JAKARTA, Jan 6 (Bernama) — Indonesia Thursday said it was promoting a people-centred Asean during its chairmanship of the regional association this year.

“People-centred Asean is key to making the association relevant to the public and to the attainment of the objectives of the Asean Community,” said Indonesia’s Permanent Representative to Asean, Ambassador I Gede Ngurah, at the first official meeting chaired by Indonesia after assuming the Asean chair early this year.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, at a recent briefing by Asean Secretary-General Dr Surin Pitsuwan at Istana Merdeka (Indonesia’s Presidential Palace), also said in concert that, as Asean was a people-centred association, he would like the public to be more involved in Asean events.

Susilo said that Indonesia was prepared to work together with the youth, students, business communities and civil society organisations, from preparation to implementation.

According to a news release from the Asean Secretariat, in Thursday’s meeting, Ngurah had reminded that Asean should also maintain an upward trajectory, apart from strengthening its internal consolidation.

“Deepening economic linkages and connectivity as stipulated in the Asean Community Blueprints are also essential,” he said. Indonesia officially took over the Asean chairmanship from Vietnam on Jan 1.

Although the Asean Charter prescribes that the chairmanship rotate, based on the alphabetical order of the English names of the member states, this year Indonesia succeeds Vietnam, instead of Brunei Darussalam.

Indonesia made the request for the swap at the 16th Asean Summit in April 2009. The request was unanimously agreed upon by the rest of the member states.

Such swap, as was assured by the Asean secretary-general, would not set a precedent. “This is a one-off swap and will not affect the rotation prescribed by the Asean Charter,” said Dr Surin last April, as “it was done with real necessity”.

Indonesia’s theme for its chairmanship, ‘ASEAN Community in a Global Community of Nations’, had also garnered praise from Dr Surin as it reflects the country’s preparedness to be “engaged, proactive and using the ASEAN platform to enhance Asean profile in the global arena.”

“Indonesia has a weight, an international legitimacy and a global appeal to draw tremendous support and attention from around the world to the Asean community building efforts that we are all engaging in now,” he said.

Cambodia will hold the chair next year, succeeded by Brunei Darussalam in 2013, the association’s secretariat said. — BERNAMA, Ahmad Fuad Yahya