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Malaysia to leverage Asean to tackle regional issues, says Anwar

Publish date: Thu, 23 May 2024, 09:55 PM

TOKYO: Malaysia, which is set to assume the Asean Chairmanship in 2025, will leverage the multilateral platform to tackle regional issues, including territorial disputes in the South China Sea, said Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

The Prime Minister said forums such as Asean were apt to address issues concerning the region.

"When I assume the chairmanship of Asean (in 2025), I will call for Asean countries to take a common position, so that multilaterally, we can engage with neighbours including China to find an amicable resolution to differences,” he said at a question-and-answer session at the Nikkei Forum 29th Future of Asia here on Thursday (May 23).

Meanwhile, Anwar, who is also the Finance Minister reiterated that Malaysia is steadfast in its stand of not taking sides in the rivalry between the United States and China, stressing the fact that Putrajaya will not be part of any "Cold War" mindset and is fiercely neutral in this matter.

"Nobody, no country should dictate (what another country does) and we decide what is best for Malaysia," he said when asked about the growing competition between the United States and China.

He added that Washington has been a traditional ally of Malaysia since its independence in 1957.

"Cumulatively, the United States is still Malaysia's biggest trading partner and investor, and they are very aggressive in promoting investment. Therefore, all the big players in the United States are welcome to invest in Malaysia,” said the Prime Minister.

However, at the same time, Malaysia recognised Beijing’s growing economic and military strength.

"I don't share this 'China-phobia' policy. While I maintain excellent relations with the United States, Japan and South Korea, it is better for the region to continue to engage with China.

It is Malaysia’s hope that both China and the United States resolve their differences amicably.

"For us, we will continue to engage and consider the United States as an important ally, at the same time enhance our collaboration with China because they’re our important neighbour - too close, too important and too strategic to ignore,” he said.

Anwar is currently on a three-day working visit to the country.

Accompanying him are Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan; Investment, Trade and Industry Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz; and Human Resources Minister Steven Sim Chee Keong.- Bernama

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