Asean civil societies want more meetings with leaders

  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 28 Apr 2015

KUALA LUMPUR: Asean civil society organisations want an institutional framework for engagement with their governments and leaders post-2015.

Representatives of civil societies from the 10 member countries who had an interface meeting with their heads of government at the Asean summit yesterday said they were happy to be given the opportunity to speak directly to the leaders.

“It was a very brief meeting, but it’s good that we were able to speak directly to the governments, and openly.

“However, from 2016 onwards, there has to be an institutional and people-centred framework for engagement. At present, some governments aren’t allowing civil societies to represent them,” said Asean Peoples Forum steering committee chairman Jerald Joseph.

He said civil societies were ready to work with the Asean leaders in getting the said framework ready as part of Asean’s post-2015 vision.

“Don’t keep us out because we present a critical evaluation of what we hear and see on the ground.

“We believe that adversarial notions against CSOs must change in the post-2015 vision,” he told the leaders at the meeting, which included Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and President Benigno Aquino III of the Philippines.

The Asean Inter-Parliamentary Assembly representatives, who also had an interface session with the leaders, want to institutionalise the annual Asean-AIPA leaders meeting to strengthen cooperation between the legislative and executive branches towards establishing a rules-based Asean community.

AIPA president Tan Sri Pandikar Amin said formalising the meeting into a regular formal one would help improve AIPA’s participation in relevant Asean affairs.

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