Honourable Chairman, Senior Minister in charge of Special Mission and First Vice President of the National Committee for Disaster Management, His Excellency Dr. Nhim Vanda,
His Excellency, Le Luong Minh. ASEAN Secretary General
Excellencies from fellow ASEAN Member States
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Over the past decade, we have experienced natural and man-made disasters that are more serious and frequent. In the past three years alone, the AHA Centre responded to no less than 15 disasters, affecting almost all of the ASEAN countries. The Philippines was hit the worst, seven times between 2012 to 2015, not including the most recent being Typhoon Melor which occurred this week, leaving many lives affected and property damaged. I would like to take this opportunity to express Singapore's deepest sympathy for this tragedy, which struck at a festive season as we are making preparations to welcome the new year.
2. Disaster strikes at any time. Therefore there is a need for capacity building in ASEAN Member States to better prepare for and respond effectively to disasters and to improve the lives and livelihood of the ASEAN people. In this regard, the ACDM, and in particular the AHA Centre in conjunction with each of our countries, needs to continue to play a critical role in facilitating coordination amongst our Member States in disaster response and relief within the region. It is clear that we need to work together.
Expressing Support For Developments in ASEAN
3. Singapore would like to commend the AHA Centre in playing a significant role in co-ordinating disaster response to several disasters since its establishment in 2011. The AHA Centre has also been instrumental in developing disaster management specialists in the ASEAN through the ASEAN-run ERAT courses and ACE Programme. Singapore also welcomes the commencement of work of the Joint Task Force and the Technical Working Group on Civil-Military Coordination to develop processes for the rapid deployment of resources from relevant ASEAN sectors as well as from other ASEAN-related mechanisms such as the EAS, ADMM Plus and ARF.
4. Your Excellencies, Singapore remains committed to contribute to the capacity building efforts of ASEAN Member States on disaster response and will continue to actively undertake activities under the AADMER Work Programme beyond 2015. Over the last 5 years, Singapore has worked with our counterparts on key initiatives such as the Disaster Emergency Logistic System for ASEAN or DELSA1, and the various phases of the AHA Centre ICT infrastructure development2. The DELSA project in particular has enabled the AHA Centre to increase its capacity to perform its tasks and deliver actual humanitarian responses on the ground to support the affected ASEAN countries through the deployment of relief items.
5. Singapore has also supported AADMER capability development efforts under the Training and Knowledge Management Working Group such as in establishing the ASEAN Disaster Management Training Institutes Network (ADTRAIN) and by conducting the first Senior Executive Programme on Leadership in Disaster Management which was held in Singapore from 16 to 20 Nov 2015.
6. This Senior Executive Programme, to be held annually in Singapore, will complement the ACE Programme by bringing together current and future policy makers to cultivate common consensus and thinking on disaster management among ASEAN Member States for transnational interoperability. In addition, the programme also aims to develop thought leadership and nurture the planning capacities of senior leadership in disaster management in the region, both at the strategic and policy levels. It would also serve as an opportune platform for the existing and future leaders in ASEAN's Disaster Management fraternity to cultivate relationships and share invaluable experiences and perspectives in managing disasters.
7. Singapore also hosted the inaugural ASEAN Strategic Policy Dialogue on 2nd November 2015, which saw an insightful panel discussion by the ASEAN Secretary General, His Excellency Le Luong Minh, together with two former ASEAN Secretary Generals, namely His Excellency Surin Pitsuwan and His Excellency Ong Keng Yong. The policy dialogue also saw the ACDM national focal points coming together for fruitful discussions on the policies and strategies for the post-2015 AADMER Work Programme, culminating in the AADMER Vision 2025. I understand that the ACDM will share on the outcome of this dialogue later at this meeting.
8. Singapore plans to make the ASEAN Strategic Policy Dialogue an annual event to further elevate this policy dialogue to international standards. It will be organised by the Leadership Centre for Disaster Management which the Singapore Civil Defence Force is setting up to develop thought leadership and groom future leaders involved in disaster management in ASEAN, the Asia Pacific region and beyond.
9. Besides engaging the academia such as the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), international keynote speakers, academics and practitioners will be invited for the event to provide global perspectives and best practices in the area of disaster management. This would further strengthen ASEAN's strategies in achieving the AADMER Vision 2025.
10. Your Excellencies, in conclusion, I would like to congratulate both the ACDM and the AHA Centre on their excellent work towards driving the regional disaster management efforts under AADMER and in promoting ASEAN centrality in the realm of Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief in the region. We need to continue to work together as One ASEAN Community, so that we can make the region a better prepared and resilient safer home for all. Thank you.
1 The Disaster Emergency Logistic System for ASEAN for DELSA was officially launched on 7 December 2012 under the Preparedness and Response Working Group which SCDF co-chairs with Malaysia.
2 The AHA centre ICT infrastructure development is under the ICT Working Group in which SCDF is the Lead Shepherd.