Asean mem­bers want North Korea to re­turn to ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble

New Straits Times - - News -

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.

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