Washington, D.C. — With Malaysia set to assume both the chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, and a nonpermanent seat on the U.N. Security Council, the Asian nation is expected to wield a great deal of influence in 2015 within Asia and on the international stage. In an issue brief released by the Center for American Progress, CAP Director for East and Southeast Asia Brian Harding and Trevor Sutton argues that now is the time for the United States to continue its rekindled relationship with Malaysia, as the opportunity to advance the two countries’ shared interests has never been greater.
Malaysia’s chairmanship of ASEAN comes at a critical time in the association’s history. Having recently agreed to transform into one “ASEAN Community” with three pillars—cohesive action on political and security affairs, deeper economic integration, and greater sociocultural cooperation—it will be Malaysia’s responsibility to bring this vision of an integrated ASEAN community into fruition.
“This year is looking to be Malaysia’s most important year on the world stage since it achieved independence from the United Kingdom in 1957,” said Harding. “As it simultaneously assumes the ASEAN chairmanship and a seat on the U.N. Security Council, now is the time for the United States to take advantage of the newly sparked comity between the two nations and work to advance issues that both nations care about, such as economic integration and tensions in the South China Sea.”
The brief makes the following recommendations to continue to improve the U.S.-Malaysia relationship:
- Emphasize that Southeast Asia’s prosperity has been and continues to be dependent on a stable, conflict-free security environment.
- Communicate that U.S. interest in Southeast Asia is about more than China.
- Encourage Malaysia to guide ASEAN toward greater integration and more effective decision making.
- Continue to express disapproval at judicial abuses aimed at silencing political foes.
- Press for Malaysian support of U.S. positions at the U.N. Security Council.
Click here to read the report.
For more information, contact Tom Caiazza at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202.481.7141.