Vice Chairwoman of the Vietnamese National Assembly Tong Thi Phong speaks at the first plenary session of the AIPA-38 (Photo: VNA)

Manila (VNA) - Vice Chairwoman of the Vietnamese National Assembly (NA) Tong Thi Phong suggested measures to promote the role of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) at the first plenary session of the 38th AIPA General Assembly (AIPA-38) which opened in Manila, the Philippines, on September 16.

Phong said 2017 is a special year that marks the 50th founding anniversary of ASEAN and 40 years since AIPA’s inception. The AIPA-38 takes place amid complex global and regional developments such as territorial disputes, terrorism, and increasing non-traditional security issues like environment, epidemics, climate change, and growing trade protectionism, which have directly or indirectly impacted security, unanimity and economic growth in Southeast Asia, she said.

In that context, the AIPA, along with ASEAN, should continually uphold the spirit of solidarity and unanimity and raise the sense of responsibility to effectively respond to challenges that threaten peace, security and stability in the region while effectively and comprehensively contributing to the building of the ASEAN Community, Phong noted.

In the new development stage of both ASEAN and AIPA, the bilateral cooperation need to be reformed in a more connected, practical and effective manner, focusing on promoting the ASEAN Community’s development on all three pillars so that the Community could become a momentum for maintaining peace, stability and sustainable growth in the region.

The cooperation should also concentrate on enhancing ASEAN’s solidarity and improving the awareness of the ASEAN Community; and consolidating and bringing into play ASEAN’s central role in the regional architecture, the official said.

She asked the AIPA, together with ASEAN, work harder to raise public awareness of AIPA’s importance, activities and capacity of contributing to the ASEAN Community building and of realising regional people’s interests.

The AIPA should further boost parliamentary diplomacy’s role in state diplomatic activities among ASEAN members and between ASEAN and the bloc’s partners. It should increase the effectiveness of law-making cooperation in order to facilitate ASEAN cooperation in all spheres, from politics-security, economy to culture-society. The assembly needs to provide the ASEAN governments with feasible solutions in order to achieve the bloc’s set targets.

Phong proposed that the AIPA help promote ASEAN’s central role in the region through upholding the grouping’s conduct principles and standards and compliance with international law, strengthening the member parliaments’ connectivity, and reinforcing ties with other parliamentary cooperation mechanisms in the region and the world.

The Vietnamese legislative leader called for the improved efficiency and practicality of meetings between AIPA representatives and ASEAN leaders, thus bolstering coordination between parliaments and governments of the ASEAN nations.

It is also necessary to reform and improve AIPA’s operations, including improving coordination mechanisms between the AIPA Secretariat in Jakarta and AIPA secretariats in the member countries, as well as between the AIPA Secretariat and the ASEAN Secretariat, she added.

The AIPA-38 is taking place from September 16-19 with the participation of representatives from the 10 ASEAN member countries and 11 observer nations.

The AIPA members are set to discussed a number of critical issues, including the humanitarian crisis in Myanmar, cooperation in solving food security-related issues, and promotion of health care for female workers.-VNA