Convergence of ministers from afar proof regionalism making progress
Azlan Othman

WELCOMING representatives from America, Europe, the Pacific and many parts of Asia shows that the idea of regionalism is making progress and becoming real, and that the Asean Regional Forum (ARF) is a very good example.

His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Brunei Darussalam, noted this in his ‘sabda’ during the Asean Regional Forum (ARF) Retreat and Plenary Session yesterday, where the commemorative publication for the 20th ARF was also unveiled.

“We have had 20 years of confidence building measures. They have been done gradually and carefully and as we hoped 20 years ago, we have started to move into other important areas such as preventive diplomacy,” HRH added.

Touching on the publication, HRH said this year’s ARF session is a special one as it marked the 20th meeting, and that the book launch is meant to coincide with this special occasion.

“We hope it helps our people understand what we have been doing in the region. I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to the book.

“The book tells of a long history of helping and supporting each other and developing a forum with a special identity. As you can see from the annual report we have circulated, we are starting to see some very real benefits. The big one I think is the support the ARF gives to the whole idea of regionalism,” HRH said.

“On this, if I could just quote one of Asean’s founding fathers, S Rajaratnam, from back in the 1970s, in which he said, should regional efforts collapse, then globalism, the final stage of historical development, will also fall apart.”

The commemorative publication for the 20th ARF is an initiative jointly undertaken by Brunei Darussalam and the People’s Republic of China. It is funded by the Government of the People’s Republic of China.

The publication aims to showcase how the Asean Regional Forum has become a central pillar in the evolving regional security architecture over the past 20 years, and how it can continue to contribute in turning Asia-Pacific into a region of lasting peace, stability, friendship and prosperity. - Borneo Bulletin (3 July 2013)