SUMMIT: Malaysia to stand firm that Asean should resolve its own problems without interference
REGIONAL and international issues, including the situation in Myanmar and Palestine, the North Korean nuclear issue and global financial crisis are set to dominate the 20th Asean Summit here starting today.
The streets of a city with more than two million people are decked with symbols of Cambodia's national pride as well as flags of the other nine members of Asean.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who arrived here late yesterday, is leading the Malaysian delegation to the two-day summit, themed "Asean: One Community, One Destiny", at the Peace Palace.
The theme of Cambodian chairmanship reflects Asean's collective commitment to work together closely in the spirit of unity and solidarity to fully realise the Asean Community by 2015 and beyond.
As far as Malaysia is concerned, Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman said, it was ready to present its case involving the South China Sea disputes as well as other pressing issues.
"There are some countries wanting to bring these up and we will be prepared. It will be issues that we can't ignore, one way or another," he said during a briefing for Malaysian reporters yesterday.
In accordance with true Asean spirit, he said the dispute settlement mechanism would be contained in one of five documents the leaders are expected to endorse at the end of the meeting.
Kuala Lumpur stands firm that Asean should be able to resolve its own problems without interference from others.
"Among ourselves, we understand one another better.
"This is the same stand we made when we said we wanted to have continuous engagement with Myanmar, instead of expelling it from Asean.
"Unless we can't solve the problems, then we have to find other form of mechanisms, instead of asking people from outside. We should be able to find solutions or at least try coming up with a set of rules and regulations on how best to approach them."
Anifah said Malaysia would take the lead in highlighting cooperative activities under the framework of the Declaration on the Conduct of parties in the South China Sea (DOC) issue -- that they be guided by the guidelines, with step-by-step approaches carried out, starting with the implementation of non-controversial activities.
In reaffirming its commitment, Malaysia would host the fifth Asean senior officials' working group meeting on DOC on April 10, he added.
Najib has a busy day today when he and his counterparts are expected to attend a plenary session, besides meeting representatives of Asean inter-parliamentary assembly and civil society organisations, among other things. In the evening, they will have an audience with the King of Cambodia, followed by a royal banquet.
Tomorrow, Najib and other leaders will start their morning with the sixth Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle summit, followed by the eighth Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area session.
In the evening, the prime minister is scheduled to attend the ninth Axiata Asean leadership forum organised by the Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute and the Cambodian Ministry of Commerce.
At the end of the summit, leaders are expected to endorse the main outcome documents -- the Phnom Penh Declaration on "Asean: One Community, One Destiny"; Asean position paper for the G-20 Summit, Mexico 2012; Asean leaders' declaration on drug-free Asean 2015; and a concept paper on the Global Movement of Moderates.