KUALA LUMPUR, � ASEAN centrality among others, was among the points stressed by Malaysia during the 50th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Manila Tuesday.

The Foreign Ministry, in a statement said Foreign Minister Anifah Aman, during the meeting, pointed out that the ASEAN centrality needs to be maintained in the efforts to further the ASEAN Community Building agenda.

“We must be able to speak in one voice when projecting ASEAN’s views as well as in maintaining our positions on issues of common concern.

“This is crucial particularly in light of growing interests from countries and regional organisations outside our region to develop stronger ties and cooperation with ASEAN,” the statement said.

Anifah, as quoted in the statement, said that Malaysia was encouraged by the fact that ASEAN, through the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation of ASEAN (TAC), continued to attract interest from countries globally.

“With more partners coming forward to engage with ASEAN, we should now better manage our cooperative relations with them, he was quoted as saying in the statement.

Apart from that, the statement said that the Foreign Minister also highlighted the importance of ASEAN connectivity and stated that it played an important role in the community building process and people-to-people ties.

“It facilitates the development of a seamless and borderless region, through enhanced regional integration. Malaysia lauds the efforts to develop Project Concepts for each of the 15 initiatives under the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity (MPAC) 2025.

On the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), Anifah was pleased that human rights issues under AICHR’s purview had progressed tremendously over the years.

Our strong commitment to AICHR is displayed by the implementation of another Malaysia-led initiative under the auspices of the AICHR in 2017, namely the AICHR Regional Consultation on the Right to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation which will be held in the third quarter of 2017 in Malaysia,

Anifah said that he could now proudly say that ASEAN had successfully maintained and enhanced peace, security and stability in the region and in fact, evolved and progressed to achieve so much more than what ASEAN aspired to be.

According to the statement, the Foreign Minister, during the meeting, had touched on the issue of the South China Sea and stressed that it was imperative to uphold ASEAN’s unity and centrality on the matter whereby, he noted that appropriate language on the matter must be reflected in the Joint Communique.

At minimum, we must adhere to the language of the Vientiane Joint Communique 2016, which made reference to land reclamation, non-militarisation and self-restraint in the conduct of activities.

He said maritime claims must be based, addressed and resolved in accordance with international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982.

On the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea, he was quoted as saying that Malaysia welcomed the finalisation of the COC’s framework and hoped its establishment could be hastened.

The statement said that the ASEAN Foreign Ministers also discussed on the situation in the Korean Peninsula and in the Middle East, whereby Malaysia reiterated the importance of addressing these issues in a comprehensive manner.

As a result, two statements were issued, namely the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Statement on the Developments in the Korean Peninsula and the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Statement on the Situation in Al-Haram Al-Sharif Compound.