‘STOP NUCLEAR ARMS PROGRAMME’
Asean members want North Korea to return to negotiating table
MALAYSIA and other Asean members have expressed concerns over the escalating conflict in the Korean peninsula and want North Korea to drop its nuclear weapons programme indefinitely.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who led the Malaysian delegation to the 31st Asean Summit and Related Summits that ended yesterday, said Asean leaders wanted North Korea to return to the negotiating table to ensure peace and stability in the region.
“I, together, with all Asean leaders have voiced out our concerns over the issue at the Asean-South Korea Summit on Monday which was also attended by South Korean President Moon Jae-in,” he said to Malaysian media here yesterday.
Najib said during the summit, leaders touched on the need to increase the economic integration between Asean and South Korea after the conclusion of the Asean-South Korea Free Trade Agreement. Asean and South Korea became dialogue partners in 1989, with the latter now Asean’s fifth largest trading and investment partner, recording a trade volume of US$119 billion (RM499 billion) last year.
“We extended our appreciation to South Korea for the establishment of the Asean Cultural House in Busan last September,” he said, adding that they discussed other aspects of cooperation in the areas of socio-cultural and education, among others.
On his bilateral meeting with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe on Sunday, Najib said they discussed several matters, including the High-Speed Rail (HSR) project linking Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.
Najib said in the meeting, which lasted 30 minutes, he stressed to Abe that Malaysia would call for a tender for the project and would consider the bids holistically before making a decision.
He said they also discussed cooperation in the halal industry, adding that he thanked the Japanese government for contributing two ships to the Malaysia Maritime Enforcement Agency.
Japan is pitching for the Malaysian and Singaporean governments to opt for the Shinkasen for the 350km-long HSR project that will cut travel time between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur to 90 minutes from four hours.
However, Japan is likely to face competition from China, South Korea and European countries.
Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, on Thursday, had said plans were on track to call for a tender for the project by the end of the year after the process of land acquisition began on Nov 1.
Yesterday, Najib attended six meetings, including the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Summit, followed by the signing ceremony of the Asean Consensus on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers, the closing ceremony of the Summit and handover of the Asean chairmanship to Singapore.
Among the provisions of the landmark document were upholding fair treatment of migrant workers, granting visitation rights by family members, and prohibiting the seizure of passports.
Other provisions included prohibiting overcharging on placement and recruitment fees, regulating recruiters and respecting workers’ right to a fair salary and benefits, as well as to join trade unions and organisations.
However, like all Asean agreements, the implementation of the Asean Consensus, which is legally non-binding, is subject to the respective laws of the member countries.
It was reported that close to seven million or two-thirds of about 10 million international migrants living and working in Asean came from within the region.
Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines and Vietnam are the main origin countries of migrant workers, while Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand are the main “host” countries.