Food security concern at ASEAN summit

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Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, ASEAN Secretary-General

Food security issues have surfaced as a key concern that will necessitate further cooperation between ASEAN leaders, Dr Surin Pitsuwan, Secretary-General of ASEAN said in a statement to press on November 20 at the 21st ASEAN summit in Phnom Penh. In a region commonly called the agricultural basin of the world, new wealth and burgeoning populations will threaten exports and regional stability, demanding technological and educational solutions, the statement said.

As regional leaders concluded the summit on November 20, the key outcomes of the meetings highlighted stepping up efforts to address human capital gaps, energy and economic stability, with an added emphasis on investments in infrastructure and connectivity.

Splitting the summit

Rather than have contentious territorial disputes overwhelm the summit, the hot-topic is being addressed “in isolation” of other issues, Pitsuwan said. The Philippines has, however, made their voice heard, as has Japan in relation to China’s continued aggression, affirming the real risk to peace and stability that the issue still poses.

The summit has yet to see any consensus to address the South China Sea and other maritime disputes and will likely end without one due to China’s exceptional legerdemain in splitting ASEAN powers.

Nervous host

ASEAN officials have been accused of hampering access to high-level meetings during the summit, currently being hosted by a conspicuously nervous Cambodia.

Meetings with US President Barack Obama had journalists in the room for no more than 10 seconds before they were all swept out, including the president’s attached press corps, much to their consternation.

The booting out of journalists has been standard practice throughout the summit, and US presidential spokesmen have pointed fingers at ASEAN organisers.

“Our media wasn’t even allowed to hear the president speak,” Sean McIntosh, US embassy spokesman, said.

The summit, due to finish on November 20, marks Cambodia’s last role as chair to ASEAN, a position that rotates annually and will be passed to Brunei, Myanmar, Malaysia and Laos in the years to come. Malaysia will, thus, be held responsible for chairmanship roles during the formation of the ASEAN Economic Community, if and when it comes to fruition.

“Brunei is a small but agile and capable country,” Pitsuwan said of the next chair. “They can certainly steer the community towards 2015 goals.”

ASEAN heads of state officially appointed Pitsuwan’s replacement on November 19. Vietnamese diplomat Le Luong Minh will hold the next five-year position of ASEAN Secretary-General from January 2013 to December 2018.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, ASEAN Secretary-General

Food security issues have surfaced as a key concern that will necessitate further cooperation between ASEAN leaders, Dr Surin Pitsuwan, Secretary-General of ASEAN said in a statement to press on November 20 at the 21st ASEAN summit in Phnom Penh. In a region commonly called the agricultural basin of the world, new wealth and burgeoning populations will threaten exports and regional stability, demanding technological and educational solutions, the statement said.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, ASEAN Secretary-General

Food security issues have surfaced as a key concern that will necessitate further cooperation between ASEAN leaders, Dr Surin Pitsuwan, Secretary-General of ASEAN said in a statement to press on November 20 at the 21st ASEAN summit in Phnom Penh. In a region commonly called the agricultural basin of the world, new wealth and burgeoning populations will threaten exports and regional stability, demanding technological and educational solutions, the statement said.

As regional leaders concluded the summit on November 20, the key outcomes of the meetings highlighted stepping up efforts to address human capital gaps, energy and economic stability, with an added emphasis on investments in infrastructure and connectivity.

Splitting the summit

Rather than have contentious territorial disputes overwhelm the summit, the hot-topic is being addressed “in isolation” of other issues, Pitsuwan said. The Philippines has, however, made their voice heard, as has Japan in relation to China’s continued aggression, affirming the real risk to peace and stability that the issue still poses.

The summit has yet to see any consensus to address the South China Sea and other maritime disputes and will likely end without one due to China’s exceptional legerdemain in splitting ASEAN powers.

Nervous host

ASEAN officials have been accused of hampering access to high-level meetings during the summit, currently being hosted by a conspicuously nervous Cambodia.

Meetings with US President Barack Obama had journalists in the room for no more than 10 seconds before they were all swept out, including the president’s attached press corps, much to their consternation.

The booting out of journalists has been standard practice throughout the summit, and US presidential spokesmen have pointed fingers at ASEAN organisers.

“Our media wasn’t even allowed to hear the president speak,” Sean McIntosh, US embassy spokesman, said.

The summit, due to finish on November 20, marks Cambodia’s last role as chair to ASEAN, a position that rotates annually and will be passed to Brunei, Myanmar, Malaysia and Laos in the years to come. Malaysia will, thus, be held responsible for chairmanship roles during the formation of the ASEAN Economic Community, if and when it comes to fruition.

“Brunei is a small but agile and capable country,” Pitsuwan said of the next chair. “They can certainly steer the community towards 2015 goals.”

ASEAN heads of state officially appointed Pitsuwan’s replacement on November 19. Vietnamese diplomat Le Luong Minh will hold the next five-year position of ASEAN Secretary-General from January 2013 to December 2018.

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