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Former ASEAN Leader: Non-interference policy must be reviewed

23 April 2015

KUALA LUMPUR. Former Malaysian Foreign Minister, Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar, said ASEAN’s non-interference policy should be reviewed if we are to build a tolerant society and address human rights abuses and regional security.
 
Delivering the keynote address at the welcome dinner of the ASEAN Peoples’ Forum (APF) 2015 in Wisma MCA yesterday, he said, “We cannot allow our region to be bogged down with problems that are prolonged or intensified by the blanket application of non-interference.”
 
As Foreign Minister of Malaysia between 1999 and 2008, Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar was engaged in key initiatives to transform and integrate ASEAN. He initiated the inaugural ASEAN civil society conference in 2005.
 
The APF is the largest annual gathering of civil society organisations in ASEAN and is organised in conjunction with the ASEAN Summit, where heads of state meet.
 
Also present at the APF 2015 dinner was MCA Central Committee Member Datuk Ti Lian Ker, who attended on behalf of MCA President Dato’ Sri Liow Tiong Lai. He reaffirmed MCA’s commitment to building a people-centred ASEAN, noting, “Success can be obtained through collaboration—we must listen and come to an agreement on a middle ground.”
 
Prior to the dinner, APF opened with a forum discussion with former Bersih 2.0 Co-chair Ambiga Sreenevasan, Professor Johan Saravanamuttu, and Deputy Chair of Belia Jaringan Orang Asal (JOAS) Sabariah Yusri.
 
A town hall discussion between civil society and ASEAN parliamentarians also took place in the afternoon, featuring seven members of parliament from various ASEAN member states. Activists and parliamentarian alike emphasised the need for ASEAN to heed the people’s interests and not just business and corporate interests. Three parallel workshops were held in the morning.
 
Around 1,400 people have registered for the APF 2015, which continues until 24 April.

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