Asean summit: Gruelling workload awaits arriving leaders

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK
 A gardener arranges flowers beside the Asean logo outside the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre in Malaysia on Nov 19, 2015.
A gardener arranges flowers beside the Asean logo outside the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre in Malaysia on Nov 19, 2015.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A gruelling workload and hectic pace awaits 18 heads of states and governments who will be arriving here today to attend the 27th Asean Summit and related summits.

The two days in Kuala Lumpur is no holiday for them, with 10 summits and 59 documents to pore over.

The workload for leaders and delegates are always hectic in any Asean Summit. More so this time around as the regional body, under Malaysia's chairmanship is preparing to welcome the arrival of an Asean Community by the end of next month.

United States President Barack Obama, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi will be among the leaders of Asean's eight dialogue partners who will have their fair share of the workload.

From Saturday(Nov 21) to Sunday, they will aim to adopt, sign, endorse or issue 59 documents. These include the Asean Convention Against Trafficking in Persons especially Women and Children, the East Asia Summit Declaration on the Global Movement of Moderates and the East Asia Summit Declaration on Countering Violent Extremism.

Apart from the Asean Summit, other summits which will be held are the East Asia Summit involving all 18 leaders and the Asean Plus Three Summit involving Asean with China, Japan and Korea.

Then there are the six Asean Plus One summits comprising separate meetings between Asean and China, India, the United States, South Korea, Japan and New Zealand, as well as a summit with the United Nations, which will be represented by its secretary-general Ban Ki Moon.

Asean Summits have always been packed to the brim with meetings, with leaders expected to attend many back-to-back meetings and bilateral sessions.

As the host of the Asean Summit, Prime Minister Najib Razak will have a lot on his plate.

The Prime Minister will be chairing all the summits and plenary sessions and is expected to take part in bilateral meetings with several counterparts from today until Sunday.

Datuk Seri Najib will be meeting Mr Obama, Mr Li, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Mr Ban.

For a start, Mr Najib has proposed several steps to be implemented once the Asean Community is launched.

He called for the Asean business travel card can be implemented.

"At the airports, where there is Asean lane, it is a feeling you have as a member of Asean. It means something.

"If Apec can do it, why can't Asean," he said at the Asean Business and Investment Summit.

The Prime Minister said some of the doable steps can be the next journey of Asean as a community.

"It will take years and generations, but we need to begin now," Mr Najib said.

Also present was International Trade and Industry Minister Mustapa Mohamed.