ASEAN should give priority to economic recovery due to COVID-19 pandemic

muhhiddin yassin

PUTRAJAYA: Rebooting the ASEAN regional economy must be the utmost priority of member countries to mitigate disruptions to trade and strengthen the resilience of the regional supply chains.

Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said, moving beyond efforts to contain the corona virus (COVID-19) in the ASEAN region, the leaders should inculcate a similar sense of urgency to push for economic recovery.

He added, the public health crisis has had profound impacts on the economy

“Malaysia feels strongly that the government must materialise cohesive plans to quickly implement measures or “travel bubbles” between ‘green’ ASEAN member states to store up investments and create job opportunities for the people.

“Possibly in the near future, we can also open up our borders for intra-ASEAN tourisms to flourish and deliver the much needed financial boost into our national economies.

“Malaysia will support and share the view of His Majesty Sultan of Brunei Darussalam and President of Indonesia that ASEAN officials should begin work on the establishment of ASEAN travel bubble.

“As the first step, we can explore the possibility of sector exemptions to travel restrictions such as medical tourism or high value economic visits,” said Muhyiddin in his speech via video-conference in conjunction with the 36th ASEAN Summit here today.

Muhyiddin also highlighted that solidarity among ASEAN member states will remain integral in keeping the region neutral and free of external interference.

“We must not allow ASEAN to revert to our comfort zone-but make ASEAN emerge as a new powerhouse for the world,” he reiterated.

Regarding the Rakhine State crisis, Muhyiddin said, Malaysia continues to bear the brunt of this prolonged crisis which appears to have no foreseeable end.

“We can no longer take more as our resources and capacities are already stretched, compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic. Malaysia is unfairly expected to do more to accommodate incoming refugees.

He added, despite Malaysia not being a party to 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1967 Protocol Relating to the States of Refugees, the government has provided humanitarian assistance to the Rohingya and other Myanmar refugees.

“This situation cannot continue forever. We call the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to work closely with us in ASEAN to expedite the resettlement process of UNHCR card holders to the third countries.

“What are we in ASEAN doing to help each other in finding an effective solution for the Rakhine State? ASEAN must do more to help Myanmar and Myanmar must also do more to help itself for this crisis to be put behind us and development can take place in a meaningful way.

On the South China Sea issue, Muhyiddin said, recognising the complexity and sensitivity of the matter, all parties must continue to work together to maintain peace, security and stability in the South China Sea .

In this time of adversity, it is imperative that the ASEAN member states intensify effort to build, maintain and enhance mutual trust and confidence for the benefit of the region and the peoples.

The Prime Minister added, Malaysia is with the opinion that South China Sea should remain a sea of peace and trade. Matters relating to South China Sea must be resolved peacefully based on universally recognised principles of international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982.

Muhyiddin also stressed that Malaysia strongly condemns and rejects Israel’s recent announcement to implement its plan to annex parts of the Occupied Palestinian Territory in the West Bank.

“Malaysia will continue to stand in strong solidarity with the Palestinians in the wake of Israel aggression and we call upon the international community in particular the United Nations Council to condemn and reject the Israel annexation plan.The international community must ensure that the plan will never be implemented,” he said. – Malaysia World News

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