Asean peoples need more understanding of social-cultural pillar

by Times Reporters

Vientiane (Vientiane Times/ANN) - Asean countries should teach their citizens more about the significance of the Asean Social-Cultural Community (ASCC) as an important pillar in driving cooperation with the bloc’s other pillars in the push for prosperity.

The ASCC tends to be ignored by the region’s citizens even though they benefit from various forms of cooperation. 

Deputy Secretary General of Asean for the Asean Social-Cultural Community, Vongthep Arthakaivalvatee, highlighted the matter when talking to the Lao press on Wednesday on the sidelines of a meeting on Asean cooperation on natural disaster response.

“Most people are very familiar with the AEC, the Asean Economic Community, but we need to emphasise the ASCC, the Asean Social-Cultural Community, as it is all about the people, the people of Asean,” Vongthep said.  

He pointed to the ASCC as the people’s pillar, which he said stressed the importance of human development.

“The economic community will certainly enhance our region …, but it must be emphasised that this whole effort has to be powered and propelled by the people,” Vongthep said.

He pointed to the importance of youth development and the workforce for economic integration, which he said were all about the people of Asean in various aspects.

Vongthep added that Laos and other Asean member countries were placing importance on cooperation under this pillar, pointing to the adoption of several documents by Asean leaders concerning cooperation under the ASCC.

Some of the documents signed by the Asean leaders are: the Asean Declaration on One Asean, One Response: Asean Responding to Disaster as One in the Region and Outside the Region; the Vientiane Declaration on Transition from Informal Employment to formal Employment towards Decent Work Promotion in Asean; Vientiane Declaration on Reinforcing Cultural Heritage Cooperation; and the Asean Declaration on Strengthening Education for Out-of-School Children and Youth.

Pertaining to the adoption by Asean leaders of the Vientiane Declaration on Reinforcing Cultural Heritage Cooperation, Vongthep said this would not only promote the idea of the preservation of both tangible and intangible cultural heritages, but it was also about how Asean as a community addressed issues such as the illicit trafficking of cultural and intellectual property.

Asean was formally declared an Economic Community in December 2015 and the AEC is familiar to most people in the region, including in Laos. Citizens know about the freer transboundary flow of goods and labour, and easier border crossing within the region.

The Asean Secretariat official spoke about Laos’ chairmanship of Asean, saying Laos wanted to make the transition from an informal economy to a formal economy.

This would promote the concept of decent work for labourers, who will have security through social protection schemes, and their human rights will be upheld in line with the standards identified by the International Labour Organisation.