KUALA LUMPUR – Nov 23, 2015: The just concluded 27th Association of Southeast Asian Nation (Asean) Summit here has the potential to provide thriving benefits for the 630 million Southeast Asia citizens , say analysts.
Malaysia, as this year’s chairman of the regional grouping has hosted a critical moment in history when leaders of Asean’s 10 member state signed the Kuala Lumpur Declaration on the Establishment of the Asean Community, yesterday.
The landmark declaration is to pave the way for greater integration that will be reinforced by Asean’s three pillars; towards the enhancement of Political-Security, Economic, and Socio-Cultural community.
Malaysia has chaired Asean with the theme of ‘Our People, Our Community, Our Vision”, and this was reflected by the leaders approving a new 10-year plan to chart the region’s development, named the ‘Asean 2025: Forging Ahead Together’.
Geo-strategist Dr Azmi Hassan of Perdana School and Geospatial Institute told The Mole that the establishment of Asean Community will indeed produces benefits to the people.
“Asean Community’s main thrust is that it strives for the people. Under the third pillar which is socio-cultural advancement, I would say that that Asean will bring benefits to the people.
“Based on the 10-year plan, it can be assured that the third pillar will fully be implemented and understood by all Asean citizens.
“Along with the implementation of Asean Economic Community (AEC), people of all participating nations will enjoy the regional economic integration, in which it would be easier to conduct business among Asean countries.
“Additionally, the AEC ensures the mobility of goods and services. Briefly, the declarations will directly benefit the citizens of Asean, as long as all member countries are willing to work with one another,” he added.
Nevertheless, Azmi said that, as included in the 10-year plan, it is hoped that in the future, people of the participating countries will all declare themselves as one community, the “Asean community”.
Concluding on the summit, Azmi said the most significant declaration that has been agreed would be the “Asean convention on trafficking in persons, particularly women and children”.
“The convention is very critical following the current situation, involving Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.
“This is especially related to the Rohingyas and the Bangladesh immigrants. For me, that is the most significant agreement signed during the Asean Summit as it addresses the urgent need for a comprehensive regional approach to prevent and combat such a problem,” he added.
Associate Professor Mohd Azizudin Mohd Sani of Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) said the meeting of Asean leaders this time was closed on a celebrated note.
“From merely 10 ordinary member states, all of them have finally been established as one whole community. This means that from now on, we are going to become truly united,” he added.
According to Azizudin, the establishment of the Asean Community which is tailored to strengthen the political, economic and socio-cultural conditions would create a unique economic sphere that brings prosperity to all member countries.
“Among the advantages of the Asean Community should be the economic development opportunities, such as direct creation of job opportunities for Asean citizens.
“Besides, such economic sphere will also attract fruitful investments from foreign countries,” he added.
Azizudin also pointed out that the community will gain advantages in term of security, despite the emergence of disputes in certain parts of the region.
“During the summit, the number one issue that was being intensively discussed was on the efforts to strengthen the security of Asean countries, as well as to examine the charges onto such crimes.
“For instance, the leaders were discussing on the issue of ISIS threats and the resolutions on the South China Sea dispute.
“Nonetheless, all of the communities must work together to make this successful. We need to be willing to solve these issues, including the issues of Rohingya refugees, through consensus and negotiations – not war,” he added.
Another analyst, Professor Datuk Dr Zainal Kling of Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI) reiterated the benefit of having a huge market of about 630million people in boosting productivity among Asean member countries.
“That is an enormous market for Asean economic union. It would also ensure Asean profitability, as it would catalyse networking among manufacturers.
“At least, currently, there is an emphasis on the advancement of small and medium entrepreneurs (SME) through Asean Community. They will be able to produce goods and services for the market, as well as to gain massive market.
“This would allow them to create networking among themselves, which in turn leads to enormous market integration within Asean countries,” he added.
Moreover, the analysts said citizens of Asean countries will experience the free flow of products from Asean manufacturers, as well as being able to seize job opportunities.
“There will be a lot of opportunities for producers, marketeers, and even consumers. Hopefully, the consumers would be able to get cheaper goods and services due to the emergence of bigger supply pool.
“If all of the Asean businesses are able to capitalise on the internal production and consumption, as well as the external inputs of products, Asean countries will continue to prosper,” he added.