Today YB Dato’ Seri Hishammuddin Tun  Hussein, Minister of Foreign Affairs, participated in the  ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Retreat (AMM  Retreat) via video conference. The Retreat was chaired by The Honorable Dato Seri Setia Haji Erywan  bin Pehin Datu Pekerma Jaya Haji Mohd. Yusof, Minister of Foreign Affairs II for Brunei Darussalam with the participation of all 10 ASEAN Foreign Ministers and the Secretary- General of ASEAN.


In YB  Dato’ Seri  Hishammuddin Tun Hussein’s intervention during the AMM Retreat,  the Foreign Minister stressed the urgency to follow-up on the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework, first proposed by YAB  Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin   in  April last year, to boost the region’s economic recovery while continuing to do  our best to  protect and preserve life. The Foreign Minister also highlighted that ASEAN must improve greatly on cross-pillar and cross-sectoral coordination by breaking down the bureaucratic barrier, to ensure our people receive the most efficient possible assistance required during these trying times.


The Foreign Minister also concurred with the Chair’s proposal to formulate and expedite access to the ASEAN COVID-19 Response Fund as soon as possible to assist Member States with vaccine procurement and rollout plans, highlighting a collective regional approach to vaccination. Furthermore, the Foreign Minister emphasized the importance of articulating ASEAN’s efforts for an ASEAN Travel Corridor which underlines inter-regional travel as the core of our efforts to revitalise our economies.


The Foreign Minister also thanked all the ASEAN Member States for the consensus to endorse Malaysia as ASEAN’s Candidate for the United Nations Human Rights Council for the term 2022-2024. The Human Rights Council (HRC) embodies the spirit of multilateralism, which Malaysia continues to advocate and as a member of the HRC, Malaysia will work closely with all actors to drive progress on human rights at home and globally.


During the AMM Retreat, Malaysia reaffirmed our fullest support  and  cooperation to  take forward Brunei Darussalam’s agenda and key priorities under the Chair’s theme “We Care, We Prepare, We Prosper”; highlighting the key focus  areas  of  Mental  Health, Youth in Peace and Security and Multilateralism for ASEAN in 2021.


The Foreign Minister underscored that while there has been ample discussion on the economic fallout from this global pandemic, the toll it takes on our collective mental health is harder to quantify. He also added that ASEAN must recognise and highlight that mental health troubles are a natural reaction to the pandemic and our Governments must be ready to address this. As Malaysia is Country Coordinator for ASEAN-Australia relations, the Foreign Minister proposed that ASEAN works together with Australia on mental health programmes for our people affected by Covid-19.


On the focus area of Youth in Peace and Security, the Foreign Minister stated that the Southeast Asia Regional Centre for Counter Terrorism (SEARCCT) is ready to collaborate with ASEAN in promoting the role of youth in our regional future by examining the factors that push youths into terrorism, and strategies to counter the rhetoric propagated by violent extremist groups. The Foreign Minister also stated he will work closely with the Minister of Youth & Sports, YB Dato' Sri Reezal Merican on this matter.


During the exchange of views on regional and international issues, the Foreign Minister welcomed the positive developments on the situation in the Rakhine State, as briefed by His Excellency U Kyaw Tin, Union Minister for International Cooperation of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, specifically on the tripartite efforts of Bangladesh, Myanmar and China on the repatriation of displaced persons from Rakhine State in Bangladesh. This positive, much awaited development would certainly alleviate the situation in Rakhine State, Myanmar and Bangladesh, and provide the refugees with the opportunity to return. The Foreign Minister also conveyed Malaysia’s appreciation on the effective mediation role by China in the tripartite process and their offer to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to the Rohingya people in the first phase of repatriation. In this regard, the Foreign Minister offered Malaysia’s support to work closely with the tripartite process in finding a lasting solution this crisis, especially concerning the Rohingya refugees in Malaysia.


The Foreign Minister also took the opportunity to record Malaysia’s heartiest congratulations to Viet Nam for a successful chairmanship in 2020, especially the significant efforts driven by Viet Nam in moving forward and rebuilding together from the dire impact of COVID-19. Furthermore, the Foreign Minister expressed Malaysia’s heartfelt condolences to Indonesia and the families of the victims of the Sriwijaya plane crash, and most recently the earthquake in Sulawesi.



21 January 2021