Friday, September 18, 2015


Jakarta, Sept 18, 2015 (Antara) - Some 60 mayors from ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) member countries participated in the ASEAN Mayors Forum (AMF) and City Expo 2015.
        The forum was based on the theme, "Adaptive and Intelligent Cities for an Integrated Borderless Prosperous Region," and was jointly organized by the United Cities and Local Governments of Asia-Pacific (UCLG ASPAC), the Committee of Permanent Representatives of ASEAN, and the City of Makassar, which is also the host. The event was held from September 8 to 10.
        In a declaration issued on the last day of the meeting in Makassar, the mayors affirmed that local governments played an important role in ASEAN, particularly in building a stronger ASEAN Community.
        They urged ASEAN to reach out to local governments, to assess their needs and to support them through necessary actions that would help achieve solutions for the region's common problems.
        For this purpose, they call upon on the regional group to strengthen the ASEAN Secretariat for dealing with local government issues, and to create a specific unit to coordinate regional action.

        "Overall, we agree to focus on the opportunities the ASEAN Community presents to us all, and to turn challenges into opportunities that will be able to transform the ASEAN society," the mayors stated during the recommendation.
        The AMF also issued five recommendations among other things, to support the ASEAN community's effort to promote the welfare of the ASEAN people.
        "The local government has certainly raised awareness about the ASEAN community vis-a-vis the construction of infrastructure and human resource development, especially in view of the AEC," the Secretary General of UCLG-ASPAC, Bernadia Irawati Tjandradewi, said on September 9.
        "This meeting is aimed at generating investment cooperation, developing human resources and cities, as well as other shared goals for mutual benefit," she stated.    
   Furthermore, she hailed the presence of ambassadors from the Philippines, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and other ASEAN member countries at the meeting to hear the local governments' aspirations and needs with regards to development.
        "We wish ASEAN is more active in its involvement with local governments. So far, they have only dealt with the central government. We hope local governments can also express their aspirations and share their views with regards to development in the ASEAN region," Tjandradewi noted.
        She further said that development efforts will be more effective if they involve local governments because it is the local governments that deal directly with the people, for instance, in the case of a natural disaster and that way they need not complain to the central government.
        Another recommendation issued at the forum was a need for the establishment of an ASEAN Mayors Network Secretariat.
        "The delegations agreed to establish the ASEAN Mayors Secretariat for encouraging communication and developing investment. Makassar is ready to become the first secretariat," the Mayor of Makassar, Moh Ramdhan Pomanto, said on September 9.   
   The establishment of the ASEAN Mayors secretariat is very appropriate considering that the AMF will continue to take place every year and become a venue for the meeting of mayors or administration heads throughout the ASEAN region.
        According to him, the secretariat will be a networked information center in ASEAN, and will deal with regulation with regards to the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) 2015.
        The other recommendations include strengthening the government in developing countries, promoting the concept of a Smart City and the establishment of the ASEAN University.
        Makasar's Smart City Program and Sombere (local wisdom) was also discussed during the 2015 AMF.
        The Smart City concept, a development concept proposed for Makasar, is a combination of local wisdom `Sombere' clubbed with the internet-based technology implementation, said Ramdhan Pomanto.
        In general, the mayors expressed their strong belief that aligning local development strategies with the development of ASEAN would bring economic dynamism, government efficiency, and positive social, cultural, and environmental change.
        To realize that objective, local governments need to meet the standards of ASEAN, not only for the economic community, but to include pillars of political security by highlighting good governance, upholding human rights, strengthening cooperation on key political issues; and focusing on socio-cultural issues of human development, women, youth and children, the elderly and persons with disabilities, indigenous people for better social justice and environmental sustainability, as enshrined in the ASEAN Community's blueprint.
        The mayors also outlined four key elements for realizing local governments' vision as part of ASEAN, namely people-empowerment, an integrated and inclusive approach, being responsive and forward-looking, and heritage preservation.
        The discussion was also attended by international speakers from Thailand, New Zealand, and the Philippines and from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).   
   Makassar was chosen as the venue for the meeting in view of its economic growth rate of over 9 percent, which outpaces other cities in Indonesia. ***4***

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