COLOMBO: The President of Sri Lanka, Ranil Wickremesinghe, was present and graced the commemoration event of the 56th ASEAN Day as the Chief Guest that took place at the Indonesian Embassy in Colombo on Tuesday 8 August.
“The event was organized by the Heads of ASEAN Missions in Sri Lanka consisting of Dewi Gustina Tobing, the Ambassador of Indonesia,. U Han Thu, the Ambassador of Myanmar, Badli Hisham, the High Commissioner of Malaysia, H.E. Poj Harnpol, the Ambassador of Thailand, an Ho Thi Thanh Truc, the Ambassador of Vietnam” disclosed Heru Prayitno, Minister Counsellor of the Embassy of Indonesia.
The Speaker of the Sri Lankan Parliament, Cabinet Ministers including Environment Minister Naseer Ahamed, Health Minister Kehekiya Rambukwella and Media Minister Bandula Gunawardena, State Ministers, Ambassadors/High Commissioners, Members of Parliaments, the President’s Chief of Staff, the Chief of Sri Lanka Defence Staff, the Commander of the Sri Lanka Three Forces, religious leaders, and other Very Important Persons were also present.
At her opening remarks, the Indonesian Ambassador, Dewi Gustina Tobing, on behalf of ASEAN Heads of Missions, enlightened the guests that commemorating the ASEAN Day commenced when fifty-six years ago, on August 8, 1967, five leaders – the Foreign Ministers of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand – sat down together in the main hall of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs building in Bangkok, Thailand, and signed the document on the establishment of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Since then, ASEAN has succeeded in building the Southeast Asian region as an economically, politically, and culturally integrated region. Ambassador Dewi further notified that Indonesia is the Chairman of ASEAN for 2023 and carried the theme “ASEAN Matters: Epicentrum of Growth”.
With that theme, ASEAN countries would ensure that ASEAN remains and is increasingly strengthening its central role and being the center of growth to make ASEAN significant and relevant to the ASEAN community and the world. ASEAN will continue to work closely with Sri Lanka.
In the meantime, in his keynote remarks, President Ranil appraised the development and the central role of ASEAN and was keen to have a closer collaboration with ASEAN, given the strong ties between Sri Lanka and Southeast Asian countries.
The President emphasized that collaborating more closely with ASEAN was one of his government’s policies whereby Sri Lanka could build more advanced political, economic, and cultural relations as well as expressed his intention for Sri Lanka to join the ASEAN-RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership).
The President also underscored that the Sri Lanka government supported the concept of the ASEAN Outlook on Indo-Pacific and hoped there would be an increase in trade, investment, and tourists from ASEAN countries that benefit Sri Lanka’s economic development.
The commemoration of ASEAN Day every year is celebrated in all member states and at diplomatic missions, including the ASEAN Missions in Sri Lanka. Since its formation, ASEAN has succeeded in building the Southeast Asian region as an economically, politically, and culturally integrated region while upholding the principle of maintaining the centrality and proactive role of ASEAN in its relations with its external partners.
It was also noted that Sri Lanka’s major exports to the region consisted of apparel, electrical machinery, natural pearls, and tea. Sri Lanka joined the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in 2007 and was a signatory country to the ASEAN’s Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in the same year.
The commemoration of the 56th ASEAN Day consisted of two activities, namely the hoisting of the ASEAN flag conducted by three of the Indonesian Embassy’s personnel and followed by the cocktail reception at the Riptaloka Hall, whereby all guests tasted ASEAN countries’ traditional cuisine.
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