KUALA LUMPUR, June 1 (Bernama) – Most of the issues raised by ASEAN leaders when they met with the United States (US) president Joe Biden, who hosted the ASEAN-US Special Summit in Washington D.C. last month, had a lot in common.
They raised issues such as on the Ukraine-Russia and Myanmar conflict, the South China Sea, the economy and relations with the US which aptly deserved the attention of Biden, himself, who wanted his influence to remain in the Southeast Asian region in the name of peace and stability.
Indeed, the issues raised have merit or justification, but Malaysia also took the opportunity to voice issues that are close to the hearts of the Malaysian Family (Keluarga Malaysia), but not touched by other ASEAN leaders.
The meeting with Biden actually provided an opportunity for Malaysia to express its views on the struggle of Muslims in Palestine. If peace is truly desired by thesuper powers of the world, it should not only involve the region, but also the whole world.
Issue close to the heart of Keluarga Malaysia
Indeed, the Palestinian issue is always close to the hearts of Malaysian leaders and the Keluarga Malaysia. Efforts to create an independent Palestinian state and stop the oppression of its people by the Israeli Zionist regime should be continued without asking for any reward.
Malaysia believes the key to peace in Palestine lies with the US, the only world power that can influence its ally and close friend Israel to end the atrocities, thus abiding by the United Nations (UN) resolution to create a sovereign Palestinian state based on the pre-1967 borders and with Jerusalem as the capital.
The world power is actually able to help address injustice in the world, hence the ASEAN Special Summit is also seen as an appropriate platform in voicing the Palestinian-Israeli issue which has remained unresolved for more than 74 years.
Realising this fact, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob boldly raised the issue, thus proving his seriousness in continuing the unfinished struggle.
Use US influence
Ismail Sabri expressed his satisfaction in having been able to voice his views on Palestine. This is because it was raised on the land of the world superpower, that is also a strong ally of Israel, and voiced out in in front of Biden himself who is an influential global leader.
When met on his return from the ASEAN-US Special Summit, Ismail Sabri was asked about Biden’s response to the Palestinian issue and the prime minister said Biden took note of the issue.
Malaysia is confident that the US can make a significant contribution to solving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict based on its power and influence.
Like other countries, Malaysia expects the super powers to be more just and honest in resolving the current conflict, including the issue on the dispute between Russia-Ukraine and Myanmar, especially the Rohingya refugees.
In this regard, Ismail Sabri’s opinion is in line with other ASEAN leaders that all parties need to respect sovereignty, political independence and territorial integrity.
Likewise in related issues, there should be a peaceful solution in Myanmar and issues related to refugees in Rohingya should be done thoroughly.
Focus of discussion is on peace, global economy
This world can actually be likened to a village, where members of the community need each other to live in peace and continue to survive.
Realising this fact, Malaysia and other ASEAN member countries want every conflict to be resolved, not to mention the Ukraine-Russia conflict which is currently affecting world economic growth and indirectly leads to inflation and food prices to soar.
The world situation is becoming weak, what more with most countries in the world trying to bounce back after more than two years of being hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ASEAN leaders know that the Special Summit was actually used as a platform by Biden to seek influence and also to show his power to his rivals, such as China and Russia.
It was not surprising when Biden also announced at the conference a provision of US $ 150 million (US$1=RM4.38), in addition to the US $ 100 million pledge he made on October 1 last year in the name of strengthening US-ASEAN cooperation.
The allocation was promised by the US for maritime cooperation, infrastructure, security and pandemic preparedness.
This ASEAN-US Special Summit is the second held. The first was held in California in 2016 when the country was led by President Barack Obama, who once grew up in Indonesia, thus bringing it closer to the region.
The countries in the region here also agree that the US is important to ASEAN not only because it is a super power, but also its position as an important trading partner. Bilateral trade between the US and ASEAN is worth US $ 308.3 billion in 2020.
In fact, the world’s superpowers are also the largest source of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to ASEAN with a total investment of US $ 34.7 billion.
In addition to its dependence on the economy, the US is also used as a backup by ASEAN countries to ensure stability from any disputes, especially in involving the South China Sea as a peaceful, stable and prosperous waters.
As a small country, Malaysia also depends on investment from foreign countries, especially the US.
Although the US is seen as having its own agenda, there is no denying that the summit also saw its achievements as a superpower and ASEAN is committed to continuing to work together in promoting trade and investment, as well as ensuring a resilient global supply chain and smooth regional connectivity.
These include essential goods such as medical supplies, medicines, vaccines, food and agricultural products, commodities, high-tech products, and other essential supplies and services, which contribute to the region’s sustainable economic recovery and resilience.
PM ensures Malaysia’s voice remains significant on international stage
The Special Summit also saw Malaysia succeed in attracting investment opportunities when Ismail Sabri, during his working visit, also met with leaders of leading US companies such Microsoft, Google, Tesla, Boeing, IBM, Texas Instruments, GE Aviation, Conoco Phillips, Ford, National Instruments, Infineon, Micron and Insulet.
In fact, several memoranda of understanding were also signed and there were also several exchange of letters of intent.
This gives hope that the presence of foreign investors to invest is getting brighter when Malaysia’s investment mission to the US on May 9 to 18, which was during the Prime Minister’s presence in the country, managed to attract RM16.52 billion in new investments.
Overall, the recently concluded special summit was a great success for Malaysia as its voice is heard at the international level.
At the same time, it also proves the solidarity of member countries in firmly voicing their commitment to ensure the interests of the Southeast Asian region, even though the Myanmar conflict has tarnished the principles of the regional that have existed since the formation of ASEAN in 1967.
What impressed the Keluarga Malaysia more is when Ismail Sabri uses the Malay language in his speech when voicing Malaysia and ASEAN’s ideas and stance.
This proves how serious Ismail Sabri is in empowering and dignifying the Malay language up to the international level.