ASEAN People’s Forum 2020 kicks off hinh anh 1Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Le Van Thanh speaks at the forum (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) -
The ASEAN People’s Forum (APF) 2020 kicked off on November 5, with the theme “Southeast Asian People’s Solidarity for an Inclusive, Cohesive and Responsive Community”.

Held face-to-face in Vietnam and in the video conference format at other venues, the forum brought together more than 250 representatives from various people’s organisations and non-governmental organisations based in Vietnam and about 500 others from elsewhere in ASEAN.

In his opening remarks, Phan Anh Son, Vice President cum Secretary General of the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organisations (VUFO), the organiser of the forum, said this is the first time the APF has gone online, which demonstrates that ASEAN people are adapting to the “new normal” situation.

A variety of issues will be tabled at APF 2020, he said, including Peace and Security; Human Rights and Access to Justice; Sustainable Ecology; Labour and Migration; Alternative Regionalism; Transformative and Solidarity Economy, Trade, Investment, and Corporate Power; Life with Dignity; Culture and the Arts; Innovation, New and Emerging Technology, Digital Rights; Racial Discrimination; and Religious Extremism.

Son expected that discussions would result in recommendations for governments on policies to address the challenges and map out a path ahead.

He looked forward to productive and constructive discussions contributing to the building of a people-centred and people-oriented ASEAN Community, where the voices of the people are heard, where people’s organisations can cooperate with governments and all other stakeholders, and where “no one is left behind”.

Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Le Van Thanh said that ASEAN and the world have been coping with the unprecedented challenges posed by COVID-19, which have affected millions of households and workers.

Along with other challenges like climate change, the pandemic is a test of how governments and people, especially disadvantaged and vulnerable groups, respond to different problems, he noted.

The deputy minister urged ASEAN to strengthen the readiness of governments, people, and businesses so they can be self-reliant and make use of the opportunities.

He hoped that, at APF 2020, delegates would have a chance to share their experience, strengthen the spirit of solidarity, cohesion and unity among ASEAN’s people’s organisations, and identify measures to tackle the region’s common challenges and increase the participation of people in ASEAN’s decision-making process.

The forum, which runs through November 7, is held annually on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit. It was first held by Malaysia in 2005./.