ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Thailand proposes former FM for top post
The meeting will officially open Monday with both Philippine Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo and President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo delivering speeches, as Thailand will propose Dr. Surin as the candidacy for the 12th ASEAN secretary general.
If successful, Dr. Surin will succeed Singapore's Ong Keng Yong who completes his term at the end of this year. Given a five-year term, the new ASEAN chief will assume the post from January 1, 2008 until the end of 2012.
Dr Surin Pitsuwan
Thai Foreign Minister Nitya Pibulsonggram was scheduled to leave Bangkok July 29 for Manila to attend a meeting with ASEAN counterparts on the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapons-Free Zone late in the day.
Philippine Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo has said earlier that ASEAN wanted to ensure that member countries pursuing nuclear energy programs did not allow the export of certain materials which could lead to the development of nuclear power other than for peaceful purposes.
Other major issues which Thailand plans to submit at the meeting -- which also marks the 40th anniversary of ASEAN -- are the setting up of an ASEAN human rights commission to serve as a mechanism to protect human rights within the region, and a plan to establish an ASEAN television which will serve as a center in exchanging news and information.
If Dr. Surin wins the contest, he will become second Thai to assume this position. The first Thai ASEAN Secretary General was Mr. Phan Wannamathee who served as ASEAN chief in 1984.
Dr. Surin earned a Ph.D. at Harvard University in the United States and lectured on political science subjects at Thammasat University before he entered the political arena, and became an MP of the southern province of Nakhon Si Thammarat. TNA