Malaysia can make Asean more dynamic

KUCHING: Malaysia has the vision and experience to lead Asean to play a more active and pivotal role in the world, especially when it assumes the chairmanship of Asean in 2015.

The current chair is Cambodia, and Brunei will take over next year.

Malaysia’s political and diplomatic weight could steer the regional grouping towards more achievements, said Dr Termsak Chalermpalanupap, senior fellow researcher (Political and Security Affairs) at the Institute of Southeast Asian, Singapore.

“Malaysia has the experience, and is also one of the founding members of Asean. It also has the vision to play a more active role in the world, which will guide Asean to play a more active role as well,” he told reporters after delivering his paper at the Asean Lecture Series here yesterday.

“Each nation is preoccupied with its own internal issues, but given the political stability of Malaysia, I look forward to it chairing Asean in 2015.”

Earlier, Termsak opined that 2015 would be a historic one for Malaysia not only because the country would chair Asean but also because it was expected to play a pivotal role in helping to figure out goals for the next decade.

He said the chair of Asean typically should actively promote and enhance the interests and well-being of the region as well as to foster closer ties with external partners.

Asean was established by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand on Aug 8, 1967.

Brunei joined in 1984, Vietnam in 1995, Laos and Myanmar (1997) and Cambodia (1999). Timor-Leste has also applied for membership.

Asean member states are building Asean Community based on the roadmap for 2009-2015, focusing on three pillars, namely political-security, economic-finance and socio-cultural.

They also aim at narrowing the development gaps, given severe poverty issues in certain parts of the region.

Termsak opined that community building was an on-going effort to enhance economic competitiveness of individual member states and that of Asean as a regional market and production base for global outreach.

Globally, he said, Asean’s population of 600 million made it the third largest in the world, after China and India.

He added that Asean registered a total land mass of 4.45 million square kilometres, the fifth largest, and boasts a combined GDP of US$2,176 billion.

In terms of world manufacturing competitiveness, he said China would continue to dominate the market until 2017.

“Based on the global CEO survey by Deloitte, Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia made it to the top 15 ranking of manufacturing competitiveness.

“Five years later, however, Vietnam and Indonesia are both projected to climb up, doing better than Malaysia and Thailand.”

He said he was pleased to note that Malaysia had inched up to 54 from 56 last year in the global Corruption Perception Index 2012 carried out by Transparency International.

“China is placed at 80, followed by Thailand (88), the Philippines (105), Indonesia (118), Vietnam (123), Cambodia (157), Laos (160) and Myanmar (172).

“I expect Myanmar to improve its ranking in the near future since the country has recently opened up its market and is now more business friendly.”

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