Proposal for common ASEAN time zone put on hold: Anifah

Proposal for common ASEAN time zone put on hold: Anifah
ANIFAH: The suspension is due to differing views on the matter from member states.
KUALA LUMPUR: The proposal for a common time zone for ASEAN capitals has been put in abeyance following differing views from member states.

Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman said the decision was made after a meeting of ASEAN Foreign Ministers (AMM), here today.

"There are different views on this matter. The meeting decided to put the proposal in abeyance," he told reporters after chairing the AMM meeting ahead of the 26th ASEAN Summit on Monday.

ASEAN currently has four different time zones, while Indonesia has three, and the proposed time zone for the region is GMT+8.

In February this year, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, during his three-day state visit to Malaysia, voiced his desire to hold discussions regarding the common time zone at the regional organisation's level as soon as
possible.
Last month, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had forwarded the ASEAN time zone proposal to visiting Myanmar President U Thein Sein during their talks.

The president said he would consider the proposal favourably.

Among benefits of a common time zone for the region is the enhancement of trade and cooperation among governments, and between ASEAN and other countries in Asia.

A common time zone allows more time for communication; coordinating share market activities; enhancing flight operation system and improving business and banking network in the region.

Anifah said the meeting today also discussed the proposals in two non-papers prepared by Indonesia and Singapore on Streamlining of ASEAN Meetings in particular to reduce the number of ASEAN Summits from two to one per year.

"Malaysia viewed that the practice of having two Summits per year would remain even more relevant in the years to come, as it gives greater political impetus to ASEAN community building," he said.

On the external relations, Anifah said the meeting agreed for the Secretary-General of ASEAN to conduct an assessment on the aplications for Formal Partnership with ASEAN by Ecuador, Development Partner status for North Korea as well Mongolia for the Dialogue Partner Status.

To strengthen the East Asia Summit (EAS), the meeting noted the revised non-paper by Malaysia, which incorporates inputs gathered during the last Special SOM Meeting which appeared to meet ASEAN consensus, as well as written inputs received  from Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand and tasked senior officials to proceed with the next step.

The meeting also tasked the senior officials meeting to begin discussions on strengthening of the EAS with the non-ASEAN EAS participating countries during the EAS senior officials meeting to be held here on June 9.

The objective of Malaysia's non-paper on the review of the modalities of the East Asia Summit is to strengthen the EAS, which includes the need to facilitate more focused, strategic and interactive dialogue among the leaders at the EAS.
     
Other matters that had been discussed in the meeting included Malaysia's proposal to convene an informal ministerial meeting with Brunei, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand, together with Australia and New Zealand, next month, to discuss ways to collectively and comprehensively deal with radicalisation and violent extremism.

He said Malaysia will also convene a Special ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Radicalisation and Extremism on Oct 2, this year.

Besides the AMM, Anifah also chaired the 12th ASEAN Political-Security Community Council Meeting (APSC) and the 16th ASEAN Coordinating Council Meeting (ACC).

Today's meeting also noted five documents for adoption of the leaders, which are Chairman's Statement; Kuala Lumpur Declaration on a People-Oriented, People-Centred ASEAN; Langkawi Declaration on the Global Movement of Moderates; and Declaration on Institutionalising the Resilience of ASEAN and its Communities and Peoples to Disasters and Climate Change.