1. Minister for Social and Family Development Mr Desmond Lee chaired the 20th Meeting of the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) Council on 3 October 2018 in Singapore. The ASCC is one of three ASEAN Community Councils – the other two being the ASEAN Political-Security Community (APSC) Council chaired by Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan and ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Council chaired by Minister for Trade and Industry Mr Chan Chun Sing.
2. The Council Meeting, hosted by Singapore, affirmed efforts to strengthen cooperation in areas such as health, poverty eradication, environment and disaster management, and called for all ASEAN Member States to advance efforts that will transform ASEAN’s landscape in the future such as promoting the work under the ASEAN Declaration on Culture of Prevention for a Peaceful, Inclusive, Resilient, Healthy and Harmonious Society.
3. ASCC Council Ministers also endorsed in-principle the following documents for Leaders’ adoption or notation at the 33rd ASEAN Summit in November 2018
• ASEAN Enabling Masterplan 2025 Mainstreaming the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
• ASEAN Joint Statement on Climate Change to the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
• ASEAN Joint Statement to the Fourteenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity
• ASEAN Plus Three Joint Statement on Cooperation Against Antimicrobial Resistance
• ASEAN Declaration on the Adoption of the ASEAN Youth in Climate Action and Disaster Resilience Day
• ASEAN Communication Master Plan II
• Core Values for Digital Literacy
• Framework to Minimise the Harmful Effects of Fake News
• Action Plan (2018-2025) to Implement the ASEAN Consensus on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers
• A Guide to Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) of the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Blueprint 2025
• ASCC Blueprint 2025 Results Framework Indicators
4. ASCC Council Ministers celebrated 10 years of the establishment of ASCC since the ratification of the ASEAN Charter in 2009. The Ministers stressed that it was important for all to respond as One ASEAN, deepen the sense of ASEAN connectedness and belonging and build a stronger ASEAN Community and identity. The Council Meeting recognised the need for institutional improvements and effective mechanisms to help the ASCC pillar and ASEAN address challenges and seize opportunities.
5. Minister Lee also chaired the 2nd ASCC Council Retreat prior to the Council Meeting, where ASCC Council Ministers provided strategic direction on the proposed ASEAN Enabling Masterplan 2025. ASCC Council Ministers provided guidance on 7 strategic areas under the ASCC pillar
(ii) Equitable and comprehensive quality health care for persons with disabilities
(iii) Enhance availability and accessibility to information for persons with disabilities
(iv) Promote universal access to quality education for persons with disabilities
(v) Equitable access to sustainable and built environment for persons with disabilities
(vi) Strengthen disaster management efforts to foster a more disability inclusive and disaster resilient environment
(vii) Promote skills-training for persons with disabilities amidst a competitive, innovative and dynamic economic landscape
6. The Masterplan includes key action points spanning the three Community pillars (APSC, AEC and ASCC) and had been developed in the last two years in consultation with the ASEAN Disability Forum representing Disabled People Organisations (DPOs) of all ASEAN Member States. When adopted, the Masterplan will be a milestone initiative towards realising a disability inclusive ASEAN Community by 2025.
7. On the occasion of Singapore’s ASEAN 2018 Chairmanship, Minister Lee affirmed that Singapore was keen to see the Masterplan implemented across the region to put in place seamless connectivity and accessibility for the benefit of all ASEAN citizens. He shared that domestically, Singapore has charted plans to support persons with disabilities under its own Enabling Masterplan, which was now in its third phase for the period of 2017-2021. Minister Lee said that Singapore could also learn from other ASEAN Member States’ disability landscape, and invited ASCC Council Ministers to explore joint collaborative projects and to visit Singapore to exchange views on disability planning for infrastructure, employment and social services.