Virtual ASEAN Summit kicks off against backdrop of COVID-19


THE 36th ASEAN Summit kicked off today, with leaders gathering virtually across 10 cities in the region for the first time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

ASEAN Chair for 2020, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, presided over the opening ceremony of the Summit in Hanoi, joined by other leaders back in their own countries.

The Malaysian delegation, led by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, joined the summit from Putrajaya.

Also part of the Malaysian delegation is Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein and International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali, as well as Secretary-General of the Foreign Ministry Datuk Seri Muhammad Shahrul Ikram Yaakob.

The opening ceremony in Hanoi, which was streamed live on Facebook among others, included traditional performance and the ASEAN anthem choir.

Xuan Phuc, in his opening remarks, welcomed the leaders to the Summit and highlighted the region’s positive results in COVID-19 management through the spirit of unity shown by member states.

“ASEAN has taken timely actions as a responsive and cohesive community. Our health emergencies’ response network and cooperation with partners were activated from the very first days. ASEAN countries have engaged in active information sharing in coordination and disease control.

“Thanks to the highest political commitment and cohesive comprehensive approach at the national and regional level, ASEAN as a whole has embodied the fortitude of an ignited cohesive group full of sharing and caring,” he said.

Founded in 1967, ASEAN comprises 10 countries – Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.