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ASEAN AS THE CORNERSTONE OF MALAYSIA'S FOREIGN POLICY
At the sub-regional level, increased efforts were made towards realising the benefits of the growth triangle concept such as the BIMP-EAGA. Such efforts would no doubt allow for prosperity to spread to the less developed areas, thereby, bringing meaning to the "prosper-thy-neighbour-policy".
At the regional level, Malaysia will continue to push for the strengthening of ASEAN as a regional grouping. This includes support for a whole range of functional co-operation on a sub-regional basis (like the ASEAN Mekong Development Co-operation) or on an ASEAN-wide basis, the phasing in of AFTA and the implementation of the ASEAN investment area.
Photo: Before the establishment of ASEAN, Malaysia was a member of the Association of South East Asia (ASA), formed on 31 July, 1961. The first meeting was held in Bangkok.
Consistent with Bali Concord I and II, our efforts would focus on creating an ASEAN Community by 2020 comprising three pillars namely the ASEAN Security Community, ASEAN Economic Community and ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community. We would continue to concentrate on enhancing the ASEAN mechanisms, the ASEAN+3, the ARF, bridging of the technological and developmental gap between the newer and older ASEAN members and settlement of disputes in the South China Sea through diplomacy and dialogue.
Since its establishment, ASEAN has developed and refined various mechanisms and arrangements to promote trade, investment and other collaborative activities. Much of ASEAN's attractiveness to the outside world is built on the economic success of its member states and their potential for greater growth. As ASEAN confronted the various challenges such as international terrorism, economic slowdown, in the face of current economic and financial crises, it is ASEAN's common effort that accounted for our success.
Photo: The ASEAN Heads of Government Meeting held in Kuala Lumpur from 4-5 August 1977.
Further, in the post - cold war situation which sees the emergence of competing regional economic groupings and uncertainty in the regional security environment, Malaysia believes that a strong and successful ASEAN is not only an economic necessity but also a strategic imperative. A prosperous, consolidated and stable ASEAN at peace with itself and with its immediate neighbours provide the best guarantee for the security of the entire Southeast Asia and East Asia region.
The expansion of the original ASEAN to include other South East Asian countries, have make an even bigger contribution to developing national resilience, promoting economic growth, enhancing regional co-operation and ensuring regional peace and security.
Malaysia believes that the existence of ASEAN has encouraged patterns of behaviour that reduce risks to security by enhancing bilateral relations as well as fostering habits of open dialogue on political and security matters including establishing confidence building measures. The dialogue through the ASEAN PMC process and ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), in which ASEAN functions as the core group, adequately serves the purpose.
ASEAN Summit - Thailand
Malaysia hopes that the early realisation of the Zone of Peace Freedom and Neutrality (ZOPFAN) including the Southeast Asian Nuclear Weapon Free Zone (SEANFWFZ) will help to further enhance regional security.
Notwithstanding criticisms made against ASEAN, it is clear that co¬operation within ASEAN is now firmly entrenched. ASEAN is not about to lose its dynamism, viability and relevance with the inclusion of new member states. On the contrary, increasing interest towards ASEAN and requests made for sectoral dialogue partnership by a number of Asian, African, and Latin American countries, reflect the high esteem accorded by them to ASEAN as a regional organisation.