Audience, dinner for Asean EPG
By Kartika Rahman & P Marilyn

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday morning consented to receive in audience the Asean Eminent Persons, who are here to attend the Seventh Meeting of the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) on the Asean Charter from November 27-29.

The audience ceremony took place at the Istana Nurul Iman.

Present during the audience was HRH Prince Hj Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office and HRH Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, Brunei's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

In the evening, His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah and Her Royal Highness Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Zariah, hosted a dinner at the Balai Penghadapan, Bukit Kayangan for the Asean EPG.

Also present at the dinner were Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Masna, Ambassador-at-Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and YAM Pengiran Lela Cheteria Sahibun Najabah Pengiran Anak Haji Abdul Aziz.

The Asean EPG consist of Dr. Aun Porn Moniroth of Cambodia, Ali Alatas from Indonesia, Khamphan Simmalavong of Lao PDR, Tun Sri Musa Hitam and wife from Malaysia, Dr. Than Nyun of Myanmar, Fidel V. Ramos and wife from the Philippines, Professor S. Jayakumar from Singapore, Nguyen Manh Cam from Vietnam and a representative for Thailand's EPG member. Also attending the dinner was Mr Termsak Chalermpalanupap of the Asean Secretariat.

Meanwhile, representing Brunei Darussalam is Pehin Dato Lim Jock Seng, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade II.

The Asean EPG comprising the ten highly distinguished and well-respected citizens from Asean member countries will examine and provide recommendations on the direction of Asean and the nature of the Asean Charter.

The Charter will serve as a legal and institutional framework of Asean. Essentially, it will confer a legal personality to Asean and determine the functions, develop areas of competence of key Asean bodies and their relationship with one another in the overall Asean structure. It will codify all Asean norms, rules, and values and reaffirm that Asean agreements signed and other instruments adopted before the establishment of the Asean Charter shall continue to apply and be legally binding where appropriate.

The Asean Charter will transform Asean from being a loosely organised political association into a rules-based legal regime.

The EPG was established as Asean Leaders, meeting at the 11th Asean Summit in Kuala Lumpur on December 12, 2005, signed the Kuala Lumpur Declaration on the Establishment of the Charter. - Borneo Bulletin (29th Nov 2006)