PM: Fortify Asean’s agro foundation amid supply chain disruptions

Essential movement through travel corridors must also be given priority, apart from food security


ASEAN should seize the opportunity to fortify its current agro-foundation in the wake of the disrupted global supply chain.

Prime Minister (PM) Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (picture) said it is time for member countries to look into possible ways to strengthen food security in the region, which is blessed with rich natural resources.

“If Covid-19 pandemic has taught us a lesson, it is that Asean must be self-reliant in the face of an unprecedented crisis, be it now, or the future,” he said at the 37th Asean Summit yesterday.

Apart from food security, Muhyiddin said essential movement through travel corridors must also be given priority.

He said member countries should initiate a coordinated set of procedures and requirements that could facilitate the idea.

Muhyiddin added that it is crucial for Asean’s economic recovery plan to encompass not only financial considerations, but also address the need to forge an integrated, robust and sturdy regional partnership to preserve the rich social fabric which underpins the community.

He said Malaysia firmly believes that Asean continues to play a critical role in addressing challenges brought by the pandemic through the implementation of the many initiatives discussed through the various Asean-led mechanisms.

He said Asean needs to ensure these initiatives serve as the platform that would allow a collective effort with external partners and other interested parties in alleviating and countering the impacts of Covid-19 in the region.

“Asean must work hand-in-hand with relevant international organisations, such as the World Health Organisation, and countries to ensure the vaccine, once it has been approved, is affordable, accessible and equitably shared by all.

“We welcome our external partners that are also willing to share their discovery and expertise in this matter,” Muhyiddin said.

He said Asean should also strategise its approach in reviving the economy, trade and investment by embracing the new norm of conducting its economic engagements including through technology such as digital platforms.

He also said Asean will remain a strategic player as a bloc in the ever-changing geopolitical landscape, which can only be achieved when the members continue to communicate and work as a united bloc.

As such, Muhyiddin said Asean must address the root causes of the crisis in Rakhine State due to its spillover effects, including internally displaced people and irregular movement of people from the state, as well as their influx into neighbouring countries seeking refuge.

He added that Malaysia is a major recipient country of the refugees in South-East Asia.

“The issue of irregular movement of persons, including its connection with smuggling and human trafficking in our region, requires all relevant parties to identify and address the root causes and other contributory factors, whether at origin, during transit or destination. as well as the involvement of relevant stakeholders based on the principle of shared responsibility as well as a balanced approach between law enforcement and humanitarian response to tackle the challenges.

“Malaysia reaffirms the need for proportionate burden and responsibility sharing, and calls for the signatory countries of the 1951 Convention to uphold and stand committed to their international legal obligations to receive more refugees for resettlement or relocation,” Muhyiddin said.

As for matters relating to the South China Sea, he said it must be resolved peacefully and constructively, in accordance with the universally recognised principles of international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982.

He said Malaysia also remains in strong solidarity with the people of Palestine and supports concrete and honest efforts to find a just and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on international law and relevant United Nations’ resolutions through negotiations involving the parties concerned.

Read our earlier report here