PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia Malaysia under the new Pakatan Harapan government has no change of policy towards ASEAN and will continue to play a role in strengthening the regional body, said Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah.
He said the ASEAN Community was a priority agenda of the new government under the leadership of Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to build a stronger ASEAN.
Malaysia would continue to play a role in the ASEAN Community that was established in 2015 to strengthen economic cooperation and build a safe and peaceful region, he said at a press conference after a flag-raising ceremony in conjunction with the 51st ASEAN Day at Wisma Putra (Malaysian Foreign Ministry).
In terms of Malaysia's foreign policy, the ASEAN agenda is given priority. As such, there is no change of policy towards ASEAN. In fact, we want to play a proactive role in ASEAN.
We want the meaning of the ASEAN Community to be implemented in the real sense, he said.
Saifuddin said the perception that ASEAN was an elite club comprising the heads of governments, ministers, envoys and big businesses should be erased from the minds of the ASEAN citizens.
Our challenge is to end that perception and make ASEAN people-centred and for the ASEAN concept to be felt by the over 630 million people of this region, he said.
Saifuddin said that as the new foreign minister, he would strengthen relations with the ASEAN envoys in Kuala Lumpur.
He proposed the holding of informal meetings among ministers and deputy ministers as well as Wisma Putra officials with the ASEAN envoys twice a year to discuss matters that did not have to be brought up at the ASEAN Ministerial Meetings.
These people-to-people cooperation programmes could be implemented for the benefit of the ASEAN citizens, he said.
Deputy Foreign Minister Marzuki Yahya, the representatives of the nine ASEAN envoys and 30 diplomats in Malaysia, youths and students attended the flag-raising ceremony.
Source: NAM News Network