KUALA LUMPUR, May 31 – Malaysia will continue to maintain close and healthy relations with its neighbours and friends with whom it trades, connects and cooperates, in efforts to sustain a strong economy, says Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak. The prime minister said Malaysia was doing so regardless of political ideology of the country, while maintaining an independent, non-aligned and principled stance in regional and international affairs.
“Developing relations and economic partnership with other nations promotes peace, stability and prosperity for the people. That has been our approach – and we have seen the benefits,” he said in his keynote address at the 30th Asia Pacific Round Table here Monday night.
Citing Malaysia’s relations with Singapore, Najib said the resolution of the Points of Agreement in 2010 after 20 years of deadlock was a good example of how both countries had chosen to put a long-standing stumbling block behind to move forward in the spirit of mutual benefit.
He added that both countries were now looking at building a high speed railway between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, for which a memorandum of understanding was expected to be signed in July. In the Philippines, Najib said Malaysia had facilitated the negotiations to resolve Asia’s longest running insurgency, and it was looking forward to the final implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.
Last year, he said Malaysia had also worked with Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar and Bangladesh to address the issue of migrants at sea while Malaysia would also be accepting 3,000 Syrian migrants in the next two years. He said they will continue to assist in alleviating humanitarian crises near and far, just as they will continue to assist and lead efforts to counter radicalism and extremism.
“By being outward-looking, open to trade and cooperation, dedicated to moderation and tolerance, determined to battle the scourge of violent extremism, and firmly focused on the needs and aspirations of our people, this is how Asia-Pacific can strengthen our mutual security as we move towards the third decade of what many have called ‘the Asian century’,” he said.
On ASEAN, the prime minister said despite the series of challenges it faced, member states must strengthen their unity, solidarity and cohesiveness to ensure continued credibility and relevance of ASEAN centrality at a time when the geopolitical regional landscape was shifting across the cyber, land, sea and air domains.
He said while the ASEAN-centred regional architecture might help to ameliorate the unstated competition for dominance and influence, as smaller nations, ASEAN member states must manage relations with big powers effectively, while safeguarding their own national interests.
Noting the South China Sea issue, Najib said the developments in the maritime region had called for very careful handling by countries in the region and beyond. He said, within the context of ASEAN, they look forward to the expeditious conclusion of a meaningful Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.
“In the meantime, I urge all of us to recommit to the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea,” he said, adding that Malaysia would continue to rely on diplomacy and dialogue to peacefully resolving the disputes.