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July 26, 2008

Asean Charter:
Indonesia, Thai parliaments to start work on ratification

Indonesia and Thailand, the two founding members of Asean, are finally getting ready to start parliamentary discussions on ratification of the Asean Charter while the Philippines, one of the three members of the 10-nation regional bloc which have yet to ratify the document, has not made any announcements so far.
In Indonesia, government will begin discussions on the Asean Charter with the House of Representatives (DPR) after House recess period, Antara news agency quoted a foreign ministry spokesman said.

"We are waiting until House members have come back from their recess," Teuku Faizasyah told the press when asked when Indonensia would ratify the Asean Charter signed by the leaders of Asean’s 10 member countries at their summit in Singapore on November 20, 2007.

He said the government had already submitted the text of the Asean Charter to the House for discussion and eventual ratification.

Former foreign minister Ali Alatas, a member of the Eminent Persons group that formulated the substance of the charter, said although there were still some weak points in the charter, the fact that it was adopted by the Asean heads of government was a step forward.

Thai government, meanwhile, is seeking parliamentary approval to ratify the Asean Charter as its first move after the country assumed chairmanship of the group on July 24. Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej said the proposal for approval would be placed once parliament convenes in August.

In July, Myanmar became the seventh member of Asean to ratify the Charter after Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Brunei.

The remaining three members are expected to have ratified the charter before the next Asean summit in Bangkok in December 2008. The charter can only be implemented after all Asean member countries have ratified it.

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