KUALA LUMPUR: The Leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) gather in the Malaysian capital this weekend for a landmark summit that will mark a new era for the region. Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak of Malaysia, Chair of ASEAN for 2015, will preside over the 27th ASEA
Summit beginning today where he and his fellow ASEAN Heads of State/Government are expected to announce the launch of the ASEAN Community and ASEAN’s vision beyond 2015.
During this Summit which takes place at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Center, the Leaders of ASEAN will also engage with the Heads of Government of China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, India, Australia, New Zealand, Russia and the United States.
One of the anticipated highlights in this summit is the declaration by ASEAN Leaders on the establishment of the ASEAN Community. This is considered a momentous milestone in ASEAN’s history since its founding in 1967.
The ASEAN Community is the realisation of the vision of the ASEAN Leaders for the regional grouping to build and achieve community status by 2015. According to the Secretary-General of ASEAN, H.E. Le Luong Minh, “through the collective will and strong commitment of all Member States, with the launch of the ASEAN Community, ASEAN will become a full-fledged politically cohesive, economically integrated, socially responsible Community.”
He added that “with a sense of belonging and identity among its citizens, the ASEAN Community has contributed significantly to the peace and stability in the region, towards greater regional prosperity that will ensure that all ASEAN peoples and the broader global community will have more opportunities and reap the benefits of ASEAN integration.”
Together with the launch of the ASEAN Community, the ASEAN Leaders will also issue the Kuala Lumpur Declaration on ASEAN 2015: Forging Ahead Together. This is ASEAN’s post-2015 vision which charts the path of the ASEAN Community in the next ten years. It articulates ASEAN’s goals and aspirations as the regional grouping enters the next phase of consolidation, further integration and stronger cohesiveness as a Community.
Meanwhile, 10 outstanding citizens/organisations from the region will receive the ASEAN Peoples’ Award to be given by the ASEAN Chair during the opening ceremony. Coming from each Member State, they will be recognised for their contributions to the ASEAN Community-building process.
ASEAN was established in 1967 by the five founding members, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Brunei Darussalam, Viet Nam, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Cambodia joined later. The Summit is ASEAN’s highest policy-making body.-BERNAMA