Kuala Lumpur–Developing a peaceful and stable environment for its economic and social development. Strengthening its internal working mechanism. Effective engagement with its external partners.This is the three-pronged approach offered byMalaysiato create a strong Asean that could effectively meet the challenges of the future.
“Our primary goals should be to transform Asean into a highly competitive region functioning as a single market and production base by building on the comparative advantages of each member,” Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak said at the opening of the 2nd Asean Leadership Forum on March 17.
On the issue of Asean’s security, he said the 10-member grouping was envisaged as a community where the members renounce the use of threat as a model of resolving disputes. He said it is time that Asean starts taking action along the lines proposed by the Asean Security Committee.
These include convening an annual meeting of Defence Ministers, establishing an Asean Arms Register and creating an Asean early warning system to prevent the escalation of regional conflicts.
There is also a need to strengthen Asean's internal working mechanism or the ambition to realise an Asean Community by 2020 could become an uphill drive.
Mr Najib said: “What we may need is a comprehensive overhaul of the institutional framework for Asean. Our aim should therefore be to devise an updated version of Asean that will operate on a basis of clear and transparent rules and work methods, with effective mechanisms for implementation, follow-up and enforcement decisions."
Asean should also continue to engage its external partners. The 10-member grouping must be able to make full use of the free trade agreements (FTA) which have been concluded withChina,IndiaandSouth Koreaand the comprehensive economic partnership withJapan, Mr Najib said.
* Three-Pronged Strategy For A Prosperous, Secure, Stable Asean (Bernama, March 17)