In celebration of the International Day for Persons with Disabilities on December 3, the General Election Network for Disability Access (AGENDA) conducted a series of interviews on the launch of the ASEAN Enabling Masterplan 2025: Mainstreaming the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. AGENDA, a network of DPOs and election-focused CSOs in Southeast Asia, was founded by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) in 2011. The Enabling Masterplan, a regional policy document launched by ASEAN in December 2018, includes action points intended to be implemented by ASEAN sectoral bodies and member states by 2025. An English transcript of the interview with Dr. Seree Nonthasoot, Thai Representative to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) from 2013-18, is available below and has been edited for clarity.
Wong: I have here with me the person who mooted the idea from the very beginning, Dr. Seree Nonthasoot, representative of Thailand to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights. Dr. Seree, first, share with us, how do you feel and how do you intend to implement this Masterplan?
Dr. Seree: Thank you, Wong, and hi everyone. I feel elated at last that the Masterplan was adopted, but now we cannot be complacent, we must look forward to its effective implementation. And that’s why we are here to congratulate ourselves, everyone, the partners, the allies, who have made this possible. We didn’t imagine that it could reach the summit, but at the end, the commitment that we received from the top ASEAN leaders is actually fulfilling—not [just] for me, but I think for every person with disabilities in the ASEAN community. So right now, we need to deploy, we need to come up with strategies for its effective implementation.
Wong: Dr. Seree, you will be completing your term very soon, but I am sure you will not leave us. Moving forward, what will be the plan for the future and how will you encourage DPOs to fully participate in the effective implementation of this Masterplan?
Dr. Seree: I think there are two points I’d like to relate. One is that the Masterplan is owned by everyone. So, despite the fact that my term comes to an end at the end of this year, I am sure that because the Masterplan was co-drafted and co-opted by three bodies: AICHR, ACWC, and SOMSWD. And now, a second point is that, as the name suggests, it is called Enabling Masterplan for a purpose. It must be enabling in the sense that organizations of persons with disabilities must see the opportunity to enable themselves with the plan, to allow themselves to be an active partner of ASEAN. You need to knock on the doors of various sectoral bodies whose work pertains to the different action points to ask them the progress that they have achieved [and] the plan that they have done to pursue and to implement the Masterplan. And I think that this enabling factor must always be recognized and realized.
Wong: Thank you, Dr. Seree. I think as a person with a disability, words cannot express our gratitude to you for moving this forward. I hope we will work together and cooperate, and we will be able to be here in 2025 to see the success of this Masterplan. Thank you, Dr. Seree, for what you have done.
Dr. Seree: I will look forward to that. Thank you very much, Wong.