Your Royal Highnesses
Ladies and Gentlemen
As this 30th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting draws to its end, I am confident that the meeting is set to be of great significance in the annals of ASEAN and the region. It has witnessed the inaugural participation of Laos and Myanmar as full fledged ASEAN members. It marks the promising dawn of a united ASEAN brings us closer to the realisation of ASEAN 10. But most importantly, it reflects the emergence of a new era in regional cooperation where countries of the South East Asian region are integrated in a regional grouping for the common purpose of achieving regional peace and prosperity.
The cordial and frank manner in which this meeting has proceeded speaks well for the solidarity and future of ASEAN. The 30th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting saw us deliberating on matters which will enhance ASEAN’s collaboration and contribute towards achieving the ever advancing goals we continuously set for ourselves. We have duly considered and noted the progress that ASEAN has made in the last one year. ASEAN has recorded remarkable progress in the political and security areas, economic as well as functional cooperation initiatives. ASEAN’s cooperative achievements in the past year have contributed to further peace and prosperity in the region.
In terms of economic cooperation, ASEAN is moving closer to open regionalism and a ruled based multilateral trading system. I am pleased to note the progress made in the AFTA-CER linkage and the intensification of cooperation in the field of investment.
With regards to political and security cooperation, we see ASEAN’s continued efforts in confidence building and enhancing regional stability. Success towards this end is evident from the progress of ASEAN’s “Programme of Action on ZOPFAN”, entry into force of the South East Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Treaty, intra ASEAN political and security cooperation, the development of the ARF as the multilateral forum for security dialogue and cooperation in the region as well as intensifying cooperation and collaboration with our dialogue partners.
Our approval of the Memorandum of Understanding on the Establishment of the ASEAN Foundation is another milestone in the development of ASEAN functional cooperation. ASEAN Foundation, aimed at advancing the shared prosperity of member countries through human development, technological competitiveness and social cohesiveness is envisaged to be the catalyst for further achievements in functional cooperation.
The decision to Convene an ASEAN Roundtable on Legal, Technical and Economic Issues of Multimedia Technology will greatly contribute towards launching greater cooperation within ASEAN on information technology.
All, these developments attest to the dynamism of ASEAN as an organisation.
Recognising the significance of the ASEAN’s 30th Anniversary, we also discussed the celebrative aspects of the Anniversary. The celebration will be launched in Jakarta on the 8th of August and the highlight would be the Commemorative Summit which will be held in Kuala Lumpur in December. The fruition of the diverse activities that have been planned to commemorate the anniversary are propitious occasions for us to look forward to. These activities will also enhance ASEAN’s identity and its growing importance to well being of the peoples of the region.
We have taken a decision to recommend to the ASEAN Heads of Government the selection of Mr. Rodolfo C. Severino as the next Secretary- General of ASEAN from 1st January 1998. In this regard, I would like to take this opportunity to register my deep appreciation to Dato’ Ajit Singh for his highly successful tenure as the Secretary-General of ASEAN. To say the least, he has made outstanding contributions to the ASEAN cause and significant improvements to the workings of the ASEAN Secretariat during a period when ASEAN is undergoing significant developments in its history. I wish to also congratulate Mr. Rodolfo C. Severino, on his selection as the next Secretary-General of ASEAN. I have full confidence that he has the ability and wisdom to meet the challenges and tasks that lie ahead for ASEAN as it enters the next millennium.
Your Royal Highnesses
Ladies and Gentlemen
I note with a slight tinge of regret that Malaysia’s turn to chair and host this important meeting again, will be another decade from now. Allow me to express my sincere thanks to you for making this meeting a success. It has been my pleasure to be Chairman of the 30th ASEAN Ministerial Meebng and I am confident that my successor, H.E. Domingo L. Saizon, Jr. will enjoy experience as the next Chairman as much as I have had experience. I have no doubt that his leadership and skill will propel ASEAN to even greater heights.