KUALA LUMPUR: The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) remains a global vital inter-government organisation even after 56 years of its establishment, says Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir.
Zambry said he wanted all 10 Asean member states to maintain their close cooperation in the interest of the region.
“As you all know, the position of Asean now is quite important amid the current geopolitical situation.
“Malaysia hopes all member states will go from strength to strength to solidify our foundation.
“As it is now, Asean remains very intact and it has become one of the most important regional associations in the world.
“With its global convening power, Asean is fast becoming a force to be reckoned with. All in the name of peace, stability and prosperity,” said Zambry at the 56th Asean Day celebration today.
The celebration themed “Promoting Regional Sustainable Growth” was held at the International Islamic University Malaysia here, today.
Present were deputy foreign minister Datuk Mohamad Alamin and former Asean secretary-general Tan Sri Ajit Singh.
To mark the occasion, Zambry and representatives of Asean member states planted a tree at the Asean Sejahtera Garden to symbolise the higher growth of the Asean spirit.
Asean is a dynamic region, according to Zambry, so occurrences of conflict are inevitable.
However, he was confident that it could be resolved if all Asean member states endured the challenges.
“It is most important that Asean member states, as well as Asean nations, remain steadfast to maintain peace and stability in our region,” he said.
On Aug 8,1967, five founding nations, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand converged in Bangkok to sign the Asean Declaration to mark its camaraderie which laid the foundation of Asean.
Malaysia was represented by Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, the country’s then deputy prime minister.
Brunei Darussalam joined Asean in 1984, Vietnam in 1995, Laos and Myanmar in 1997 and Cambodia in 1999.
Zambry said Asean initially served to enhance the security of member countries amid contending ideologies but evolved into a robust regional grouping focused on multifaceted cooperation.
He said Asean today faced challenges such as major power competition, economic uncertainties, development gaps, degradation of resources and existential threats of climate change.
“Asean has chosen to increase efforts to ensure that this region remains peaceful, stable, secure as well as prosperous by promoting regional growth that is inclusive, resilient and sustainable.
“In line with Asean’s efforts, Malaysia has identified green growth as our strategy to implement the sustainable development goals and address climate change.
“It includes other environmental challenges to support global peace, security, prosperity and sustainable development especially on the aspect of a circular economy,” he said.
Zambry said Asean must ensure that its growth narrative centred on the sustainability, inclusivity and shared prosperity principles.
“Our growth should not just be a story of economic success but also of cultural preservation, environmental protection and social justice,” he said, describing Asean as more than meets the eye and must be resolute in harnessing its fullest potential.
Malaysia would again helm the leadership of Asean in 2025, he said, aimed at realising an Asean Community that was politically cohesive, economically integrated and socially responsible.
Source: New Straits Times