| Nur Ashikin Abdul Aziz |
KOTA KINABALU (Bernama) – Malaysia is to share its eight priorities as the Chairman of Asean this year with other member countries during the Asean Foreign Ministers’ Retreat here today and tomorrow.
Disclosing this yesterday, Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman said that at the retreat, the ministers would also follow up on decisions taken by Asean Leaders at the 25th Asean Summit in Myanmar last year on Asean Community Building.
Besides this, the ministers will also focus on the Asean Community’s Post-2015 Vision.
“The retreat will also provide the opportunity for the Asean Foreign Ministers to exchange views on regional and international issues of common interest and concern,” Anifah told a press conference yesterday.
Anifah pointed out that during the 25th Asean Summit, the leaders, while welcoming the progress made in the implementation of the Roadmap for an Asean Community (2009-2015), also reiterated their commitment to expedite the remaining action lines by 2015 with a view to creating a politically cohesive, an economically integrated and socially responsible Asean Community.
Touching on the eight priorities that would be shared during the two-day retreat, he said that they will include formally establishing the Asean Community, as efforts would be directed towards completing the remaining action lines of the three Asean Community Blueprints.
Anifah said that Malaysia’s next priority was to develop the Asean Community’s Vision and its Attendant Documents, and this was expected to be ready for consideration by the Asean Coordinating Council (ACC) before being adopted by the Leaders at the 27th Asean Summit in Kuala Lumpur.
He added that Malaysia also wants to steer Asean closer to the people as the ultimate aim of the Asean Community must be to bring about positive change to the livelihood and well-being of its 625 million constituents.
“There is a need for greater engagement with the peoples and stakeholders in regional community-building process,” he said.
Malaysia’s fourth priority that would be shared during the retreat would be about strengthening the development of the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), which make up 97 per cent of the enterprises in the region.
He said that efforts must be made so that this segment of the industry will continue to prosper, even as regional integration placed SMEs under greater pressure to compete.
Anifah said Malaysia also had prioritised expanding intra-Asean trade and investment through cross-border investments and trade as, despite the upward trajectory of growth in this area for the last few years, there is still a lot of room for improvements.
As chairman, Malaysia also aims to strengthen Asean’s institutions and priority must be given towards implementing the HLTF (High Level Task Force) Recommendations on Strengthening the Asean Secretariat and Reviewing the Asean Organs, he said.
He noted that the other priorities also include promoting regional peace and security through moderation, as this could play an important role in addressing conflicts, and finding solutions to issues concerning regional peace and security.
Malaysia’s eighth priority was aimed at enhancing Asean’s role as a global player and, to do this, Asean should continue to be progressive and outward-looking while maintaining its centrality and exercising a more proactive role as the primary driving force in an open, transparent and inclusive regional architecture, he added.