Towards people-centred Asean Community


KOTA KINABALU: The government, during Malaysia’s chairmanship of Asean, endeavors to organise the various Asean meetings in different cities around the country.

“The intention is to serve at least three imperatives; the first of which is to introduce delegates to the many wonders Malaysia has to offer.

“Each city will have the opportunity to attract, impress and welcome you to the different attractions present in the individual states,” Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman said.

The second intent of the government in organising the Asean meetings across the country is to allow each state to feel that it too is part of the larger project of Malaysia’s chairmanship of Asean this year, he added.

Speaking at the welcoming dinner for the Asean Foreign Ministers’ meeting and retreat here last night, Musa said: “It intends to foster a sense of belonging to Asean and at the same time, the feeling that the chairmanship is being shared amongst all states.”

Connected to this is the third imperative – to bring Asean closer to the people. Malaysia’s overreaching theme of its chairmanship is to foster a ‘People-centred Asean’ and in line with this, and at every opportunity, Malaysia intends to involve the various segments of society in preparing for the various meetings, he stressed.

This, Musa pointed out, will include tapping the expertise of stakeholders, inviting their input and ideas as well as inviting every strata of the community to help organise, lead and ultimately celebrate in the formation of the Asean community by the end of the year. An Asean community that is people-centred will truly be ‘one Asean for all’.

“Here in Sabah, we view this with great optimism, as it will positively impact on the development of the state.

“Sabah’s economic development has seen rapid growth in recent years. This is proof that we are on the right track through our development agenda and other timely initiatives.

“However, the government must continuously strive to fulfill the aspirations of its people, who expect nothing less than the best from us. As Joseph E. Stiglitz, world-renowned economist and Nobel laureate once said: “Development is about transforming the lives of people, not just transforming economies.”

“It must pointed out that the Sabah government itself has one of the best forest management and conservation policies in Malaysia with the highest percentage of Totally Protected Areas (TPA) of forest in the country.

“We believe that progress should not come at a price and hence our approach towards development must be a balanced and sustainable one.

“To our foreign guests, since Sabah is the host for this most important event, I have to take this opportunity to sell Sabah directly to you.

“I hope you will be able to take some time off your busy schedules to visit our places of interest and Sabah’s natural wonders such as, among others, the majestic Mt. Kinabalu, Maliau Basin, also known as The Lost World and the world renowned Sipadan Island. If you don’t have the time to do so on this trip, do return another time,” Musa said.