14th ASEAN Forum on Migrant Labor to begin today

The ASEAN Forum on Migrant Labor (AFML) begins today in Brunei Darussalam. The Brunei government has chosen post-pandemic recovery as

ASEAN Laborers

Photo: Antara/Aswaddy Hamid

The ASEAN Forum on Migrant Labor (AFML) begins today in Brunei Darussalam.

The Brunei government has chosen post-pandemic recovery as the theme, including strategies for a recovering economy, and further protection for migrant workers—such as vaccine access.

Throughout 2020, Brunei experienced a case rate of virtually zero after strict restrictions were implemented early in the year. Although Brunei has the 4th highest vaccination rate amongst ASEAN members, it is currently experiencing a spike in infection rates, with the 7- day average exceeding 100 for the past month. Other ASEAN states have also been struggling with increasing cases and slow vaccine rollouts.

Brunei will likely take charge during this forum and speak about successful vaccine rollout strategies to stop the spread of Covid-19. After Brunei garnered negative media attention in 2019 for their treatment of LGBTQIA+ people, expect to see them take this opportunity to speak on their virus containment success.

Today’s forum serves as an opportunity for Brunei to build soft power through Covid-19 diplomacy and build regional cooperation to combat the pandemic. This forum, which does not include China, will build more unity amongst ASEAN states, allowing them to further counter growing Chinese influence in the region.

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