Southeast Asia

New ASEAN Chief Seeks South China Sea Talks

Former Vietnam Deputy Foreign Minister Le Luong Minh talks to reporters after a handover ceremony of the secretary-general of the ASEAN in Jakarta, January 9, 2013.Former Vietnam Deputy Foreign Minister Le Luong Minh talks to reporters after a handover ceremony of the secretary-general of the ASEAN in Jakarta, January 9, 2013.
x
Former Vietnam Deputy Foreign Minister Le Luong Minh talks to reporters after a handover ceremony of the secretary-general of the ASEAN in Jakarta, January 9, 2013.
Former Vietnam Deputy Foreign Minister Le Luong Minh talks to reporters after a handover ceremony of the secretary-general of the ASEAN in Jakarta, January 9, 2013.
— The new secretary general of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations has called for progress on a code of conduct for the South China Sea.  The ASEAN leader also recognized the ongoing political and economic challenges the region faces as it moves toward greater integration.
 
Disputed terroritory

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations welcomed its new secretary general Le Luong Minh on Wednesday, at a time when the regional grouping faces some of the biggest challenges in its 46-year history.
 
Those include a slowing global economy, a rise in natural disasters and security threats that could jeopardize regional peace and stability. A key challenge will be finding a solution to territorial disputes in the South China Sea. Several ASEAN members claim sovereignty over those waters, but so too does regional giant, China.
 
Tensions there plagued last year’s annual ASEAN gathering in Cambodia, with leaders failing to produce an agreement governing actions in the disputed waters. The impasse seemed to highlight divisions between the group’s 10 member states and raised concerns that it lacked cohesion.
 
During his speech on Wednesday, Minh touched specifically on the need for a solution.
 
“In the face of complicated developments on the South China Sea, ASEAN should speed up efforts toward an early start of negotiations with China with a view to achieving an early conclusion toward of code of conduct on the South China Sea,” Minh stated.

Call for dialogue

Minh is the past deputy foreign minister for Vietnam, one of the four ASEAN countries that claims sovereignty over a part of the area. The Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei also say they have rights to the waters, which hold abundant fisheries, provide vital trade routes and are said to be rich in oil and natural gas.
 
Analysts say Minh will need to maintain his neutrality given his country of origin.
Indonesia’s Foreign Minister, Marty Natalagawa, also spoke about the need for neutrality and cohesion as key to regional security. 

“We must continue to be at the forefront of a regional architecture that promotes the Asia-Pacific’s peace and stability, a region that eschews violence and conflict. That instead promotes peaceful settlement of disputes, of partnership and of a perspective which recognizes that peace and security are actually common essentials to be shared and to be nurtured in the interests of all,” he said.
 
Minh takes the helm of ASEAN from Surin Pitsuwan, a Thai national who saw the grouping through a border dispute between Thailand and Cambodia, a regime change in Burma and devastating natural disasters throughout the region.
 
In addition to building peace and security within ASEAN, Minh said another priority would be to ensure all member states are prepared for the ASEAN Economic Community set to begin in 2015.
 
The economic community aims for greater integration within ASEAN through liberalized trade and investment, much like the European Union. But there are concerns that many of ASEAN’s less developed members will not be ready to handle the free movement of goods, services and labor.
 
Minh noted those concerns, but also explained the benefits. “The more open flow of investments, capital, labor, goods and services will pose different challenges and opportunities for our member states. But it will also have a tremendous multiplier effect on the region,” he explained.
 
ASEAN community

Minh said narrowing the economic gap between ASEAN’s different members would be key to equitable development across the region.

ASEAN has grown in size and economic importance in recent years, but some analysts continue to debate its ability to hold together. For now it remains a disparate grouping with economies that range from developed to developing and political systems that include communist Vietnam, socialist Laos, constitutional monarchies in Thailand and Cambodia and newly democratic Burma.
 
Over the past year Indonesia has led the way on a series of important bilateral issues, with Indonesian Foreign Minister Natalagawa serving as a key mediator on South China Sea disputes. On Wednesday he offered Minh a piece of advice.
 
“The ASEAN community as a sentiment, as an emotion cannot be legislated, it cannot be enacted through the adoption and implementation of formal agreements," said Natalagawa. "These sentiments must be nurtured, it must be cultivated it must be practiced.”
 
Minh is the first Vietnamese representative to hold the post of secretary general of ASEAN. The five-year position rotates among the 10 member states based on alphabetical order. Next it will go to Brunei.
Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Yearlong Political Deadlock Endsi
X
22 July 2014
Cambodia’s political deadlock has ended. For nearly a year, the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party has refused to join the government, calling for electoral reforms in a system it says was deeply flawed. Following nearly five hours of meetings between top opposition officials and Prime Minister Hun Sen, that deadlock has ended. The two sides finally reached agreement on a formula for selecting the National Election Committee, which the Rescue Party has said was biased toward the ruling Cambodian People’s Party. Hun Sen and Rescue Party President Sam Rainsy emerged from talks Tuesday smiling and shaking hands. “Victory,” Hun Sen told reporters after the meeting. “You can all applaud.” (Heng Reaksmey, Phnom Penh)

English with Mani & Mori

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Labor of Love (Movie: That's What I Am)i
X
21 July 2014
You can say, "Every weekend he volunteers at the hospital working with the sick and the dying. It brings him great joy to care for others. It's his 'labor of love' to humanity." What does it mean? Watch here. For more videos - go to www.khmer.voanews.com/maniandmori or www.youtube.com/KhmerSpecialEnglish. To contact Mani & Mori - write to them at maniandmori@gmail.com.
Video

Video Labor of Love (Movie: That's What I Am)

You can say, "Every weekend he volunteers at the hospital working with the sick and the dying. It brings him great joy to care for others. It's his 'labor of love' to humanity." What does it mean? Watch here. For more videos - go to youtube.com/KhmerSpecialEnglish.
Video

Video Put Stock In (Movie: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2)

AT THE MOVIES WITH MANI & MORI - English Learning / American Idioms You can say, "Her history and her patterns have shown that she is not very responsible with money, so I am not going to 'put too much stock in' believing she has changed." What does it mean? Watch here.
Video

Video Thick Skinned [Movie: The Lion King]

You can say, "I find that it's necessary sometimes to be 'thick skinned' to public opinions, some people will like you and some will not … it's just how it is." What does it mean? Watch here. For more videos - youtube.com/KhmerSpecialEnglish.
Video

Video Knock Your Socks Off [Movie: Meet The Robinsons]

You can say, "You have to try this new Cambodian restaurant in DC, it's super delicious, it's amazing - one bite of it and it will 'knock your socks off'." What does it mean? Watch here. For more videos - go to youtube.com/KhmerSpecialEnglish.
See more >>>