Myanmar issue from obstructing ASEAN's integration efforts, especially the ASEAN Charter and the establishment of the ASEAN Community.
ASEAN's External Relations
We noted that ASEAN and the EU will be holding a Commemorative Summit to mark 30 years of cooperation in Singapore on 22 November 2007, and looked forward to having a substantive discussion with our partners from Europe.
We recognised and supported the mutually reinforcing and complementary roles of the ASEAN Plus Three process and the East Asia Summit (EAS), and such regional forums as the ASEAN Regional Forum, to promote East Asian cooperation. We reaffirmed our desire to continue developing the EAS as a high-level strategic forum for dialogue, and a means to catalyse regional cooperation among its participating countries. We looked forward to signing the Singapore Declaration on Climate Change, Energy and the Environment at the EAS, which will set out important common ground among the EAS participating countries on the key principles which can help pave the way to a more effective post-2012 agreement.
We noted the reports from the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly, ASEAN Foundation and the ASEAN Civil Society Conference 2007 which was held in Singapore in October 2007.