KUALA LUMPUR – The leaders of 10 Southeast Asian countries today inked a historic declaration on the formation of the ASEAN Community by Dec 31, 2015 that entails greater integration of this region of over 600 million people.
Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who is 2015 ASEAN chairman, was joined by the leaders of nine other Southeast Asian countries in signing the 2015 Kuala Lumpur Declaration on the Establishment of the Asean Community.
They also inked the Kuala Lumpur Declaration on ASEAN 2025: Forging Ahead Together, a document that spells out the way forward for the community in the next 10 years.
After the signing, the leaders marked the occasion with a single simultaneous strike of 10 drums, symbolising ASEAN’s march towards a common destiny.
Besides Najib, the documents were inked by Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei Darussalam, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong of Laos, Myanmar President U Thein Sein, Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung of Vietnam.
Established after the grouping’s 48 years of existence, the ASEAN Community is based on three pillars, namely the ASEAN Political and Security Community, ASEAN Economic Community and ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community. In his opening remarks at the event, Najib said there was so much that the community stood to gain economically that would benefit the daily lives of all its citizens.
But, he said, the notion of the ASEAN Community went beyond that.
“It’s also about all of us being ASEAN, recognising that something special binds us, and making our citizens feel that ASEAN courses through their veins,” he said.
Najib pointed out that the ASEAN Way had guided the regional grouping and would continue to be its compass as it sought to realise a politically cohesive, economically integrated, socially responsible, and a truly people-oriented, people-centred and rules-based ASEAN. – BERNAMA