ASEAN secretary-general Lim Jock Hoi expressed the bloc’s commitment to ensuring regional stability and prosperity amid a time of uncertainty and unprecedented challenges, through a road map adopted at the recent ASEAN Summit and related meetings.

Lim reaffirmed this during an ASEAN media forum held virtually on December 7.

“Amid geopolitical tensions and impeded trade activities around the world, ASEAN will continue to be an anchor for global development and stability in the post-pandemic era,” he said.

Lim noted that at the recently concluded ASEAN summits in Phnom Penh, the bloc’s leaders outlined strategic policy responses to boost inclusive and sustainable growth beyond pre-pandemic levels as well as ensure the region’s long-term resilience against emerging challenges such as supply chain destruction, higher food and energy prices, and climate change, among others.

These strategic policy responses will complement ongoing initiatives such as the ASEAN comprehensive recovery framework and a regional comprehensive economic partnership which will be further implemented next year, he added.

Given that the media is the primary outlet for information and communication today, Lim said ASEAN is leveraging it to bring more people into the regional integration efforts.

“Indeed, the media is an influential instrument that can foster the development of an informed, caring an active society, as well as enable our people to participate in public life, access basic services and empower their communities,” he noted.

Lim said the media has a pivotal function as a purveyor of knowledge, voice of integrity, and bridge for information. “Through your work, more people have a better awareness of ASEAN and will be able to contribute to our community building and economic recovery endeavours.”

Kung Phoak, secretary of state for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said at the forum that ASEAN is expanding its relations to include many countries around the world, not just in the Southeast Asian or East Asian regions.

“One thing that we now have to also think about is how we are going to make sure that such partnerships will bring benefit to our mutual interests, not just to the ASEAN member states, but also to our partners as well,” he said.

Phoak said the partners come to the region to do business, make friends and advance interests, and ASEAN must be capable or resourceful enough to provide them with support when it comes to certain partnerships.

“Member states will continue to have conversations on how we are going to build our capacity and capability, especially the strengthening of our institution so that we can support these partnerships well and ensure that the partnerships that we have with external partners will be in the mutual interests of all concerned parties,” he said.

On the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Phoak said that through ASEAN-led mechanisms, the bloc’s leaders urged respect for the UN Charter, sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence and the illegality of annexations.

Taking those positions meant that they had to voice support for Ukraine and object to Russia’s invasion on principle, something Cambodia has done repeatedly despite its long history of friendly relations with Moscow.

“ASEAN will continue to play a constructive role through the ASEAN-led mechanisms. Through these mechanisms, we’ll continue to do our best to contribute to positive developments in Ukraine as much as possible,” he said.

German ambassador to Cambodia Stefan Messerer said at the forum that in these difficult times, it is more important than ever to strengthen respect for international norms, deepen international cooperation and build strong regional institutions like ASEAN to ensure stability, security and peace.

“Strong international and regional bodies are needed now more than ever for effective international cooperation,” he said. “Strengthening these institutions is the most effective way to make progress on today’s challenges.”