Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Asean System Can Be Used
To Manage Peace, Security
In Asia-Pacific: PM

KUALA LUMPUR, June 5 (Bernama) -- The Asean system of managing peace and security can be used to bring stability and predictability in the wider Asia-Pacific region, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said Tuesday.

He said although the Asean system of managing peace and security needs to be further developed, there was similarity between Asean and the Asia-Pacific region when it comes to managing peace and security issues.

"The Asean experience could in fact serve us equally well in the wider Asia-Pacific region," he said in his keynote address at the Asia-Pacific Roundtable entitled "The Way to Mutual Security in the Asia-Pacific" organised by the Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS).

Abdullah said Asean had taken the bold step by recognising that its destiny lay with member states, realising that peace was possible without hegemony and security was attainable without maintaining preponderant power.

This had resulted in a system of managing peace and security embedded within a wider framework for cooperation embodied in Asean even though the system was by no means perfect.

"There is still some lingering lack of trust. Occasionally, there are strong disagreements. Sometimes, naval vessels are deployed to keep an eye on each other in disputed waters. Some still feel the need to be reassured of their security by having linkages with outside powers.

"All things considered, however, the framework within Asean has done a remarkable job. It has helped bring stability and predictability to the region," he said, adding that this has led to full reconciliation among all member states and across political divides, with confidence having improved tremendously.

Abdullah described war as having become unimaginable, many territorial disputes were being settled through peaceful negotiations or through judicial settlements, no major military build-ups with vestigial defence arrangements remained but they were essentially for exercise and training.

"The window of opportunity to make a similar choice is open to the countries of the Asia Pacific.

"I think the countries of Asean were able to make the right choice because their judgement was sober and sound. We did not exaggerate threats and we did not overreact to exaggerated threats. We saw the rivalry among the major powers and chose to distance ourselves from the rivalry," he said.

Abdullah said Asean had opted to engage with the major powers for mutual peace and prosperity, with priority for political and economic engagement even though it included the field of security.

"When we discuss security, we make sure that it is about security cooperation that engages all, and is for all. This kind of engagement has brought enormous benefits not only to Asean but also to the entire region," he said.

He said Asean retained its existing security arrangements and military alliances as they were already in place and there was no need to dismantle them but it did not seek to strengthen or widen its membership while, at the same time, it did not spend excessively on weaponry.

"We recognise that many of us lack capacity in so many areas, including defence capabilities. We do not therefore question or seek to deny to others what we think would have been proper even for ourselves," he said.

Therefore, Abdullah said, Asia-Pacific leaders could emulate the Asean spirit of enlightened rather than narrow interest as well as recognise that influence and strategic stature ensue much less from military preponderance than from economic weight, technological prowess and cultural appeal.

Abdullah also said that he does see the present situation in the region as a delicate one -- on the one hand, countries are strengthening the infrastructure for cooperation while, on the other, they seem to be allowing the preparation for confrontation to continue.

"But I would like to ask the question whether we are in fact giving sufficient attention to building peace while preparing, at the same time, for eventualities of conflict and of war.

"I am concerned whether we are inadvertently putting in place mechanisms that in fact invite the very instability and conflict that we want to prevent and manage," he said.

Therefore, Abdullah said, he believed the window of choice was still open in the Asia-Pacific region as "the concrete has not quite set to make the structure for managing regional security unalterable".

"I think we can do more, much more, to lay down a firm foundation for enduring peace, stability and prosperity in the region than we are doing now. The choice is ours," he said. - http://www.bernama.com


Asean nowadays is not like before. Today, some Asean member countries are even willing to discard and disrespect the Asean “spirit of brotherhood and consensus” by participating in the so-called war-on-terror – a war being created by the US aimed at disrupting the Muslim worlds, killing their innocent population by the hundred of thousands, and forcing their society, politics and economy down to the drains.

So, Mr. Prime Minister Sir, do you really think at this point of time “the countries of Asean” who participated in the war-on-terror in Iraq are the ones “able to make the right choice because their judgement” is “sober and sound.”? – Ruhanie Ahmad

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