KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 28 — ASEAN and participating countries of the East Asia Summit (EAS) must chart a new course forward in preparation for the next pandemic, says Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
In his intervention at the 16th EAS, he said a new global health security architecture needs to be developed, one that is underpinned by shared commitment, collective responsibility, transparency, and accountability.
“In view of the state of affairs that we are in, we need to relook at the international order,” he said.
The 16th EAS was attended by 10 ASEAN member states, along with Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, Russia, and the United States, as well as the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and World Health Organisation (WHO).
It was held at the sidelines of the three-day virtual 38th and 39th ASEAN Summits and Related Summits which began Tuesday under the chairmanship of Brunei.
Ismail Sabri said the COVID-19 pandemic has adversely impacted all efforts at lifting human life, poverty eradication, and access to quality education.
Safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines were developed in record time, however, it was regrettable that the vaccine roll-out turned out to be unfair and inequitable.
“Nationalism and geopolitics rivalry shaped the response of governments and international organizations during the pandemic as well as dictated the distribution of vaccines,” he said.
Ismail Sabri said it was evident that the pandemic has strengthened the case for multilateralism and in this regard, Malaysia fully supported the ASEAN Leaders’ Declaration on Upholding Multilateralism that was initiated by Brunei and adopted at the 38th ASEAN Summit.
Most importantly, he said a holistic recovery from COVID-19 requires collective and concerted efforts of all countries as well as cooperation in multi-disciplinary areas of health and relevant socio-economic fields.
“Further, it needs countries with comparative advantage to assist those with less,” he said.
Ismail Sabri also reiterated Malaysia’s strong commitment to ratifying the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) by the end of this year as it would help expedite regional recovery as well as resilience.