ASEAN sec-gen to coordinate meeting of bloc defence chiefs

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Defence minister Tea Banh (left) greets ASEAN Secretary-General Lim Jock Hoi in Phnom Penh on Monday. TEA BANH VIA FACEBOOK

The Ministry of National Defence affirmed that ASEAN secretary-general Lim Jock Hoi was committed to working with the ministry and coordinating with all ASEAN partner countries to assist Cambodia in the successful organisation of the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) and related meetings.

The commitment was made at a meeting between Minister of Defence Tea Banh and ASEAN Secretary-General Lim Jock Hoi on January 17, during his visit to Cambodia.

“The ASEAN secretary-general of expressed his full support for the ministry to host ADMM in 2022 and committed to working with the ministry and all partner countries to ensure that the meeting is a success,” the ministry said in a press release on January 18.

Tea Banh told Lim that in order to host the 13 meetings, Cambodia had prepared documentation and human resources. Although the Kingdom had prepared well, it still required additional input from other ASEAN member states.

He requested that Lim continue to coordinate all affairs concerning the defence sector, especially the three conceptual documents – ASEAN military cooperation to curb the Covid-19 pandemic; taking part in peacekeeping operations; and the establishment of ASEAN defence university cooperation.

Cambodia has also received a request to hold an informal meeting of ASEAN defence ministers and those of Russia and Japan. Tea Banh requested that the ASEAN Secretariat coordinate with other partner countries in organising this meeting, scheduled to be held at the end of 2022.

Thong Mengdavid, a research fellow at the Asian Vision Institute’s Mekong Centre for Strategic Studies, told The Post on January 18 that Cambodia, as chair of ASEAN, needs all members to share ideas and find common solutions to make peace and prosperity in the region a reality.

Cambodia, he said, is working to find solutions to regional security issues, both traditional and non-traditional, even as Myanmar becomes a heated and sensitive issue with the potential to affect the solidarity of ASEAN.

“In addition, ASEAN must not overlook the South China Sea issue, as the process of drafting

a Code of Conduct for the South China Sea between ASEAN and China nears completion.

“Myanmar’s political reconciliation process has also adversely affected the entire ASEAN Summit as Cambodia does not want to lose any of its members,” he said.

Mengdavid added that the ASEAN secretary-general would play a crucial role in coordinating the member states, providing technical assistance and promoting discussion of the ASEAN’s five-point consensus to address the crisis in Myanmar.

Ro Vannak, co-founder of the Cambodian Institute for Democracy (CID), told The Post on January 18 that it is customary for the ASEAN secretary-general to pay a courtesy call on the bloc’s chair to exchange courtesies and accept the agenda set by the chair. This means that Cambodia decided on the agenda and requested that the secretary-general coordinate the smooth running of ADMM.

“I think that Cambodia will request the ASEAN secretary-general, who already has the role of facilitator, to facilitate talks with other member countries on the crisis in Myanmar, the South China Sea and the Code of Conduct [for the South China Sea]. The issues are important and sensitive so we must use great care to solve them,” he said.