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Vietnam’s successful handling of Covid-19 enhances role in ASEAN: Carl Thayer
Linh Pham 12:41, 2020/06/30
The Vietnam expert said other ASEAN members can look to Vietnam’s experience in containing the novel coronavirus.

Vietnam has widely been praised for its success in fighting Covid-19 and the results have contributed to its position as ASEAN Chair, according to Emeritus Professor Carl Thayer of the University of New South Wales, Canberra.

 Emeritus professor Carl Thayer, the University of New South Wales, Canberra (UNSW Canberra). Photo: RFA

“Vietnam’s success in containing Covid-19 enhances the credibility of Vietnam’s leadership role as ASEAN Chair in the regional fight against the coronavirus,” the professor said in a recent Thayer Consultancy Background Brief.

“Other ASEAN members that are struggling against the coronavirus can look to Vietnam’s experience as they work together to devise a regional response. Vietnam’s success in the fight against the coronavirus is also reassuring ASEAN members that Vietnam can devote the time and energy needed as ASEAN Chair to address how ASEAN members can plan their recovery,” he added.

Vietnam said that Covid-19 has proven that Vietnam’s theme of ‘Cohesive and Responsive’ is best suited to the current situation. Indeed, the country’s performance during the pandemic, including Hanoi’s response to the coronavirus outbreaks has made the way it leads the region’s efforts.

According to the professor, the outbreak of Covid-19 was unexpected and it upended ASEAN’s advance planning to deal with a range of issues, such as community building. Under Vietnam’s leadership, videoconferencing was introduced to bring ASEAN leaders together to agree on common policies.

“For example, under Vietnam’s chairmanship, a videoconference of ASEAN health ministers was held in April. Vietnam was also quick to organize a videoconference of the ASEAN Plus Three – China, Japan and South Korea to obtain external assistance to fight the coronavirus,” Mr. Thayer said.

 Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc at a regional meeting on Covid-19. Photo: Reuters

Vietnam postponed the 36th Annual Summit and convened a Special ASEAN Summit on the Coronavirus Disease by videoconference. This was an important initial step in securing consensus on the way forward by setting up a Covid-19 Fund to purchase and share medical supplies and support.

At the 36th ASEAN Summit, leaders emphasized the importance of undertaking responsive and timely measures to address the impact of the pandemic on vulnerable sectors, including women, children, youth, the elderly, and persons with disabilities.

 Infections and deaths by Covid-19 in ASEAN member states as of June 30. Source: Johns Hopkins University. Chart: Linh Pham

The bloc agreed to intensify efforts in safeguarding public goods such as health, education, and human security; create systemic changes to policy frameworks, as necessary, to reduce inequality and provide equitable access to opportunities for all, especially vulnerable and marginalized groups, including children, women, people with disabilities, elderly people and migrant workers, in accordance with domestic laws and international obligations, stated in the ASEAN Leaders’ Vision Statement.

Enhance regional platforms to promote equitable opportunities, participation and effective engagement of women, children, youth, the elderly/older persons, persons with disabilities, people living in remote and border areas, and vulnerable groups in the development and implementation of ASEAN policies and programs, read the statement.

Covid-19 has swept all ASEAN member states with Indonesia confirmed the highest number of infections, 55,092 and 2,805 deaths, followed by Singapore with 43,661 and 26 deaths, the Philippines with 36,438 and 1,255.

Meanwhile, Vietnam has confirmed 355 cases and zero deaths. As of June 30, the country has passed 75 days without local transmission.

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