The 33rd General Assembly of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) opened in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara province of Indonesia, on September 17.

When delivering his opening remarks to the five-day event, themed ‘Strengthening Parliamentary Roles towards an ASEAN Community by 2015, AIPA President Marzuki Alie stated that AIPA’s greater role and more cooperation amongst its members are now essential when ASEAN is facing many traditional and non-traditional challenges.

These challenges include economic development gaps, natural disasters, climate change, trans-national crime and international terrorism, noted Marzuki Alie, who is the Speaker of Indonesia’s House of Representatives.

This requires the establishment of connectivity among people in ASEAN and more efforts to be made to turn the leaders’ political will on ASEAN integration into the will of all the people living within the bloc, he said.

According to Marzuki, the 33 rd AIPA General Assembly will discuss issues that concern member countries in AIPA’s political, economic, social, organisational and operational matters as well as the challenges and opportunities the organisation faces when strengthening inter-parliamentary cooperation to contribute to maintaining peace, stability, security and prosperity in the region.

Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen, who is also Chair of ASEAN for 2012, stressed that AIPA member countries have consolidated and hastened ASEAN integration as AIPA connects people across the region and it shares with ASEAN the common goal of creating a peaceful, stable, secure, developed and prosperous ASEAN.

Vice Chairwoman of the Vietnam National Assembly Tong Thi Phong led a delegation to the event.-VNA