“Asean members putting national interests first”
NEW STRAITS TIMES, 2 MAY
Kuala Lumpur, Thurs. – Former Asean
secretary-general Tan Sri Ajit Singh said in the current international
political scenario, most decisions made by members of Asean are based on
national interests rather than regional interests.
He said this could not be avoided as the 10
members of the grouping would need to safeguard their interests to survive.
However, he said the uncommon stands did not affect intra-Asean bilateral
relations. “Many of the areas being discussed by the members will not lead
to any conflicts,” he said in his paper on Political Co-operation in Asean
at the Asean Awareness Seminar here.
On the influence of the “superpower” on Asean in
a unipolar world, Ajit said the war in Iraq had created a different
environment that the one produced by the Sept 11 attacks. In the case of the
latter, a period of goodwill followed in terms of fighting global terrorism.
But the attack on Iraq was opposed by many countries including Malaysia.
Ajit, who is a research fellow at the
Asia-Europe Institute at University Malaya, said it was important for Asean
members to stay united and work to develop the Asean spirit by making their
citizens more aware of the grouping. He also said Asean needed to strengthen
its links with East Asian countries to remain strong especially in the
The two-day seminar was organised by the
national news agency Bernama and the Information Ministry’s Information
Services Department. – Bernama.