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Asean stresses peaceful resolution in resolving disputes: PM

KUALA LUMPUR: Asean stresses the importance of resolving disputes, like the overlapping claims in the South China Sea, through peaceful means.

In his speech at the opening of the 27th Asean Summit and Related Summit today, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said Asean should act as a group on the international stage to show its strength, rather than individual nations.

“That includes maintaining peace, security and stability in the South China Sea.

“We stress the importance of resolving disputes through peaceful means, in accordance with international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

We call on all parties to exercise self-restraint, and avoid actions that would complicate or escalate tension.”

A shared vision that transcends vast differences, forged over decades of effort towards unity and integration, will culminate in the establishment of the Asean Community tomorrow, said Najib.

Najib said the Asean Community would see the member nations forge ahead together and realise high ambitions enshrined in the blueprints.

“You are all here in Kuala Lumpur at a historic moment for our 10-nation association.

Today, we will formally declare the establishment of the Asean Community on Dec 31, marking the culmination of a decades-long effort to integrate, to cohere and to forge ahead together. He said it was a day Asean could be proud of.

“We have maintained high ambitions we set for ourselves in three community blueprints – economic, political-security and socio-cultural,” said Najib, speaking before his eight other counterparts and Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei at the Plenary Hall of the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.

The prime minister called on delegates to imagine what the 10 member nations would be without the establishment of Asean in 1967, reflecting on the monumental GDP growth to US$2.6 trillion (RM8.56 trillion) or a near 80 percent increase in seven years.

“We would not be what we are today without Asean. Asean has more than served its purpose and has been a great success,” said Najib.

He said Asean’s growth had been impressive and the region as was seen not only as integral to the global economic and security architecture, but also as a region of tremendous opportunity.

“As the CEO of a major international banking group put it earlier this year, “There’s a giant in Asia, shifting the tectonic plates of manufacturing, trade, services and the global economy.

Asean is the next horizon,” Najib said.

He said with over 240 million Muslims, 140 million Buddhists, 130 million Christians and millions of Hindus, Sikhs, Confucians and those of others religions, as well as numerous ethnicities, Asean had a diversity that encouraged the people of the region to work together to overcome differences.

The unity forged through Asean, Najib said, had steered the region away from “wars of separation that should emerge as natural consequences” as seen elsewhere.

He said Southeast Asia could have emulated the competition among developed nations, where the battle for wealth and primacy extended to a form of economic warfare.

“Instead, we did something remarkable. We chose another way. In 1967 our forefathers formed a new association that has grown to our 10 nations today and we have advanced and risen together the Asean way,” he said.

“We have stressed community and consensus-building over the excesses of individualism and the seeking of selfish objectives.

Non-violence over confrontation. Moderation over extremism.

Showing respect, not just to our friends, but also to our foes, for, we know there is no virtue in humiliation.

Peace-seeking and peace-building, instead of fanning the flames of conflict and war.”

Najib said Asean had been able to do that is not just due to the necessary political will.

It is because the values that I just mentioned are rooted deeply in the emotions and culture of our peoples.

“More than treaties and summits, they are what bind Asean together, and they are the foundation for our confidence in the path we are forging together.”-nst

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