TEN summits crammed into two days and Malaysia, as the incoming Association of Southeast Asian Nations chairman, was probably the most sought-after speaker at most of the forums at the just concluded 25th Asean Summit.
That distinction came with the coveted post, some rationalise, and Malaysiaâ€™s cue to take the stage came after current chair Myanmar.
But at the East Asia Summit (EAS) â€” a gathering of 18 nations, including Asean member states and dialogue partners, such as China, Japan, India, Russia and the United States â€” Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was asked to speak first.
Najib had called on the leaders to address the escalating violence committed by terrorist and extremist organisations in Iraq and Syria.
Malaysia also stressed that terrorism and extremism must be addressed in a comprehensive manner and not through the use of force alone, important as it may seem.
Najib, in the presence of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and US President Barack Obama, presented the case for moderation as key to ensuring lasting peace in the region.
Elaborating on Najibâ€™s call, Wisma Putra said in a statement that these were â€œtools to counter extremism and terrorism, defuse tensions and negate radicalisationâ€.
â€œMalaysia is willing to share its experience in marginalising extremism in maintaining a multireligious society, where different faiths co-exist and prosper; and showing that Islam can not only succeed, but drive progress and development in a pluralistic society.â€
Such a stance on a global threat that affects the name of Islam is significant and crucial, coming from Malaysia that had persistently advocated moderation and peaceful solutions among Muslim nations.
A major breakthrough at EAS and other related summits was the willingness to find a solution to the disputes in the South China Sea.
Li told leaders at EAS that China wanted peaceful negotiations to be used in the disputes over territories in the South China Sea, an issue involving at least four Asean member states.
Najib had said that despite the differences of opinions in the disputes, there was a need to guarantee the safety of navigational maritime the sea.
More importantly, China had also proposed for an agreement to be signed between Asean and China for good neighbourliness and friendship, a proposal that Najib said Malaysia would deliberate on.
Malaysia has an enormous task now that it will assume the chairmanship of Asean from Jan 1.
Though measures are in place to see through Malaysiaâ€™s focus on a â€œPeople-Centredâ€ Asean with the motto of â€œOur People, Our Vision, Our Communityâ€, challenges lis ahead for this 47-year-old institution regional bloc to be part of the peopleâ€™s daily lives.
Najib has initiated this step by mobilising a comprehensive communication plan to tell the region about Asean and the benefits of it becoming a community.
It will take a collective effort to make this a reality, and judging from the commitment shown at the summit, a giant step has already been taken to make for a better Asean. – NST Online