May 31, 2011
ISIS Malaysia celebrates its 25th Year of its founding and hosts the Annual Asia-Pacific Roundtable in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
May 30, 2011
Congratulations to Chairman, Tan Sri Mohamed Jawhar Hassan and its Chief Executive Dato’ Dr. Mahani Zainal Abidin on the occasion of the 25 Anniversary of ISIS Malaysia. I also wish to pay tribute to its founder Chairman, the late Tan Sri Dr. Noordin Sopiee, for his contributions to this premier think tank.
ISIS Malaysia as the organiser, and ASEAN-ISIS (a group of leading strategic studies institutes from across the ASEAN region) are playing host to HRH Raja Dr. Nazrin ibni Sultan Azlan Muhibbudin Shah, the Crown Prince of Perak, prominent scholars, researchers, diplomats, and policy makers of the Asia-Pacific Region (APR) from May 30-June 1, 2011 of the 25th APR Roundtable. This year, some 350 participants who are in Kuala Lumpur will hold fank and inclusive dialogue on topical issues of regional and international concern.
The Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, The Hon’ble Tan Sri Dato’ Muhyiddin Mohd. Yassin delivered his Keynote Address on “Reflections on Southeast Asia and the Broader Region”. Today’s luncheon talk was delivered by the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Indonesia, The Hon’ble Dr. Raden Mohammad MARTY Muliana Natalegawa, to be followed by the 25th APR Anniversary dinner speech by HE Dr Surin Pitsuwan, Secretary-General of ASEAN.
ZOPFAN: Creating habits of cooperation
Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister said that 2011 marks the 40th Anniversary of ASEAN’s Declaration of ZOPFAN (Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality). He finds its core principles relevant since it continues to reflect ASEAN’s approach towards the major powers. “The management of our relations with the major powers is one of the most important strategic challenges that we face today…The process of formulating ZOPFAN was crucial towards cultivating habits of cooperation between ASEAN member states. The fruits of that early instance of collaboration are now evident across multiple categories, as we move closer towards an ASEAN community”.
Peaceful Settlement of Disputes
Muhyiddin alluded in his Address to the present dispute between Thailand and Cambodia over the territory surrounding the ancient Preah Vihear as “rather challenging for ASEAN”. But thanks to the effort of the Indonesian Foreign Minister and in true spirit of ASEAN, both countries have agreed to refer the dispute to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and resolve their differences by peaceful means”. In this regard, the Malaysian Deputy Minister sought to remind his audience that:
“The peaceful resolution of conflicts is the bedrock of ASEAN as embodied in the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation(TAC) and urged ASEAN member states to uphold the spirit and letter of TAC .” We must remain vigilant and reaffirm our commitment to this tradition. If ASEAN member states do not take the TAC seriously. we should not expect the other signatories to do so”. He added, “We have a moral duty to lead by example and thereby binding signatories such as China, India, the European Union, Japan and the United States to their pledges on the non-use of forces in the settlement of disputes”.
Strategic Importance of China
Given the strategic importance of China to ASEAN and the world. Muhyiddin said that China “has proven to be a very good friend”. He goes on to say that: “For the good part of the new millennium, China has walked the talk of ‘peaceful development’ and has extended its hand of friendship to Southeast Asia. These are warmly reciprocated by the member states of ASEAN. China is now an integral part of regional cooperation and community building…I am indeed heartened that in the case of the South China Sea dispute, China has shown its willingness to work with ASEAN to formulate a Code of Conduct(COC)…There is no better affirmation of the strong ties between ASEAN and China than a peaceful and expeditious resolution to our overlapping claims in the South China Sea”.
Sixth East Asian Summit in Jakarta, Indonesia
The Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister made reference to the October Sixth East Asian Summit (EAS) in Jakarta where ASEAN will see the participation of the Presidents of Russia and United States, bringing the number of countries in the EAS to 18. However, he feels that Malaysia’s commitment to an open regional architecture for security “should not come at the expense of building an effective forum where participants can engage in meaningful dialogue…we need to keep the membership of EAS as lean as possible”.
Importance of ASEAN reaffirmed
Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin concluded his Keynote Address by reminding his audience that “Southeast Asia views its security as being intimately linked with the wider region. That is why we have sought to develop an extensive network of cooperation. And that is why we put such great store in the ASEAN Plus Three and the East Asia Summit. I am confident that ASEAN’s role at the centre of regional cooperation will continue to grow in importance, especially as the world’s strategic centre of gravity shifts towards Asia.”- Din Merican