The future of Asean must not be determined by China or the US, said PKR president Anwar Ibrahim, who also called on members of the regional grouping to maintain good ties with the two superpowers.
“The best way forward for them (Asean) is to engage with both nations for our own survival and economic success.
“We need to maintain good, cordial, excellent relations both with the East and the West,” he told a dialogue at the Milken Institute Asia Summit last night.
The Port Dickson MP was asked about the future of Asean as the regional grouping faces potential division due to the rivalry between Washington and Beijing.
Anwar expressed his optimism that there are opportunities and “we have to look beyond the immediate problems and see whatever benefit we can obtain”.
“I’m more optimistic if you can garner the best brains within the countries… with international support, we can drive this problem.”
He does not believe that the trade war would adversely affect ties among the Asean member countries as relations among them tend to be acceptable, though there are challenges.
Citing on the current haze situation, Anwar said: “We in Asean need to deal with the whole idea of governments.
“I’m optimistic because of in the sense that you can get the governments in Asean to look at it. If they don’t, then there must be a sense of outrage among the public because it is affecting millions of people.”
Anwar stressed that the three affected countries – Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore - must partly shoulder the responsibility and “do something”.
“It is not a blame game among (the three countries)... some say Indonesia (is) at fault but Malaysia’s companies are involved and Singapore has a lot of shares there.”
On the other hand, he expressed his hope that the companies involved in the haze-causing fires would be held accountable for their actions.
“At least (they should) combine enough resources to help ease the problem (and) not leave it entirely to the governments,” Anwar said.
Air quality in parts of Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and southern Thailand has suffered as raging forest fires in areas near Sumatra and Borneo continue.