How has ASEAN helped Vietnam and vice-versa in this COVID-19 pandemic

The webinar addressed how Vietnam dealt with the pandemic as well as how the country has fared as the 2020 ASEAN chairman.

Meagan Goh
Meagan Goh

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Published: 17 December 2020, 5:51 PM

As this year’s ASEAN Chair, Vietnam has faced many challenges and difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

To help Singaporean youths understand more about Vietnam’s role in ASEAN handling the COVID-19 crisis, a webinar was conducted on Dec 12, organised by the National Youth Council (NYC) and Singapore Institute of International Affairs (SIIA). 

The webinar was the fourth in the Asia-Ready Webinar series. 


It was moderated by Miss Jessica Wau as well as two speakers from Vietnam, Dr Nguyen Tuan Anh and Miss Sylvia Nguyen. PHOTO CREDIT: NATIONAL YOUTH COUNCIL


These are some takeaways from the hour-long session:

1. Vietnam’s use of Social Media to tackle COVID-19

Sylvia Nguyen, CEO of Alphanam Real Estate JSC and board member of Alphanam Group, said the Vietnam government was swift when it came to the subject of handling COVID-19. 

“The [Vietnam] Government was extremely decisive throughout all of this time and every single big decision basically had only one-day notice for everyone.” she said. 

Above all initiatives, Ms Nguyen was most impressed with the Vietnam Government’s communication efforts. 

“The [Vietnam] Government actually took onto Facebook and other modern methods of communication to get the word out there and so everyday, people like us would connect and check Facebook to (stay updated) with the latest news,” she shared. 


An example of an official update by the Vietnam Government on Facebook. PHOTO CREDIT: FACEBOOK/@THONGTINCHINHPHU


She also mentioned that this helped to bring the Vietnam Government and its people closer. 

2. Vietnam’s role as ASEAN Chair

When discussing how Vietnam has fared this year as ASEAN Chair, both Ms Nguyen and Dr Nguyen Tuan Anh, head of social and economic affairs at the Institute for Southeast Asian studies at the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences (ISEAS-VASS) agreed that their country has made the effort to step up and be a bigger player. 

Dr Nguyen said that Vietnam acted cohesively and responded quickly to the pandemic. 

As a country, Vietnam has had slightly over 1,400 cases to date and less than 40 deaths.  


Dr Nguyen works closely with actors in government, the private sector, civil society and international organisations in Vietnam. PHOTO CREDIT: DR NGUYEN TUAN ANH


“Vietnam has been active in leading, acting and operating with partners to control and prevent the spread of COVID-19 as well as to minimise the social and economic impacts of the pandemic,” he shared. 

This suggests that partnerships and collaborations with neighbouring countries is crucial, especially in times like this. 

As for Ms Nguyen, she mentioned that she is extremely proud of her country for how far they’ve come. 

“After many years of slowly building up our economy, with the help of our friends, neighbours and many other countries, we’re finally at a position where we have a path for growth,” she said. 

However, she emphasised that Vietnam cannot do without the help of its neighbouring countries in the Southeast Asia region, which is why she envisions a future collaborative work force with shared resources. 

“ASEAN is the fourth largest export market of Vietnam and I think this can definitely grow more in the future. With the closeness of our geopolitics, we can relate and use each other’s resources to foster more sustainable growth and innovation,” she said.

3. The future of youths in ASEAN

When addressing how ASEAN youths can help and respond to create bigger impacts in the world, Ms Nguyen shared that it would be good for youths across ASEAN to have a shared platform so as to connect and share their knowledge, making the online and offline experience more seamless. 


As a youth herself, Sylvia Nguyen strongly believes in the involvement and engagement of youths when it comes to solving problems of our generation. PHOTO CREDIT: SYLVIA NGUYEN


Agreeing with Ms Nguyen’s point, Dr Nguyen went onto mention how digitalisation will help to open more doors for youths. 

“We are [now] moving towards a digital transformation and I think we can make use of this to be connected with the world. This will also open up many opportunities for the youths,” he said.

Last but not least, to encourage youths to be more interested in Vietnam, Ms Nguyen’s advice is to forget or take everything you see on YouTube with a pinch of salt. 

Instead, she suggests for youths to get on a plane and come experience Vietnam for themselves after travel restrictions are eased.

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