KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has called on Asean to work towards a peaceful resolution to the dispute in the South China Sea.
In this regard, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said he hoped the grouping of Southeast Asian nations would expedite the creation of a Code of Conduct for the South China Sea to maintain unity in the developing region.
“In the meantime, I urge all of us to recommit to the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.
“Moving forward, we will continue to rely on diplomacy and dialogue to peacefully resolve difference and disputes.
“We will do so in accordance with and in adherence to the norms, customs and principles of international law,” Najib said in his keynote address at the opening of the 30th Asia- Pacific roundtable.
Najib noted that as China continues to grow its military presence in the region, tensions continue among Malaysia and neighbouring countries over the hotly disputed waters.
The roundtable will host world policymakers and scholars in discussing regional security matters in the Asia-Pacific.
One of the highlights of this year’s roundtable is a plenary session on the growing threat of terrorism in the region, with Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein presenting a special address on the matter on Tuesday.
The issue of terrorism weighed heavily in Najib’s address too, saying Malaysia can be seen as a leader in moderation and that politics that inflame inter -ountry conflict for the sake of “popularity” had no place in Asean.
“I do not believe in unnecessarily confrontational stances.
“Politicians adopting intentionally antagonistic foreign policy positions just for the sake of personal popularity are selfish, short-sighted and self-defeating for their own countries.
“National interest must come before personal political interest.
“Developing relations and economic partnerships with other nations promotes peace, stability and prosperity for the people,” he said.
Najib said that Malaysia’s work in settling a 20-year deadlock with Singapore in the 2010 Points of Agreement and with Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar and Bangladesh in last year’s migrant at sea issue were prime examples of Malaysia’s willingness to work for mutual peace and benefit with its neighbours.
“In the Philippines, Malaysia facilitated the negotiations to resolve Asia’s longest running insurgency and we look forward to the final implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.
“Peace is an end in itself and we can help bring to a close a dispute that has cost so many lives, we would be honoured to do so.
“But stability will also allow the region to prosper and make the seas between two neighbours safer.
“That will benefit both Malaysia and the Philippines,” he said.