Too early for common South-east Asia time zone: Asean diplomats

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - South-east Asian foreign ministers on Sunday shelved a proposal to adopt a common time zone for the region, saying they could not reach agreement on it.

Malaysia, this year's chair of the Association of South-east Asian Nations (Asean), had revived an idea mooted in the past for the grouping's 10 countries - now spread across four different time zones - to synchronise their clocks.

The proposal would have put the whole region eight hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time, the same zone as regional economic giant China, diplomatic sources had said.

It is believed the move would have brought business benefits due to the alignment of stock-market trading and banking hours.

But Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman said after an annual gathering with his Asean colleagues in Kuala Lumpur that members had "different views on this matter and the meeting decided to put the matter in abeyance".

Singapore Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam told reporters some Asean members needed more time to digest the idea and adjustments that would be needed.

"We came to the conclusion that it's not something that we can take further right now, but we should continue looking at it," he said.