16 January 2015
This year, Malaysia will assume the chairmanship of Asean and the responsibility of forging a stronger Asean community. Malaysiaâ’s leadership is crucial in a year that is geared toward integration and the achievement of an Asean Economic Community (AEC), as well as the management of tensions in the South China Sea. Expectations will be high given that Malaysia is one of the five founding members of Asean and has good relations with both China and the United States.
From a series of interviews conducted with academics and senior policy makers from key Asean states — Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam — over the past two months, it is clear that two issues dominate the discussions on the Malaysian chairmanship of Asean: one, the territorial disputes in the South China Sea; and two, Asean centrality in the economic and security architectures.
Malaysia’s chairmanship comes amid tensions in the South China Sea, particularly after the Haiyang Shiyou 981 standoff between China and Vietnam in the middle of last year.
As one of the claimant states in the South China Sea and given its close relations with China, Malaysia seems to be most suited to push for the resolution of the code of conduct (CoC), as well as to urge China to exercise less assertive behaviour.
…Benjamin Ho, Bhubhindar Singh, and Sarah Teo are with the Multilateralism and Regionalism Programme at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
IDSS / Online
Last updated on 03/12/2015