| Hakim Hayat |
MINISTER of Foreign Affairs and Trade II, Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Dewa Dato Seri Setia Lim Jock Seng, highlighted the importance of close cooperation among the Asean+3 countries for the purpose of collectively building a sustainable future for the people of the East Asia region, in his speech at the opening of the 12th East Asia Forum yesterday.
The regional forum is being hosted by Brunei Darussalam for the first and is taking place at The Empire Hotel & Country Club.
The minister highlighted the challenges that they face as a grouping despite the close cooperation in the development of the region and the integration process between Asean member countries and their East Asian neighbours.
“This is because East Asia is also experiencing changes in its geo-strategic environment. We are nonetheless fortunate that we have a robust and comprehensive cooperation that has helped strengthen mutual trust and minimises any prospects of misunderstandings amongst neighbours.”
The minister further reiterated concerns on the growing challenges posed by cyber-security, terrorism, extremism, the onset of infectious diseases, disaster management and the impact of climate change.
“I believe that this forum has an important role to play in putting forward ideas to address non-traditional security challenges faced by this region.
“Our people’s best interests must be a priority. In Asean, as we strive to achieve our community by next year, work has also begun on our post-2015 goals. Asean leaders have reaffirmed their commitment to create an Asean that is people-centred.”
He also stressed the need to encourage more interactions and exchanges between the youth and the strengthening of people-to-people ties by creating more opportunities for them to meet through educational and cultural exchanges.
The minister also said that regional integration brings wide-ranging benefits to all peoples and communities, and enhances their quality of life through inclusive economic growth and equitable social progress, citing the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership as a part of the work.
Prior to the opening ceremony, the minister held a reception with the heads of delegations representing Asean+3 countries.
The theme of the 12th East Asia Forum is ‘Sustainable Growth: The Common Purpose towards a Peaceful, Prosperous and Environmentally-Responsible East Asia’. Participating nations include Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam, the Philippines, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Japan, Republic of Korea and China.