Thursday, October 28, 2010

17th ASEAN SUMMIT - 28 October 2010


The 17th ASEAN Summit, the last one hosted by Viet Nam, opened today to the harmony of the ASEAN Anthem soaring in the National Convention Center in Hanoi.

In his opening statement, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung reminded ASEAN “to further bring into full play its unique role as an important factor to link and harmonise various interest groups in the region”. He also highlighted the region’s position as a hub that connects existing cooperation arrangements and frameworks.

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung also evaluated ASEAN’s recent steps forward, particularly those taken during Viet Nam’s Chairmanship of ASEAN in 2010, which will be handed over to Indonesia during Saturday’s closing ceremony.

With the smooth operationalisation of the new ASEAN organs and finalisation of related legal documents, “the ASEAN Charter has been brought to life,” the Prime Minister concluded.

At the 17th ASEAN Summit’s Leaders Retreat which followed, the Leaders of ASEAN took stock of the implementation of ASEAN agreements. They also adopted the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity, which will better connect the region in the dimensions of physical, institutional and people-to-people.

At the Related Summits, the Leaders will meet their counterparts from the Dialogue Partners to review and set out future directions for enhanced cooperation. The Member States will further reaffirm ASEAN’s centrality in the evolving regional architecture during the East Asia Summit tomorrow. The ASEAN Leaders are also expected to formalise the participation of Russia and the United States in the ASEAN-initiated mechanism.

Earlier, at a signing ceremony this morning, the ASEAN Economic Ministers agreed to amend two previously-signed protocols.

The Eighth Package of Commitments under the ASEAN Framework Agreement on Services (AFAS 8) seals the Member States’ commitment to liberalise an additional 15 services subsectors and increase the foreign investors’ equity in the prescribed 80 subsectors.

In addition, in line with ATIGA’s replacing of the Common Effective Preferential Tariff (CEPT) on 17 May this year, the Ministers also agreed to amend the “Protocol to Provide Special Consideration for Rice and Sugar” to extend the waiver for Member States to implement their original commitments for rice and sugar by another year.

Prior to the signing ceremony, a meeting was convened for the ASEAN Economic Community Council Ministers. The Council coordinates the work of the sectors under its purview. The meeting was chaired by the Minister of Trade and Industry of Viet Nam, Vu Huy Hoang.


Statement of Senator Webb on Conviction of Vietnamese Democracy Activists

Press Releases
Statement of Senator Webb on Conviction of Vietnamese Democracy Activists

January 27, 2010

Washington, DC– U.S. Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) today issued the following statement in response to the conviction of Vietnamese democracy activists under charges of state subversion. Senator Webb serves as chairman of the East Asia and Pacific Affairs Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“I am concerned by the Government of Vietnam’s sentencing of Le Cong Dinh, Nguyen Tien Trung, Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, and Le Thang Long under charges of state subversion. The arrest and trial of these individuals illustrates the growing pressure in Asia towards government censorship and authoritarian control. The emergence of this trend underscores the need for the United States to demonstrate through our words and deeds the benefits that can be gained from a free society.

“Moreover, these trials underscore the need for high-level engagement with the Government of Vietnam on human rights issues. Rather than isolate Vietnam for its actions, I encourage the Obama Administration to continue to raise issues of freedom of association and rule of law with the Government of Vietnam, and consistently advocate for the protection of internationally-recognized individual rights.”



Fresh round of arrests as Party Congress nears

(HRW, CPJ, AI, & RFA) As heads of states descend on Hanoi for the East Asiabloggers Summit this weekend, leaders will be met with news of arrests of bloggers, political advocates, and labor activists. Dieu Cay, a blogger imprisoned for 2.5 years on trumped up charges of tax evasion, was to be released on October 20 yet was held back on new charges of "propaganda against the state."

On October 18, police arrested Phan Thanh Hai, a blogger who writes under the name Anh Ba Saigon (Saigon Brother Three), after raiding his home in Saigon.

As a new wave of media suppression hits Vietnam, three labor rights activists were brought to trial on October 26 and handed down harsh sentences, ranging from seven to nine years in jail.
On The Hill

Members of Congress press Secretary Clinton on human rights in Vietnam

(U.S. Congress) Ahead of Secretary Clinton's trip to Hanoi for the East Asia Summit, Senator Barbara Boxer and four members of the House of Representatives, led by Rep. Loretta Sanchez, urged the Obama Administration to get tough on the Vietnamese government's continued human rights abuses.

Source: Viet Tan newsletter

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