Malaysian PM wants ASEAN to enhance levels of socio-economic development


Kuala Lumpur : The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) must strive to bridge the gap in the levels of socio-economic development among member countries, said Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on Thursday.

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In a televised speech on the occasion of the 41st ASEAN Day, coinciding August 8, the premier said that for that purpose, ASEAN must implement approved plans that include “narrowing the development gap” and the “initiative for ASEAN integration”.
Both programmes must be implemented between 2009 and 2015, he added.

The Malaysian premier also urged ASEAN to bridge the gap between member countries such as Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam and the more progressive member states.

“I believe ASEAN will be able to bring about the ‘we are one family’ spirit when the standard of living of the common people in all the member countries is more or less the same,” Abdullah said in his speech.

Abdullah further said ASEAN was set up not only to establish cooperation among the governments but also to foster closer relations among its peoples.

As such, he said there should be more programmes to encourage interaction among the peoples of ASEAN, especially the youth who are future leaders.

He also called all ASEAN citizens to take the initiative to know the association better and support efforts by the governments to empower it.

ASEAN would then continue to be an organisation which was relevant, dynamic, progressive, and able to handle current and future global challenges, he said.

The 41st Asean Day, which will be celebrated tomorrow, is themed “One ASEAN Identity, One ASEAN Community by 2015.” ASEAN, a geo-political and economic organization, was formed on August 8, 1967 by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand in Bangkok. The membership grew to 10 with the entry of Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, and Cambodia.