PUTRAJAYA (Bernama) – The realisation of the Asean Community 2015 and the development of an Asean Community’s Post-2015 Vision will be the two priorities for Malaysia as it assumes the chairmanship of Asean beginning today.
Director-general of the Asean-Malaysia National Secretariat at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Datuk Muhammad Shahrul Ikram Yaakob, said the two were among eight priority areas Malaysia hoped to achieve throughout its tenureship.
“As the Chair, Malaysia has immense responsibility in ensuring the implementation of the remaining action lines of the blueprints of all the three pillars – political-security, economic and socio-cultural, as well as how best to conclude the Roadmap for an Asean Community (2009-2015).
“We also look forward to steering discussion to outline the post-2015 vision which would serve as a guidance for the Asean Community to further prosper and grow with a higher sense of belonging as one community,” he told Bernama, here.
Malaysia, which assumes the Asean chairmanship from Myanmar, will hold the two-day 26th Asean Summit at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC) on April 26 and 27, this year.
The Asean Foreign Ministers’ Retreat, to be held at the Sutera Harbour Resort in Kota Kinabalu on Jan 27 to 28, will be the curtain raiser for the series of ministerial and related meetings under Malaysia’s Asean chairmanship in 2015.
Muhammad Shahrul Ikram said apart from the eight priorities, Malaysia was working on deliverables such as the Declaration on Combating Transnational Crime, Asean Agreement on Transfers of Prisoners and the establishment of an Asean Peacekeeping Battalion.
“Malaysia is also working on other deliverables including the Asean Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) Master Plan, Asean Declaration on Elderly Persons and Asean First Ladies’ Forum.”
He said Malaysia also placed great importance on the people during its chairmanship, where it would focus on people-centric activities.
“Greater awareness on Asean will be promoted to the public in Malaysia especially,” he said.
This is in line with Malaysia’s vision of creating a people-centred Asean and the county’s chairmanship theme, which is “Our People, Our Community, Our Vision”.
“Malaysia believes that the success of Asean as a whole requires greater and deeper involvement of all sectors of the societies in the region,” said Muhammad Shahrul Ikram.
“Thus, people from all walks of life regardless of age, profession and background have a role to play,” he added, noting that awareness on the importance of the Asean Community among Malaysians was limited to certain segments of the society.
He said a people-centred Asean would give more opportunities for people to interact for better governance, transparency, higher standard of living, sustainable development, strenghtening the role of women and creating bigger opportunities for all in Asean, expecially the youth, he said.
Formed on August 8, 1967 by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, the membership of Asean has expanded to include Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.