Asean requires peace to prosper

It is heartening to read the reports on the recent Xiangshan Forum in Beijing ("Beijing's leadership role key to Asian stability: Eng Hen"; Sunday), and of key stakeholders - including the US, Britain and Japan - in dialogue for the promotion of stability and security in Asia ("Xi lauds Britain's 'visionary' choice to be China's friend" and "Creative trilateralism in Asia"; both published on Monday) .

This will help ensure continuing peace for Asean, too.

This is the only direction to go in.

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen reiterated that the stakes are too high if we fail to maintain that peace. Any other direction is a win-lose power gamble fraught with the possible outbreak of war.

Asean certainly cannot afford a war under any circumstances; it has seen wars in its living memory. This is the first time that there is peace in every member state, including Myanmar ("Myanmar ceasefire deal is just the first step"; last Friday).

The entire region is on the threshold of great prosperity for its people and that can come about only with peace.

The greater goal of continuing the progress and prosperity of Asean is at stake and this must overshadow all other issues, including disputes that will creep up from time to time.

Asean must have the wisdom and forbearance to find peaceful solutions. For that to happen, there must be continuing dialogue among Asean members, as well as with China and the US.

I am thankful that Singapore wants to spend more time facilitating Asean-China relations, with the unsaid agenda of being a peacemaker among all member nations .

Cyril Seah Kwei Hiok

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 21, 2015, with the headline 'Asean requires peace to prosper'. Print Edition | Subscribe