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Statement in Solidarity with CSOs in Withdrawal from 2014 Interface Meeting Between ASEAN Governments’ and CSOs’ Representatives

By ASEAN Watch Thailand  •  May 30, 2014

The withdrawal from the interface with ASEAN leaders by Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), followed by the complete cancellation of interface by ASEAN governments which happened on the 10th May 2014 during the time of ASEAN Summit in Nay Pyi Thaw, Myanmar, had become another round of proof on the different interpretation on the ‘people-centered ASEAN’ between ASEAN’s people and ASEAN’s governments.

The rejection of Singapore, Malaysia and Cambodia to their national representatives who were elected by each country’s delegates of ACSC/ASEAN People’s forum 2014, and the proposal for substitutes by the government was not new in the previous proposed interfaces meeting after ASEAN Summits. The governments of Singapore, Myanmar and Cambodia did earlier reject their people, and that led to either the last minutes walked out or the withdrawal of CSO delegations. CSOs also familiar with the possibility of the ASEAN governments organized their own interface without respecting the CSOs’ self-selection principle, or only the host country chose to meet alone with the representatives of CSOs. In those interfaces, the meeting between government leader(s) was not only became the rite of ASEAN, but also the way governments interpreted that ASEAN CSOs and ASEAN people can only play a role to endorse whatever discussed by the governments during each ASEAN Summit.

We,the ASEAN Watch-Thailand, the local and national CSOs would like to express  once more our agreement with the decision to withdraw  from the  2014 interface meeting by CSOs’ representatives, those serving as the Steering Committee members of ACSC/APF 2014 and also the national delegates being selected by their own national process. We condemn any effort of the governments which keep refusing to meet with their own people, and we believe the decision to cancel an interface was a right decision, especially when the ASEAN governments cannot act in unity in making a decision whether they want to meet with their people and listen to the key issues that have emerged to their vulnerability. We support further work and action by ASEAN people and the Civil Society’s network, to strengthen and reach the actual “People-centered ASEAN”. We also request the serious recognition of all ASEAN governments that, the only way to turn ASEAN into the region of peace and prosperity, is for ASEAN governments to make the people’s voice the utmost guidance for the future of ASEAN’s development.

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This post is in: ASEAN

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