KOTA KINABALU – Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman said Malaysia has identified eight priorities to be achieved as chairman of ASEAN this year.
Speaking during a press conference at Le Meridien Hotel here today, he said, among the priority was the establishment of the ASEAN Community, to develop and strengthen small and medium enterprises sector in the region.
“A historic milestone for ASEAN will be the realisation of the ASEAN Community by the end of this year,” he said, adding that the Community was originally envisioned by the Leaders to be established in year 2020.
Anifah said that the Leaders agreed on a shared vision of ASEAN as a concert of Southeast Asian nations, outward looking, living in peace, stability and prosperity, bonded together in partnership in dynamic development and in a community of caring societies.
According to him, at the Ninth ASEAN Summit in 2003, the Leaders resolved that an ASEAN Community shall be established. However during the twelfth ASEAN Summit in Cebu, the Leaders decided to accelerate the regional integration to 2015.
“One of the main reasons for this decision was to reinforce ASEAN’s centrality and to ensure that ASEAN remains as the driving force in the continuously evolving regional architecture,” he said.
The ASEAN Community also would entail a deeper and wider regional integration that would enable ASEAN to compete more effectively and ensure its leadership role in the evolving regional.
“This means the inclusion and active involvement of all sectors in ASEAN in this endeavour. The integration would also lead to higher standards of living and swifter social progress for ASEAN peoples,” he added.
For example, Anifah said that, better access to healthcare as well as basic and advance education, to ensure that Southeast Asia remains not only economically vibrant and competitive but also the quality of life of its peoples is enriched.
Meanwhile, Anifah held a meeting with his counterparts from Indonesia Retno Marsudi which discusses bilateral relations and regional issues of mutual interest, as well as to strengthen existing cooperation between the two countries in various fields.
Retno, accompanied by Indonesian Ambassador to Malaysia, Herman Prayitno and senior officials of the country, are in a two-day official visit to Malaysia, before attending the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Retreat 2015 here starting tomorrow until Wednesday.
ASEAN comprises Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. – by Nuzir Andi Samsiar / sayangsabah