COLOMBO: PRIME Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) which ended yesterday was a success as leaders of member countries had managed to exchange ideas and shared information for the betterment of their respective nations.
Najib, who was addressing members of the international and local media at the last official press conference of the three-day event, said the biennial meeting this year had been particularly beneficial in four areas -- straightening the association of countries; gaining ideas from its theme of "Growth with equity: inclusive development"; pursuing the ideas gathered at the meeting at a higher level as well as reaffirming CHOGM as a gathering of "thought leaders".
The prime minister was one of five leaders invited for the event wrap-up press conference, with the others being Sri Lankan President Mahenda Rajapaksa, Commonwealth secretary-general Kamaleth Sherma, South African President Jacob Zuma, Guyana President Donald Rabindranouth and Saint Kitts and Navis Prime Minister Danzil Douglas.
Najib said there were indications of a strengthened Commonwealth at the meeting this year with leaders of member countries showing commitments by expressing their wishes to uphold values such as democracy, the rule of law and the need for them to remain united despite their diversity.
"We may be different in many ways but everyone seems to agree that we need to remain together (in the Commonwealth) instead of being separated."
Najib also said the theme chosen by host country Sri Lanka, which gave emphasis on fair distribution of wealth and sustainable development, had been well received and ideas developed from its discussions could be applied in development efforts of respective member countries.
"We could apply the ideas to our domestic policies as we had exchanges of ideas which could improve development efforts for the benefit of our nations."
Najib said the gathering of ideas at the meeting would also be translated into action by forwarding them as recommendations at another level, such as at the World Trade Organisation Ministerial Conference in Bali, Indonesia, from Dec 3 to 6.
"This meeting (CHOGM) has been an opportunity for member countries to get their views heard and be forwarded to another platform for possible implementation."
Najib also said CHOGM's theme this year, which promoted equitable, inclusive and sustainable development, reaffirmed the reputation of the biennial meeting as a gathering of "thought leaders" instrumental in initiating new ideas and unique perspectives in the handling of global issues.
"For instance, the concept of sustainable development was first discussed at the (retreat of) CHOGM 1989 in Langkawi, Malaysia. CHOGM had also been the platform where the issue of managing small countries' debts was first discussed."
Najib said CHOGM this year had been concluded with a commitment by the Commonwealth to play a significant role in contributing ideas for the United Nations' drafting of "Millennium goals: Post 2015 Development Agenda" which will address issues ranging from poverty eradication to providing education for children in the world.
CHOGM 2013 came to a close yesterday with the issuance of the Colombo Communique, which contained member nations' commitments in areas of upholding core values of the Commonwealth; ensuring equitable, inclusive and sustainable development; good management of biological diversity; implementation of sustainable land management; as well as striving for the enhancement of international trade and investments.
In a Twitter posting yesterday, Najib said the recognition given to Malaysia as the most popular tourist destination in Asia was a great opportunity in promoting Visit Malaysia Year (VMY) 2014.