Jokowi Tries to Dispel Doubts over ASEAN’s Unity as Jakarta Summit Starts
Jakarta. President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo on Wednesday opened the 43rd ASEAN Summit in Jakarta by trying to dispel the mounting doubts over the Southeast Asian bloc’s unity.
Jokowi said that he had heard of people suspecting cracks in ASEAN. However, ASEAN is still very much a family, according to Jokowi.
“As a family member and chair of ASEAN, I would like to stress that ASEAN to this day remains united. But “unity” does not mean that there are no disagreements,” Jokowi said at the summit's opening ceremony.
“As a country that is home to diverse ethnic groups, cultures, languages, and religions, Indonesia views unity as harmony amidst differences, including disagreements. The difference of opinions actually enriches democracy. It shows how all of us as a family are equal,” Jokowi said.
The Indonesian leader claimed that ASEAN has upheld "equality" -- something that he said was hard to find elsewhere. And this equality is expected to propel the "giant ASEAN ship" to sail forward.
Amid rivalries among major powers trying to exert political influence in the region, Jokowi said: "ASEAN agreed to not become a proxy to any power. … Don't turn our ship into a battleground for rivalries that destroy one another."
"This ocean is too vast for us to sail alone. We will meet other ships, namely ASEAN's dialogue partners. Let us work in concert to achieve a fair and mutually beneficial cooperation as we sail towards an epicentrum of growth," Jokowi said.
The president did not mention Myanmar in his speech. However, ASEAN has been under international pressure to resolve the political crisis in one of its family members. A live streaming of the leaders' arrivals did not show a Myanmar representative stepping out of their car. ASEAN has barred the military-run Myanmar from attending its summits after the junta failed to implement a five-point peace plan. This five-point consensus calls for a constructive dialogue among all parties.Tags: