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Asean Charter comes into force

JAKARTA, 15 Dec 2008: Malaysia, buoyed by the launch of the Asean Charter, is committed to making certain changes in the country, in line with the provisions of the charter towards creating the Asean Socio-Cultural, Economic, and Politico-Security Communities.

Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim said Malaysia was relieved that the charter containing 55 articles could be officially launched today although the Asean Summit scheduled for 15-18 Dec in Thailand had to be postponed due to the country’s political turmoil.

“In Malaysia, we will change certain scenarios due to the emphasis on creating the three communities in the Asean region,” he told Malaysian journalists after the launching of the charter at the Asean Secretariat, here.

In the presence of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Rais and nine other foreign ministers from the Asean countries witnessed the Secretary-General Dr Surin Pitsuwan handing over the Asean Charter to Thailand’s special representative. Thailand currently holds the chair of Asean.

Thailand’s Information and Communications Minister Dr Mun Patanotai acted as the country’s special representative at the ceremony.

Rais said with the coming into force of the Asean Charter, another significant effect on Malaysia would be the need to alter views and principles on human rights.

“We have to, through the Asean and domestic machinery, adapt to the requirements of the charter,” he added.

For Wisma Putra, Rais said, this was an invaluable development and it would undertake certain steps so that the foreign ministry could play a clear and effective role.

“The formalisation of the charter also requires us to implement some local projects and programmes related to trade, the economy and socio-cultural arena,” he said, adding that Wisma Putra would be drawing up the programmes to be implemented by the various ministries and agencies.

To strengthen commitment towards achieving the aims of the Asean Charter, he said Malaysia would set up an office here for its permanent representative to Asean, while a number of officers would be placed at the Malaysian embassy in Jalan Rasuna Said.

Rais said Malaysia would also be sending some senior officers to fill up posts such as Asean Deputy Secretary-General, to be filled in turns by the Asean member countries, to assist the Secretary-General in executing his tasks for the 10-member grouping.

With the Asean Charter coming into force, all the 10 member states are bound by the provisions of and commitment to the charter, as it will be registered with the United Nations.

Among the political commitments is that the top political leadership of the Asean member states must work together under the concept of “One Vision, One Identity and One Caring and Sharing Community”, implement democratic principles, practise rule of law and good governance, and respect the protection and promotion of human rights.

Under economy, the Asean member states are to undertake economic and market integration, abide by all multilateral trade and Asean regulations, and work at reducing obstacles to regional economic integration. — Bernama


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