Uphold spirit of solidarity and coordination to cope with challenges

With competition from the world’s powerful countries and geographically strategic location, the ASEAN region faces conventional security challenges.
Meanwhile, non-traditional security challenges such as climate change, food security, health security, scarce resources, natural disasters, irregular migrant worker issue, human trafficking, drug smuggling, information security, piracy, transnational crime, terrorism and pandemic have become key issues affecting the shared vulnerability of ASEAN and its people. Terrorism and the COVID-19 global pandemic are making the leaders and policymakers in the region much harder. Amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, terrorism continues to pose a critical threat to our region’s peace and security, and it has alerted us to make greater cooperation among the ASEAN countries to eliminate the menace in all its forms.
The COVID-19 pandemic is threatening lives, stability and livelihoods across Southeast Asia. It is challenging health systems, stalling human development, testing social and political cohesion and disrupting economies.

Terrorism and the COVID-19 global pandemic are making the leaders and policymakers in the region much harder.

The pandemic has much impact on the socio-economic sector, causing a rise in the poverty rate, an increase in hardships of women, delays in the education sector, hurting the social security, putting the IDPs in harm’s way and people of the rural areas at high risk of infection, reducing income, generating joblessness, shrinking the global trade, causing food scarcity, and prompting a sharp drop in the tourism industry.
Hence, as part of the economic recovery in the post-COVID-19 period, we need to focus on the revival of old businesses to bring back livelihoods and to explore new businesses models through innovation and complementarities by taking into account the new normal life. Other challenges we are facing today are Immigration, and administrative weaknesses, lack of complete monitoring of illegal cash flow, rampant drug smuggling, which is the major income source of terrorists in the region, and mass accumulation of weapons from the other regions are major obstacles to fighting terrorism in the ASEAN region.
To overcome all traditional and non-traditional challenges, ASEAN member countries are urged to make stronger cooperation and to seek a solution in a concerted and coordinated effort rather than in an individual effort. This year’s theme of ASEAN, “We Care, We Prepare, We Prosper”, which underscores the importance of fostering the well-being of people, is calling for the ASEAN members to prepare for future opportunities and uncertainties, as well as prosper together as a unified region while upholding the spirit of solidarity and coordination among member countries.

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