Thai PM urges ASEAN to play crucial role in regional security


PHNOM PENH, April 4 — Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said on Wednesday that the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) should be more proactive to cope with challenges which could threaten regional peace and security to ensure sustainable growth and competitiveness.

Attending the ASEAN leaders’ retreat, part of the 20th ASEAN Summit in Cambodia, the Thai premier said the regional group should play a wider and more constructive role in peacebuilding and closely cooperate with powers outside the region on trade and political stability as well as raising concerns about important new issues such as the battle against transboundary crime and money laundering.

As the economy is essential to regional peace and security, ASEAN should rely more on both the overall Asia-Pacific region and its Southeast Asian region amid the Euro-zone crisis and the US economic slowdown.

ASEAN should also foster regional economic partnerships such as Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement and active participation in G-20, the Thai premier suggested.

Ms Yingluck said that maritime cooperation would become ASEAN important agenda and the regional grouping should cooperate with its dialogue partners in tackling problems such as its anti-piracy mission, search and rescue operations, and maritime environmental protection.

Such cooperation, she said, should help build trust and confidence as well as maritime safety.

Maritime security and national interests should be separated from any international maritime disputes, she said, which could be solved through peaceful means.

As for the South China Sea dispute, she urged the implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) which should help maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea.

Regarding political developments in Myanmar, Ms Yingluck said Thailand supported and welcomed development in Myanmar and ASEAN should support Myanmar and serve in a proactive role as a go-between Myanmar and the international community.

Thailand also encouraged ASEAN to call for the international community to end sanctions against Myanmar and supported Myanmar’s involvement  in the international arena in organisations such as the United Nations.

Thailand, she said, supported the Malaysian initiative of Malaysia’s Global Movement of the Moderates which will help boost patience and tolerance towards diversity as a way to cope with fundamentalists.

Speaking to reporters after the summit concluded, Ms Yingluck said that the ASEAN leaders endorsed Thailand’s proposal which advised that the drug problem should be placed on ASEAN’s regional agenda as a solution is impossible without regional cooperation. They also endorsed Declaration on Drug Free ASEAN 2015.

Before departing the premier said other member countries agreed to cooperate with Thailand in tackling the haze problem.