A decade ago, in 2005, Malaysia chaired ASEAN. During its chairmanship, two notable events took place. First, it hosted the first East Asia Summit (EAS) where heads of states from 16 countries gather together for dialogue on broad strategic, political, and economic issues. Second, it established a mechanism that allows ASEAN leaders and civil society representatives to exchanges ideas with one another.
This year, Malaysia is again chairman of ASEAN and, as one of the 5 founding members of ASEAN, there are high expectations of its capability to establish a stronger ASEAN community, facilitate the fulfillment of the economic integration, and maintain the centrality of ASEAN in the regional architecture. Its ability to lead will be tested as it balances to secure the interests of the region along with its national interests.
The changed geopolitical and economic realities in the region, as evident in the South China Sea disputes and the establishment of a single market and production base for instance, will affect Malaysia’s chairmanship in ASEAN. As to how it would be able to adapt and cope with these changes will be looked forward to.
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