Esteemed Colleagues, Leaders of ASEAN,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We have just witnessed a watershed in the history of ASEAN: the signing of the document that will be handed down to posterity as the Declaration of ASEAN Concord II or Bali Concord II. This is the document that will establish an ASEAN Community. That will make it possible for our children and their children to live in state a state of enduring peace, stability and shared prosperity.

And yet this Summit in which ASEAN makes another historic accomplishment is not altogether without an element of sadness – for this is the very last Summit that is graced by the presence of a dear Colleague, who is also a steadfast friend and a respected colleague to all. Today we take the opportunity to say a fond farewell to His Excellency, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad.

It is a strange kind of farewell that we are bidding him. The mark of his personal statesmanship has been imprinted so deep in our consciousness that in a larger sense, he will always be with us.

The reach of his mind is so far and wide that on every issue laid before us we will always try to recall what Dr. Mahathir said about it.

He always had strong and informed views, and never hesitated to say the unpleasant.

There is no way of counting the things he did for ASEAN. Indeed, he was one of those who worked the hardest to articulate ASEAN’s vision of itself. That is why I can say with confidence that Dr. Mahathir may leave office, but he will never abandon involvement with ASEAN.

At any time in the future when we are bent by the weight of enormous challenges, we can expect Dr. Mahathir to be there sharing his counsel and giving us the benefit of his wisdom and experience. And I am sure we will not be disappointed.

With great respect and affection, I now call on Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, Prime Minister of Malaysia, to accept a small token of gratitude and admiration from all his ASEAN Colleagues.