KUALA LUMPUR, April 16, 2015:

Organisers of the Asean Peoples’ Forum (APF) 2015 expect over 1,400 participants to attend the annual civil society conference on April 21.

“We were overwhelmed by the response. We had to close registration as we had reached our limit,” said Jerald Joseph of Pusat Komas, who is co-chairman of APF 2015.

“It is going to be an incredible gathering of civil society organisations, activists, international agencies, and government representatives from across Southeast Asia. We are sure there will be plenty of constructive dialogue on the concerns of the Asean people.”

The organisers also said that former prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi would be delivering the keynote address. Maria Chin Abdullah, chairman of Bersih 2.0, who is part of the APF 2015 organising committee, said: “It’s very symbolic for Abdullah to speak this year. He actually helped organise the first Asean civil society conference in Malaysia, under his premiership in 2005.” “Hopefully he will share his thoughts on whether Asean has become more people-centred in the past 10 years, or not,” she added. In addition to the keynote address and other plenary sessions, participants will attend thematic sessions organised by Asean civil society organisations. More than 60 thematic sessions are being held during the conference. One such thematic session is a workshop organised by the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) and the Committee for Asian Women, titled “The Asean Economic Community: Benefits Who?”.

Gopal Krishnan, secretary-general of MTUC explained: “At the workshop, we will introduce and promote a framework for a more social Asean — one that is truly people-centred.”

Other thematic sessions include “Children Matter: Creating a community of CSOs in Asean for child rights”, “Strengthening Women’s Political Participation in Conflict/Post Conflict Situations in Asean”, “Refugees in Asean: Time to Respond Properly”, and many more. The APF 2015 will be held from April21 to April 24at Wisma MCA in Kuala Lumpur. The full programme of the APF 2015 can be viewed ataseanpeople.org.

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