28th of August – Today is a rest day for delegates, after a hectic yesterday.
Someone asked what is the point of these conferences and resolutions. Fair question. The answer; it largely depends what efforts you put in yourself.
If you decide to attend a conference as a tourist, then you do nothing of value. If you come to engage, to fight for something, to network to change the world, then these conferences are invaluable.
As MPs, we champion your national and federal issues but when we go abroad, we change hats and represent Malaysia on policy and diplomacy.
My trips abroad are largely focused on three areas; (a) human rights (90% of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) are related), am also a member of ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR), (b) governance reforms (SDG 16) to learn and exchange policies; and (c) climate change (SDG 13).
For this specific AIPA meeting, I sponsored and got a carbon pricing/climate change resolution passed by legislators from all 10 ASEAN countries. With this passed, we can now use this resolution to influence our respective government ministers to take further action.
In the case of my resolution, to strongly persuade the ASEAN governments to jointly and severally take climate actions. Climate change is the most severe and immediate global problem we face now. YB Kashturi’s resolution enables her to push for greater protection of children from sex traffickers.
Can we compel the minister to carry out our resolutions? The short answer is, no, we can’t legally compel them. But these resolutions are very persuasive and represent the wishes of ASEAN Parliamentarians, so the ministers have to do something or come out with a strong justifiable excuse not to do something. It is almost the same political weight as a Public Accounts Committee recommendation.
On Thursday, I have side meetings for APHR where several MPs will discuss how to further improve human rights issues in the region. ASEAN is infamous for very unsatisfactory human rights records. So this is another very urgent matter, linked to governance and corruption.
Lastly, the Kingdom of Thailand has prepared a tour in the morning for us. However, YB Kashturi, YB Syed Ibrahim and I have to work after lunch, as we are representing Malaysia at the Joint Communique session. After that, we are to join the Malaysian delegation to have dinner at the Malaysian High Commission, to meet the Malaysian diaspora.