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Government urged to push religious harmony as ASEAN chair


2013-07-29 From:Myanmar Times, July 29, 2013    [Large Medium small]

Myanmar should prioritise religious acceptance and address climate change, labour relations, and health and education when it chairs the ASEAN bloc in 2014, a representative of the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community said in Yangon last week.

“Climate change leads to unpredictable hazards and we need to emphasise how to manage these disasters,” said Daw Nanda Hmun, Myanmar’s ASCC representative and director general of the Ministry of Culture’s Department of Historical Research.

She also said the issue of migrant workers needs to be addressed. “Some workers go and work abroad legally but others do not. We need to consider how to solve the possible difficulties created by illegal workers,” she told a forum in Yangon.

She stressed that ASEAN encompasses a huge diversity of religions and that all members need to work together to create harmony between different faiths.

“[Religious harmony] has become an important global issue and will be one of ASCC’s priorities in 2014,” Daw Nanda Hmun said.

ASCC is one of three pillars supporting the ASEAN Community, the others being the ASEAN Economic Community and the ASEAN Political-Security Community. ASCC describes itself as a people-oriented and socially responsible organisation that aims to achieve enduring solidarity and unity among the peoples and member states of ASEAN.

Daw Nanda Hmun said ASCC has a broad agenda for 2009-2015, including: human development; social welfare and protection; social justice and rights; ensuring environmental sustainability; building ASEAN identity; narrowing the development gap; and providing a framework to strengthen the ASEAN community’s belief in their peoples.

As a host Myanmar can propose priority issues for 2014.

“There are many things to do concerning socio-cultural issues,” she said. “We can’t handle all those issues at the same time, so we choose some priority topics for each year. Those priorities should be things that can be executed by the host country and related with regional issues. The host country proposes the priority issues for each year and a decision is made after consultation with the ASEAN Secretariat.”
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