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“Asean members putting national interests first”




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 economic field.


The two-day seminar was organised by the national news agency Bernama and the Information Ministry’s Information Services Department. – Bernama.


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Last updated: September 30, 2004