Published: 04 October 2019
Honourable Chairperson, Union Minister for the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement of Myanmar, His Excellency, Dr Win Myat Aye
Excellencies from ASEAN Member States,
Secretary General of ASEAN, Dato’ Lim Jock Hoi
Ladies and Gentlemen,
A very good morning.
1. It is exactly a year since we last met in Putrajaya, Malaysia. On behalf of the Singapore delegation, I would like to express my appreciation to the Department of Disaster Management of Myanmar for the warm hospitality given to us, as well as the excellent organisation of this meeting. I would also like to thank Myanmar for organising the ASEAN Humanitarian Day event this morning to commemorate the ASEAN Day for Disaster Management (ADDM). The ADDM is an important platform, as it helps promote disaster awareness in ASEAN, build cooperation among stakeholders, and promote ASEAN’s efforts in disaster risk reduction.
Remembering the Communities Impacted by Disasters
2. Over the last 12 months, our region has been struck by numerous natural disasters. I would like to express my deepest condolences to the families who lost their loves ones in the two recent earthquakes that hit Maluku Province in Indonesia, and Davao Occidental Province in the Philippines. I would also like to extend my heartfelt sympathies to the communities that are also recovering from other natural disasters, such as Tropical Storm Podul and Tropical Depression Kajiki that hit several areas in the Philippines, Lao PDR and Thailand last month.
Climate Change, Resilience, and Recovery
3. While ASEAN remains susceptible to natural disasters, climate change has exacerbated the impact of disasters with devastating consequences. Our communities’ livelihoods are at stake with unusually prolonged periods of dry or wet weather, resulting in extreme droughts or floods. As erratic weather patterns become a norm, ASEAN has to enhance the resilience of our communities through initiatives that can minimise the impact of climate change and promote sustainable development.
Singapore’s Support for the ACDM, AADMER And OAOR Declaration
4. Since the ratification of the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER) in 2008, the collaboration between ASEAN Member States to enhance disaster management and response within the region has continued to grow in strength. On this front, the AHA Centre has played a key role as the coordinating agency driving the ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management’s (ACDM’s) regional initiatives, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts. Singapore appreciates the good work of the ACDM and the AHA Centre in enhancing regional resilience to disasters. Singapore will continue to contribute and support these initiatives and efforts as a member of the ACDM and the Governing Board of the AHA Centre. We also look forward to working with the AHA Centre on enhancing its ICT capabilities and harnessing new technology and digitalisation to transform ASEAN’s disaster management efforts.
5. We welcome the ASEAN Secretary General’s plan to bring the work of the ACDM in implementing the One ASEAN One Response (OAOR) Declaration to the attention of ASEAN Leaders at the upcoming 35th ASEAN Summit, scheduled on 2 November 2019. This would give due recognition to ACDM’s efforts and underline the importance of ASEAN Member States’ support towards the sustainability of the AHA Centre, its emergency response operations, and deployment of the ASEAN Emergency Response and Assessment Team (ASEAN-ERAT) in emergencies. The recognition would also bolster the ACDM’s and AHA Centre’s efforts to increase potential partnerships with ASEAN Dialogue Partners, private sector entities and other interested parties to continue supporting activities under the AADMER work programme.
Singapore’s Contributions In Enhancing Disaster Management Efforts in Asean
6. Developing regional capabilities and promoting thought leadership remain key to enhancing ASEAN’s disaster management efforts. Singapore will continue to support ASEAN through the hosting of two high-level flagship events supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation since 2018, namely the ASEAN Strategic Policy Dialogue on Disaster Management (SPDDM) and the Senior Executive Programme in Disaster Management (SEPDM).
7. The 5th SPDDM was held in Singapore on 21 August 2019, in conjunction with the World Humanitarian Day.The theme of the dialogue, ‘Building ASEAN’s Resiliency to Disasters’, explored the importance of partnerships to build resilience, and the impact of socio-economic development in enabling ASEAN to bounce back from disasters. We heard from several distinguished speakers on the impact of climate change, the importance of partnerships and of enabling the communities, and their views on the challenges that ASEAN has to address in order to enhance resilience. With good planning, determination, and close cooperation from stakeholders and partners, I am confident that the ACDM will continue to strengthen ASEAN’s resilience to disasters.
8. On this note, I would like to take the opportunity to invite the National Disaster Management Organisations from ASEAN Member States, the ASEAN Secretariat, and the AHA Centre, to nominate your leadership cadre to participate in the 5th edition of the ASEAN Senior Executive Programme in Disaster Management, which will take place in Singapore from 4 to 8 November 2019. As Singapore will be assuming the chairmanship of the UN International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) Asia-Pacific Region in 2020, the SEPDM has been specially curated to provide a global perspective of disaster management. In support of ASEAN’s vision of “One ASEAN One Response”, we will be extending an invitation to international counterparts from the wider Asia-Pacific region to enable diverse sharing of professional experiences, and facilitate stronger collaboration amongst disaster management leaders.
9. As part of its commitment to enhance regional capabilities, SCDF has been leaning forward to support their ASEAN counterparts’ efforts to secure accreditation. Having attained the UN INSARAG External Classification for a ‘Heavy’ Urban Search and Rescue Team since 2008, the SCDF has been sharing its expertise with its regional counterparts who wish to attain the classification. Besides mentoring Malaysia’s SMART Team who successfully attained the classification in 2016, SCDF is currently mentoring Indonesia’s BASARNAS team for their upcoming INSARAG Classification Exercise. I wish BASARNAS every success in attaining the INSARAG classification which will further strengthen the disaster response capability of Indonesia and ASEAN.
10. In November 2019, Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs will be organising the biennial Home Team Festival which will showcase the capabilities of Singapore’s Home Team agencies, such as new technological solutions to enhance policing and rescue capabilities for various emergencies. In conjunction with the Home Team Festival, SCDF has extended an invitation to our ASEAN counterparts to participate in the Singapore-Global Fire Fighters and Paramedics Challenge. These events provide an opportunity for ASEAN representatives to learn, and network and team up with other international participants. Through these events, we hope to not only foster camaraderie amongst participants but also enrich the development of ASEAN’s capabilities with diverse knowledge.
11. In conclusion, I would like to once again thank the ACDM for the excellent work done and applaud ASEANs’ cooperation in disaster preparedness and response. I look forward to even greater cooperation as One ASEAN Community for a safer home for all in ASEAN.
12. Thank you.