H.E. Mr. Phongsavath BOUPHA
Minister and Head of President’s Office (2010-2015)
The 10thBali Democracy Forum: “Does Democracy Deliver?”
7-8 December 2017, Banten, the Republic of Indonesia
H.E. Mr. Fachir, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great honor and privilege for me to attend the 10th Bali Democracy Forum. On behalf of the Lao Government and People, I would like to express my appreciation for the warm welcome and generous hospitality accorded to our delegation.
Indonesia, the host country has put forward a good question for this Bali Democracy Forum X “Does Democracy Deliver?”. Furthermore, concerns about whether democratic systems can deliver for their population in terms of managing diversity, security, equity and social justice have been cited.
The Lao delegation shares the view expressed in the concept paper and reiterates the points of views made in previous forums by our Lao delegation that, democracy is universal value and norm based on free expressions by the people in determining their own political, economic, social, cultural systems and their full participation in all aspects of activities in their lives. There is neither single nor perfect model of democracy in the world, including Asia-Pacific region. Therefore, democratic governance is practiced in different ways in each country based on objective conditions and characteristics of respective countries and aspirations of the people.
The Lao PDR has just celebrated the 42 anniversary proclamation of its People’s Democratic Republic. Since then Laos has adopted people’s democracy which is one of many forms of democracy recognized worldwide. Over the past years, the Lao National Assembly and the Government as the central institutions for our democratic system have taken the lead role in delivering democracy in accordance with the real conditions of the country. In December 2015 the National Assembly approved, for the 2nd time in 24 years, the constitutional amendment in which public governance, including legislative, executive, judicial branches of power, and local administration were improved and shared. Among the notable changes include the establishment of local people’s councils with a view to empowering the people and enhancing their participation in public affairs, and limiting of terms of the President in office to not beyond two consecutive terms.
The Lao PDR is a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society and it is home to 49 ethnic groups living together, with diversity in cultural practices and religious beliefs. To cope with the diversity, national unity, rights and legitimate interests of all ethnic people are enshrined in the National Constitution, laws and other legal documents, in conformity with the obligations and commitments of the Lao PDR at the international and regional levels. The freedom of religion or belief has always been protected which has ensured all Lao people enjoy their rights to self-determination to believe or not to believe in any religion based on their preferences.
To promote effectiveness, transparency, accountability, equity and justice in governance and public administration, the Government attaches great significance to improving the judicial sector. Therefore, the Lao PDR has embraced the vision to be a state of the rule of law by 2020 in order to fully ensure equal rights of its peoples before the law and the court, due process of law and fair trial in accordance with local and international laws. The rights related to fair trial and the independence of the judiciary are enshrined in the justice system, especially in the Law on Criminal Procedure, Law on Civil Procedure, Law on People’s Courts, Law on People’s Prosecutor, Law on Lawyer, among others. In addition, the Lao Government takes into account to the prevention and combat against corruption through the implementation of the Law on Anti-corruption, and other related laws and legal documents, especially the Decree on Asset Declaration for Government Officials at all levels.
The Lao PDR has practiced participative democracy. Members of the National Assembly and Provincial Councils often conduct face-to-face meetings with grassroots leaders and local community in their respective constituencies. During the National Assembly’s Sessions, its daily activities are published in newspapers and broadcasted live on TV and radio in order to disseminate information. Several state bodies have widely launched their hotline operation to provide opportunities for the public to give feedback and recommendations regarding government performance, and to seek explanations from the relevant bodies. These new established mechanisms help to promote public participation in shaping and streamlining government policies.
The Lao National Commission for the Advancement of Women was established as a high-level body and a central institution to promote gender equality and eliminate discrimination against women. The newly-amended constitution mandates all state bodies to promote the advancement of women to ensure proportional and inclusive representation of women in all organs of the state-branches, including the government bureaucracy, army and police. As a result, women gained 41 seats of the 149 elected members in the 2016 election of the National Assembly’s 8th Legislature, accounting for 27.5% of the legislative body. With this note, I may say that the people’s democratic regime in Laos is strongly embraced and upheld by the people for it suits the specificity of the nation and fully serves the people’s interests.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We have recognized, however, that achievements of a successful democracy are not an easy task for any country. Despite achievements and continued progress, the Lao PDR still needs more time to develop the Constitution, Laws as well as strategies and policies of the Lao Government and Party to be systematic respected and implemented in a way that democracy can be effectively delivered based on international principles, in order to further promote socio-economic development in the Lao PDR. In this spirit, the invaluable perspectives, lessons and our experiences shared in this Forum are no doubt useful to deliver democracy.
In conclusion, I would like to take this auspicious opportunity to wish the 10th BDF great success and fruitful outcomes.
Thank you very much