ASEAN is the cornerstone of Malaysian foreign policy. It is both of geo-political significance and economic relevance to Malaysia and also to the nations within this region. Its renunciation of the use of force and promotion of peaceful settlement of disputes has been the foundation to its peace, stability and prosperity in the region.
By 2015, an Asean Community will be established. The Community is premised on the three pillars of cooperation, namely the ASEAN Political-Security Community (APSC), the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) and the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC).
ASEAN is determined to accelerate the full implementation of the ASEAN Community’s programme areas, measures and principles, with appropriate flexibility and at the same time recognise the importance for ASEAN Member States to adopt a balanced approach towards achieving all three pillars of the ASEAN Community.
With its dedicated Plans of Actions and Protocols, ASEAN will move closer towards its goal of building the ASEAN Community, characterized by greater political and security interaction and engagement, a single market and production base, with free flow of goods, services, capital investment and skilled labour and a caring society, focusing on social development, education and human resources development, public health, culture and information, and environmental protection.
Photo: The Honourable Dato' Sri Mohd Najib Tun Haji Abdul Razak, Prime Minister of Malaysia attending the ASEAN - Republic of Korea Commorative Summit, in Jeju Island, Republic of Korea
ASEAN came out with the blueprints for the three community pillars, aimed to further strengthen cooperation and coordination among ASEAN Member States’ relevant sectoral bodies. The ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint was adopted by the ASEAN Leaders during the 13th ASEAN Summit in November 2007. Another two blueprints – the ASEAN Political-Security Community Blueprint and the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Blueprint have undergone their drafting processes and are set to be adopted by the ASEAN Leaders at the 14th ASEAN Summit in Thailand.
To adapt itself to a changing regional landscape and future challenges, ASEAN came out with the ASEAN Charter. With the Charter, ASEAN will undergo transformational changes to become a rules-based organisation with legal personality. It reiterates the common principles which bind all 10 ASEAN Member States i.e. rule of law, good governance, principles of democracy and constitutional government; shared commitment and collective responsibility in enhancing regional peace, security and prosperity; and enhanced consultations on matters affecting the common interest of ASEAN.
As a founding member of ASEAN, the foreign policy of Malaysia continues to emphasise on the relevance and importance of ASEAN as the forum and catalyst for regional dialogue. ASEAN Dialogue Partnerships, ASEAN Regional Forum, ASEAN Plus Three and East Asia Summit have allowed its members to engage leading powers on issues of global and regional importance.
Pursuant to making ASEAN a more effective, closely integrated, rules-based, and people-oriented regional organisation, ASEAN Member States decided to formulate an ASEAN Charter which they eventually signed at the 13th ASEAN Summit in Singapore. The ASEAN Charter will put in place a new legal and institutional framework for ASEAN to improve its implementation, coordination, and decision making process. The Charter has come into force on 15th December 2008.
In its foreign policy strategy, Malaysia will continue to actively reaffirm its commitment and work within ASEAN to achieve peace, security and prosperity in the region. Malaysia will also continue to work together with fellow ASEAN Member States towards the establishment of the ASEAN Community by 2015. On a broader scale, ASEAN will encourage closer relations with other regional groupings on issues of common concerns and mutual benefits.